What are temples?
Since the time of Solomon, temples have had the same purposes, including bringing people closer to God.
Holy temples are as necessary today as they were anciently when they served as sacred locations to make covenants, perform holy ordinances, and to be taught by God. Today in over 140 temples worldwide, Mormons do those same things.
In these temples, faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints find opportunities for peaceful reflection and for learning more about God’s plan of happiness for His children.
Through the power of the priesthood, members are married for time and eternity and perform proxy baptisms for their ancestors who died without enjoying the blessings of this saving ordinance.
The temple is a beautiful, serene place, and it is unique among buildings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church members gather in meetinghouses for weekly worship services. There, they enrich their lives by studying the gospel; they minister and serve among each other. But they attend the temple in part to bless and serve those who’ve gone before them.
Every person who has lived on the earth is entitled to the opportunity to receive the blessings of eternal life and eternal family relations. Performing temple work by proxy for those who have gone on before allows God’s blessings to extend to all of His children.
Why Mormons Build Temples
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been building temples since the 1830s. In this video, religious scholars of various faiths discuss the importance of temple worship from the earliest history of mankind to modern times.
Families Can Be Forever
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that each human born on earth lived first as a spirit in heaven with God, our Heavenly Father. Each one of us comes to earth to be tested through the mortal experience. By following the principles of the gospel here on earth, each of us may return to the presence of God, where we will live eternally with our families.
The Latter-day Saint teaching that family relationships on earth continue after death is distinctive among Christian faiths. To last beyond mortality, marriages must take place in a temple.
Couples who join the Church after they are already married may also have their marriages “sealed” in identical ceremonies, and their children may be sealed to them. Thus, Latter-day Saint, or “Mormon,” temples are not places of regular Sunday or congregational worship. They are built specifically for these “eternal marriages” and other individual and family-centered ceremonies.
For the promises of the temple to remain in effect, a husband and wife must love and be faithful to each other throughout their marriage and continue to follow a course of Christian service and commitment throughout their lives.
Temples and Genealogy
Temples also have another major purpose beyond uniting living families for eternity. For millions of people who lived and died throughout history without the opportunity to embrace such temple marriages, temple ceremonies can be performed by living proxies in their behalf.
Commonly, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stand in for their own deceased ancestors in these ceremonies, including baptisms and sealings for husbands and wives, parents and children. In Latter-day Saint belief, all temple work is effective only if it is willingly accepted in heaven by each deceased individual.
How are Temples used?
To enter holy temples, faithful Church members obtain a temple recommend by affirming their personal worthiness with a leader of their congregation.
In order to enter the temple Church members must have a temple recommend. To qualify for this recommend, Church members must live their religion diligently. This faithfulness also serves as good preparation for the sacred work they will do in the temple. Being sealed eternally to their families is a source of immeasurable happiness, and it brings them closer to God and to each other as well.
Symbolically, within the temple, the earth touches the divine, and members can feel a serenity that is enhanced by the beautiful structure. Builders take great care in the construction of these sacred temples, the most renowned of which is the Salt Lake Temple, a towering granite edifice that took 40 years to complete.
Built in the 1800s, this historic temple required tremendous sacrifice by early Church members, who dedicated their labor and resources to its creation. Like the other sacred houses of the Lord that have since been built, this remarkable building contains several rooms that have sacred purposes.
There is a celestial room, which symbolizes heaven; sealing rooms, where a man and woman are sealed together as husband and wife for eternity; ordinance rooms, where Church members learn more about God’s plan for our happiness; and a baptismal font, where members are baptized as proxies for those who died without the opportunity to receive this necessary saving ordinance for themselves.
Just as many religious people around the world wear symbolic items of clothing, Mormons wear sacred garments to remind them of the covenants they made in the temple.
The symbolism of the temple garment reflects the rich symbolism found in the temple. Faithful attendants of Mormon temples revere these structures with the same respect that the temple of Solomon received in ancient times. In 1 Kings 7, readers can learn of the painstaking effort required to build that ancient temple.
Now, as then, the finest materials and most skilled craftspeople are employed to render these sanctuaries as fitting tributes to God and to the work that goes on inside these sacred walls. The Savior will one day return again to the earth and establish His kingdom.
In the meantime, temples serve as sacred structures where Church members perform needed ordinances and connect their families together for the eternities. They are a beautiful, temporal reminder of what is to come.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has meetinghouses all over the world; you may have seen one near you.
Mormons worship in meetinghouses around the world, and non-Mormons are always welcome to participate. These buildings might be a neighborhood chapel or even a space in a busy city building. It’s in these meetinghouses that members of the Church gather for various meetings, including Sunday services and weekly activities.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also has temples. Temples are different than meetinghouses. Even from the exterior, it’s apparent that a temple is intended to stand apart from the world. Literally a house of God, the temple is where members of the Church go to commune with Heavenly Father, feel His presence, and make covenants with Him that have eternal significance.
The temple is designated as a holy place, a site of beauty, peace, and purpose, worthy of God’s presence. As such, people who enter the temple are asked to be pure in heart and spiritually prepared for this sacred venue. That does not mean that those who attend the temple are perfect. Rather, they are striving to keep God’s commandments and the promises they made at baptism. Going to the temple is a demonstration of personal faith and a deep, ongoing commitment to God’s plan.
How do temples provide peace and happiness?
Of the many temples in the world, each is unique in appearance and structure. But inside, all temples embody a spirit of complete peace and reverence.
The tranquility found in a temple is not lost on those who visit during a public open house before a temple is dedicated, or even by those who simply walk around the grounds. The temple is a quiet, holy place where we can seek answers to prayers, reflect on life and its priorities, and learn eternal truths about the purpose of our time here on earth.
The temple helps us understand God’s expectations for His children from an eternal perspective. In temples baptisms are performed for ancestors to give deceased relatives the opportunity to accept blessings of eternity. It is also in the temple that husbands, wives, and children are sealed so that they can remain a family even after this life. It is this desire for united, enduring relationships with loved ones and with God that draws people to the temple and its eternal, binding promises.
To learn more about what goes on in the Mormon Temples, watch this video below.