Headin’ to the Temple.

Temples are sacred places. We all have them in various shapes and forms. For some of us, they are the corporate office. To others, a dark, slithering river in southeastern North Carolina. Temples are the places where the veil between the mundane and spiritual worlds is so thin, that when you touch the walls you can feel the very pulse within the fingertips of the divine. In this place, your prayers diffuse into the firmament like a sweet perfume.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also has temples. Here, the most sacred ordinances occur. And not just anyone can enter this sacred space–not even every LDS member–only an LDS member in good standing with the church and with a “temple recommend.” In order to enter the temple, one must:

  1. Be at least 12 years old (that’s me!)
  2. Be a member of the church for at least one year (Uh, what about one really intense month?)
  3. Obtain a temple recommend. This is gained via interview with a bishop, branch or stake president. A member is asked questions regarding their standing in the church including: if they have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, keeping the commandments, supporting their local church and its leaders, etc (Well, I do for 31 days…)

So it looks like I’m not permitted to enter the temple (more on that issue next week). That’s a shame because they are beautiful…

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico


Gilbert, Arizona

Columbia, South Carolina

 These are just a few of the 134 operating temples around the world. Each one is built for two main purposes: to hold the highest sacred ordinances, and to offer a glimpse of the majesty of what awaits those who enter the Celestial Kingdom with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

LDS members claim a proud lineage of temple building that stretches back to the time of the ancient Hebrews. The emancipated Hebrews set up a holy tabernacle–a tent and mobile sanctuary–which held the sacred Law and the Holy of Holies. Once the Hebrews settled down in Jerusalem, they constructed a series of permanent temples, first under King Solomon and finally under King Herod during the time of Jesus.

Once the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed along with the apostolic authority held by Christ’s original apostles, according to LDS doctrine, the sacred and intimate presence of the Lord faded from the earth. This is why the restoration of the gospel and church through Joseph Smith is central to the LDS church, because through Joseph Smith, the church itself along with the temples was reestablished for all mankind. So, kind of a big deal.


What happens in the temple? Well, nothing I can see or take pictures of because I’m only an honorary member this month. The phrase I often hear regarding the inner workings of the temple is that they are “sacred, not secret.” Okay, fair enough.

  • Endowments: This is the gift the church has to offer for all its members. Here one learns about Christ, his gospel, and our purpose on this earth. We are given a chance to experience a glimpse of the peace and ambiance and of what life in the Celestial Kingdom is all about.
  • Sealing: The LDS church focuses on two things: Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the family. One central doctrine of the church is the permanence of families. Within the temple, your earthly family can become ritually “sealed” so that even death cannot separate you. Families sealed in the temples will enjoy eternity together in the next life (some days that might not be a good thing in my house).
  • Ordinances for the Dead: According to the church, Heavenly Father wants everyone to have a far shot at hearing the gospel and experiencing the blessings of his church to the fullest. In this way, living members of the church can act as proxy during special rituals, such as baptism and sealings, for deceased family members in the spirit world. This is why family histories are such an important issue in LDS life. The only catch: just because your living son undergoes baptism on your behalf, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Your free agency still exists in the spirit world, so you must accept or reject the ordinance.

    Baptismal Font


    The Celestial Room. It's like chillin' in heaven, with angels. Yo Jesus!


There is so much more information regarding the temples of the LDS church. For these goodies and more, please visit www.lds.org. All images on this post come from that site. Of course, as a good LDS member this month, my duty is to tell you of how you might see these beautiful structures yourself. Once you join the church and take the name of Christ upon yourself, blessings are said to flow from heaven upon your life. In the temple, you are given a 360 degree template for the heavenly realms. Within we are given a wonderous spark of the divine, roaring fire that is the presence of Heavenly Father. I invite you to ask your local branch or missionaries how you can have this experience (how was that folks?).

I like what church president Boyd K. Packer had to say about the temple:

At the temple the dust of distraction seems to settle out, the fog and the haze seem to lift, and we can ‘see’ things that we were not able to see before and find a way through our troubles that we had not previously known.

 Well isn’t that nice? What are your thoughts on the temple–not just from the LDS perspective–but the idea of temples in all their forms? Mine is the river and swamp, but at another level, I believe the temple of the divine resides in the vibrant, glowing spaces between the atoms of creation. For me, like the home, the divine is where the heart is.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you again on Monday.

Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr
  • Pagolesher

    What is the LDS definition of “family”?

  • Colin Faux

    Mormonism is interesting in the sense that it claims the divinity of Christ but still sees Temple practice as a necessary form of ritual.  Mormons try very hard to be seen as “Christians”, however Temple practice is very Jewish.  Mormons try to bridge the gap by teaching, Jesus Christ is Jehovah (John 8:58)(really YHWH, but Mormons choose the more modernized and manipulated name Jehovah) the God of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible).  And that Jehovah (Jesus, God the Son) had a father named Elohim (God the Father).  Although in biblical hebrew, Elohim can mean “God” or “gods” (the term Elohim is even used in biblical hebrew to mention the “gods” that Jews were not suppose to worship). 

    Mormons seek regulation on how to recognize temple ritual through OT scripture:
    KJV Ezekiel 44:9 “Thus saith the Lord God;  No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary (Temple)”.

     and how to interpret their feelings:
    KJV Isaiah 6:1 “…I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train (presumably YHWH’s garment, spirit?) filled the temple.”
    KJV Ezekiel 43: 7 “…the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever…”

    Mormons do believe that their Holy Holies, located in the Salt Lake City, UT Temple has the same significance as the Holy of Holies in Jewish practice (Exodus 26:33-34, Exodus 25:22). 

    Love your posts Andrew, Keep rockin.

    • Anonymous

      Interesting the bridge you mention here regarding Jewish and Christian practices and the temple being the centerpiece of this bridge. An issue of note however, is that Jesus spoke about tearing down the temple and raising it in three days. Metaphorically, this could “rising” could mean either himself or the church body of people, as if usurping the idea of needing temples.


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Gene-Grove/748714589 Richard Gene Grove

    The LDS
    church has an official declaration on the family, which can be found here: http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,161-1-11-1,FF.html
    . This statement specifically addresses how the Church defines
    “family” and is meant to include the general attitude about same-sex
    marriage. But if your question is more in keeping with temple work, read on!

    By way of
    clarification, the Church has a three-fold mission: Salvation of the Dead, Proclaiming
    the Gospel and Perfecting the Saints (or current members). Concerning the
    Salvation of the Dead, an LDS member’s primary responsibility is the salvation
    of their own blood relatives who have died. This then branches out to include
    relatives by marriage (like your parents-in-law and their ancestors). After one
    has done all they can to search out one’s kindred dead through family history
    (or genealogy), one has the option of then doing proxy work for other people.
    Since we are all descended from Adam and Eve, and more “recently”
    Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth, we have some responsibility to all who have lived.

    LDS members
    believe that after we die we go to a place called the Spirit World. There we
    wait for the Final Judgment and have the chance to continue doing God’s work
    (like guardian angels). In the Spirit World there are spirit missionaries who
    preach the restored gospel to those who have died but weren’t baptized during
    their lives. If they choose to accept the message, they wait for living people
    to be baptized in their behalf in an LDS temple. In this way, the opportunity
    to hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and the mandatory ordinance of
    baptism is given to all of Father’s children – even those born in China during
    the Ming dynasty. Since we believe that this opportunity must be given to all
    who have lived and then died (and God has commanded us to perform this work),
    whenever possible, we do proxy work in the temple.

    If the
    person in Spirit World never chooses to accept the message, the proxy baptism
    performed in the LDS temple has had no effect on them. However, even if the spirit
    person rejects the message, the living LDS members’ responsibility towards that
    person has been fulfilled. As we believe this work is so important and we have
    so many temples in operation world-wide, we keep careful records to ensure
    multiple works for the same deceased person are not performed (that would be a
    huge waste of time). We do not know if the dead have accepted the work we do,
    and, accordingly, we do not count them as “members” of the Church in
    any way. We merely have peace of mind that our kindred dead have been given the
    opportunity (whether they take that opportunity or not).

    In closing, we believe that the world-wide fervor for family
    history/genealogy is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Malachi+4&version=KJV
    ) (we believe Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 3,
    1836 in the Kirtland, Ohio temple)(see http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Malachi,_Prophecies_of

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Candace-Moore-Hill/736896802 Candace Moore Hill

    Right up my alley.  I did a photographic history last year of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, and so found myself looking very deeply into exactly what a Baha’i House of Worship is for.  This may seem odd, but we have no ceremonies or rituals that take place in a temple.  And, our focus has been to build them one at a time, and right now just one a continent.  The structures themselves are lovely, but they have no secret places and no one is obligated to visit them or say certain prayers in them.  Eventually, every Baha’i community will have it’s own House of Worship, but these buildings do not necessarily have to be large or ornate. 

    Their sole purpose is to be open for prayer, and open for everyone for prayer.  The “secret” of the Baha’i temple (lower-case t) is that to truly serve humanity one must begin that service, that is, start your day in prayer.  If work equals worship, when done in a state of service, then work, service, and prayer are all the same thing.  The House of Worship exists as a quiet, lovely, place for prayer, as individuals, families or co-workers.

    This is really nothing new.  The social task that all places of worship fill is to provide that focused place for prayer and only prayer.  So that after we pray, we can go right back out the door into the world.

    • Anonymous

      I love the idea of temples and of sacred places in general. However the further into this journey I go, the more I realize that I’ve never stepped out of a sacred place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danjjensen Dan Jensen

    “Whithersoever ye turn, there is the face of God.” -Qur’an

    • Anonymous

      One of my favorite verses of that book.

  • AustinSFaux

    Hey Andrew,

    There actually is a way you can enter the temple.  When a new temple is built they have an open house, anyone can come inside and get a guided tour.  Sometimes even after a temple is built, the temple needs maintenance and I believe, although I maybe wrong, sometimes they offer another open house before they re-dedicate the temple. Personally I think the temple is awesome, there is a lot of history and symbolism throughout the inside. Even if you’re not LDS I think people can feel a great reverence/respect for what goes on.  So let me invite you to an open house near you.  And if by chance you do get to an open house in the future, you should let us know, maybe we can have a field trip?


    • Anonymous

      You’re right! I remember reading about this. I will certainly keep my eyes peeled for any open house opportunities. Where are you located?

  • Anonymous

    Hmm, I don’t get the vibe anywhere in the post or comments that Jewish practices make anyone’s religiou “un-Christian.” I believe the intent was to set apart the practices for clarification.

    • Art Sherwood

      I appologize if I got a little too sensitive on that issue.  Sorry Colin, I don’t mean to get combative.

      • Anonymous

        It’s cool Art.

      • Colin Faux

        You’re fine Art.  Religion is a personal and sensitive issue.  Its only natural to get a little defensive  when those sensitivities are tested. 

        Perhaps it was something in the tone of my response to the article that makes you believe that I am not LDS, However I am!  Just because I am LDS (haven’t received disciplinary action yet!) doesn’t mean I don’t scrutinize everything considered LDS (especially the doctrine).  I have served an LDS Mission and hold a current Temple recommend.  I also have a BA in Religion.  I also own  a “Jewish Study Bible” (TANAKH). 

        I would argue, but won’t, the Temple has been Jewish for a much longer time than they have been Christian (or LDS).

        Richard Bushman believes scholarship only strengthens the LDS view point, perhaps you have nothing to fear by anything I can say, because in the end it will only strengthen the LDS stance?

        Elder Terrence Smith, recently sustained into the sixth quorum of the 70 said in a meeting I attended, “Questions are a good thing.  The best answers come from the best questions.”  He was referring to clarifications of gospel doctrine, not James 1:5.

        That’s what I do, I question, check out my blog: Mormon Inquiry http://mormoninquiry.blogspot.com/

        I don’t think I was incorrect on every count and I respect and love multiple religious affiliations see “Drake Interfaith Dialogue” on facebook.  I organized this college club and even represented Mormonism on an interfaith panel: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=138566830459&v=wall .

        If anything, the tone of my response is because I try to remember others religious interpretations when I explain something.  So really, I was trying to show appreciation for the Jewish interpretation while further clarifying LDS stance on the Temple. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank Colin. You point out the sore thumb of seperating poetic interpretation of scripture from doctrine. I cannot be certain what the literal or metaphorical meaning of Jesus’ statement regarding the temple, however to many (and I can see why) the issue is clear. Christ’s church in effect, becomes the temple he speaks of rebuilding, as he spoke at length about building the church. I did harbor some guilt with the Elders, simply because I have a role to fill during the month and I felt as though I overstepped my mandate. They are my teachers and I must submit to their lessons instead of mire them in my endless inner theological monologues. My role of teaching comes in the form of the blog. This is why when I ask church leadership what I can do to help they often reply, “You are teaching people about the church. That is the best thing you can do.” So I suppose I’ve become a sort of missionary, if only virtually speaking. The point is that I just have to remember to be humble, and that can be hard at times.

  • Cfaux1

    I like what Art said: “The LDS people have a profound respect for the Jews.  We understand that
    although they have in times past stumbled and missed the mark, they are
    still the covenant people of the Lord.”  I, too, am LDS (I’m sure the last name is familiar by now from these posts…hehehe).  I have been sealed to my husband in an LDS temple; plus, on my personalized/engraved wedding ring I have a Star-of-David.  I wear this every day.  The Jewish people are very dear to our hearts.  We relate to them spiritually and culturally in many ways.  We relate to the persecution they have endured through their history, and know that our faith (through Christ) originated from Judaism.

  • Pingback: Marriage In The Temple…Members Only - Project Conversion