I swallowed hard when I was about to tell my father I was going to be married in the temple—probably even harder than my husband did when he was asking my dad for permission to marry me. My father is a good man of another faith. I had told him many times before that when I got married it would be in the temple. He had never seemed upset at that, but I didn’t know if now, when it was really going to happen, he would be hurt or angry at not being able to see his only child get married.
Gratefully, my father was more concerned with my happiness than with being able to come into the temple. But even though he was understanding, some others could not understand why the Church would be so “strict.”
These people are not alone in asking questions about the temple. Many people think the Church is secretive about the temple. But I know that what the prophets have said is true: The temple is sacred, not secret. 1
Even though we should not talk in detail about what happens in the temple, there are certain things we can say to those who ask us questions such as “What do you do in the temple?” and “Why can’t I go into your temple?” Here are some questions you might be asked and some good information you can share with those seeking answers about Latter-day Saint temples.
“Why does your Church have temples?”
Throughout history the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. 2 When the Church was restored, the Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith to build temples. The temple is the house of the Lord. 3 In the temple, sacred ordinances are performed that could not be done anywhere on earth except in these dedicated buildings. 4
Temples are special and sacred to Church members because the ordinances performed there prepare them to return to God’s presence and to be joined to their families for eternity.
“Why can’t I go into your temple?”
Since the temple is a sacred place where sacred covenants are made, one who enters must be a Church member who is spiritually prepared and living Church standards.
Any adult who has been a Church member for at least a year and who lives worthy to receive a temple recommend from his or her bishop or branch president may enter the temple. Living worthy of entering the temple includes living a pure life, being honest, keeping the Word of Wisdom, and paying tithes and offerings, among other requirements.
“What do Church members do in the temple?”
In the temple, Church members participate in sacred ordinances, such as eternal marriage, where a couple is joined, or sealed, as husband and wife for this life and all eternity. The temple is also a place of instruction and worship, where members make covenants to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, Church members perform ordinances, such as baptism and confirmation, in behalf of those who have passed away without the opportunity of accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ. Temple workers are volunteers.
“Why do Church members take little suitcases or bags to the temple?”
Inside the temple, Church members change out of their street clothes and wear modest, simple white clothing. White symbolizes purity and reverence. They bring their temple clothing to the temple with them in their bags.
“What does the temple look like inside?”
At a temple open house (held before a temple is dedicated), visitors are welcome to walk through and see what the interior of the temple looks like. Temples are beautifully decorated and kept very clean. There are rooms within the temple to serve various purposes, such as holding marriage ceremonies. Temple grounds and visitors’ centers are usually open for viewing also. Photos of temple interiors can be found in the two booklets mentioned in the last paragraph of this article.
To find out the hours or location of a temple in your area, go to www.lds.org/temples. Or to search for more articles about temples, go to the Church magazines online at www.lds.org, and click on “Gospel Library.”
“How do I find out more?”
For more information you can share with others, go to www.lds.org/temples. There, you will find more about the history and purposes of temples, answers to frequently asked questions, and how family history work relates to temple work.
For more help answering questions about the temple, you can read Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (item no. 35863) or Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple (item no. 36793). You can also find Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple in English at www.lds.org. Click on “Gospel Library,” “Church Publications,” “Curriculum,” and then “Optional Courses.”
Preparing to Enter the Temple
“Because a temple is sacred, the Lord asks that it be protected from desecration. Anyone may enter who is willing to prepare well for that privilege. The concept of preparation prevails in other fields of endeavor. I remember when I was but a young boy, I told my parents I wanted to attend the university. They said I could, but only if I worked hard in preliminary schooling and met all the requirements for admission to the university. Similarly, we must qualify for admission to the temple. We prepare physically, intellectually, and spiritually.” Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Prepare for Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 18–19.
See David O. McKay, “The Purpose of Temples,” Ensign, Jan. 1972, 38.
See D&C 124:37–40.