Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

My family and Church leaders are always talking about how important the temple is. But I’m not sure I understand. Why is it so important?

New Era

In the temples we learn of the sacred roles men and women have in the eternal plan of God the Father and toward each other. It is a place to make covenants that can bring us blessings both on earth and in heaven.

Children enter the temple only to be sealed to their parents or, after age 12, to be baptized for the dead. Full-time missionaries usually receive their endowment shortly before they begin to serve; other members generally do so shortly before temple marriage or, if unmarried, as they reach a proper maturity in life.

“There are special areas inside each temple for the various ordinances. A large baptismal font supported on the backs of twelve sculpted oxen is used for baptism for the dead. In other areas are cubicles in which individuals are ritually washed and anointed before endowments can be performed. In the older temples, larger rooms are decorated to represent the Creation, the Garden of Eden, this world, and the terrestrial kingdom, and in such endowment rooms, participants watch and hear figurative presentations in which scenes are acted out, depicting by whom and why the earth was created and how one may come to dwell again in God’s presence. The participants make covenants and receive promises and blessings. This is known as receiving one’s endowment. … A veil symbolically divides the terrestrial room from the celestial room, which suggests through furnishings and decor the peace, beauty, and glory of the highest degree of heaven. Also in the temple are smaller sealing rooms, where temple marriages and sealings are solemnized for the living and vicariously for the dead” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1992, p. 1447).

Out of respect for its sacredness, members of the Church who have attended the temple are asked not to talk outside the temple about the details of the temple ceremony. However, the promises you as a member are asked to make will not surprise you. They are consistent with teachings you have already received, including obedience, sacrifice, order, love, chastity, and consecration.

We hear people talk about loving someone enough to be with them forever. Having those feelings is not enough to make it so. Heavenly Father has given to the modern-day prophets the keys and the authority to bind on earth things that will be bound throughout eternity. The ordinances performed in the temple are done by that authority. And they are necessary to obtain the celestial kingdom.

Adult Church members attend the temple the first time for their own endowment. For those who have died without an opportunity to receive the blessings of the temple, someone must do vicarious temple work for them here on earth. So Church members are encouraged to go regularly as proxy for those who have died. That’s one of the reasons the Church is so interested in family history and genealogy. Some ordinances must be performed while in mortality. We feel an obligation to give everyone the chance to accept the blessings of the temple.

You’ll notice that most of our readers who wrote answers to this question talk about the peaceful feeling in the temple. It is a place where your problems and worries of the world can be left outside. The temple is, as the Lord described, “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119).

Readers

While at the MTC I was able to go through the Provo Temple and be baptized and endowed for my father, who drowned while fishing a few years ago. The temple is a place where our world and the spirit world join together to help all of Heavenly Father’s children attain the ordinances and knowledge needed to return to him.

Elder Zellhuber, 22 Arizona Phoenix Mission

The words that stand out in my mind when I think of the temple come from a Primary song, “The temple is a holy place, where we are sealed together.” For me, without the temple, I can’t have what I want the very most—to be with my family forever.

Emily Fotheringham, 14 Hyde Park, Utah

Exodus 25:8 [Ex. 25:8] reads: “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” This scripture definitely explains the temple’s importance. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, dwells there.

Alicia Phares Winfield, West Virginia

I know I had a hard time understanding why it was so important until I went there for myself. I went there with my ward. When I entered into the temple I was just overpowered by the Spirit. Then I understood. Pray and then find out for yourself.

Marci Hales, 12 Tremonton, Utah

When I look at the temple, I see my parents. They are no longer here, but I know that because of what is offered in the temple, I will see and be with them again. The temple is the bridge that connects us.

Kristi Abts, 24 Eugene, Oregon

I recall the time when we were sealed together to our parents in the temple. What a wonderful experience it was! I know that the temple is where we receive ordinances that carry us into eternity, not only ourselves individually, but our family as well.

Elder Pouli Mamea, 20 California Oakland Mission

The temple is very important to members of the Church because it is the Lord’s house. The temple is where families are sealed for eternity. Baptisms for the dead take place there. This makes you feel close to our Heavenly Father.

Tyler Collet, 15 St. Charles, Missouri

[photo] Photography by Jed Clark

[illustration] Temples have always been the most holy places on earth. It is in the temple that covenants are made that go beyond this earth life. The prophet Elijah appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple, fulfilling an ancient prophecy, and gave the keys of this dispensation to Joseph (see D&C 110:13–16). (Painting Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and Elijah in Kirtland Temple by Gary E. Smith.)