How many times have you seen your parents preparing for a visit to the temple and wondered, Is it a place for adults only? Most of those seen entering the temple are senior citizens. The majority of those who speak in church of temple experiences are older people. However, the house of the Lord is a special place for all of God’s children, including the young, middle-aged, and aged alike, if they keep themselves clean and worthy of entering into its sacred precincts.
Some younger members of the Church go to the temple to be sealed to their parents. Others go there to perform baptisms for the dead. And it is hoped that all will keep themselves pointed toward the privileges of participating at the appropriate time in celestial marriage and doing proxy work for the deceased.
You should never feel that the temple is a place for someone else and not for you. The doors to God’s house are open to all, and a spiritual feast is spread for every attender, providing you approach it with purpose, purity, and proper perspective in mind.
As a young adult I attended a session in the Manti Temple. I recall that the company was large and the proceedings rather long and drawn out. The rooms were crowded and very warm, making it difficult for me to stay awake and to keep my mind from wandering. At a moment when I was relaxed in thought, I heard a speaker quote the words of the Savior: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
All of a sudden, I felt a spiritual nudging and became very alert. A voice within me seemed to shout, “That’s it! That’s why I am here! I am here in the Lord’s house to become better acquainted with the only true and living God and his Son—the Savior of mankind.” Then the voice in my mind asked, “Is there a better place than the temple to learn of God and his holy purposes?”
No one can really know another unless he has seen him in his home and visited him in familiar surroundings. In intimate settings, pretenses are dropped, things are seen as they really are, and true perspectives are obtained. So it is with friends and neighbors in their homes, and so it is with God in his place of abode—the temple.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “The House of the Lord is functional. Every element in the design, decoration, atmosphere, and program of the temple contributes to its function, which is to teach. The temple teaches of Christ. It teaches of His ordinances. It is filled with His Spirit. There is an aura of Deity” (Edward L. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 1982, 534–35).
In the dedicatory prayer for the temple in Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord referred to his house as a place where he might manifest himself to his people. He said through the Prophet Joseph, “… that thy holy presence may be continually in this house. And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness” (D&C 109:12–13).
A person is never too young to become acquainted with the Lord. After all, has he not shown his special love for the young, even children, and invited all to become like them? (see 3 Ne. 17:21–24; Matt. 18:3).
The Psalmist declared: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Ps. 24:3–5).
I have always felt that “clean hands” refer to cleanliness of mind and body; a “pure heart” suggests a purity of motive or intent; “a soul not lifted up unto vanity” is one who retains humility; and one “who has not sworn deceitfully” is one who enters the temple honorably, honestly, and fully qualified to receive the blessings of the temple.
Whenever I think of the temple and personal worthiness, I reflect upon an experience a few years ago, when my wife and I attended an afternoon session in the Salt Lake Temple. The company was small, consisting of no more than a dozen men and a dozen women. I scanned the group, casually noting that all were strangers to me except my wife. We were instructed in the first room and then moved to the next. As we took our seats in the second room, there was a slight commotion. I looked about to see what was wrong. In doing so, I saw a woman leave the room. All of us assumed that she was ill or had perhaps forgotten a piece of clothing. The interruption was brief and the instruction resumed. It was a refreshing temple experience for us, and we returned home rejoicing.
The next day I received a very unusual telephone call. My secretary came to my office door and said, “A woman wants to speak with you, but she won’t give me her name.”
I picked up the phone and announced myself. The caller promptly asked, “Elder Asay, what do you know about me?”
“How can I answer your question,” I responded, “when you haven’t even given me your name?”
She continued, “You were in the three o’clock temple session yesterday, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” I answered, “I was there.”
She said, “Do you remember someone walking out of the second room?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“I am the one who walked out of the temple yesterday. Elder Asay, what do you know about me?”
At this point the conversation was becoming a bit tedious, and I said, “Please don’t play games with me. Unless you tell me who you are, how can I respond to your query?”
Almost totally ignoring what I said, the woman confessed: “I left the temple room yesterday before the instruction began. I did so because you looked at me with a searching look, and you made me feel as though I was unworthy to be there.” Once again, she asked, “What do you know about me?”
I said: “Well, if you attended the temple worthily yesterday, I apologize for how I may have looked at you and for how I may have made you feel. However, if you were there unworthily, I make no apology.”
There was a long silence and then soft sobbing over the telephone. Finally, the woman confessed: “I have committed a serious sin, and I attended the temple yesterday under false pretenses. However,” she added, “I visited my bishop last night, and I will follow his counsel and advice.”
It is most significant that the woman judged herself through my eyes in the house of the Lord. She verified in part the truth that “no unclean thing can dwell with God” or abide his holy presence (1 Ne. 10:21), for “the piercing eye of the Almighty God: sees all” (Jacob 2:10).
How do you know if you are worthy to enter the temple? Some might judge themselves too harshly; others might be too lenient. That is where the bishop and the temple recommend interview enter the picture. They help you measure yourself against the basic standards that have been set. You do not have to be perfect to enter the temple—the temple is there to help us become perfect. The Church member who is living the basic laws such as chastity, tithing, and the Word of Wisdom, and who answers the interview questions honestly, should feel worthy to enter the house of the Lord.
You must be consistent in your righteousness and strive to attain a state of goodness whereby you will feel comfortable in God’s holy house. Bear in mind that all of us will stand before the Lord one day—ready or not—to be judged (see Alma 42:1–31). The temple becomes a place where we prepare to meet the one who gave us life.
Shortly before the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple, a group of us stood in an unfinished room. Building materials and tools were scattered over the floor and craftsmen were busily engaged in placing finishing touches on the walls and ceiling. Though the room was untidy and a beehive of activity, we were subdued by the emerging beauty of the temple.
I asked Brother Henry Haurand, the construction supervisor, “Do the workers appreciate the significance of this project?”
“No,” he answered, “they are not members of the Church and they don’t understand the sacred nature of temples. To them,” he added, “this is just another job.”
My wife inquired of Henry, “Do you always feel the Spirit of the Lord when you come here?”
“No, I do not,” he responded. “When I enter the temple during the working day, I do so as a building supervisor and I look with a critical eye for flaws in the construction. In this inspective mood, I feel nothing special about the place. But,” Brother Haurand continued, “when I come here in the quiet of the evening and the place is free of noise and confusion, and I am able to reflect upon the holy purposes of the temple, I am overwhelmed by the Spirit of the Lord.”
I have pondered Brother Henry’s words many, many times. I’ve concluded that he taught us two profound truths: (1) sacred things are seen and appreciated only through “the eyes of faith,” and (2) things of the Spirit can only be discerned by “purer eyes” (Alma 5:15; D&C 131:7).
People without faith and understanding of God’s purposes “have eyes, and see not” (Jer. 5:21). Their vision is limited to immediate surroundings and the events of here and now. However, those who believe in the divine and who possess a hope in Christ have a more expanded view because they see through the eyes of faith.
Eyes see more clearly and souls become sharper when exposed to the influence of the holy temple. I testify that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, and that the temple or the house of the Lord is their holy sanctuary. I testify that eye hath not seen nor ear heard the wonderful things that await the young who come to the temple with full purpose of heart, with purity of soul, and with a proper perspective in mind.