The New Era asked President L. Aldin Porter of the Salt Lake Temple how young adults can prepare to enter the holy temple.
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Each person, living or dead, must receive temple ordinances and keep the covenants to return to Heavenly Father. Before you marry in the temple or go on a mission, you will receive your own temple ordinances. Then you can return to the temple to perform those ordinances for the dead.
How do you prepare to receive your own temple ordinances? President L. Aldin Porter, president of the Salt Lake Temple, shares some insights.
Why are temple ordinances and covenants important?
President Porter: The Lord has made it clear in the scriptures that His purpose is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Temple covenants and ordinances are necessary to achieve that blessing.
What can young adults expect when they come to the temple to receive their own endowments?
President Porter: They come to make covenants, and they come to be taught. A temple recommend gives them entrance to the temple and the right to receive the ordinances and covenants, but it does not give them an education in the temple, the Lord’s university. This education is going to take effort.
Young adults shouldn’t be surprised if some aspects of the temple seem a little confusing at first. In the scriptures, the Lord often teaches with parables and symbolism. He does so in the temple as well. Understanding the symbolism will require some pondering and prayer. If young adults will look, in faith, beyond the symbols, they will find lessons of eternal substance.
What we learn and feel in the temple is largely determined by how reverent we are. Reverence is more than silence. Reverence is, among other things, a respect for sacred gifts.
How would you recommend that young men and women prepare to come to the temple?
President Porter: The pure in heart more easily understand and accept the doctrines and commandments of the Lord. Those who live righteously are more in tune with sacred things. The temple will have more meaning to those who have prepared themselves.
The Spirit that youth feel as they read and ponder the scriptures and listen carefully to the living prophets will be compatible with the feelings of the temple. Performing baptisms for the dead will also help youth feel the sacredness of the Lord’s holy house and prepare them for other temple ordinances.
Bishops will give young adults a booklet titled Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple. The material in that booklet is worthy of contemplation. They should not skim it and then assume they are prepared. I hope they would study and ponder it before and after their first experiences in the temple. It will be a powerful tool in understanding the temple for many years thereafter.
The world’s standards tend to be very casual in dress and speech. But we must not be casual as we take upon ourselves the teachings, ordinances, and covenants of the temple. I hope young adults will come to the temple dressed in their Sunday best, displaying an attitude of reverence in dress, actions, and speech. We can learn what the Lord has for us only if we attend the temple in a sacred and respectful way.
What can young adults expect to learn from the temple ordinances?
President Porter: I would not try to explain what can be learned from the ordinances. They are rich in meaning and full of eternal truths. They are encouraging and motivating to those who strive to understand them. If one is to understand the ordinances and covenants fully, it will be through the gentle impressions of the Holy Spirit.
Why are there standards of worthiness to enter the temple?
President Porter: To protect His holy house and those who enter it, the Lord has given certain requirements. The questions a bishop asks us as we obtain a recommend will help us to be spiritually prepared to make temple covenants. Our Heavenly Father has set these standards of worthiness to bless His children. They are not to keep people out of the temple unless they are unprepared.
Why don’t endowed members talk about what goes on in the temple?
President Porter: We have covenanted not to talk about these sacred experiences. In a general priesthood meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I remind you of the absolute obligation to not discuss outside the temple that which occurs within the temple. Sacred matters deserve sacred consideration. We are under obligation, binding and serious, to not use temple language or speak of temple matters outside” (“Keeping the Temple Holy,” Ensign, May 1990, 52).
How will the temple ordinances and covenants bless a marriage?
President Porter: The Lord has said: “When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:21). Laws of eternal happiness are given in the temple, where we covenant to obey those laws. Keeping those covenants will help us establish a happy and productive home in this life and a continuation of that happiness into eternity.
What do you hope young adults remember from their first time at the temple?
President Porter: I pray that they will remember the sacredness of the moment. They should feel that they have entered a place that is different from our other church buildings. They will be in the house of the Lord, where they should feel His love. It is my deep desire that the feelings of holiness of their first experience will be enhanced over the years.
What other advice do you have for young people preparing to come to the temple?
President Porter: I hope they come to the temple in faith. They will not understand all at first, nor would they in any other activity with deep meaning. But they will learn more as they return to the Lord’s temples.
The Lord honors those who respect His sacred gifts. Those who don’t respect them lose them. They drift away from the mind and heart, and the temple and its blessings are soon forgotten. On the other hand, those who honor the Lord’s gifts will find greater joy and understanding that cannot be found in any other way in mortality.
If young adults make and keep sacred covenants, they will, in time, experience a fulfillment of the Apostle Paul’s words: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
What Is the Endowment?
President Brigham Young said the endowment is “to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father … and gain your eternal exaltation” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 416).
What to Take to the Temple
“What we gain from the temple will depend to a large degree on what we take to the temple in the way of humility and reverence and a desire to learn. If we are teachable we will be taught by the Spirit, in the temple” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple [booklet, 2002], 10).