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Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is a building of worship reserved to perform certain Church ordinances and conduct certain ceremonies and meetings. Temples and their associated ordinances are a vital part of Mormon theology. Their importance is emphasized in weekly meetings, and regular participation in temple work is strongly encouraged of all Latter-day Saints (LDS).

Table of contents
1 Purpose of LDS Temples
2 Temple Ordinances
3 Requirements for entering LDS temples
4 History of LDS Temples
5 External Links
6 References

Purpose of LDS Temples

Temples have a different purpose from LDS meetinghouses. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today, temples serve two main purposes. First, temples are locations in which worthy Latter-day Saints can perform sacred ordinances on behalf of themselves and on behalf of their dead ancestors. Second, temples are considered to be a holy abode for Jesus Christ where members can go to commune with God.

Most Mormons consider the temple ordinances, including sealings and the Endowment, to be very sacred and confidential. Although these ceremonies may be found on the Internet, they are not considered to be in the public domain, and are protected by copyright laws. An LDS church manual called Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple explains that Latter-day Saints "do not discuss the temple ordinances outside the temples. It was never intended that knowledge of these temple ceremonies would be limited to a select few who would be obliged to ensure that others never learn of them. It is quite the opposite, in fact. With great effort the church urges every soul to qualify and prepare for the temple experience." Thus, because temple ceremonies are highly symbolic and personal, the ceremonies are usually not discussed with members of other faiths.

Nearly everything in the temple is symbolic, from the clothing worn (those who attend the temple dress in white, a symbol of purity), to the building and rooms, to the signs given and the ceremonies themselves.

In addition to being a place to conduct sacred ceremonies, the temple is also considered to be a holy abode for God, where the temple attendee or 'patron' may seek God’s aid in understanding His will for that person at that time through personal revelation. Ezra Taft Benson, a former president of the Church, taught that "When I have been weighed down by a problem or a difficulty, I have gone to the House of the Lord with a prayer in my heart for answers. These answers have come in clear and unmistakable ways" (Ensign, August 1985, page 8).

Temple Ordinances

In Mormonism, an ordinance is a ritual of special significance, usually involving a covenant with God. Most ordinances are performed outside the temple; for example, Mormons perform Baptisms, Confirmations, the Sacrament, ordinations to the Priesthood, patriarchal blessings, blessing and anointing of the sick, and blessings of newborn children, in homes or meetinghouses. In the Church today, however, there are some ordinances, including the Endowment and sealings that are performed only in temples. The Endowment is a very sacred and confidential ceremony in which the patron is washed and anointed to become rulers in the afterlife, followed by an instructional phase relating to what Mormons view as humanity's relation to God and God's creation. See Endowment (Mormonism). Sealings are ceremonies in which husband is bound to wife, and children to parents, for all eternity. See Sealing (Mormonism). In addition, these and several other ordinances may be performed vicariously or by proxy in behalf of the dead. Ordinances that may be performed on behalf of the dead include the following:

Ordinances on behalf of the dead are performed when a deceased person's genealogical information has been submitted to the temple. Latter-day Saints are encouraged, in particular, to perform ordinances on behalf of their dead ancestors.

Work for the dead is seen as an essential part of Church practice. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "And so these sacred buildings are scenes of tremendous activity, quietly and reverently carried forward. They call to mind a part of the vision of John the Revelator wherein are recorded this question and this answer: 'What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?...

"'These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

"'Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.'" (Revelation 7:13-15). Tambuli, June 1992, page 3.

After Latter-day Saints enter the temple and receive temple ordinances for themselves, they may return and perform similar ordinances in behalf of their deceased ancestors.

Latter-day Saints complete Genealogical work for deceased persons and if it is determined an individual was not baptized by a Church Priesthood authority, their name is prepared for baptism. Optimally, the proxy who stands in will be a descendant of the deceased person, but may also be done by an unrelated volunteer. Baptism is typically a prerequisite for other ordinances.

Latter-day Saints believe deceased non-Mormons are in a condition or state typically referred to as Spirit Prison and may be taught the gospel. Latter-day Saints believe that Christ went to the righteous spirits in prison and organized a great missionary force to teach the gospel to the dead (see D&C 138, 1 Peter 3:18-4:6), who may be baptized by proxy in a temple and have a chance to accept or reject that baptism.

This doctrine is similar in some respects to Roman Catholic Purgatory although the difference between the two concepts is considerable. In Spirit Prison, non-Mormons are believed to be exposed to Church doctrines and have the opportunity to accept or decline these teachings as well as any vicarious ordinances done on their behalf.

Requirements for entering LDS temples

In addition to being a place where Mormons can perform ordinances, temples are also considered as a literal House of the Lord. Much like the ancient Hebrews viewed the Temple in Jerusalem, Mormons believe that the Lord visits the temples to communicate with the priesthood. Also like the Hebrew temples, only certain people are allowed in the temple. Inside at least some of the temples, there is also a special room called the "Holy of Holies" in which only certain of the Church high leadership may enter.

Because temples are considered to be a sacred place, a Latter-day Saint must be in good standing with the Church and have a valid temple recommend in order to enter past the foyer of a temple. Members are interviewed by Church leaders who issue a temple recommend - a small card which allows a worthy Latter-day Saint to enter a temple. The Church has asked that members seeking to enter should have a willingness to keep the commandments (including standards of chastity, obedience to the Word of Wisdom, Law of Tithing and observance of the Sabbath day and keeping it holy), a basic understanding of gospel doctrines (a testimony of God, Jesus Christ and His Atonement, the Restoration of the Gospel).

Members do not have to be perfect, but must show they are striving to keep the commandments. Typically, someone seeking to enter the temple the first time will arrange an interview with a Bishop who is believed to be a ‘common judge’ in Israel and a presiding High Priest of a local congregation. The Bishop and the individual will determine the readiness and worthiness of that individual to attend.

Because Latter-day Saints believe that temple ordinances are sacred, they are usually hesitant to discuss details of the ordinances outside of the temple, especially with members of other faiths. They also believe they are under covenant with God not to reveal certain symbols and names associated with the ceremonies. The consequent secrecy surrounding ordinances has generated speculation, controversy and misunderstanding of temple ceremonies in part due to use of language unfamiliar to non-Mormons. Because it is not discussed, some Latter-day Saints allege that those who publicize purported details of temple ceremonies are either disaffected, former or excommunicated Church members or non-Mormons who have trespassed on private property and made unauthorized recordings or transcripts which, some many believe, violate copyright law of published materials.

History of LDS Temples

Temple worship is an important part of Latter-day Saint worship and has been emphasized since a few years after the organization of the Church. Below is a short timeline of key events in Latter-day Saint Temple worship as believed by Latter-day Saints:

External Links