In the past decade or two, there has been a remarkable surge in temple construction throughout the world. After each temple is completed, the Church holds an open house event, in which the public is invited to tour the new temple, understand its purpose, and appreciate its beauty.
After the open house, a special dedicatory meeting is held in which the building is dedicated as a temple of God. This dedication marks a change in the temple. Prior to dedication, it is a beautiful building constructed with fine materials and great care, intended as a place of worship. It is a special place, as those who attend the open house can attest. At dedication, though, something more is added. It is dedicated, set apart permanently as a holy and sacred place, a place where Heaven and Earth can meet.
When something (or someone) is dedicated, it is focused on a particular purpose, and does not tolerate distraction. An athlete dedicated to winning an Olympic medal alters his (or her) diet, sleep, exercising and training habits in light of that goal. Because of that dedication, his way of life is different from those around him.
Our dedicated temples are likewise unique. The ultimate purpose of temples is to bind families together eternally through the power of God. In order to achieve that purpose, it looks different from other buildings. It sounds different. It feels different. To avoid distracting from the Spirit of the Lord there, attendance is limited to those who are keeping certain covenants. The dedication of the temple means that it is no longer a workplace for master craftsmen or a showroom for our beliefs—it is now a sacred place of holy ordinances and binding covenants.
We don’t just dedicate temples, though. Meetinghouses are dedicated too, as well as seminaries, institutes, and other Church facilities. The restrictions that come with each of these dedications varies according to the purpose of the building, but all are done under priesthood power. We might consider the dedication of a building as a sort of covenant with God—we promise to treat the building appropriately according to the purpose for dedication, and in return we seek God’s magnifying power in carrying out that purpose.
Our homes can also be dedicated to God by priesthood authority. Church instruction states this:
Church members may dedicate their homes as sacred edifices where the Holy Spirit can reside and where family members can worship, find safety from the world, grow spiritually, and prepare for eternal family relationships. (Handbook 2)
We frequently teach that our homes are a sacred place, that “only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness”. If we seek divine assistance in achieving the goals listed above, would it not be wise to dedicate our homes also?
Of course, dedication does not happen by means of a simple prayer. An athlete who declares her dedication to competing in the Olympics but then carries on with the same everyday tasks will not find any change in her ability. Likewise, simply dedicating a home does not immediately change its character. We must act consistent with that dedication, making our homes a refuge from the world and encouraging a spirit of love there in order for that dedication to be effective.
This House We Dedicate to Thee does not specify whether it should be sung at the dedication of a temple or a meetinghouse. It is equally appropriate for both. In the second verse, we sing:
Wilt thou thy servants here inspire
When in thy name they speak?
And wilt thou bless each contrite soul
Who here thy face doth seek?
This request is appropriate, but only if we act in accordance with the blessing we seek. It’s easy to attend church but tune out the speakers—yet can we really expect God to inspire them if we choose not to listen? Our actions within that building must demonstrate our acknowledgement of the dedication it has received in order for those blessings to be realized.
As we speak of dedication, I want to suggest one more topic for consideration. Paul taught the following:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
If we dedicate our meetinghouses and temples to God, seeking his grace in magnifying the power of those places, should we not also dedicate our own bodies, our own lives to God? If we truly seek eternal life, should we not dedicate ourselves to God, modifying habits and avoiding distractions?
You are not a building, of course—the analogy is imperfect. But I hope you’ll consider your own dedication to God.