Grab a piece of paper or open a Word document. We’re going to take a quiz. I’m going to give you one essay question. Ready? Here we go!
What is the purpose of temples?
After reading that question, you probably understand why I told you it was an essay question. And, not surprisingly, this is a question often posed to members of the LDS faith by those who are not of the LDS faith. So before you read ahead, I’m going to ask that you answer for yourself what the purpose of temples is.
A temple is the place God has designated for his people to perform saving ordinances that extend through the eternities. LDS.org states that, “temples are the most sacred place on earth-a place where earth and heaven meet and where we feel close to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.” We enter temples to feel the spirit, perform ordinances, and receive instruction to help guide us on our journey to become more like Christ and to return to our Father’s presence. Temples are the buildings dedicated to sealing us to each other for time and all eternity, which is arguably one of the greatest blessings God could give us. Temples are places of peace and purity, where we can escape the world and focus on the spirit of revelation, comfort, and truth.
Historically, temples have not always existed. Many of the early prophets went to mountains to commune with God, such as Adam and Moses. Later, God instituted the traveling tabernacle for the Israelites as they fled Egypt. Eventually, more permanent temples existed in both the Biblical land of the Middle East and the Book of Mormon land of the Americas. However, after the apostasy and the destruction of the Nephite people, temples as the LDS people know and use them disappeared from the face of the earth.
Temples, as we know, are part of the fullness of the gospel that was restored by Joseph Smith. These sacred buildings are essential to God’s plan for us in this life so that we may inherit all He has waiting for us in the next.
Continuing with our school-like theme from the beginning of this post, let’s take a look at the adjectives listed in this hymn that describe temples:
Let’s look at a few more parts of speech. This time, let’s focus on the verbs, or actions:
- pledged to service
- bonds of union
- joyful be
Why on earth would I take a detour to look at these parts of speech? Well, not only are parts of speech something I enjoy, but there is a great deal of gospel truth hidden in these words. Let’s start with the verbs and work our way back to the adjectives.
We know that verbs describe actions. Look at all those actions that we are entitled to within the walls of the temple, either by us performing actions or by the Lord! Is there anything on that list that isn’t incredibly desirable? Is there anything on that list that you, personally don’t want?
Let’s look at those adjectives, which describe or modify a person, place, or thing. What a way to describe a physical location! Is there a person on this earth who wouldn’t want to be in a place described like that?
These holy temples provide us with so much peace, comfort, knowledge, hope, and assurance. Within their sacred walls, we are blessed. We can be linked to those we hold most dear and we can learn the things we need to enter into the highest degree of God’s glory.
Let me share a story. My husband’s family joined the church 21 years ago. 15 years previous to this, they had an infant pass away who was born with a brain tumor. For years, my in laws searched for answers. Why did this happen? Was their son lost? Where was he?Would they ever see him again? The church they were attending didn’t have the answers, so they kept looking. They searched in all sorts of scholarly documents, in different doctrines of different faiths, and never found an answer that satisfied them.
Eventually, a business trip took them to Salt Lake City, where they decided to visit Temple Square, since it seemed to be the major tourist attraction. While there, they were asked if they would like to watch a movie. They accepted, and the movie that was played for them was about forever families. The video taught that God has a plan for us to be together and that through the restored gospel, we can be sealed forever, not just until we die. The spirit bore witness of the truths being taught, and my in laws started receiving the discussions.
A year after being baptized, my mother in law, father in law, husband, and his younger brother went to the temple to be sealed as a family. They brought a close family friend with them to act as proxy for this child who had passed away. As they went through the sealing ceremony, the spirit bore witness of the sacred truth of eternal families, and everyone there felt the presence of this little boy, who now was no longer lost to them.
The blessings of the temple are so plentiful that I can’t even begin to list them. If all of us shifted our focuses more toward the temples, what a world we would have, what praises we would sing, what prayers we would offer. The fact that God has entrusted us with these edifices that contain such sacred ordinances and promises is, indeed, glorious.
Sing aloud, ye heav’nly chorus,
Anthems of eternal praise
To the glorious King Immanuel!
Sing with Saints of latter days!
Let the mountains shout for gladness,
And the valleys joyful be,
While the stars acclaim in rapture,
For the prisoners shall go free.