A common symbol of the Mormon Church is our large and beautiful temples. With more than 160 temples (as of this date) either built or in planning across the world, it allows those not of our religion to have quite a bit of curiosity. My intent in writing this is to hopefully answer some of the questions or to correct many of the misconceptions associated with these buildings.
What is a temple?
We believe that a temple is literally the house of the Lord, here on the Earth. Here, His spirit dwells, and when we are worthy, we can enter into these sacred buildings to feel of that spirit.
Who can go inside?
Anyone is welcome inside, as long as they’re willing to follow the requirements of the Church.
Imagine that you own a mansion that is exquisite in all forms. It has carpet that is immaculately white. Then, all of a sudden, someone who has muddy shoes walks into your home without even a second thought. Obviously, that’s not going to be very well appreciated. The same is with us and the houses of the Lord. Once we’re clean and willing to live our lives in such a way that is pleasing unto the Lord, we can enter His home.
How do I get one of these “recommends”?
To enter into the temple, one must have a card or slip of paper called a “recommend.” One that has been recommended by his or her Bishop, and has proven themselves worthy to enter into the house of the Lord. Upon entering the temple, there is a front desk. A temple worker asks to see your recommend to make sure that it is still valid. If everything is as it should be, the temple worker will allow you to pass through the front desk into the rest of the Temple.
Why aren’t they open to the general public?
Similar to question #2, the temples are not open to the General Public, because you must be living your life in such a way to enter them.
However, immediately after construction, and before they are dedicated as the house of the Lord, the Temples have an “open house.” In a designated time, the General Public is allowed to come in and tour the Temple, without a recommend. The only thing that is required is that you wear little booties (they are provided) over your shoes, as to not dirty the temple. Once the temple has been dedicated as the house of the Lord, the doors are closed and only those who have those recommends are allowed into the temple.
What happens on the inside?
The inner parts of the temple cannot really be discussed. And that’s not because they’re “secret” per se, but because they are “sacred.”
Take this for example: Imagine that there is a two year old kid standing in front of you. In one hand, you hold up an ice cream cone. In the other hand, you hold up a $20 bill. You then let the child select one or the other. Which do you think the child is going to choose? Most likely the ice cream cone. That is because the child doesn’t truly understand the worth of the $20 bill. They don’t realize that with $20, they could buy 15 ice cream cones.
The same is with the temple. The things inside are so sacred, that even if they were to be revealed to the world, they wouldn’t be truly valued as they should be.
But one thing I will say is this: In the temple, we make more covenants with God. Just as baptism is our first covenant with God, to serve and follow his Son Jesus Christ until the end of our lives, we make addition covenants in the temples.
Is it true that you wear funny underwear?
Yes! We seem to get this question often. They are called “garments,” but I wouldn’t call them “funny.” We wear garments underneath our normal clothing as a constant reminder to ourselves of the covenants that we’ve made. In short, it’s an outer expression of an inner covenant that we’ve made.
What is the gold statue on top?
On top of (almost) all temples, there is a gold statue blowing on a trumpet. This is the angel Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet. It’s symbolic of the second coming of Christ, and how all the ends of the earth shall hear of the Gospel before that time.
What is the benefit of going? Why do people go there often?
Additional Gospel doctrines are taught in the Temples that have been received through modern day revelation. The benefit of going to the Temple often is to constantly be thinking of these teachings, and giving us more of a Heavenly perspective, rather than an Earthly perspective. It really allows us to remove ourselves from the problems and corruption in the world for just a brief moment, and think more about our purpose here in life and how to better ourselves.
I simply want to end this with my testimony of the Temples. Every time I attend the temple, I feel the Spirit so incredibly strong. I feel the love of my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ so much. It truly gives me the motivation to keep enduring through life, and the trials that it throws at us sometimes. I know without a doubt that if you’re willing to take the steps to truly accept God’s plan for us, and one day arrive to enter the temple, that you too, can feel of that love as well.