Mormons do strange things in their temples?
Information about Mormon temples
Mormons consider temple ceremonies to be very sacred and so are reluctant to speak about them with those who might not fully appreciate the religious symbolism. Those who are not yet prepared to enter the temple
, a group that includes both Mormons and those of other faiths alike, are encouraged to participate in weekly meetings at Mormon chapels, where the form of worship is less symbolic and resembles that found in most other denominations. That having been said, there is nothing strange going on in the temples. Here’s a brief list of some of the ceremonies that take place. ()
- Sealings. Mormons believe that marriages can last forever, not just until death. These kind of eternal marriages are called sealings (The Holy Temple, Boyd K. Packer).
Mormons describe their experiences worshiping God in the templeEndowments. In the Endowment ceremony, Mormons make promises to God. Among other things, we promise to be virtuous, charitable, benevolent, tolerant, and to use our talents and resources to help humanity (The Holy Temple, Boyd K. Packer).
- Vicarious baptisms. The temple is a place where Mormons think a lot about their ancestors, their roots. We believe that after this life human beings continue to progress spiritually. We consider baptism to be an important step in this spiritual progression but recognize that many of our progenitors didn’t have the opportunity to be baptized while on earth. In temples, we can be vicariously baptized in their behalf, giving them an opportunity to accept or reject baptism. Sealings and endowments are also performed vicariously.
Some mistakenly believe weekly LDS Sunday services are held in temples or in buildings called “tabernacles.” In reality, Sunday services are held in LDS “chapels,” buildings that are open to the public. The Church used to build “tabernacles” in its early days, buildings that were more or less used as town halls. Those that remain standing are sometimes used when large groups of Mormons meet together, such as in “regional conferences.”
An introduction to Mormon temples
Others mistakenly believe that Mormons want to keep people out of their temples. On the contrary, the Church goes to extraordinary lengths to encourage people to prepare themselves to enter the temple. Much of the Mormon missionary program is directed towards this end. Because of the sacred nature of the promises made in the temple, however, only those prepared are allowed to enter. Without the necessary preparation, the sacred promises and symbols would not be appreciated. Click to take a virtual tour of Temple Square
Mormon temples are unnecessarily luxurious?
Mormon temples bless our lives
Some criticize the building of temples, arguing that the money should be given to the poor. The Mormon dedication to the poor
is irrefutable. We recognize the importance of caring for God’s children both physically (through our
international humanitarian program
), as well as spiritually (through our temple-building program). If one lacks life’s basic necessities, it can be difficult to develop the spiritual. If one lacks a connection with God, it can be difficult for even the richest man to see meaning in life at all. We must attend to both humanity’s physical and spiritual needs; to neglect one is to negate the other.
Why devote so many resources to building beautiful temples? As mentioned above, Mormons do not hold their weekly meetings in temples; our regular meeting houses, called chapels, are simple. Unlike LDS chapels, temples are considered to be literal houses of God. Just as the ancient Israelites dedicated much of their resources to building a holy temple, Mormons believe that sacrificing to build temples is one way of honoring God.
Mormons invest in their temples as a way of honoring God, just as ancient Solomon did when he constructed his Israelite temple.
The beauty of the temple
also helps those who worship there recognize that they are in a special place; it sets a spiritual tone that helps them draw closer to God. I’ll never forget a recent temple meeting in which I participated. Mexican Mormonsósome of them perhaps from povertyóhad traveled to San Diego to worship in the temple. The temple’s physical beauty accentuates its spiritual beauty; these faithful saints must have felt, in a way, as if they were in heaven, a place very different from the harsh realities of their daily lives. While the Church does make great efforts to improve the living conditions of Mormons and “non-Mormons” alike, had many of these faithful members been forced to choose between monetary aid or the opportunity to worship in that temple, the choice would have been obvious. We must not neglect people’s spiritual needs.
That many consider their spiritual well-being paramount even to their physical comfort is illustrated by a personal essay I wrote while serving a mission in Brazil, entitled
The Sacrifice. Click to take a virtual tour of Temple Square.