What are LDS Temples?
by Kathy Penrod
Perhaps you have seen one. Usually, they are white with a steeple, topped with an angel trumpeting to the east. The LDS temple. They are in most US states and scattered throughout the world.
There is often a great deal of curiosity and misunderstanding about LDS temples. Some questions I have heard are: “What exactly is an LDS temple?” “What goes on inside of those buildings?” “Why do members of the LDS church like going to them and how come not everyone can go?” Hopefully I can answer some of these questions.
In ancient times, God’s people built temples and He wants us to build them today. Historically, temples are a part of religious worship for those who follow the Great Jehovah. They are important to God and His followers.
God wants us to build and worship in temples so, as a church – structured around the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ – we build temples. When there are enough LDS members in a particular area, a temple is built. Temples are not the typical Sabbath day place of worship and, actually, temples are closed on Sundays.
Temples are, very literally, the house of God. In fact, on every single one of our 149 working temples, you will see the words “House of the Lord. Holiness to the Lord.” Temples are an extension of our faith, a symbol of our commitment. Inside the temple, we make promises to follow God’s law, learn about the Savior’s role in our salvation and bind ourselves to our families.
Additionally, in the temple, we do something called Baptisms for the Dead. Some mistakenly assume we are actually baptizing corpses. I suppose that if one is unfamiliar with our church and its vernacular that could be one conclusion one might draw. But, it is very different from what actually happens. Because of the commandment which Jesus Christ gave (John 3:5) we know that we must be born of “water and of the spirit” to enter the kingdom of Heaven. God is a fair and just God. He has provided a way for those, who were not baptized with proper priesthood authority in this life, to still receive that ordinance. So, members of our church will stand in as a proxy for someone who is being baptized. The deceased person will then receive all the blessings afforded to someone who had been baptized here on earth.
Another mistaken notion is that not everyone can go to the temple. In some regard, that is true. In quite another, it is a false idea. First, between the time of a temple being constructed and being dedicated, there is an “Open House” to which everybody is invited. Any religion, any age, any background. All are invited to quietly walk through the temple and partake in the beautiful spirit there. However, once the temple is dedicated, attending it requires a little more effort on the part of the temple-goer. First, one must be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Second, one must be committed enough to His gospel that he or she abides by the requirements required to attend. The great thing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it turns no one away. Should someone desire to make these commitments, he or she is welcomed. The Savior ever beckons, “Come unto me.”
Temples are very sacred for us. Many members of the LDS church have tender feelings towards these beautiful edifices. I know for me, personally, I find a completeness of spirit inside its walls. There are few places left in this world where a quiet peace can settle on the soul like the first touch of sun in the morning. Attending the temple of God is one of these places for me. The peace is so gentle and so clear that I am able to remember who I am and what my purpose is here on earth. I am greeted, each time I enter, with a gentle force so tangible that a smile instantly crosses my face. My soul is quieted and my thoughts are sharper. Inside I have learned of my Savior and come to know of His all-encompassing love.
Temples are houses built and offered to God. They are literally His House and dedicated to Him. Temples are where Heaven touches earth.