How Can I Get Inside an LDS Temple?
Mormon Temple in San Diego, California
Who is Allowed in a Mormon Temple?
Many people have seen or heard of the beautiful temples of the LDS church, and have questions about what they're used for and who may enter and attend.
There are more than 130 temples in the LDS church, and unlike the many chapels you see throughout the world, Mormon Temples are not used for regular worship services.
It's important to know that everyone, whether they're members of the church or not, is welcome to attend regular LDS worship services at one of the many chapels in communities all across the world.
But, as many have heard, only those with a specific standing in the church may enter an LDS temple once it has been dedicated and is in operation.
How would you prepare to go to a temple? The first step would be to become a member of the church, since only members may do the ordinances in the temple. Temples are considered the most sacred places in the church, and care is taken to assure, as much as possible, that those who enter it are worthy of the sacred responsibilities it carries.
Two Video Slideshows of LDS Temples
Book on History of Mormons | LDS Church
Why Aren't LDS Temples Open to the Public?
To attend or perform most of the services and ordinances at LDS temples, members of the church must be adults who have been in the church for at least a year and are in good standing. The exception to this is baptism ceremonies, which can be performed by by children who are at least 12 years' old or by adults who do not yet have a 'temple recommend.'
Persons who have just joined the church as adults are required to wait at least one year before they can apply for and be interviewed for a 'temple recommend.' This ensures that they better understand the teachings of the church, that they are honoring the covenants of their baptism into the church, and that they are serious about their membership.
As a member approaches the point at which he or she is able to go to the temple, Temple Preparedness Classes are offered that help them understand the purpose of the temple and the role it plays in their spiritual path and eternal life. These classes are informative and helpful for members who have not been in the church all their lives.
When an adult has been a member for at least a year, he or she can request an interview with the leaders of their local congregation and 'stake' (which is a group of congregations), where various questions will be asked to see if they're spiritually ready to attend the temple.
The interview questions relate to whether the member is honoring the practices of the church regarding alcohol, smoking, chastity, personal prayer, fasting, tithing and other teachings. Church leaders will also explain a few of the spiritual blessings the temple offers.
If the local leaders feel the member is ready for that step, they will issue a 'temple recommend,' which is a small, signed document (about the size of a driver's license) that the member must show as he or she enters the temple.
Before the member attends for the first time (or perhaps at the temple itself, if available) he or she will need to order the garments and other items used in the temple. After a member has been through the temple's ordinance services for the first time, he or she will wear the 'garments' under their outer clothing (as undergarments). These can only be obtained from the church, and are considered sacred.
Once a member has made all the above preparations, it's important to set an appointment time for the first visit to the temple. This gives the member an opportunity to get some brief instruction about the ordinances, what to expect as they get the blessings offered in the temple, and to ask questions.
A companion (which can be a friend or family member) will usually accompany a member who attends the temple for the first time to make them feel more at home and to help answer questions.
Young adults usually are interviewed for the temple and attend for the first time when they are ready to leave for a mission or when they are about to get married. Other adults can attend once they have been members for at least a year and have been properly interviewed.
Video About the Blessings of the Mormon Temple
What Secret Things Happen Inside Mormon Temples?
There are probably hundreds of questions about the LDS church and its temples, but here are a few that are commonly heard, with some basic answers:
- Is Everything Secret? Not exactly 'secret' so much as held in reverence and considered sacred. The temple is a special place where members feel closest to Heavenly Father, and while some things are not discussed outside of its walls.
- What Happens in an LDS Temple? Members of the church can get married (sealed) for time and all eternity to their spouse or family, and they make covenants to honor God's teachings. They also perform work that is considered sacred for relatives who have passed on to the next life.
- Why Can't I Enter the Temple? Before a temple is dedicated, it is opened to visitors and you can tour one during those weeks. After that, it is only used by members who are in good standing with the church.
- What Do People Wear? Everyone is dressed in white. There are several reasons for this; white is considered a pure color, and it also allows everyone to be the same. You can't tell the economic or social standing of people in the temple, because there are no 'trappings' of the temporal world. Women wear long white dresses (modest in design) and men wear white suits or white shirts and slacks.
- Why Can't Non-members Attend Temple Weddings? The temple marriage ceremony is short and very sacred. Sometimes there are non-member friends or family who cannot be there, and every step is taken to help them feel comfortable and welcome on the grounds or in a waiting room if they accompany the couple to the temple. Usually, a couple will have a reception party afterward and it will often include a 'ring ceremony' and festivities similar to regular weddings and celebrations. It is hoped that nobody feels left out, and that they share the love and sacredness the couple feels about the temple ceremony.