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Mormon Temple Q & A

Updated on September 9, 2010

Mormon Temple - Salt Lake City

Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City
Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Mormon Temples

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began building temples early in its history. The purpose of these temples is different from other church buildings - normally referred to as chapels, which are used for Sunday worship and activities, including basketball. Here are some frequently asked questions related to the purpose of LDS temples.

[Note: When I use the term Mormon in this article, I'm referring to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as distinguished from the several off-shoot sects, many of whom also refer to themselves as "Mormons".]

Question: Who can enter a Mormon Temple?

Answer: Mormon Temples are sacred. Worship in the temple is reserved to those who meet moral requirements that include having a testimony of Jesus Christ, living chaste lives, being honest, sustaining church leaders, and others. Non-members of the Church are allowed to enter the foyer area. To proceed into the main part of the temple, a person must have a current temple recommend. Regarding age requirements, the baptismal area of the temple is accessible to youth beginning at age 12. Other parts of the temple, where such ordinances as the endowment are performed, are normally restricted to adults who are eligible to receive the endowment and other ordinances.

Question: What is actually done in the temple?

Answer: Ordinances that Latter-day Saints believe to be essential for exaltation (living in the presence of God) are performed in the temple. Theses ordinances include baptisms, initiatories (washing and anointing), endowments, and sealings (weddings). Members of the church first receive these ordinances for themselves, after which they can return to the temple to stand as proxies to receive the ordinances for those who have died without the opportunity to partake of the ordinances themselves. (The exception to this pattern is that personal baptisms are done in a church building, not in the temple.)

Question: Why are non-LDS people not allowed to witness temple ceremonies?

Answer: Receiving temple ordinances represents a spiritual understanding that should not be treated lightly. For that reason, only members of the LDS Church who have demonstrated their faithfulness and willingness to abide by the covenants agreed to when they receive temple ordinances. There is a high degree of responsibility that is incumbent upon one who partakes of the temple ordinances. Those who do not meet the requirements are always invited to prepare themselves to receive the temple ordinances.

Question:  What do people wear in the temple?

Answer:  Members of the LDS Church wear Sunday dress when entering the temple.  While inside the temple, their dress depends upon the ordinance they're performing.  Most temple clothing is white, symbolizing purity.  The dress that characterized temple worship is representative of the equality that exists among people who are worshiping at the temple.

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