A personal reflection by Jhumer:
I was born and raised by loving parents who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church). I was taught since I was young that families can be eternal. I remember clearly when I was about 5 years old, my parents brought me and my two other siblings to the LDS Temple in Manila Philippines. It took some savings, sacrifice, and preparation for my parents to be able to take all of us there.
While we were in that beautiful and magnificent edifice, I didn’t quite understand then what was going on. As a young boy, I could only appreciate the inner joy of the impression I felt while inside that building. We were all dressed in white, and everyone else was dressed in white as well. People spoke softly as if they whisper while saying kind and appreciative words to my parents. There was an older couple who assisted my mother when my sister was crying. I was delighted to see such kindhearted people who showed kindness in a very simple way.
As I grew up and attended church, I was taught and learned to understand deeper what took place inside that beautiful LDS temple. My family was sealed for time and all eternity – this means that when we die, we can and will still have the same relationship as a family in the next life. By virtue of the sealing power of the Holy Priesthood (the power of God given to men to act in His name), we were pronounced as “Eternal family”. My parents will have claim on me as their son, and I to them as my parents.
In the New Testament, the Savior gave this sealing power to His Apostles which meant that whatever they bind or seal on earth using that power is also bound or sealed in Heaven. (See Matthew 16:19.) This sealing power was again restored on Earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith and is now held by worthy and appointed male members of the LDS Church who work as volunteers inside the Temple. Reflecting on this truth and the thought of God’s love to His children to allow family relationships to continue beyond grave, I cannot help but feel an outpouring of gratitude knowing that I can still keep my beloved family for eternity.
Since I was young, it became my goal to be married in the Holy Temple and not to settle for anything less. As only those who keep and uphold the standards of the Church are considered worthy to enter, I labored to keep myself in accordance to God’s commandments and the Church’s requirements. When I fell in love to the right person and it was time for us to get married, I took her to the very temple where I and my parents were sealed and there we exchanged marital vows and made sacred covenants (promises) to the Lord. As we faced each other at the altar, I looked at my wife’s eyes while contemplating the joy of being assured that as long as we both honor our covenants, our love will continue for eternity. The thought of that precious moment has become my strength in battling marital trials and daily challenges that threaten family life.
Being a Mormon in my entire life, I am a witness of the blessings that came to members’ lives as they prepared themselves and brought their families to be sealed in the Temple. While serving as President of the Elders Quorum (Organization of Male members ages 18 and above) in our Ward (local congregation), I have been a part in assisting poor families who desired to receive the blessings of marriage and family sealing in the Temple. These families though impoverished with very limited resources, were willing to work and sacrifice everything just to have the opportunity to be sealed with their dear beloved family. Some sold important and precious belongings; others doubled their income by doing more work in their job and the rest raised funds by maximizing their savings and spending minimal money on their daily needs. Above all, these people did not just labor and prepare financially, they prepared “spiritually” as well. They worked hard in safeguarding their lives from immorality and living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord and in accordance with the standards of the Church. I saw true love in their eyes. Love that is meant to last for eternity and they were willing to pay the price for that love to move forward even beyond grave because they understood and knew that the all-loving God made it possible for them.
When the second LDS Temple in the Philippines (Cebu Philippines Temple) was built and dedicated on June 13, 2010, it provided easier and more convenient transportation to faithful Mormons living in distant areas who could hardly visit the Manila Temple due to poverty. My heart is filled with joy as I think of how great a blessing it is for these families. God is truly mindful to His children. He continues to find a way so a sacred temple –even His holy house, will be within the reach of all worthy saints who seek to obey and follow His commandments.
I am a living witness of the miracles that happen in families as they enter the Temple. They come out assured of eternal union as long as they honor the sacred covenants made therein. All these blessings are true to me. I am grateful that I am sealed to my dear wife for time and all eternity. Because of that, she has become my wife not just “until death” (as marriages performed outside the Mormon temple are pronounced as such), but until forever, and all children who will be born to us will be part of that endless familial bond!
The Mormon Temple is a very holy place, and the things that are taught inside are held very dear to the hearts of the people who enter. As such, most people are unwilling to discuss what happens inside the temple, not even with other Mormons who also attend the temple. This isn’t because anything is particularly strange or secret, but rather because they are important and sacred. Most members of the Mormon Church don’t know exactly which things would be alright to discuss and which would not. As such, many enemies of the church use this silence to create myths and fraudulent stories about what goes on inside.
It is for this reason that this site has gone into such detail as to what is done in temples. We have been careful to keep the promises we have made to God by not going over the actual ceremonies, but we have tried our best to explain exactly what is done in temples and the purpose of each of the ceremonies as they help the living and those who have passed away.
All of the patrons of Mormon temples are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in good standing. They have been interviewed by their bishop and stake president as to their worthiness. Worthiness includes a firm belief in Christ, moral behavior (including chastity — abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage and absolute fidelity in marriage), honesty in business, harmony in the home, payment of a full tithe (10% of one’s income), charity to the poor, and service in the Church. Patrons arrive in Sunday-best dress and change into pure white clothing. Once dressed in white, it is impossible to tell the worldly station or success of each patron — all are alike before God. The temple is a holy place, so any conversation is kept to a whisper and worldly pursuits and worries are left behind. Nothing untoward or lewd takes place in the temple of God. All ceremonies and worship are conducted in reverence and respect for God’s holy house and His kingdom on earth.
If you have any further questions not answered by this site, feel free to ask a Mormon friend who has visited the temple, or to contact your local missionaries or this webmaster. The Temple is something we want to share with others, and any of these people would be happy to answer your questions. You can also visit the official website of the church and find where a local congregation meets.
This site is neither sponsored nor endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Holy Temple
When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are asked what they think the mission of the Mormon Church is, perhaps the most frequent answer is “Bringing all unto Christ and perfecting the Saints.” To fully understand this goal, one must remember that in the LDS Church all of the members are referred to as “saints.” In other words, one purpose of the LDS church is to help its members in their quest to follow the perfect example set by Jesus Christ.
So how do Mormon temples help in this mission? There are two important answers. The first is on a personal level, in that temples are places set apart from the world allowing increased influence of the Holy Ghost. Only members of the Mormon Church who are keeping certain minimum standards of conduct and have a strong faith in Jesus Christ are allowed to enter the temple. While this may be disappointing to some, both inside and outside of the Church, it serves an important purpose. Each of us is entitled to feel the Spirit of the Lord in our lives as we are prompted by it to be righteous, or change our lives when we are not; but the further one is from the Lord’s path, and the more he or she ignores the promptings of the Spirit, the less he or she is able to feel that Spirit. By only allowing people into the temple who are meeting certain standards and who are firm in their faith in the Lord, the temple becomes a place where the Spirit of the Lord can freely dwell. In this way LDS temples serve as a kind of sanctuary to those who attend them, providing a place that has been kept more pure than the average home or even chapel. They are places for prayer, thought, reflection, and revelation.
Ceremonies and Rituals of the Temple
The second purpose that Mormon temples serve in helping the members of the LDS Church is that special ceremonies take place inside the temple. These are holy and sacred ceremonies that are called ordinances. Ordinances are symbolic rituals that are performed as a way to signify covenants made with God. In Old Testament times the ordinance of sacrificing of an animal to God in the temple was often performed. The person providing the animal joined the priest in laying hands upon the animal’s head and transferring sins to the animal; this was a symbolic reminder of the sacrifice that would one day come through the Lord Jesus Christ. While animal sacrifice was done away with after the death and resurrection of the Eternal Sacrifice, Jesus Christ, the New Testament indicates that ordinances, and the covenants they represented, did not cease. Matthew 26:26-28 gives us the following account:
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt 26:26-28)
The apostles ate bread and drank water that was symbolic of the sacrifice which Christ was about to make for them. This same ritual, or ordinance, is practiced by many Christians to this day. The ordinance goes by many different names, such as the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper, but it is essentially the same ordinance that was instituted in New Testament times.
As was mentioned before, ordinances are not only to remind us of an event, but additionally are a sign of covenants made with the Lord. A covenant is a two way promise. When we are baptized we make a covenant with the Lord that we will strive to follow the example of Christ, and repent of our sins. In return, the Lord promises that if we keep our part of the covenant, he will forgive us when we come to him with our mistakes and a sincere heart, with a real desire to change.
Sealings and Endowments
Inside the temple there are primarily two ordinances that are performed for the members of the Mormon Church. These ordinances are very sacred and holy, so we do not discuss their details outside of the temple, even with other members of the Church. It is important, however, to know what they are and why they are done.
The first of these ordinances is often called, “sealing.” This is where faithful Mormon couples are sealed together in a special type of marriage ceremony. A sealing is different from a typical marriage, though, primarily because it is performed by a different authority than a civil marriage. When a couple is married civilly, they are married by authority of their government. A representative of the State tells them that in the eyes of the State, they are married until their death. This is all that the government can promise, since it is all they have jurisdiction over. In the temple, however, people are married by the authority of God. The Lord promises them that if they keep their vows to each other and to Him they can be together, not just in this life, but for “time and all eternity.” Children can also be sealed to their parents through this authority. (If children are born to an already-sealed couple, they are considered “born in the covenant.” But if no sealing of the parents has ever been performed, the couple is sealed and then the children are sealed to the parents.)
The second of these ordinances tends to be less well known or understood. It is the Temple Endowment. An “endowment” is a gift, generally given by a higher power. Indeed, the Endowment in the temple is a gift from God to help us understand who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. It also helps us understand what we should do in our lives to prepare to meet God, and how Jesus Christ offers each of us ft of salvation. This information is taught in the Temple Endowment in a highly symbolic way. Because of the sacred nature of these symbols, we will not discuss them directly, but the information is contained almost completely in the Mormon book of scripture known as the “Pearl of Great Price.” In fact, the best way to prepare for the Endowment is to read the Pearl of Great Price and pray to understand it as fully as possible.
During the Endowment we also make covenants with the Lord to obey his commandments, however these covenants are more specific then the ones that are made at baptism (to keep God’s commandments). The Endowment is a gift, because it gives us knowledge and the promise of blessings to come. Ultimately, all of these blessings are available to us only through the salvation offered by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These ordinances are necessary for us, but it is Jesus Christ who brings salvation, and through faith in Him alone can we be saved.
Why Those who have Passed On Need us
One major purpose of Mormon temples has to do with those who have died and left this world. After we die, we are not immediately resurrected. The day will come when all men will stand before the throne of God to be judged of their sins, but before that day, there is much to do.
To fully understand this function of temples, one must realize that it is only in and through the name of Jesus Christ that man can be saved. “There shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:17). That being said, there are billions of people who have lived on this earth without ever hearing the name of Christ, or coming to understand the sacrifice he made for them. Would God be just in condemning them for not believing in someone of whom they had never heard? And yet, without faith in Christ, they cannot be saved.
Both infinitely just and infinitely merciful, God has created a plan to help these people. After we die we go to a place called the Spirit World. Here, those who have died faithful in Christ continue their ministry to teach those who have never heard the gospel. In fact, after Christ’s death and before his resurrection, He Himself came to these people and declared to them that he had died for them as well (1 Peter 3:18-19, 4:6).
Necessity of Ordinances
Salvation is open to all who repent, but “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Baptism is not open to those who have passed on from this life. Without bodies, they cannot perform the essential ordinances the Lord requires of them. So once again, proving the infinite justice and mercy of the Lord, these ordinances are offered in Holy Temples. Baptism for those who have passed away is often called baptism for the dead.
Ordinances for the Dead
All of the ordinances offered in the temple for living members of the LDS Church are also performed by proxy for those who have passed on. This means that someone “stands in” for the person who has died. Baptisms are also performed by proxy for these people who have passed on. Because we have no way of knowing who will or will not accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, these ordinances are done for everyone who has passed on (though we have been encouraged by the Church to keep this work within our own family lines. It’s this very reason that makes members of the church so active in genealogy). To have a family member who has passed on baptized by proxy does not commit them to that baptism, it merely gives them the opportunity to accept or reject the ordinance as they choose. Temple Marriage or Sealings and Endowments are also performed for those who have passed on.
This aspect of temples truly shows us the majesty and greatness of God, and proves to us that He loves all of His children, and invites all to come unto Him.