Temples: It’s Not Sacrament Meeting!
She was correct. Attending the temple is NOTHING like sacrament meeting.
For those of us who are raised in the church, religion for us is going to church on Sunday and trying to live it the rest of the week. We perceive religion to be somewhat similar to most other religions: church on Sunday, scripture reading, prayer, youth groups, etc. Temple worship is totally different from our Sunday-orientated religious paradigm.
The decision to attend the temple is a big one. There is a reason why the church provides Sunday school classes to help people prepare to go. While as Latter-Day Saints we are accustomed to making covenants with God, i.e. through the ordinance of baptism, temple attendance requires us to step it up. The Lord doesn’t want to force people into making him promises. He would much rather have his children come prepared to make more stringent commitments rather than be forced and therefore not able to hold up their end of the bargain.
And the temple commitments ARE more stringent. Before the temple, we, by being Christian, are committed to following a certain moral and ethical guideline: the 10 commandments, the Beatitudes, etc. In the temple, we COVENANT to obey some of those “rules”. Can you see the difference? We have the opportunity to seal our commitment verbally and physically and specifically.
When considering going to the temple, having a solid testimony helps. There is controversy surrounding our temple worship for several reasons, mostly because some people attend the temple without proper knowledge of the plan of salvation as it has been laid out for us in our Mormon doctrine, or without a testimony.
One of the key spiritual experiences of my entire life occurred when I was in the temple for the first time to receive the ordinance of the endowment. Without going into too much detail, there is a moment in the service where you are given the opportunity to withdraw. I seriously considered it. I thought, “Am I ready to make this commitment? This means I’m a grown-up now. Am I ready to be a grown-up? Can I keep these commitments?” It was a fraction of a second of panic. And then, stronger than anything I had ever felt up to that point, I felt the Holy Ghost calm my mind, and I had the distinct feeling of “You are in the right place at the right time, and Heavenly Father is pleased with the decision you are making.” That was my moment of truth, nothing had ever felt so right.
I love the temple, for too many reasons than could be expressed here on a blog. I’m glad I decided to go. I’m glad that I went to the temple for YEARS before I got married, so that I could appreciate the doctrines and principles from the perspective of a single female before I got married. The temple is not only for marriages. The temple is here for us individually, regardless of gender, race, marital status, or age (…well, maturity helps).
Some good resources on Mormon temples and on what we believe are found on the church website where you can also find questions frequently about our temples.