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Monday, November 07, 2005 

Temples: It’s Not Sacrament Meeting!

After I received the call to serve a mission in Edinburgh, Scotland, I went home for a couple of months to work and save money. I was called to be a ward missionary, so I spent a lot of time with the local sister missionaries who were great sisters with good attitudes, and they were excited for me to be a missionary. I remember sitting in the foyer of the chapel with them and talking about what it’s REALLY like to be a missionary. One evening, we talked a little about the temple. One of the sisters must have said ten times “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.

Thanks for this. We don't hear enough positive, detailed (ie. not just "I loved the temple") and personal experiences about the Temple.

I love it too Carrie Ann! I have had some of the most amazing spiritual experiences in the temple. I read Hugh Nibley's Temple and Cosmos before I took out my endowments and that helped prepare me a lot. The temple is where the heart of our church is.

i wish i'd read temple and the cosmos. i found packer's pamphlet/book and our stake temple prep not very helpful at all. i was blown away by the temple and in the completely uncomfortable wrong way.

have you ever seen the "Court Jester" with Danny Kaye? When he is undergoing the process of becoming a knight? That's how I felt. Now that character and I knew there was more to it--but basically just felt flustered, overwhelmed, pushed, and confused. Except for a few moments that felt 'cool' or 'wow' or 'now i'm a grown up!--maybe i can sit at the big people's table at thanksgiving!'

Carrie Ann,

This is a great post, but I don't know that the temple represents the introduction of covenants to obedience. I've always contended that baptism represents a quite significant covenant, as does the partaking of the sacrament.

I won't disagree that covenants are essential to the temple, but I would take issue with the sharp dichotomy presented here.

d-train - Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry you feel that my position here is somewhat harsh. If you think about the baptismal covenants we promise to take Chist's name and to remember him etc. and it is for the first time in the temple that we covenant to do, or not do, specific things. There is a big difference between living the Gospel pre-temple and post-temple. Let me be absolutely clear that an endowed person is NO BETTER than an unendowed person, ALL covenants are important and necessary, but the endowed person is held to a higher standard of obedience. I don't believe this to be widely disputed or controversial.

I don't know if any unendowed peope read this blog/thread, but I've attempted to create a Temple preparation FAQ growing out of my own experiences as Temple prep teacher.

I've gotten good feedback.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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