We were able to go to the Payson Temple Open House this last weekend. What a spectacular experience. If you haven’t seen the pictures, here’s a link to many of them.
I have a fair amount of non-LDS readers, and I think the temple can be a bit confusing for some. To be a bit lazy, here’s another link to many of the questions people ask about the temples.
And to be a bit unlazy (unlazy?), here are some responses of my own:
I have four kids now, and as each of them have reached a certain age, they’ve all asked me in some form or another why temples. We have our regular churches that we attend on Sundays and then we also have temples. Because of their age, we keep the answers fairly basic and simple; temples are where we are married not only for our lives on this earth but for eternity. Marriage can continue after death, and I cannot imagine heaven being relevant without my wife and my kids there. As one of the modern-day apostles stated:
I don’t know how to speak about heaven in the traditional, lovely, paradisaical beauty that we speak of heaven–I wouldn’t know how to speak of heaven without my wife, my children. It would not be heaven for me. –Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
And while temples help give us that assurance that life and marriage can continue beyond this life, the temples also offer the same blessing for those who have gone before us.
1 Corinthians 15:29 says:
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
This is another function of the temples.
One of the common questions I saw as a missionary for the church is what happens to those who haven’t had a chance to hear the gospel and be baptized? The answer is found in the temples where worthy members of the church perform those ordinances on behalf of those who have passed on. I simply cannot imagine a God who has relegated to damnation hosts of truly innocent people who never had the opportunity to hear the gospel and make those covenants. That just does not make sense, and it flies in the face of everything we declare God to be. The temples break those bands and opens the door of salvation to all.
What do I feel about the temple?
Walking through those doors on Saturday and touring the temple, I was reminded how much I love the temple for the peace and safety I can find there. It is truly a bastion of safety and strength in a troubled world. I was also reminded, though, that our homes can and should stand next to the temple in holiness. I was reminded that the temple has certain requirements for entry after it is dedicated; namely spiritual worthiness. Why should our homes be any different? There are things I would never dream of doing or saying in the walls of the temple.
One of my mission presidents often talked about how the leadership of the church appears to be exceedingly blessed. He followed that up by saying that those blessings were not the result of their position in the church but rather their worthiness in obtaining those blessings. He said that he had a bishop who seemed to always have the right answers to any questions. President Ellis then said that he wanted to be a bishop so that he too would have those answers. Over time, he learned that the answers came not because of the bishop’s calling but because of the work the bishop put in to learn, study, and be close to the gospel. Basically, to get the blessings of a bishop, live like a bishop.
The same applies here. If the temple is such a place of safety, to make our homes the same, we would make our homes like temples. We would exclude those things that drive the spirit away and invite those things that make the spirit welcome.
I’ll end with this last thought: You have to be baptized and at least 12 to enter a dedicated temple. Open houses are an opportunity for me and my young family to bring all of us to the temple. It’s a chance to show them what they can look forward to in their lives. My youngest is one. It’ll be 11 years before we can get all of us there.
And I feel the anxiety of knowing we’ve got a long wait in front of us. It matters that much.