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What Is the Purpose of Mormon Temples?

By Mormon.org

Mormon temples are sacred places dedicated to receiving instruction, performing holy ordinances, and making covenants (promises) with God. In the temple, which is a spiritual setting, Mormons also learn about Jesus, come closer to God, and can reflect on personal questions.  

Who Can Enter Mormon Temples?

After a Mormon temple has been built or renovated, an open house is held for the public. During this time, people of all faiths can tour the building with a guide, who will explain what happens in each room and will answer any questions. After the open house, the temple is officially dedicated to God. From that time, only Mormons who have worthily prepared themselves to make sacred promises with God are allowed inside the temple.

What Happens in Mormon Temples?

Mormons follow the biblical practice of worshipping in temples. They believe temples are places of special sacredness where they can make binding promises with God and feel closer to Him as temples provide a holy environment that try to shut out worldly influences. Temples are different from other Mormon meetinghouses. One difference is that in the temple, Mormons wear white clothing, such as a white dress or a white suit and tie. This white clothing symbolizes purity, shows reverence for this holy place, and reflects a person’s worthiness to be inside the temple.

In the temple, Mormons promise to keep God’s commandments and help build up God’s kingdom. In the temple, Mormons also get married, perform baptisms for deceased relatives, and participate in ordinances. These other ordinances are made for eternity. For example, a temple marriage is not considered to be “until death do we part.” Instead, it bonds a couple and their present or future children together forever. This bonding of couples to their children relates to Jesus’ promise to His original apostles where He gave them the keys of the kingdom of God so that “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven (see Matthew 16:19).

  • Perform Baptisms and Confirmations for the Dead. Mormons believe that baptism by the proper authority is necessary to receive salvation (see John 3:3-5). Because so many people in the world and throughout history have died without the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus and be baptized, Mormons perform baptisms on behalf of deceased people by proxy inside the temple. These people then have their agency to choose whether or not to accept these ordinances done for them. These “saving ordinances” for those who have died were something people practiced during New Testament times. The Apostle Paul talks about baptism in behalf of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29).

Many Mormons choose to perform temple ceremonies for their ancestors, as it allows them to form an eternal connection with their family in heaven and on earth.

  • Receive the Endowment Ordinance. Mormons can prepare to enter a Mormon temple to receive the endowment, an ordinance required by God, a gift of instructions and covenants enabling the faithful to receive a fullness of all that Heavenly Father has for them in the eternities. When receiving one’s endowment, that person goes through preparatory ordinances described in the Bible, is given instruction, and makes covenants with God. The word “endowment” means “rich gift.” During the temple endowment ordinance, people are promised God’s richest gifts—the promise of greater spiritual power, including the promise of eternal life.
  • Make Covenants. Temples aren’t just sacred, spiritual spaces but are places to make numerous covenants, a sacred promise or agreement, with God. Mormons commit to live by God’s laws, including a promise to obey, to love, to be chaste, and to personally sacrifice. They covenant to give their time, talents, and resources to help build up God’s kingdom. God then promises those who make and keep their covenants with Him that He will bless them.

When they marry inside a temple, Mormons promise God that they will love and honor their spouse and will be an honorable and supportive husband or wife.

  • Learn about Symbolism. The teachings inside Mormon temples are symbolic, much like the teachings in the scriptures. Jesus, the Master Teacher, taught His disciples symbolically through parables, metaphors, similes, and the like. Mormon temples continue this practice as a way of teaching spiritual truths.