Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Temple and Eternal Families

This is such a huge subject – I’ll only be able to give a few thoughts here.

It seems to be a virtually universal human desire that family relationships continue beyond this mortal life. It also seems that for most people who do believe in an “afterlife” it is taken for granted that they will see their loved ones again on the “other side.” What most people don’t realize is that this great blessing – the blessing of having eternal families – is not automatic: it is the result of sacred ordinances. And those sacred ordinances can only be performed by those with authority in the house of the Lord: the holy temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There are currently more than 125 temples operating worldwide. Our local temple is the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple. Thankfully, it is only about an eight minute drive from our home. Faithful Saints in other parts of the country, or other parts of the world, have to travel an hour, six hours, or even three full days just to get to the temple, often at great sacrifice.

In the temple, we receive special priesthood ordinances, including the Endowment (which consists of sacred instruction and covenants), the sealing ordinance, and baptism for the dead. We are sealed as husband and wife for time and eternity – not just “until death do you part.” The “celestial marriage” is one that lasts forever, sealed on earth and sealed in heaven. We are also sealed to our families. Ordinances can be performed by proxy for the dead, so that those who did not get the chance when they were alive have the opportunity to choose to accept those ordinances in the hereafter. This is why researching our genealogy is so important – so that we can perform these ordinances in behalf of our ancestors.

There are many scriptural precedents for these ordinances, as well as much modern revelation to support these activities. I’d be glad to discuss this further at another time.

The things that take place in the temple are sacred. Some people who are not members of the Church, or who are members who have not attended the temple, mistake this sacred nature for secrecy. We do not talk in detail about the temple ordinances because they are sacred. Anyone who wants to know the details is welcome to join the Church, live worthy to enter the temple, and see for themselves.

Worthiness is an important issue: only Saints with a recommend signed by their bishop and stake president can enter. This recommend is obtained by undergoing an interview with these ecclesiastical leaders. The member is asked a series of questions about how they are living their life. This is to maintain the sanctity of the temple – so that it can be kept “clean.”

The temple is a beautiful, peaceful refuge from the world. In the temple, I feel very close to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It is calm and quiet. I can perform a special service there for those who are unable to do so for themselves. It takes a sacrifice of time, but the rewards are well worth it.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“Every man or woman who goes to the temple comes out of that building a better man or woman than he or she was when entering into it. That’s something that’s remarkable that happens with all of us. … Do you have problems and concerns and worries? Do you want for peace in your heart and an opportunity to commune with the Lord and meditate upon His way? Go to the house of the Lord and there feel of His Spirit and commune with Him and you will know a peace that you will find nowhere else.”

This is so true.

I am grateful to live so close to a temple, and hope that I can attend more frequently than I do – there is always room for improvement. I also need to do more genealogy. It was a wonderful feeling to perform the ordinances in behalf of my grandparents and great-grandparents and second cousin, Doreen.

I hope to do more, soon.

It is awesome to know that because of the temple, I can be with my family forever. There is great peace that comes with that knowledge. It affords one an eternal perspective. It helps inoculate against the fear of death and brings comfort to assuage the sorrow of loss.

The temple provides real joy.

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