Basic Facts About the Mormon Temple Ceremony
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Temple is a house of worship, prayer, and sacred ordinances where we make covenants to follow Jesus Christ and live His teachings. Its purpose is to strengthen our commitment to Christ, to strengthen families, and to prepare us for the blessings of eternity through the Atonement of Christ. The Mormon temple and the Mormon temple ceremony are all about the worship of God and making covenants to follow Jesus Christ.
Here are some basic facts about the Mormon temple:
- Latter-day Saints (nicknamed "Mormons") are a temple-building people, with temples built in over 100 locations around the world. We see the modern Temple as a restoration of ancient temple and covenant-making concepts in the Bible.
- While the Temple is a house of worship, it is not where we meet on Sundays. Sunday worship is held in local church building which are far more common than temples (there are many thousands of church buildings and less than 200 temples around the world). Attendance at the Temple can take place from Tuesday through Saturday.
- There are several "ordinances" or rites - key parts of Mormon temple ceremonies - that take place in the temple, including the ceremony of temple marriage, proxy baptisms for the dead (vicarious baptisms - "retroactive" is not the correct term), and "the Endowment." The Endowment is what people often mean when they speak of the Mormon temple ceremony, though there are several ceremonies. The Endowment is a ceremony of instruction and covenant making in which members learn about the Creation and the role of Jesus Christ as our Savior, and make sacred covenants to follow Him throughout their lives.
- Special white clothing is worn during the Endowment to symbolize purity and service before the Lord.
- Details of the Mormon temple ceremony (the Endowment in particular) are considered to be sacred and not for publication or discussion outside the temple.
- When in operation, the temple is not open to the public. To participate in temple activities, members require a special "temple recommend" signed by their local Church leaders indicating that the member is in good standing and able to participate. Temple worship is a privilege but also brings serious responsibilities. Temple covenants, like the covenant of baptism itself, should not be taken lightly or made by those not prepared and willing to keep them.
- The Endowment helps members to understand the purpose of this life and to better prepare for eternity, and includes symbolism of entering into the presence of Jesus Christ and the Father after this life.
- As part of receiving the Endowment, Latter-day Saints are asked to daily remember the personal covenants they make to follow the Lord. As a private, physical reminder, Latter-day Saints receive modest undergarments to be worn each day. We know this sounds strange, but it's not as strange as the questions we get! It reflects an ancient tradition of wearing a reminder of sacred covenants.
- The modern LDS temple concept has interesting parallels to ancient temple themes. See, for example, "Early Christian and Jewish Rituals Related to Temple Practices" by John Tvedtnes and Hugh Nibleys's article, "Ancient Temples: What Do They Signify?"
Temples are holy houses of God where members of the Church make covenants and learn teachings to strengthen their commitment to Jesus Christ and strengthen their families.