Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mormon Temples

With the recent Gila Valley Arizona Temple Dedication, I’ve been thinking more about temples. I know that many people who are not of our faith have questions about LDS temples. I hope that the information I share will shed some light about LDS temples.

Why do Mormons build temples?
The Lord has always commanded His people to build temples.
“Whenever the Lord has had a people on the earth who will obey his word, they have been commanded to build temples in which the ordinances of the gospel and other spiritual manifestations that pertain to exaltation and eternal life may be administered. In cases of extreme poverty or emergency, these ordinances may sometimes be done on a mountaintop. This may be the case with Mount Sinai and the Mount of Transfiguration. The tabernacle erected by Moses was a type of portable temple, since the Israelites were traveling in the wilderness.” (Bible Dictionary)

The best known temple mentioned in the Bible is that which was built in Jerusalem in the days of Solomon. Solomon’s temple took 8 years to complete. The walls were made of stone and were covered on the inside with carved wood and gold. Only the best of materials were used to construct the temple. When it was finished, Solomon knelt at the altar in the temple and offered a dedicatory prayer. (See 2 Chronicles:6)
To me, it makes sense that if God commanded His people to build temples in Bible times, then He would also command His people to build temples in our time. After all…isn’t God the same yesterday, today and forever?

What is the purpose of temples?
Temples are not used for weekly Sunday worship services. We have meetinghouses or chapels for the purpose of meeting on the Sabbath for Sunday worship.

Temples are places of learning where holy truths are taught. The principal purpose of temples is to provide the ordinances necessary for all of God’s children to enable them to return to dwell with Him.

“Temples are considered ‘houses of the Lord’ where Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism, and other ordinances that unite families for eternity. Inside, members learn more about the purpose of life and make covenants to serve Jesus Christ and their fellow man.” (Church News)

Temples are also a place for personal contemplation and prayer. For me, the temple is a sanctuary from the world. It’s a bit of heaven on earth. I love to go to the temple because of the peace that I feel. I feel closer to God in the temple than anywhere else. In my last entry I mentioned the temple open house. Before a temple is dedicated, it is open to the public for tours. At the Gila Valley temple dedication, the temple president’s wife mentioned in her talk that a friend of hers, who is not a member of our church attended the open house. After touring the temple her friend mentioned the peace that she felt while in the temple. She said that it reminded her of the scripture in Philippians 4:7 that talks about “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.”  This is so very true. The temple is a place where the Holy Spirit and the love of God can be felt.

Because the temple is sacred to us and because we keep these things close to our hearts, people not of our faith accuse us of being secretive and assume that unrighteous things must be going on in the temple. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The ordinances and ceremonies of the temple are simple, beautiful, uplifting, and worthy of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Why do Mormons perform temple ordinances vicariously for those who have died?
“A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead… From Adam to the time of Jesus, ordinances were performed in temples for the living only. After Jesus opened the way for the gospel to be preached in the world of spirits, ceremonial work for the dead, as well as for the living, has been done in temples on the earth by faithful members of the Church. (Bible Dictionary)

Some people are confused as to why we would perform vicarious ordinances for those who have died. To me it makes perfect sense and is reflective of God’s love for ALL of His children. We believe that the ordinances performed in temples are essential for exaltation. Well…what about all of the people who never even had the opportunity to hear or learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ while they lived here on earth? Is it fair that they will be damned, only because they didn’t have that opportunity? No. God is a just and fair God and He will provide ALL of His children with the opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ either in this life or the next. Those who didn’t have the opportunity to learn the gospel while here on earth will have that chance in the Spirit World and then when the ordinances are performed vicariously for them in temples here on earth, they will have the choice to accept or reject this vicarious service. No one is forced to take upon themselves these ordinances. There is Agency in all things.

Blessings of the temple available to all
“It was never intended that knowledge of these temple ceremonies would be limited to a select few who would be obliged to ensure that others never learn of them. It is quite the opposite, in fact. With great effort we urge every soul to qualify and prepare for the temple experience.” (Boyd K. Packer)

For more information about Temples,CLICK HERE

Gila Valley Temple Open House & Dedication

In May, my husband and kids had the opportunity of attending the Gila Valley Arizona Temple open house. After a temple is built and before the temple is dedicated, it is open to the public for viewing. My husband went with some of the Young Men in our ward (congregation), and my 11 yr. old son was able to go with them. The following week, my 14 yr. old daughter was able to go with the Young Women in our ward.

With the completion of the Gila Valley Temple, there are now 132 temples around the world.

At the end of May we had the privilege of attending the broadcast of the Temple Dedication. Although we were not able to be there in person, it was a wonderful and uplifting experience for us and our kids.

After the Dedication, we thought it would be fun to make a temple out of sugar cubes.

My 3 kids in the middle of construction. :)

My hubby with our 3 kids and our completed “Sugar Cube Temple”
In my next post I will be answering some questions about Temples.
Why do we build Temples?
What is the purpose of Temples?
Why do Mormons perform ordinances for those who have died?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Your Book is a True Book-Conversion story #2

Your Book Is a True Book
By Ann Cue
Ensign, Apr. 2006, 67–68

The day the missionaries knocked on my door will always stand out as one of the pivotal moments of my life. It wasn’t that I was searching for meaning—I had been deeply religious since childhood. I had spent seven years in a convent, and although I had left that lifestyle because it wasn’t bringing me closer to God, I was involved in my church congregation working with the choir and teaching religion.

In fact, I had made a firm resolution not to discuss religion with any door-to-door missionaries because the spirit of contention frequently arose when conflicting interpretations of scripture were discussed. But the Lord, in His goodness, had prepared me for this visit. A few months earlier I had heard someone make a remark about a “Mormon book” connected to the mythology of South America. This prompted me to want to investigate any light such a book might shed on some themes I had already studied. I had filed this away for future reference, knowing that sooner or later I would read the Mormon book and investigate its mythological validity.

Answering the door that day, I was not thinking about books or mythological themes. I was a busy young mother spending most of my energy tending a small baby and chasing a very active three-year-old. But as I approached the door, my mind was overcome with a kind of vision, a mental picture of Abraham going to the door of his tent on the day he received an important message. I was impressed with the premonition that opening that door would bring a message of some importance.

Nevertheless, I was confused when all that stood there were these two young men labeled as Latter-day Saint missionaries. If it hadn’t been for the “vision,” I would have politely said good-bye and shut the door. I decided, instead, that I needed to find out what sort of message they had for me.

It started out all wrong. One of them asked me if I believed in prophets. Of course I did. But when these young men enthusiastically presented me a photo of 15 men in modern business suits and proclaimed that prophets and apostles were currently on the earth, credibility was stretched to the limit. I had been brought up in a religion whose clergy dressed the part, and business suits were not what they wore! So I decided, generously, to ignore the remark. And I searched mentally for some rational foundation for the “vision” still fresh in my mind.

I do not remember how I made the connection that “Latter-day Saint” missionaries might know something about a “Mormon” book. But once that thought crossed my mind, I was quick to pursue the topic.

“Don’t you have some kind of book?” I asked. They did. I told them I had not found it in the library and did not know where to get it. Maybe they could help me. They could. They volunteered to come back with a copy the following week. And I made a mental note to be unavailable for religious “discussion” so they could simply drop off the book and leave.

When I finally did receive my copy of the book, I thanked the young men and agreed, again without any sense of commitment, that they could come back to answer any questions I had. Later that evening with my husband home from work and the children somewhat settled down, I picked up the book and began to read.

Nothing had prepared me for what I found in its pages. And it was with awe, shock, delight, and some confusion that I shortly announced to my husband my most amazing discovery: “This is a book of scripture!”

There was no doubt at all. I had done enough serious scripture study and had read enough of the world’s sacred literature to become immediately aware that this book was not a record of myth or an ancient history text or anything other than the true word of God. It spoke to me with that spiritual voice, and as I began following footnotes and looking up topics that interested me, it gave me answers to many of the theological questions I had puzzled over for years. It was, without doubt, the most exciting book I had ever picked up, and it continued to amaze and edify me whichever page I opened it to.

When the young missionaries returned as they had promised, I was home. And I had a message of great importance for them. I told them something I felt they needed to know: “Your book is a true book!” And I demanded to know why it was the property of their church, feeling that it was entirely in the wrong hands!

At that point, I was ready to listen to what they had to say. After many months of investigation, I came to know that this wonderful book had not only brought me light and knowledge beyond my highest expectations, but it had also led me to the fulness of the gospel, the power of the priesthood, and the knowledge that those 15 men in business suits were evidence of the true Church of Jesus Christ, present again upon the earth.