There are 170 Mormon temples “dotting the earth” as of today. Thousands of people drive by them on major highways everyday…and think to themselves… “what in the world goes on inside those Mormon temples?”
So here it is. I’m going to give it to you straight.
So much of the rhetoric on the temple over the years has vilified the Church and painted Mormons as a cult, but a careful study of other religions and their practices will show that Mormons and their temples are not that weird after all.
By looking at the dictionary definition of a cult shown to the right, you’ll see that every religion “and it’s adherents” could be considered to be a cult. Christ and His followers were “unorthodox and spurious” to the Jews and no doubt labeled as the most notable “cult” of all time.
In Dan Brown’s book “The Lost Symbol”, Professor Langdon asked his students,
“Would you consider Coca-Cola a secret society?”
“Of course not” the student said
“Well what if you knocked on the door of corporate headquarters and asked for the recipe for Classic Coke?”
“They’d never tell you” came the reply…
“Exactly. In order to learn Coca-Cola’s deepest secret, you would need to join the company, work for many years, prove you were trustworthy and eventually rise to the upper echelons of the company, where that information might be shared with you. Then you would be sworn to secrecy.”
In this same discussion Professor Langdon considered himself to be part of a “cult” and it freaked out his students. He said,
“don’t tell anyone, but on the pagan day of the sun god Ra, I kneel at the foot of an ancient instrument of torture and consume ritualistic symbols of blood and flesh”… that I might add is considered to literally turn into blood and flesh as it enters the mouth…
Langdon’s class looked horrified!
Then he shrugged and said, “And if any of you care to join me, come to the Harvard chapel on Sunday, kneel beneath the crucifix, and take the Holy Communion.”
His classroom went silent… and Langdon winked…
“Open your minds, my friends. We all fear what we don’t understand.”
I have personally sat in hundreds of Christian churches and witnessed many things that were different to me. I still remember from the days on my mission in Michigan being brought to the front row of Pentecostal churches and watching the dancing, the rolling, and the yelling. It was awesome and I loved those people. It seemed strange to me but I wanted to understand why they did what they did.
I can visualize the many people that were “speaking in tongues” at me (I might add that there was not an interpreter) and the feeling that I got.
Here’s the deal, Mormon temples and the things that they do in them is not that weird, especially in the context of what was done in temples from Biblical times.
Mormons believe that the temple is the most sacred place on earth and that “only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.” They literally believe that it is the House of the Lord. A place that has been built for Him to come and dwell among His people if He so chooses.
Contrary to what many people think, what goes on inside the temple is not a secret. Every temple has an open house before it is dedicated in which thousands of non-members of the LDS faith are able to walk through the temple in its entirety. The happenings there have been publicized by disaffected members on the internet and in many publications. However, Mormons do believe that what goes on inside the temple is sacred and deeply personal.
The entire purpose of the LDS restoration and existence of the Mormon Church points to the temple. Joseph Smith said that, “The main object [of the restoration] was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose.”
Mormons consider the temple the first place of learning. The Lord’s university if you will. It’s the original place of “higher learning”. The word uni-versity in and of itself denotes “all things” [versum] and [uni] unify/unite and the bringing of all things together in one, which is something that Paul spoke to the Ephesians about [Eph 1:10]. The temple is the place where the Atonement is best understood and explained. You also have the latin word [veritas] which is the motto for many universities meaning “truth”. The temple is a place of unification. Families, God, Truth, and creations of all kinds…all being united and bound together through the power of the Atonement of Christ.
The temple is thought of anciently as the place where one goes to get his or her bearings on life. The word temple comes from the latin “templum” or template. It was thought of as the “omphalos” or the very navel of the earth. The place between heaven and earth where God would give nourishment to His children just as a mother gives nourishment to her children.
Inside the temple we learn about the plan of salvation and perform work for the living and the dead. We make covenants with God and receive promised blessings according to our faith and obedience. Paramount in my mind to anything else we do in the temple is to become married for “time and all eternity” instead until “death do you part”. No one who wishes to enter will be turned away if they are willing to live and keep the commandments.
To go back to the fictional Professor Langdon… “Open your minds, my friends. We all fear what we don’t understand.”
If something ever seems strange to you, consider all of the other things that you so readily believe…because entering an LDS temple is just something that is too good to pass up.