Inside Mormon Temples
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds Mormon Temples by way of commandment from God. These beautiful structures, now all over the world, are patterned after ancient temples. In them, worthy members of the Mormon Church gather to ponder, pray, seek personal revelation from God for their lives, worship and perform sacred ordinances. Temples are filled with light – literal light as well as the light of God’s teachings. Mormon temples are places of great peace.
Before each temple is dedicated, the structures are open to the public for interior tours. Many visitors feel the wonderful spirit of the temple as they walk through each special room. In addition to the ordinance rooms, which are described below, temples also house offices, laundry facilities, waiting rooms, dressing rooms (including a special dressing room for brides) and often a cafeteria.
Inside Mormon temples are baptistries. Like many other Christian denominations, Mormons participate in the ordinance of baptism, usually in a font inside one of their many church meetinghouses. Mormons are baptized at or after the age of eight, the age at which people should know fully the difference between right and wrong and become accountable for their sins. Baptism is the ordinance that begins one’s spiritual progression in the gospel of the Lord. When adults investigate and decide to join the Mormon Church, it is baptism which begins their church membership.
There are many people who have lived and died without learning the truth of Jesus Christ, His church and His commandments. Because God does not hold His children accountable for sins unless they have knowledge of this truth, many people have the opportunity to learn of Jesus Christ in the spirit world where we go after death to await the resurrection and judgment. Because baptism requires a physical body, something those in the spirit world are temporarily without, Mormons participate in baptisms for the dead, allowing the ancestors they are baptized on behalf of to accept or reject the vicarious ordinance.
Baptisms for the dead are only conducted inside temples. The baptismal fonts where these baptisms – which involve full immersion in water – are performed rest upon the backs of twelve statues of oxen. Like those in Solomon’s ancient temple, the oxen represent the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Near the font are dressing rooms and also confirmation rooms where individuals, again on behalf of their ancestors, are confirmed, or blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost by those with priesthood authority laying their hands on the person’s head and saying a short prayer.
Inside Mormon temples are endowment rooms. Endowment means “gift” and the endowment ceremony, which Church members go through when they feel they are spiritually prepared for it (usually in young adulthood), is a gift from God. The first time a Mormon goes through the ceremony, they do it for themselves. All subsequent times, they do it on behalf of a deceased person, much like baptism for the dead. Endowment ceremonies are opportunities for Mormons to be taught about the Plan of Salvation and to make covenants, or promises to God that they are promised blessings for fulfilling. The endowment room is a beautiful auditorium. Each temple usually has more than one. The presentation takes about 90 minutes. It begins with a film screening with instruction on the creation of the world and the fall of Adam and follows with further instruction about God’s commandments and his promised blessings. All of this is centered on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The endowment ceremony is always repeated with the same words.
Participating in the endowment ceremony gives individuals added protection from and power over evil in the world. After a church Member has been endowed, he or she wears a sacred garment underneath their clothing for the rest of their lives, symbolic of this protective power.
Inside Mormon temples are celestial rooms. The celestial room is where the endowment ceremony ends. Here, in the most beautiful room in the temple, people may sit quietly, meditate and pray as long as they like. The celestial room, representative of God’s highest kingdom of heaven, is breathtakingly light, white and peaceful.
Inside Mormon temples are sealing rooms. Marriages are performing in sealing rooms, because the special marriage ceremony performed in the temple “seals” couples together for “time” during mortal life on Earth and “all eternity” after death. Children born to couples who have been sealed together are part of that sealed covenant, making the entire family an eternal family.
Each temple has several sealing rooms large enough to accommodate various numbers of guests. All guests who attend sealings must be worthy to enter the temple. Sealing rooms have an altar in the center of the room where the bride and groom kneel opposite each other to say their vows. On opposite walls in the rooms are large mirrors, reflecting the bride and groom an infinite number of times, symbolizing the infinite togetherness they will enjoy throughout eternity.
Like other temple ordinances, sealing ceremonies can also be performed vicariously for the dead. Sealing ceremonies are also performed for couples who joined the church after marriage or who were married outside of the temple for various reasons.