Many people are unfamiliar with what actually takes place during a worship service in a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Research also shows that there are many people who feel that they are not welcomed inside an LDS chapel to worship with Latter-day Saints to be able to observe for themselves that Mormon worship is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is often the basis for misunderstandings among communities where Latter-day Saints live and leads many to believe that the close-knit ties of the Latter-day Saint community is both clannish and secretive. Part of this misconception may be caused by the differences between worship services in LDS chapels and temple worship. All are invited to attend services in LDS chapels, but only those members of The Church of Jesus Christ who are deemed worthy and hold a valid temple recommend are permitted to enter the sacred temple – the House of the Lord.
The infographic below is an excellent comparison of worship in an LDS chapel and temple worship.
You are invited to worship with a local LDS congregation
Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon Church” in the media, are often strikingly beautiful buildings. Mormons consider them to be some of the most sacred places on earth. Each temple is built with the utmost care and the best possible craftsmanship. It is an offering of love and sacrifice to God. After an initial open house period, Mormon temples are dedicated to the Lord, and become places of serenity and worship. Only members of the Church who are keeping God’s commandments are allowed inside the temple, in order to keep it a holy place where God’s spirit can dwell. As a result, temples can sometimes seem a little mysterious. What happens inside these beautiful, sacred buildings?
Temple worship is different from the worship that occurs in regular Sunday meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ. The temple is kept holy and set apart from the world, so it can truly be the House of the Lord, where the spirit of Christ can dwell. Latter-day Saints (Mormons) enter temples to learn more about their Savior and about God’s plan for His children. They make covenants, or promises, in the temple that they will follow Jesus and keep all His commandments. In return, they are promised the blessings of eternal life with their families. Everything that happens in the temple is focused on their relationship with God the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.
On the east side of every Mormon temple is inscribed the following:
The House of the Lord
Holiness to the Lord
Like the temples built in ancient Israel, the temple is a place where Jesus Christ can visit His people. At the dedication of the Temple of Solomon, as recorded in the Old Testament, “the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chronicles 7:1-2). Ancient temples were always referred to as “the House of the Lord.” During the dedication of the first modern Mormon temple, which was built in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836, many witnesses reported seeing heavenly manifestations as the glory of the Lord filled that house as well.
The Temple is a Refuge
Entrance into temples is restricted to Mormons who are keeping God’s commandments so that the temple can remain a holy place, set aside from and unsullied by the world. During the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple, Joseph Smith, who was the first modern-day prophet of Mormonism, asked God to sanctify the temple:
That thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house;
And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness (Doctrine and Covenants 109:12-13).
In addition to offering an environment for prayer and quiet contemplation, Mormon temple ceremonies teach about the creation of the world, humankind’s purpose on earth, and the importance of Jesus’s atonement. Jesus Christ created the world as a place where the spirit children of God the Father could receive mortal bodies and learn to choose good over evil. With God the Father, Jesus Christ is the central figure in the temple ceremony. Jesus’s life and His teachings are set forth as the example of how every human being should live. And the temple teaches that it is only through the atonement of Christ that God’s children can be saved from sin and death, to return to live in God’s presence once more. Those who attend the temple are able to feel deeply their need for God’s mercy, and their complete dependence upon their Savior, Jesus Christ. The temple ceremony teaches both the sorrow of sin and the joy of redemption, awakening and strengthening a deep love for the Savior.
Temple Covenants Help Us Follow Christ
One more way that the temple helps Mormons draw closer to Jesus Christ is through the making and keeping of sacred covenants, or promises, with God. During the temple ceremony a number of promises are made to God. These promises include keeping specific commandments, following Jesus Christ, and sacrificing for Him. God, in turn, promises that if temple covenants are kept, His children will be blessed to live in His presence forever, having their families “sealed,” or bound, to them eternally.
Come to the Temple
The temple is a sacred and beautiful place, inside and out. It is the House of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and everything within the temple points our way back to dwell with Him. Within the temple walls we, as God’s children, can find refuge from the storms of the world, and comfort in the love of Jesus Christ. The temple is not a secret, but rather a sacred place. Anyone who makes him or herself worthy can enter the temple and experience God’s holy house. It is worth whatever sacrifice is necessary to experience His presence, feel His love, and receive the promise of eternal life with Him after death.
Perhaps one of the most talked about former practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the “Mormon Church”) is the practice of plural marriage or Mormon polygamy. Plural marriage existed to varying degrees in the Church from 1831 to about 1904. It was officially ended in October 1890 with this declaration from then-President Wilford Woodruff at a session of General Conference: “Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise” (Official Declaration 1). President Woodruff’s declaration, later referred to as the Manifesto, was unanimously accepted by the membership of the Church at that conference. In 1904, finding that some plural marriages had continued to be performed primarily in Mexico and Canada, President Joseph F. Smith called for a prohibition of plural marriage which was also unanimously accepted. Since that time, the Church has not allowed those entering into plural marriage after that time to obtain and/or retain membership.
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have always believed in monogamy as the standard of God for his children, with Mormon polygamy being the exception to the rule, but only at God’s direct command. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord teaches that “there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women” (Jacob 2:27–28). Paul taught the same doctrine in the ancient church when he taught the Corinthians to “let every man have his own wife, and every woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).
Yet, the practice of plural marriage is not without precedent. Abraham, the great patriarch, fathered many nations through the practice of plural marriage (Genesis 16:1–3). Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, who would later be known as Israel, also practiced plural marriage (Genesis 29:23–30). King David and King Solomon each had dozens of wives that were condoned by the prophets of the day, so long as they were rightfully acquired.
A small percentage of Mormons practiced Mormon polygamy (plural marriage) for a period of about sixty years. In each case, the marriages required the approval of both the prophet of the day and the wife or wives of the man being married. Plural marriages were not taken lightly, and those asked to participate often sought and received comfort and confirmation of the doctrine through heartfelt prayer. People were not overly enthusiastic about the idea, but when a command came from God, they obeyed.
The Church website includes this statement about the end of plural marriage (Mormon polygamy):
Influenced by rumors and exaggerated reports, the United States Congress, beginning in 1862, enacted a series of laws against polygamy that became increasingly harsh. By the 1880s many Latter-day Saint men were imprisoned or went into hiding.
In 1889 in the face of increasing hardships and the threat of government confiscation of Church property, including temples, Wilford Woodruff, President of the Church at the time, prayed for guidance. He was inspired to issue a document that officially ended the sanction of plural marriage by the Church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not practiced plural marriage for more than 100 years. Current Church leaders have taught that the family is ordained of God, that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that children are entitled to be reared by a father and mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). Gordon B. Hinckley, who was president of the Mormon Church until his death in 2008, emphasized that “Even in countries where civil or religious law allows [the practice of a man having more than one wife], the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage.”
Mormon polygamy is still a sensitive issue which is focused on by the media at large. Those practicing plural marriage today, however, are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Plural marriage is an excommunicative offense; thus, those who practice it either never were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or they are no longer members. Confusion continues to arise because many of those practicing polygamy today refer to themselves as Mormons, which is yet another reason Latter-day Saints are trying to educate the public and media regarding the use of that term.
Reasons for the commandment of the practice of Mormon polygamy have never been given. Yet, it is understood that it is only acceptable when it is explicitly commanded by God for His people to live that law. Because members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in obeying the law of the Lord, they follow His commandments, even in the face of great persecution and adversity.
Any groups or individuals who teach or practice plural marriage today are not members of nor affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Learn more about Mormon Polygamy
Dallin Kimble is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon”). He is a devoted husband and father of two, a freelance writer, a leader is his local town and a graduate student of Public Administration at Arizona State University. More of his writing can be found on his blog at principlesofthegospel.blogspot.com.
We’ve all seen them: young men in dark suits, white shirts, and ties, often on bicycles or walking the streets of our hometowns. Or perhaps we’ve answered the door to find a pair of young women in conservative skirts and shoes, scriptures in hand, offering to share a message about Jesus Christ. Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called the “Mormon Church” by the media, come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and ages, but they all have one thing in common: a burning desire to share their love for their Savior, Jesus Christ, and the knowledge they have of His gospel as taught by His Church on the earth today.
Who can Be a Mormon Missionary?
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are encouraged to serve missions at various times during their lives. Mormon young men are taught from an early age that the Lord wants them to serve a mission when they reach the age of 19 if they are physically and financially able to do so. They spend their teenage years preparing for their missions by studying the scriptures, getting a good education, and saving their money so they can afford to spend two years spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ during their young adulthood. Young women, also, frequently prepare for and serve missions, although they must be 21 years of age to receive a mission call and typically only serve for 18 months. Other Mormon single adults often serve as missionaries, as do older couples. All missionaries serve as unpaid volunteers and are responsible for their own expenses during their missions, although family members, friends, and congregations frequently contribute to the cause.
Missionaries serve throughout the world, wherever they are allowed to preach. There are more than 50,000 full-time Mormon missionaries serving today. Many serve in their own countries, speaking their native languages; others travel across the world to preach the gospel in one of many foreign languages, which they may learn in as little as four to eight weeks in an immersive course offered at one of several missionary training centers throughout the world. Some missionaries go from door to door, teaching anyone who would like to listen. Some missionaries serve as tour guides at church historical sites, or in visitors centers. Some missionaries serve in temples, or mission offices. Still others serve humanitarian missions, reaching out to improve others’ lives by offering medical care or other expertise.
If you were to ask missionaries why they serve, all would mention their love for the Lord, Jesus Christ, and their desire to help others of God’s children feel His love for them. Missionaries teach the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ: faith, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. They teach that keeping God’s commandments leads to happiness and peace in this life and in the life to come. Mormon missionaries also teach about the restoration of the original Christian church, as organized by Jesus and by His apostles, through the modern-day prophet Joseph Smith. Missionaries introduce the teachings of modern prophets as well, and the teachings about the Savior found in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is the religious record of an ancient people who lived in the Americas both before and during the time of Christ’s mission on the earth. Missionaries know that by understanding the truth about Jesus Christ, God’s children on the earth today can make the choices that lead to happiness and peace.
Mormon missionaries feel a deep love for the people they seek to serve. Far away from home and family, they have left behind jobs and education, recreation and romantic interests to labor daily at their own expense to share the gospel of Christ. Nothing makes a missionary happier than to have the chance to testify to you. The next time you see missionaries, think about inviting them in. Offer them a drink or a sandwich, and listen to what they have to say. It will make their day–and it just might make yours as well.
The scriptures are collections of testimonies of the prophets, narrative events of the people who have served God, and prophecies given for the future. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (misnamed by many people as the Mormon Church) believes in the holy scriptures which have already been written, as well as in other scriptures to come.
There are four basic books of scripture that The Church of Jesus Christ uses which testify of the existence of God, the Plan of Salvation, and the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are known as the “Standard Works” and comprise the Mormon scriptures. These four books include the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ; the Holy Bible; the Doctrine and Covenants; and the Pearl of Great Price. One of the fundamental beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (“Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” 8).
Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
The Book of Mormon, which is regarded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints as another testament of Jesus Christ, helps the Bible in clarifying some precious truths. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of the LDS Church, in that the Church stands or falls with the truthfulness of the book.
The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitant of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. . . . and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.
The crowing event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.
After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language (Introduction of the Book to the Mormon).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards the Bible as holy scripture; it is considered sacred and is the word of God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages everyone to read and to study the teachings of the ancient prophets and of the Savior found in the Holy Bible. The word “bible” is of Greek origin, being derived from ta biblia, meaning “the books.” It is a divine library composed of many books rather than being a single book. The Bible admonishes all people to strive to apply the teachings found in it in their lives.
The most important teachings of those in the Bible are about the gospel, the life, and ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There are so many Bible verses that illustrate the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel, both in the Old and New Testaments. For example, Isaiah speaks of a Messiah who would come in the meridian of time and be the Savior of the world. Isaiah also said,
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins (Isaiah 11:1–5).
The Book of Mormon and the Bible complement each other in establishing vital truths. For example, the Savior mentioned other sheep he had. He said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
Soon after His resurrection and during His ministry with the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, Christ said:
Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land. This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them: That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them. But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you” (3 Nephi 15:15–19).
The Church also declares, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (“Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” 9).
Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. Although most of the sections are directed to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the messages, warnings, and exhortations are for the benefit of all mankind and contain an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation.
The Doctrine and Covenants is unique because it is not a translation of an ancient document, but is of modern origin and was given of God through his chosen prophets for the restoration of his holy work and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in these days (Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants).
Doctrine and Covenants is a treasure for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, outlining both the history of the restored church in our day and the revelations of God to His prophets concerning the organization and structure of that church.
Pearl of Great Price
The Pearl of Great Price is a selection of choice materials touching many significant aspects of the faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These items were produced by the Prophet Joseph Smith and were published in the Church periodicals of his day.
The first collection of materials carrying the title Pearl of Great Price was made in 1851 by Elder Franklin D. Richards, then a member of the Council of the Twelve and president of the British Mission. Its purpose was to make more readily accessible some important articles that had had limited circulation in the time of Joseph Smith. As Church membership increased throughout Europe and America, there was a need to make these items available. The Pearl of Great Price received wide use and subsequently became a standard work of the Church by action of the First Presidency and the general conference in Salt Lake City on 10 October 1880 (Introduction to the Pearl of Great Price).
It includes selections from the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, the Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, part of Joseph Smith’s translation of the book of Matthew, and Joseph Smith—History.
Through his prophets, the Lord admonished us to read and study the scriptures. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
Roy Patrick is currently working as a Call Center Agent in the Philippines. He served a full-time mission in San Francisco, CA. His family is one of the pioneers of the LDS Church in Panay Island, Philippines.
Our loving Heavenly Father knows that in the mortal life, all who come to this world will be tried in all things, which is one of the purposes of living in mortality as part of the Plan of Salvation. “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:24–25).
All of us have experienced trials in our lives which seemed impossible to resolve, where we hoped for the mercy and divine help of God. One of the purposes why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known to many as the “Mormon Church”) builds holy temples to God is to receive God’s higher laws, or the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These things will give us greater strength to overcome our adversaries and greater understanding about God’s plan of salvation.
A temple is a holy sanctuary and is literally a house of the Lord, in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by the living for themselves, and also in behalf of the dead who died without the opportunity to partake of these ordinances. Temples are places where the Lord may come and where His Spirit can be strongly felt. They are the most holy of any places of worship on the earth.
One of the Mormon temple ceremonies is called the endowment. To “endow” means to empower; the recipient is given special blessings or gifts from the Lord, conditional upon how faithfully they keep their covenants. There is a special room in the temple reserved for the Mormon endowment. The room is like a classroom, where participants are taught of God’s Plan of Salvation and the blessings available through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Members of the Church who wish to enter the temple and participate in the ordinances reserved for that holy place must prepare themselves spiritually by living the gospel of Jesus Christ every day of their lives.
Individuals only receive their personal endowment one time, unless they sin greatly, are excommunicated, and then return to the Church. However, it is impossible to learn everything necessary in just one session. Performing the ordinance as a proxy for someone else who has died without the opportunity to receive the ordinance renders a dual service. The living person who completes the ordinance on behalf of someone else is able to be reminded of the covenants he or she has made and also the promised blessings if he or she remains faithful. In addition, the deceased person for whom the work is done may then choose whether or not to accept that work.
Mormons don’t discuss the details of temple worship outside of temples, even with other members who have attended the temple, because of the sacred nature of the ordinances. These things are so sacred that they belong only in the temple.
Though God gives us so many blessings and much power to overcome our obstacles in life, it is still our choice to determine our future. To those who are faithful to their covenants (or sacred promises) made in the temple, God has promised these blessings:
For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:2–4).
Roy Patrick is currently working as a Call Center Agent in the Philippines. He served a full-time mission in San Francisco, CA. His family is one of the pioneers of the LDS Church in Panay Island, Philippines.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known to many people by its nickname of ”the Mormon Church” teaches that families can be together forever and that marriage between a man and a woman is essential in the Lord’s Plan of Salvation. The General Authorities of the LDS Church, by inspiration, have given to the world a proclamation regarding the beliefs of the Church about marriage and the family: “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World“; this proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.).
Marriage is the one of the first commandments God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In their marriage, God declared, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). As mentioned in the statement earlier, gender is essential in marriage and the institution of marriage is reserved only for one man and one woman. (Plural marriage, or polygamy, is no longer practiced by Mormons or the LDS Church and hasn’t been for more than 100 years. Read more about Mormon polygamy.) The LDS Church teaches that each of us dwelt with God before we came to earth, and one of the purposes of marriage is to help God in His plan of bringing His spirit children into mortality so that they can further progress and develop faith in God by keeping His commandments.
In the world today, there are various types and forms of weddings. Many people are curious about weddings in the LDS Church, how they are done, and what the standard place is for that precious event in a Mormon’s life.
If a Mormon chooses to marry a member of another faith, or if a Mormon couple chooses to be married outside of a Mormon temple, the ceremony is a civil one, not unlike any other civil wedding ceremony. However, is a Mormon couple decides to be married in a Mormon temple, they must meet strict moral standards. A temple is literally the house of the Lord on earth. It is a holy place of worship where the Lord may visit or where His Spirit can be strongly felt. The Mormon temple is the most elaborate structure of the LDS Church. Its beauty and holiness is like a piece of heaven and it signifies the kind of life that all the faithful might experience in the presence of God. The blessing for choosing to be married in a Mormon temple is that the bond is sealed by the power of God to last for eternity. The relationship will continue beyond the grave, whereas civil unions end with death.
Weddings performed in the temple are done in a simple, dignified manner. Each candidate for marriage must thoroughly prepare spiritually for the blessings the Lord provides for worthy individuals. A woman may choose to wear a simple, white, modest wedding dress for the ceremony, or she may use a plain white dress provided by the temple.
During the wedding ceremony, family members and close friends who are also worthy to enter the temple are invited to witness the ceremony. A representative of the Lord, often the temple president, performs the marriage (or sealing) in a room specially designed for temple sealings. The couple kneel at an altar and make sacred vows, promises, or covenants to God and to each other. After the ceremony, everyone in the family is welcome to join the couple in pictures on the beautiful temple grounds, but outside of the temple. Wedding receptions after the temple ceremony may be held by the couple and their families for those who could not attend the temple ceremony. A reception also serves as an extension and a form of celebration for the newly wedded couple.
The LDS Church has exerted strong efforts to protect and maintain the proper and approved standard of the Lord for marriage, and encourages all members to partake of this great blessing. The LDS Church strongly disagrees with the practice of same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships, because such practices are in contrast to the commandments of God.
The Lord has declared, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). God knows the beginning of things as well as the end, and He can help us avoid confusion that brings much sorrow and disappointment in life. God wants His children to obey His commandments because doing so will bring eternal growth and happiness.
I was one of the participants at the Cebu Philippines Temple Dedication. Because I can sing well, I was privileged to be with the choir to sing during that major event for the Latter-day Saints in the Philippines. It was so wonderful, and very intriguing to many people, that over 50,000 people from almost everywhere had come to visit the new temple. Many of the guests were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes nicknamed the Mormon Church). The media published some interesting thoughts about the Mormon temple that encouraged people to come and see the new temple.
My grandmother had told me how the Mormon temple in the Philippines became the “apple of the eye” to the Filipinos. The building itself is naturally attractive and beautiful. She said that it is the first time in the Philippines that a building would be elaborately decorated and lit during Christmas season, and that happens also at the Manila Philippines Temple, attracting many onlookers. The temple in Manilla had become one of the main attractions during Christmas, and it adds to the fame of the LDS Church in the Philippines.
The thoughts of many turn to this question: “Why is it that the Church is spending so much just to have this kind of place of worship, when they already have beautiful chapels everywhere? And what is the Mormon temple for?” or “Are Mormon Temples Secret?”
Most people are very interested to know what things can be found inside the temple and what is happening inside it. Sometimes people get the wrong impression from the critics of the Church that Mormons are secretive and have some weird things happening inside the temple. And some would even say, “If there isn’t something weird going on there, why don’t they follow the standard of a non-Mormon temple anywhere in the world where people can come, relax, and visit?”
The LDS Church regards their temple as holy edifices dedicated to the Lord. They are places where His Spirit can be strongly felt. Similar to the temples built by commandment to God by Moses, Solomon, and other men of God, the Mormon temple is regarded as a special place where only the most worthy—those who accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and are keeping the commandments of God in their daily lives—can enter the temple after it is dedicated to the Lord.
Higher ordinances are performed in the temples of God, wherein patrons make stronger commitments to follow Christ and center their lives on Him. Some of these ordinances are Family Sealing and Temple Marriage. Family sealing is the binding of every individual in the family to each other so they can be together forever as a family. Likewise, temple marriage is the sealing of husband and wife for the eternities.
There are also other sacred ordinances that are so important in our lives, like the Mormon Endowment and Baptism for our dead loved ones and ancestors. To be “endowed” means being given special blessings or gifts that can help us tackle our hardships in life. Baptism is the first essential ordinance necessary to enter into the kingdom of God. The Savior is our perfect example of this principle, when He was baptized by immersion, although He was sinless. There are many of our ancestors who have died without the knowledge and blessings of the fullness of the gospel. Joseph Smith, one of the Mormon prophets, said, “And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:15).
Ordinances performed inside the temple are more “sacred” than secret, because they are saving ordinances or sacred acts that can only be done inside the holy temple. Mormons don’t discuss the details of temple worship outside the temple, even with other members who have attended the temple, because they belong in holy places only.
“And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:19–20).
We are all children of God and therefore all are entitled to the same blessings given to those who are obedient and who are wiling to follow His commandments. Latter-day Saints hope all will sanctify themselves in order to be worthy to enter God’s house and partake of higher ordinances that can lead to exaltation in the highest kingdom of heaven.
I testify that God loves us so much. He is our Father in Heaven and His wonderful plan of happiness is the way back to His presence. I testify that temple ordinances are essential in our lives. They bring us the possibility of eternal glory and eternal families, of power, knowledge, and spiritual safety.
Roy Patrick is currently working as a Call Center Agent in the Philippines. He served a full-time mission in San Francisco, CA. His family is one of the pioneers of the LDS Church in Panay Island, Philippines.
The year 2011 is very memorable for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church) here in the Philippines. It has been 50 years since the Gospel of Jesus Christ was first preached in our land. I was not yet born when Elder Gordon B. Hinckley rededicated my country for missionary work on April 28, 1961 (It had already been dedicated by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith on August 21, 1955, under the direction of the First Presidency). I have only read stories about that glorious event in books and Church magazines. However, as I looked back trying to imagine how it was during that time, I always felt like I was there just watching the Church grow and waiting for my time to participate in the work.
Fifty years after the first missionaries arrived, more than 600,000 Filipinos have accepted the gospel. Now, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrates 50 years of presence in the Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of Church members across the country gathered in their respective areas to commemorate the glorious history of their faith. The highlights of the celebration were held in the Araneta Coliseum in Manila on May 1, 2011. It was attended by thousands of visitors and Church members including three of the first four missionaries who brought the gospel to the Filipinos.
The country-wide celebration was graced by spectacular performances by the youth and young single adults, which depicted the various cultures of the Filipinos and the growth of the Church in different regions of the country. Our stake also organized a photo exhibit and cultural presentation where many youth and young single adults shared their talents in dancing, acting, and singing.
One such performance was an artistic rendition of the “Barter of Panay”, which tells the story of ten Bornean (from Borneo) chiefs who came to the shores of Panay after escaping from an oppressive ruler. Panay is an island in Western Visayas in the Central Philippines. When the foreigners arrived in this island, they were welcomed by the native Aeta Chief, who, in exchange for a golden helmet and a necklace, relinquished their places of settlement to the foreigners and moved up to the mountains, where many of their descendants live even now. On the other hand, the Borneans established settlements and prospered on the plains. They became the racial stock of the majority of the Philippines’ current populace.
The celebration was especially meaningful to me as one who loves to study history and cultures. I was assigned to give the invocation, so I was privileged to sit in front of the huge gathering of Church members and visitors. My wife was in the choir and I could see the excitement on her face. The choir performed “Beautiful Savior” at the opening and it was indeed beautiful. The Spirit was so strong, and I even noticed the government officials sitting next to me held their breath as they listened.
As the cultural celebrations progressed, a wide projector screen displayed pictures and video clips of the early developments in the Church history. I saw Elder Gordon B. Hinckley and the first set of missionaries—Elders Kent Lowe, Harry Murray Jr., Raymond Goodson, and Nestor Ledesma, a half-Filipino from Salt Lake City, Utah—who made significant sacrifices to build the foundation of the great work in my country. I wanted to thank them personally for what they have done. They were young but full of courage and love for the Savior and for the Filipinos, which enabled them to rise above the challenges. “We didn’t know the area, we didn’t know where we were, we didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t speak the language. We just had our books and our message, and we began to knock on doors,” said Brother Kent Lowe who attended the Jubilee Celebration in Manila.
I also saw some of the pioneer members of the Church in our stake, and the old, poorly furnished rented meetinghouses where they held Sunday meetings. As I sat there, I was amazed by their faith and dedication. Then, I thought about my own conversion.
I joined the Church when I was 16 years old. Even though I was young at the time, I was more serious about leaving my old religion and embracing another faith than most other people thought. I met the missionaries when they visited our place to reactivate my two elder brothers who joined the Church a few years before, but eventually left. I had little support from my family with regard to my new religion, yet I could not expect more because they were non-members. I had to find my own way in the Church, with the help of some friends and leaders. It was not easy.
However, as I watched the pictures of the pioneers, I felt so lucky. I didn’t have to attend the sacrament in hot or sometimes flooded meetinghouses like they did. I was not given the responsibility to start a branch of the Church with only a handful of members helping. I have not experienced the persecutions they had to face to defend the faith and make it easy for future Latter-day Saints, including me, to enjoy the blessings of the gospel.
I was called as a bishop two years ago when I was just 26, and I knew I had a huge responsibility on my shoulders. However, I feel so fortunate that I was not the one who was commanded to build the Ark, or to lead Israel out of Egypt, or to restore the Lord’s Church in the last days. Until now, whenever I remember how the Church has grown so fast in the last 50 years, and the sacrifices of the pioneers who have moved the work forward, I feel so proud and blessed to know that I am doing something—even just a small thing—for the Lord’s work.
I remember what Elder Michael John Teh, our first Filipino Area President, said during the Church Jubilee Celebration in Manila. He said that the Church will continue to grow no matter what happens, and that ours is a great privilege to be part of that growth. I know that the Church will continue to grow with or without me. I know that it will continue to touch the lives of millions more Filipinos who honestly seek for truth and happiness. In the next 50 years, how wonderful it would be to stand before the young generation of Latter-day Saints and say, “I have done my work, I have kept the faith.”
The real name of the “Mormon Church” is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Friends of other faiths have attributed the nickname “Mormon Church,” because of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a companion book of scripture to the Bible.
Even though the LDS Church was formally organized in 1830, it is not exactly a new church nor is it a protestant religion. The original apostles of Jesus Christ were given His authority and power to minister, lead, and perform miracles. They received revelation from above to guide them in spreading the gospel and in teaching truth. After the death of the apostles, however, miracles ceased, and pagan traditions and Greek philosophy were mingled with scripture in Christian orthodoxy. Many abuses crept in, and eventually, reformers attempted to reclaim the aspects of Christ’s original church and gospel that had been lost or changed. During the Reformation in Europe, new religions were founded in order to correct the abuses of orthodoxy. Each reformer had his own view of the truth. The result is a plethora of protestant churches, each basing its tenets upon the Holy Bible, but disagreeing with the tenets of other faiths. The Catholic Church claimed apostolic authority from Peter, but the protestant churches could not make that claim. As the reformation progressed, so did the “enlightenment,” and an emphasis upon the ability of individuals to think for themselves, and to be responsible for public policy, came about. When the United States of America was founded, these principles guided the creation of a free nation with freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.
With the time of the Second Coming of Christ drawing closer, the Lord set about to fully restore Christ’s ancient church, with its truths, power, and authority from Him to set the stage for His coming. Joseph Smith was 14 years old in 1820, living with his family on a farm in upstate New York. There was a huge religious revival going on at the time, with so many revivalist tent meetings, and so much conflict between the various sects of Christianity, that the area won the nickname, the “Burned Over District.” Joseph’s family was devout, but unaffiliated, and some members of the family were drawn to the Presbyterian Church, and others to the Methodist Church. Joseph, however, was confused. He said,
In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
While studying the King James Bible one night, Joseph happened upon James 1:5, which caused him to think he might ask God which church he should join. Soon after, he ventured into a grove of trees on the family’s property and knelt to pray. No sooner had he begun, than he was nearly overcome and destroyed by an unseen (but very real) power. He called upon God and was delivered, only to see the woods filled with the flaming glory of God. A light appeared directly over His head, and in it, he saw two glorious personages, two resurrected men. One introduced the other:
This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Joseph ventured to ask his question. Which church should he join. Christ said he should join none of them, that He was about to perform a great work upon the earth, and that Joseph would be a part of it. Joseph reported this vision to a minister who had been working with him, and he expected the minister to be excited about the vision. But instead, the minister reviled him, told him that no such visions occurred in these days, and that the experience was from the devil. Persecution against Joseph Smith began at that time, and ended with his martyrdom at the hands of a mob in 1844. Joseph’s vision, if real, showed two unsettling things — first, that the idea of a trinity (three beings of one substance, with God being a spirit without body parts or passions) is false; and second, that no church on earth at the time had the authority to act in the name of Christ. The reformation was not enough; the apostolic authority of Peter was not enough. Only a complete restoration of Christ’s ancient church was enough to prepare a people to receive Christ at His Second Coming. Thus, what became known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that church, with authority, power, and the organization to make efficacious the atonement of Jesus Christ, and prepare the world for His millennial reign.
The only way this authority from Christ could be passed along was through the men who once held the keys to certain powers and to past dispensations. Thus, Joseph Smith was led along by direct revelation from Christ and by heavenly beings. Nearly all of Joseph’s revelations were received in the presence of other people, and other people witness milestone events and testified of them. Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith were given the Aaronic Priesthood by the resurrected John the Baptist, after which they had the authority from God to baptize each other by immersion. Peter, James, and John appeared to confer upon them the higher, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, after which they had the authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost upon newly baptized members. Moses appeared to Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith to confer the keys of the regathering of Israel, and Elijah appeared to confer the sealing power (to seal in heaven what had been sealed on earth). Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in them and their seed all generations after them should be blessed.
The Book of Mormon
Joseph Smith saw his first vision at the age of 14 and then was left alone to ponder it and to stand alone with his family in defending it. At age 17, Joseph was sorry for his sometimes frivolous behavior and wondered where he stood with God. In prayer one night in the small family cabin, with his brothers and sisters sleeping close by, he was visited by a heavenly messenger who called himself Moroni. Moroni was the last prophet of a group of Israelites who had been led by God to America just before the Babylonians devastated Jerusalem, around 600 B.C. By 400 A.D. this group had dwelled in the Americas for a thousand years, going through periods of righteousness and wickedness. They became so wicked that they were destroyed. They had arrived in America living according to the Law of Moses, and their prophets had told them to look forward to Christ, and they prophesied in the name of Christ. They had seen signs of His birth, and suffered devastating storms and earthquakes upon Christ’s death. After this, Christ appeared to them as a resurrected being, and He taught them and organized His church among them, just as He had in the Holy Land. The people enjoyed two hundred years of perfect peace before they descended into wickedness.
Moroni showed Joseph in vision, a nearby hill. Joseph went there and found gold and brass “plates” held together by rings, and stored in a stone box. He visited this site yearly for several years, being taught by Moroni, before he was entrusted with the plates so he could translate them by the power of God. Joseph was a farm boy with only 3 years of primary education. His wife, Emma, who was his sometime scribe, said he could hardly construct a good sentence in English, when he began his calling, but he was an intellectual giant and great leader by the time of his martyrdom. In the box had been the Urim and Thummim — the ancient Israelite seer stones used by Aaron and others for translation. Joseph began translating the Book of Mormon with their aid, but soon became proficient enough not to need them. In spite of persecution and the need to move from place to place, the translation was done quickly. Martin Harris paid for the printing, and the translation had to be divided into chapters and verses, and grammatical errors had to be corrected. The Book of Mormon came off the presses in 1830. The Book of Mormon testifies that Jesus is the Christ, that he was indeed born to the virgin Mary in Bethlehem, that He is the Son of God, Creator, Redeemer, and Savior.
Growth of the Church
The restored Church of Christ began with 6 members. Joseph prophesied that it would be taken to every nation, tongue and kindred, and that it would eventually fill the earth. The LDS Church now has over 14 million members all over the world; over 52,000 full-time missionaries in service world-wide; a remarkable welfare program; a remarkable humanitarian aid program; and remarkable members. Because of direct revelation to its prophets, the Church is verily God’s true and living church. Members lead a squeaky-clean lifestyle, refraining from using alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea, and refraining from sex outside marriage. The gospel enables them to enjoy family life to the hilt, and to be good citizens, community servants, and compassionate friends. Learn more about basic Mormon beliefs at Mormon.org.