If you are not aware of Mormon culture or the religion, let me explain a few things first.
Mormons = The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints = LDS (and yes, “JESUS CHRIST” is in all caps. They like to point out Christ is in their name because he’s lacking elsewhere.) So those terms are synonymous.
Second, a large part of being Mormon revolves around their temple. To be a good Mormon, one must be “temple worthy.” In order to be temple worthy, you go through a temple recommend interview. I don’t know all that’s asked, but they make sure that you’ve been giving 10% of your income (yes they have financial statements), that you haven’t had coffee, that you aren’t cussing, that you’ve attended a high percentage of Sunday services, etc. etc. If you pass this interview and are deemed worthy to enter the temple, you receive a temple recommend. (Please note: One cannot be worthy to receive the best that God has to offer unless they are temple worthy and have been through the temple.)
If you are single and LDS, you strive to have a temple marriage, meaning both you and your fiance must be temple worthy. And only temple worthy family members can attend your ceremony. So, your best friend, or little sister who is yet too young to get married or take out their endowments, cannot attend your wedding ceremony. While this is a completely foreign thought to outsiders, it’s understandable to those in LDS culture.
If you’ve been married in the temple, then you are also sealed for all time and eternity to each other and all future children. If you became a member after you were wed, then you and your spouse can be sealed in the temple to each other and your children. This idea of being sealed means that you can be together forever with your family in the afterlife. What they fail to mention, is that there are stipulations. If one or more of those sealed family members are not worthy to enter the highest of heaven’s three levels, then you will not be together. (There are a couple other logical fallacies that I’ll refrain from explaining.)
The temple is also used for baptisms for the dead. Their belief is that after earth life there is a spirit prison and spirit paradise. Anyone, who has not received the restored gospel of the LDS church goes to spirit prison. (Since the true gospel was gone off this earth since shortly after Christ, everyone between then and Joseph Smith would be in spirit prison, even people like Martin Luther.) But it’s ok, if you’re in spirit prison because you get another chance to hear and accept the restored gospel. However, one would still have to be baptized and have the laying on of hands (giving to the Holy Spirit) in order to enter a higher level of heaven. This is where baptism for the dead comes in. In the temple, one gets baptized for a dead person by proxy, and then has the Holy Spirit conferred to them. Then the person in spirit prison can choose to accept or reject this baptism in their name. And of course, if you’ve accepted the restored gospel in spirit prison, there’s no reason to reject the baptism done in your name. (There are or at least have been proxy marriages performed too.)
The last thing, that I’m aware of, that is done in the temple is the taking out of your endowments. What that means exactly, I’m not sure. However, most women take out their endowments and get married on the same day. LDS missionaries will go through the temple and get their endowments before they leave for their mission. It is at this time that you would be given (or have the opportunity to purchase) temple garments (the special underwear). If you stop wearing them, however, you would fail your next temple recommend interview.
There are lots of questions that I do have about the temple, not the least of which is EXACTLY what happens when you “go through the temple.” But they also have the Celestial Room, which is supposed to represent heaven. My question there, is when do you go into the Celestial room? If I’m a “card-carrying” Mormon can I go and enjoy “heaven on earth” at any time, or only after I’ve done some sort of ceremony and which ceremony?
My next post will be about my impressions of the Oquirrh (South Jordan) Temple.
For more information:
http://www.mrm.org/#articles (Look under “The Mormon Temple” there are several different articles)