The Mormon temple is the focus and culmination of the Mormon religion. In this sacred building are performed the highest ordinances of salvation on earth. The ceremonies and ordinances of the temple are held most sacred by Mormons, so many aspects of temple worship are not discussed outside of the Mormon temple. A distinction is made between sacred and secret. Believers of Mormonism invite all to follow Christ and become worthy to enter the Mormon temple, however the covenants and instructions of the temple are so revered by Mormons that they do not discuss them outside of the temple, even with each other. Many detractors attempt to reveal “the secrets” of Mormon temples, but they are not exposing any secrets, they are merely blaspheming what Mormons hold sacred.
Baptisms, marriages, and a ceremony called the “endowment” are all performed in Mormon temples. Each member of the Church that is found worthy to attend, through a temple recommend interview, may receive his or her endowment in the temple. The great work in Mormon temples is performing the ordinances of salvation for the dead, who did not or could not receive them during their lifetime.
The first time members of the Church go to the Mormon temple, they perform the endowment ceremony for themselves. In the endowment a person makes covenants with the Lord just like they covenanted when receiving baptism. Obedience to these covenants brings blessings promised by the Lord. The endowment is also comprised of instruction. It sets forth in highly symbolic fashion, the purpose of this world and everyone’s life upon it. It begins with the Creation, traces the Fall, the Redemption, and the return to the presence of God. This is known in Mormonism as the Plan of Salvation. At specific times during the endowment, those in attendance make covenants with God and then receive instruction related to those covenants.
When members return to the Mormon temple they perform the endowment by proxy for someone deceased that did not have the opportunity when he or she was living. Mormonism teaches that all mankind can be saved through the Atonement of Christ, and that there are ordinances performed in the flesh that are necessary to salvation. The great majority of people who have lived on this earth have not had the opportunity to even hear the gospel of Christ. Performing the ordinances for them gives them the chance to accept the gospel in the spirit world and then have those ordinances take effect. For this reason, genealogical research is a great undertaking of the Mormon Church, so that members can perform these ordinances for their deceased ancestors.
Baptisms for the living are usually done in a Mormon church building, but baptisms performed for the dead are performed only within the sacred walls of a Mormon temple. Marriages, for both the living and the dead, are performed in the temple. The marriage ceremony is referred to as a “sealing.” A couple married in the Mormon temple is not only married for this life, but is sealed together for time and all eternity. Their union surpasses the bands of death and continues in heaven. The marriage sealing in the Mormon temple is the crowning ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Receiving all the ordinances, from baptism to the endowment, and finally a temple sealing, prepares a person to gain all the blessings that God the Father has offered to us, His children.
More information about Mormon Temples
More about Mormon Temples
Temple (Mormonism) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
LDS Temples – Mormon Temples – Salt Lake Temple
Teachings About Temples – Lightplanet
USAToday.com Mormons Open Temple Doors to Share Beliefs
Mormanity: Mormon Temples and “Secrecy”
History of Mormon Temples – Lightplanet.com