By Alan on Apr 04 in Blog tagged 150 Built or under construction, All are welcome, dedicate, for eternity, God's laws, Holiness to the Lord, holy, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Kansas City, Latter-day Saints, maintain sacredness, members, Missouri, Mormon, Mormon Temples Are places apart, ordinances, place of worship, respect, reverence, sacred purposed, set aart, temple, temple-goers, temples are not open to the public, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The House of The Lord, unite families together, Washington Post | 2 Comments
Mormon temples are places apart from the world.
Later this week yet another new temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint–this one in Kansas City, Missouri–will open its doors for public tours before being dedicated. After dedication, the building will no longer be open to the public, but only to members of the church “in good standing.”
To some, it seems like a curious thing for a place of worship not to open its doors to all comers. It may be a good time to try to explain.
Mormon temples come in all shapes and sizes. They range from the iconic six-spired granite edifice on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, to the towering white marble structure familiar to Beltway commuters in Washington, D.C., to the smaller temples in unlikely places like Nuku’alofa in Tonga, or Hong Kong.
In all, Latter-day Saint temples now number around 150 built or under construction –more than half of them finished or started within the past dozen years. All of them, no matter what the architecture or location, have one external identifying feature in common. Above or close to the front entrance, etched in capital letters, is the inscription: “Holiness to the Lord. The House of the Lord.”
Bible scholars will recognize the words. In the days of Moses the phrase “holiness to the Lord” was inscribed on a kind of headband or crown worn by the high priest, whose duties and vestments are described in detail in the Old Testament books of Exodus and Leviticus. While the office of high priest has long ceased to exist among the Jews, there is a world of meaning in the same words now inscribed on every Latter-day Saint temple.
The English word “holy” doesn’t entirely capture the intent conveyed by the ancient Hebrew. English usage of “holy” certainly associates objects or people with the sacred, as in worship. But the original Hebrew (kah-dash), Greek (hagios) and Latin (sanctum) each carry the additional sense of something separate or “set apart” for sacred purposes. Latter-day Saints understand the words “Holiness to the Lord” in exactly this way. Temples are places consecrated, dedicated and set apart for sacred purposes, and when temple-goers walk through the doors they have already set themselves apart mentally.
Set apart from what? From the distractions of the world, from the profane and materialistic, and instead–as the apostle Paul urged Jesus’ followers –in order to set their affection “on things above, not on things on the earth.”
A few years ago a leader of my church put it rather well: “Holiness is the strength of the soul. It comes by faith and through obedience to God’s laws and ordinances. God then purifies the heart by faith, and the heart becomes purged from that which is profane and unworthy. When holiness is achieved by conforming to God’s will, one knows intuitively that which is wrong and that which is right before the Lord. Holiness speaks when there is silence, encouraging that which is good or reproving that which is wrong.”
Isn’t this the same reason why we walk through the doors of any church? No, not exactly. There are many thousands of Latter-day Saint chapels, or meetinghouses, around the world, and of course just like other churches they are treated with reverence and respect. Our buildings typically include a chapel for public Sunday services, classrooms, a basketball court and a kitchen to service recreational activities through the week. For Latter-day Saints, these buildings are part house of worship, part community center and all are welcome to join us in worship and communion.
No Latter-day Saint would ever regard the temple as a community center. For a temple-going Latter-day Saint, crossing the threshold of a temple is accompanied by a wholly different feeling than walking through the doors of a chapel for Sunday worship. To begin with, we don’t go to the temple on a particular day of the week. There is no schedule for temple attendance and no expectation of frequency beyond a person’s own motivation. Temple attendance is not a matter of calendar but of a personal desire for a higher commitment to God. In a weekly Sunday service, our taking of the “communion,” or “sacrament” as we call it, is an act of reconciliation, a reminder of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and a symbolic gesture that invites the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives for the coming week. In the temple, however, “Holiness to the Lord” engenders something more – an understanding that we are not simply going to try to live our faith for another week, but that we are about to make personal promises to God to consecrate and dedicate our whole lives to him.
Ultimately we show our loyalty and devotion to God by observing what Jesus described as the second great commandment –by loving our neighbor. Men and women through the ages have sought places of spiritual sanctuary, free from the temptations of the outside world, where they can draw close to God. Monastic orders and convents are one manifestation of this. But Latter-day Saints see the temple not as a place of permanent retreat, but as a place of personal covenants, where for an hour or two they can immerse themselves in communion with God, render ceremonial service for those who have departed this life, and unite families together for eternity through sacred ordinances. Paradoxically, the resultant effect of temple worship is not withdrawal or isolation from the world, but to impel the believer to re-enter the world better prepared to serve members of one’s family, church, neighborhood and beyond.
Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley described it this way when speaking to a large gathering of men in the church in October of 1995:
“If every man in this church…were to go to the house of the Lord and renew his covenants in solemnity before God and witnesses, we would be a better people. There would be little or no infidelity among us. Divorce would almost entirely disappear. So much of heartache and heartbreak would be avoided. There would be a greater measure of peace and love and happiness in our homes. There would be fewer weeping wives and weeping children. There would be a greater measure of appreciation and of mutual respect among us. And I am confident the Lord would smile with greater favor upon us.”
With all of this in mind, a few moments’ thought should make it obvious why temples are not open to the public. In my whole life I have never heard a church member refer to a temple as “secret.” The term of choice is “sacred,” and Mormons understand the difference. It is important for Latter-day Saints to maintain that sacredness. Large “visitors welcome” signs routinely flank our chapels, but they are not to be found at temples, other than those few that have adjacent visitors’ centers. Rather than places for casual visits from the public, temples are places where we continue a spiritual journey already begun. While we do not invite the public into the temple, we do invite sensitivity, understanding and mutual respect for the sacred – values which are sadly diminishing even in our religiously pluralistic society.
Micheal Otterson is an On Faith panelist for The Washington Post
For The Family
By Alan on Apr 12 in Blog tagged All are welcome, believe, children of God, discern, Doctrine and Covenants, faith, gifts, heal, Holy Ghost, interpretation, Jesus, Joseph Smith, miracles, prophecy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Family, tongues, wisdom | 1 Comment
This revelation expresses the will of the Lord relative to governing and conducting meetings. All are welcome in our Church Meetings.
This Revelation was given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to the Church, at Kirtland, Ohio, March 8, 1831. In this early time of the Church, there had not yet developed a unified pattern for the conducting of Church services. However, a custom of admitting only the family members and earnest investigators to the sacrament meetings and other assemblies of the Church had become somewhat general. Doctrine and Covenants – Section 46
HEARKEN, O ye people of my church; for verily I say unto you that these things were spoken unto you for your profit and learning.
But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless ye are commanded never to cast any one out from your public meetings, which are held before the world. (Click to find a Church)
Ye are also commanded not to cast any one who belongeth to the church out of your sacrament meetings; nevertheless, if any have trespassed, let him not partake until he makes reconciliation.
And again I say unto you, ye shall not cast any out of your sacrament meetings who are earnestly seeking the kingdom—I speak this concerning those who are not of the church.
And again I say unto you, concerning your confirmation meetings, that if there be any that are not of the church, that are earnestly seeking after the kingdom, ye shall not cast them out.
“But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.
Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.
And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church.
For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.
And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.
And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.
To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.
And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;
And to others it is given to have faith to heal.
And again, to some is given the working of miracles;
And to others it is given to prophesy;
And to others the discerning of spirits.
And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;
And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.
And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.
And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.
And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit;
That unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby.
He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.
And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit;
And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with.
And ye must practise virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen.
We all come with gifts and talents. The Lord encourages each of us to magnify those talents and to use them for good.
If we all would use our various talents to bless the lives of others without any env or jealousy, or to get gain, this world would be a better place. We are encouraged to study, learn, and with faith, seek the best gifts, those spiritual gifts that will be your live and others, eternally. This is how God became who He is. As His children, this is how He teaches us:
“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” 2 Ne. 28: 30
Alan Osmond For The Family