Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The House of the Lord

This Saturday was the Youth Temple Trip. I get asked frequently what the difference between a Church buildingand a Temple is. The church buildings are used for weekly Sunday meetings, midweek youth groups, weddings, socials, etc . . . The Temple is very different. We welcome any and all to come to our church meetings. The Temple, however, is more restricted. Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are permitted to enter the Temple. Occasionally we are criticized for this practice, some accusing us of secrecy. This is not the reason for restricted access. In fact, in a perfect world, everyone would come and go freely and frequently from the Temple. Or, that's my view of perfect, anyway. There are several commandments which must be fulfilled before a person can return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. One of these is the commandment to be baptized. Now, God is no respecter of person's right? That means that it doesn't matter who a person was, if he/she hasn't complied with the commandment, he/she can't enter the Kingdom of God. However, we're also taught that God is benevolent and kind, etc. There are many many places in the world, and times throughout History where the full knowledge of God has not extended. How could God require all people to be baptized, and then send some of them to places and times where they would never get the opportunity to do so? The answer is? The Temple. In the Temple, one of the things which we do is called "Baptisms for the Dead". Obviously we cannot baptize a spirit. So, a living person goes to the Temple and does the baptism as a proxy for the dead person. That person then has the option of accepting the baptism or not. It's not that we force baptism on people. The sacred nature of what we see as something which is a necessary step for everyone to take if they are to be in God's presence after this life is why access is restricted. It's restricted to those people who have already done the work for themselves (makes sense, doesn't it? You have to be baptized for yourself before you can be baptized for someone else?) and they have to be living in accordance with certain rules. That's the reason that we don't invite everyone into the Temple after it's dedicated. (Before it's dedicated, though, we hold open houses where the entire world is encouraged to come see what the Temple looks like on the inside.) Anyway, the point of this is that we took our Youth to the Temple to do baptisms for the dead. It was so great to see such dedication to the gospel in teenagers. These kids have made the decision to live by the rules which allow them to enter the Temple. That takes a lot of nerve. It's things like not smoking, drinking, or having sex, amongst other things. Pretty cool, I think! These kids have made the decision to Stand for Something!

The London Temple

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