All through its history, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been building temples. In January 1833, Joseph Smith received revelation from Heavenly Father that he, Joseph Smith, should build a house that is holy unto the Lord. Then, later that year,Heavenly Father spoke to Joseph Smith again.
“Yea, verily I say unto you, I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high,” Doctrine and Covenants 95:8
The first Temple to be built was dedicated in March of 1836, in Kirtland, Ohio. Because of persecution the early Saints suffered , they were forced to flee the area and abandon the temple. Upon their departure, the temple became an ordinary home.
Last October, at the conclusion of the 188th Semiannual General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced plans to build 12 new temples around the world.
That announcement brought the number of temples that are operating, announced or under construction to 201.
Where are those new temples being built?
Yuba City, California
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Praia, Cape Verde
Auckland, New Zealand
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Washington County, Utah
Just before the announcement of these new temples, I began to receive emails asking me just why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints continues to build temples, and why we even need temples in modern times.
“There is nothing new,” said one email, “to be given in temples. According to scripture, all prophesy has ended, and there is nothing new to be revealed.”
“Things like this were only for the Jewish people way back when,” wrote Janice. “What’s the point of it now?”
“Why today?” asked Tamara. “Why these temples the Mormons build? You can get that from a church!”
To find answers I decided to meet with Robert Dinsmoor, a member of the Bishopric of the El Paso Young Single Adult Ward.
We’ve met with Robert to learn about the first Chapel the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints built in Texas (it was right here in El Paso) and about how Joseph Smith’s simple prayer let to the restoration of the Church.
“Why is it important that we have temples in these days? And it’s for a multitude of reasons. Number one, where our hearts are, that’s where our direction and our guidance will be. If our hearts are looking at, I want the latest Camaro, I want the latest, whatever type of vehicle want the latest truck. I want the latest, something else. I want the latest additions to the house. That’s where our minds are. That’s where our hearts are. That’s where goal is,” said Dinsmoor.
“But the temples help us to lead our direction back to Heavenly Father.”
Unlike a church or a chapel, a temple is different.
“Temples are not like ordinary chapel,” explained Dinsmoor. “They’re not a place that you go to for Sunday services. It’s a place where you go for special ordinances.”
In the time of the First and Second Temple in Israel, the temple was not a place where one went for Shabbat. You didn’t visit the Temple for your Bar Mitzvah, your wedding, or for a funeral. The Temple then, as now, was a sacred site set apart for particular ordinances.
In the Temple, the one in Israel, people would come from all over the world, wherever Jewish people were to be found, to offer sin offerings, to dedicate their first born. These were not things you could do at home or in the Shul you attend for Shabbat. No, these were acts set aside by God to be performed in His Temple.
The temple found today are no different. They exist to allow members of the Church to perform sacred ordinances such as baptism for the dead, marriage and sealings to your family, endowments and more. These are acts that have been restored to the Church and are to be performed in a place set apart. Sacred ordinances performed in a sacred space, a temple, set aside for just that purpose. (You can learn more about temples here)
“Why do they need to have a lot of them?” That’s the question Amber sent me. “They got [sic] temples all over the place, why build one on each side of the earth?”
That is a good question. I began this piece by saying the total number of temples is approaching 201. Temples are to be found on almost every continent and in almost every country. There is, however, a practical reason for that. (You can see a map of all the temples run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints here)
Imagine you are a member of the Church living in Peru. Your job may not pay you very much, and you may just be living paycheck to paycheck. You are to be married, and you want to be married in the Temple. If there were just one temple and that temple located in Salt Lake City, Utah, then a temple marriage would most likely be out of the question.
Currently, there are two temples in Peru. The first one, in Lima, Peru, was announced April 1981 and dedicated January 10, 1986, by Gordon B. Hinckley. The second temple, in Trujillo, Peru, was announced in December 13, 2008, and dedicated by Dieter F. Uchtdorf June 21, 2015.
These two temples make it easier for those living in Peru to receive temple ordinances.
“I think of Christ when he lived on the earth as a young boy when He let his parents know that he had to be about his Father’s business and he went up to the temple, and he was talking and preaching and teaching there at the temple as a young boy. And then again as a man that he was going there to the temple. His thought was we need to be doing our Heavenly Father’s business and not seeking after our own selfish desires. And that’s one thing that the temple does, is it helps us get rid of selfish desires and help our time to help ancestors, to help others, and to grow closer to Heavenly Father,” said Dinsmoor. “So I cannot think of a time in this world and the history of the world when temples are more important than they are today.”
In the end, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints continues to build temples in order to allow the members of the Church access to the sacred ordinances established by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The temples are also built, in abundance, to make it easier for
members to access and time to visit the temples.
Near to us, we have two temples. There is one in Juarez and one in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There are temples being built all over the world today. Before these temples are dedicated there is a period where members of the general public can take tours and see the temples for themselves. (For a list of upcoming open houses click here.)
Gordon B. Hinckley said, “though I live with it, this matter of temple construction is a thing of awesome wonder to me. We are trying to build in such a way and in such places across the world that these houses of the Lord may stand and serve through the Millennium.”
I’ll give the final quote to David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “The temple is a point of intersection between heaven and earth. In this sacred place, holy work will be performed through selfless service and love. The temple reminds me of all that is good and beautiful in the world.”
Robert Dinsmoor, in the video above, talks about temples, their importance in history and so much more. I invite you to take the time to watch that video.
If you have any questions about the temples, their use, purpose, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in general, send me an email. Your questions will be used for future articles. You can reach me at Steven@EPHeraldPost.com
Photos courtesy of Robert Dinsmoor Drone footage during the last part of the video courtesy of DanesDrone