Question: Why are temples sacred? How are our bodies like temples?
Answer: Some gospel ordinances and covenants are so sacred that God permits us to receive them only in special places called temples. A temple is literally a house of the Lord—a holy place set apart from the rest of the world. In the temple, you learn more about the plan of salvation and how to follow Christ’s perfect example. God’s greatest blessings are available in His temples.
The scriptures teach that God has commanded His people to worship in temples since ancient times. When the Lord restored His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith, He directed that temples once again be built. Having temples on the earth is a witness of God’s love for us. Everything in the temple testifies that God is our Father and that Jesus Christ is His Son and the Savior of the world. (“What Is the Purpose of the Temple?” Families and Temples, 2016, 8–11)
Each body is a temple where that person’s spirit lives. We should treat our bodies the way we would care for any priceless treasure—with love and respect. The scriptures declare that the body is a temple. It was Jesus Himself who first compared His body to a temple: “But he spake of the temple of his body (John 2:21).
Joseph Smith taught: “We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the Celestial Kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The Devil has no body, and herein is his punishment” (The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook , 60).
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1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own (Don’t you realize that you can be a “temple” in which the Holy Ghost dwells)?
20 For ye are bought with a price (Christ paid a heavy price to redeem you from your sins): therefore glorify God in your body (worship God by treating your body as a temple, keeping it clean and pure), and in your spirit (and keep your mind clean and pure too), which are God’s (both of which you have dedicated to God if you have made covenants with Him).
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Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Of the First Quorum of the Seventy:
...We are blessed to live in a temple-building dispensation in which 146 temples have been dedicated or announced. Under the definition of “Temple” in the Bible Dictionary, we read the following: “It is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth,” followed by this insightful statement: “Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”...
In order to keep the temple and those who attend it sacred and worthy, the Lord has established standards through His servants, the prophets. We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a “house of the Lord.” The admonition to “establish … a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” provides divine insight into the type of home the Lord would have us build. Doing such begins the construction of a “spiritual mansion” in which we all may reside regardless of our worldly circumstance—a home filled with treasure that “neither moth nor rust doth corrupt.”
There exists a righteous unity between the temple and the home. Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple. President Howard W. Hunter stated, “In the ordinances of the temple, the foundations of the eternal family are sealed in place.”
President Boyd K. Packer counseled: “Say the word temple. Say it quietly and reverently. Say it over and over again. Temple. Temple. Temple. Add the word holy. Holy Temple. Say it as though it were capitalized, no matter where it appears in the sentence.
“Temple. One other word is equal in importance to a Latter-day Saint. Home. Put the words holy temple and home together, and you have described the house of the Lord!”
Last year Primary children gathered, thousands of them, from around the world in each of their wards and branches, singing to their families and ward members as part of the Primary sacrament meeting presentation. They sang of desire, promises, and preparation. The things of which they sang begin in sacred homes and continue in sacred temples. I think you will hear the tune in your hearts as I read the words:
I love to see the temple.
I’m going there someday
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty.
I’ll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty.
I love to see the temple.
I’ll go inside someday.
I’ll cov’nant with my Father;
I’ll promise to obey.
For the temple is a holy place
Where we are sealed together.
As a child of God, I’ve learned this truth:
A fam’ly is forever.
President Boyd K. Packer stated, “The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father.”
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 132; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 149; Excerpts from General Conference, April 2009, “Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples,” by Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Of the First Quorum of the Seventy.