12 April 2012

Why Do We Participate in Temple Ordinances?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has expressed the concern that sometimes “Church members focus on what the Lord wants them to do and how to do it, but forget the why.” Further explaining his feelings, he said:
While understanding the “what” and the “how” of the Gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the Gospel springs from the “why.” When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the Gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet.
Why do we participate in temple ordinances? Three main reasons come to mind:

  • A first reason is personal communion with the Lord. I have often gone to the temple to seek help with the particular challenges of the moment. That help has always come when the time was right, and when I was sufficiently prepared to receive it. However, if personal communion with the Lord were the only reason to go to the temple, He could just as well have had special-purpose rooms for meditation and prayer built in every local meetinghouse. Members would have been spared considerable time, expense, and travel.
  • A second reason is to receive required ordinances for ourselves and for our ancestors. The importance of providing these ordinances for each one of God’s children cannot be overstated. However, if performing the necessary ordinance work for others were the only reason we were invited to return to the temple frequently, the Lord could have designed the experience in a way that would have allowed us to complete the essential elements in behalf of each person much more efficiently, in minutes rather than hours.
  • A third reason—sometimes forgotten, though equally essential—is to participate in instruction on the plan of happiness and our place within it. For example, each time we join in an endowment session, we benefit from approximately an hour and a half of divinely-prepared and carefully-executed lessons about the most important matters in the universe. This is the graduate school of spiritual instruction. Here we are taught not only as we reflect on what we see, hear, and do, but also as we receive enlightenment directly from the Holy Spirit, custom-tailored to our current needs and to our state of personal readiness, in a quiet setting free from inner and outer distractions.


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  1. I don't remember where I saw it, but there was an article that brought up the fact that for most religions, their major sacraments (such as marriage) are one-time-only affairs and that the meaning for the participants in such ordinances is lost to them over time, whereas Mormons have neatly solved this problem by letting the temple-worthy members, for example re-do their marriage day (or their baptism day) by participating in sealings over and over again, and that as they go through life, they learn different things from going through the same ordinances on multiple occasions.

    Makes sense to me.