The Kiev Mormon Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths, the “Mormon Church”) recently received first place for the best religious building construction for 2010. It is the first Mormon temple constructed “in the former Soviet Union.” The Kiev temple was announced back in 1998 just a few weeks after the dedication of the first Ukrainian meetinghouse.
Latter-day Saint temples are different from regular church meetinghouses. Temples are literally Houses of the Lord. They are places where Mormons go to make sacred promises or covenants with Jesus Christ. They promise to follow Jesus Christ and live a life of virtue and service to Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints also bring names to temples to perform ordinances such as baptisms and sealings that unite families in an eternal relationship, in behalf of their ancestors who have passed away. It is a place of love, peace, and holiness for those who attend.
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Learn more about why Mormons build temples at the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Temples are houses of the Lord where sacred ordinances are performed. Learn more about what goes on in Mormon temples.
The fourth Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states that baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands (or confirmation) for the gift of the Holy Ghost are the first two ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If a person is going through the temple for him- or herself, he or she will have already been baptized and confirmed a member of the church. Why do baptisms take place in the temple, then, and why for the dead? Paul taught this concept, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29). The concept is a simple one. Not everyone who has lived or who will live on this earth has had the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ. Should they be sent to an endless torment in hell because they never had the opportunity to be baptized? Of course not.
Mormon doctrine teaches that all members of the Mormon Church should do all they can to research their family history and to bring their family names to the temple. Family history work is a key part of Mormon doctrine, because Mormons believe that families can be together forever. This is not an automatic guarantee, though. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.
When a person goes through a Mormon temple for the first time, he or she is performing ordinances there for him- or herself. Every time a person goes back to do an ordinance, it is being done for someone else by proxy. This means that a person is standing in for someone who died without the chance to receive these ordinances personally. Billions upon billions of people have lived upon this earth with no knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ. By doing work by proxy for them, the law of mercy is being extended to them. A just God would not sentence them to hell for something that was no fault of theirs.
Nearly all names which have been submitted to the temple to have these ordinances done by proxy were submitted by family members. If a person brings personal names to the temple to do the work for others who have passed on, they must be personal family names. Occasionally exceptions are made to this rule; for example, if a good friend passes away and there are no other Mormons in their family. If permission is obtained from the nearest living relative of the deceased, that name may be taken to the temple. In all other cases, names for whom work is done have been submitted by family members.
Work done in Mormon temples is a completely selfless form of service. People sacrifice their time to complete these ordinances on behalf of other people. Mormon doctrine teaches that free will is an eternal principle. So, just because temple work is done for a person, that does not take that person’s choice away about whether they want to accept those ordinances. If a person for whom this work is done does not believe in its truth, or if he or she simply does not want to take upon him- or herself the commitments these ordinances include, that is fine. No one is forced to accept this work. However, by making sure it is done, then people on the other side at least have a choice, whereas before, they had none.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an incredible family history program, which is open to all people, whether they are members of the Mormon Church or not, free of charge. The Mormon Church has gained access to countless countries’ records, has digitized countless records, and these are all available for free.
LDS News on Church policy regarding baptism for the dead
The purpose of temples is recorded in the Old and New Testaments. The concept of worshiping in temples precedes even the actual building of temples. In ancient times, many prophets worshipped on the top of mountains. Today, one name for Mormon temples (or temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is officially known) is the Mountain of the Lord, as referenced in Isaiah 2:2, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Temples are sacred places; houses of the Lord. Only those who are living worthily are allowed to enter. This has led to a lot of wild speculation on the part of the world. If it isn’t open to the public, then it must be a cult, dealing with bizarre things. This is categorically untrue.
The reason Mormon temples are open to only those who are living high spiritual and moral standards is the knowledge gained therein carries a great deal of responsibility and exacts an even higher standard of living. The ordinances performed in temples require deep commitments from the person receiving those ordinances to live God’s higher law. This can be compared to when Christ taught a higher law than the Law of Moses. A general law was necessary for the people to prepare to live a more important law. So those who worship in holy Mormon temples also commit to living a higher law than those who do not worship there.
To take away some of the mystery of Mormon temples, this article will discuss the ordinances which are performed inside. The first of these ordinances is baptism for the dead. This is followed by confirmation for the gift of the Holy Ghost. These two ordinances must be completed before any other ordinances can be done. All things must be done in their proper order. All baptisms done in the temple are done by proxy. This means that the person being baptized is symbolically taking the place of someone who died without the chance to get baptized. Mormon doctrine teaches that all whose work is done in the temple have the opportunity to choose whether or not to accept those ordinances. Thus, no one is being forced to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but, if they didn’t have the opportunity in their life to receive these things, they are given the chance in the next life. This is necessary because all ordinances must be performed in this life; they cannot be done in the next.
Baptisms are performed in temple baptistries. Each baptistry is located under ground. Each temple has its own font, which rests on the back of twelve oxen, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel. Mormons believe that God did choose a people, Israel, to be stewards of the gospel and share it with the world. Thus, each person who is baptized into the gospel becomes adopted into Israel and into one of the twelve tribes. The significance of the font being located underground is that the act of baptism by immersion is symbolic of death, burial, and resurrection. We are buried underground, and are reborn, spiritually clean, as we come out of the water.
After the baptism and confirmation ordinances are completed, the next ordinance is the initiatory. This is a symbolic washing and anointing which is referenced in the Old Testament when Aaron was made the priest of the Tabernacle. After the initiatory comes the Mormon endowment. This is a teaching session where those receiving the ordinance are taught more about the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The ordinance contains many covenants which those participating must make and keep. These are covenants to live a higher law, as spoken of before, and to draw closer to God, reaching out to those around us in love and charity.
The last ordinance is the sealing ordinance. The sealing power was held by Elijah, giving him the power to bind things on earth that would also be bound in heaven. This means that families can be sealed together for eternity. Mormon doctrine teaches that husband and wife can be bound together beyond the grave. Mothers and fathers can be bound to their children. What a wonderful blessing. When a couple is married in the temple of God, they are sealed together for time and eternity, not until death breaks their bond of marriage. When a couple is sealed, they kneel across from each other at an altar. On each side of the altar hangs a mirror, casting reflections back and forth forever, symbolizing the eternal nature of their bond. Through their faith and obedience, they can be bound to previous generations, and future generations can be sealed to them.
The celestial room is not a room where any ordinances are performed, but is where one goes after completing the endowment ordinance. Mormon temple celestial rooms are where we can be in the Lord’s presence. People can sit here and ponder and pray for hours if they wish. It is the most peaceful, enlightening place on this earth.
Every Mormon temple is open to the public during an open house period, prior to its dedication. Community members are invited and encouraged to attend to walk through the beautiful rooms and to see for themselves that there is nothing dark or mysterious about Mormon temple work. It is pure, beautiful, and peaceful.