Mormon Temple Ordinances
What happens in a Mormon Temple?
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perform several ordinances as part of their faith, some of which take place only within temples. These include:
- Endowment (baptism ceremony including washing and anointing)
- Ordination to higher offices of the priesthood (and ordination to Elder on behalf of the dead)
- Marriage and other eternal family sealings
- Prayer Circle (antiphonic prayer around an altar during Endowments and other ceremonies)
- Hosanna Shout (at temple dedications)
- Feet washing (rare)
- Second Anointing (rare)
These ordinances may be performed either on behalf of the participant, or by "proxy" on behalf of the dead. Some of these ordinances are normally performed outside of temples, but when performed on behalf of the dead, they are performed exclusively in temples. This includes baptism, confirmation, and ordination to the priesthood. See separate article on Baptism for the Dead.
The ordinances at the approximately 68 Mormon temples worldwide are not open to the general public. An LDS church manual called Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple explains that Latter-day Saints "do not discuss the temple ordinances outside the temples." Further, the manual states:
"It was never intended that knowledge of these temple ceremonies would be limited to a select few who would be obliged to ensure that others never learn of them. It is quite the opposite, in fact. With great effort the church urges every soul to qualify and prepare for the temple experience."
The Temple Recommend
Members require a personal "temple recommend" from their bishop before attending. A temporary temple recommend can be obtained after a few months' membership. This allows the person to do baptisms for the dead.
A permanent temple recommend requires that an individual be a member for one year, and be found "worthy." In order to be found worthy, one must have paid a tithe in support of the church, followed the "Word of Wisdom," followed the commandments and remained "morally clean."
The recommend is obtained from and signed by the member's bishop after passing a one-on-one worthiness interview, in which one's commitment to the gospel is reviewed. The recommend is also signed by the member's stake president after a second one-on-one worthiness interview, and finally by the member themselves. By signing his or her own recommend, the member acknowledges their responsibility to ensure that they remain worthy to hold the recommend. Once issued a recommend remains valid for a period of two years.
Specifically, to qualify for a temple recommend, one must correctly answer a series of questions examining what the church believes are the most important factors indicating one's spiritual worthiness. These questions seek to ensure that the interviewee has a basic belief in key church doctrines, and obeys the most significant church rules, such as the following:
- a belief in God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit;
- belief in the role of Jesus as the Savior;
- belief in the Restoration;
- support for the President of the Church and other general authorities and local church leaders;
- obedience to the "Law of Chastity" (strict celibacy outside of a marriage that is legally recognized by the local government, and that is both monogamous and heterosexual);
- refraining from the abuse of family members;
- no affiliation or agreement with polygamists or other people whom the church considers apostates;
- making a good faith effort to attend church meetings and obey other church rules;
- payment of tithing;
- following the church's interpretation of the Word of Wisdom;
- payment of child support (if applicable);
- keeping the solemn oaths one has previously made in the temple;
- wearing the temple garment "night and day"; and
- confession of all serious sins to the clergy.