What is a Mormon Temple?

Marco Brivio/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

What is a Mormon temple and what do members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do there? Who can enter a temple? Learn about Mormon temples including ordinances, covenants, temple marriage, clothing, worthiness, and more.

House of the Lord:

Temples are houses of the Lord where worthy members of the Church perform sacred religious ceremonies, called ordinances, for both the living and in behalf of the dead.

Covenants- sacred agreements with the Lord- are also made in the temple. The temple is a holy place where the Lord may come.

After a Mormon temple is built, but before it is dedicated with a prayer, an open house is held and anyone can come and tour these beautiful, sacred buildings. Once a temple is dedicated only worthy members of the Church (those who have a temple recommend) may enter and worship in the house of the Lord.

Ordinances and Covenants:

In a dedicated temple ordinances are performed and covenants are made with the Lord. Members learn about the purpose of life and are united (sealed) with their families for all eternity. Ordinances and covenants are performed by the power of the priesthood and are only performed in a Mormon Temple. Some of the ordinances are:

  • Baptism and Confirmation (only for the dead)
  • Endowment (a gift of power from God)
  • Temple Marriage (called a sealing)
  • Other Sealings (children to parents)

    Baptisms for the living are not performed in a temple. Receiving the temple endowment is necessary for full exaltation into the Celestial Kingdom.

    Entering a Mormon Temple:

    Worthy members ages 12 and up, including new converts (those baptized into the Church), may receive a temporary recommend to perform baptisms for the dead.

    Worthy adults who have been a member of the Church for at least one year may receive a recommend to perform their own temple ordinances and then do work for the dead.

    A recommend is a special card showing a member's worthiness to enter the temple and must have the appropriate signatures. To receive a temporary temple recommend a person meets with their bishop, and for those receiving a regular recommend they also meet with a member of their stake presidency.

    Temple Worthiness:

    To receive a temple recommend and to continually be worthy of it, members must meet some basic requirements including (but not limited to):

    Mormon Temple Clothing:

    When entering a temple a person wears appropriate Sunday clothing (see Worship With Us) and then in the temple they change into white clothing: dresses for women, and shirt/slacks (or suits) for men. There are separate changing rooms for men and women, each with their own locker and private chamber. Modesty and privacy are always maintained within the temple.

    During some of the ordinances sacred temple clothing is worn. This clothing is either purchased or rented (only available in some temples) and is sacred and symbolic to the temple covenants and ordinances. The white temple clothing symbolizes reverence and purity.

    Mormon Temple Garments:

    In the temple, members are endowed with a sacred temple garment, a type of underclothing, that they wear throughout their lives. Specific instructions are given during the endowment in regard to the temple garment, including blessings of protection from temptation and evil, which depend upon a person's continued worthiness and faithfulness in keeping their temple covenants.

    The temple garment serves as a constant reminder of the temple's sacred ordinances and covenants. Because of the sacredness of the temple garment, it is not shown or talked about with those who have not received their own temple endowment.

    Temple Work for the Dead:

    Many people, while they lived on the earth, never received a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and thus were never baptized. After a person dies and goes to the spirit world, the gospel is preached to them. Without a physical body these people cannot perform the ordinances necessary for their exaltation.

    Members of the Church research their family history (genealogy) to seek out the names and information of their ancestors and then perform the temple ordinances in their behalf, such as baptisms for the dead. Those people in the spirit world can then accept or reject the work that has been done for them.

    Temples In History:

    Whenever there has been a righteous people upon the earth, God has commanded his people to build temples. The history and importance of temples is seen within the scriptures in the Bible (both the New and Old Testament) and The Book of Mormon.

    "Throughout history, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. Today the Church is heeding the Lord's call to build temples all over the world, making temple blessings more available for a great number of our Heavenly Father’s children" (" Temples," True to the Faith, 2004, 170–74).


    Mormon Temples Worldwide:

    The Kirtland Temple, in Ohio, was the first temple built in these latter-days and was dedicated on March 27, 1836 by the prophet Joseph Smith. The dedicatory prayer can be read in Doctrine and Covenants section 109. The Church of Jesus Christ no longer owns the Kirtland Temple as it was lost when the Saints fled Kirtland a few years after it was built.

    "Building and properly using a temple is one of the marks of the true Church in any dispensation, and is especially so in the present day" (" Temple," Bible Dictionary, 781).

    As of 2009, the Church has over 146 temples worldwide that are active, announced, or under construction. There are temples in North, Central and South America, in Asia, the Middle East, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.

    (See the official Mormon Temple website for exact locations, photographs, and other temple facts and information.)

    Preparing to Enter the Temple:

    Before a person enters the temple for the first time to perform their personal ordinances, they will attend a temple preparation class. They will be given a copy of the booklet, "Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple." This booklet, adapted from The Holy Temple by Boyd K. Packer, is free from the Church's Distribution Center and anyone can order a copy for themselves. Also see 10 ways to spiritually prepare to enter the temple.

    I know the temple is the house of the Lord and that the sacred, beautiful ordinances and covenants made there are promises we make with the Lord and are blessings He bestows upon us.