Doctrine and Covenants 97:14 teaches us that the temple is a place where we “may be perfected in the understandings of [our] ministry, in theory, in principle and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Temples are such miraculous places; they are the house of the Lord.
The Bible Dictionary says, "A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness."
Through revelation Joseph Smith understood the importance of building a temple and performing ordinances essential to the progression of the Saints toward eternal life. But did they always understand it? In D&C 95, it seems as if they were hesitant to build a temple, hesitant because maybe they were afraid of being uprooted and having to abandon a temple they had worked so hard on. Maybe they felt like they didn’t have enough time, money or other resources to assist them in the edification of such a grand edifice.
In a personal revelation in December 1832 (D&C 88) Joseph Smith was commanded to build the first temple, and in June 1833 the Lord revealed to the First Presidency the manner in which the temple should be built (The First 100 Temples). From what I read, the Saints labored diligently to bring forth the erection of the temple. According to the History of the Church volume one, “Great preparations were making to commence a house of the Lord; and notwithstanding the church was poor, yet our unity, harmony and charity abounded to strengthen us to do the commandments of God. The building of the house of the Lord in Kirtland was a matter that continued to increase in its interest in the hearts of the brethren.”
From what I read, there weren’t any who opposed building a temple, but there were some who didn’t think it was their duty to do so. That is where the chastisement in D&C 95 comes from. But did this lack of desire to build a temple stem from a lack of knowledge about temples?
I was able to talk to my boss a little bit about temples this week, and I was surprised that she had never passed by the Houston temple (of course it is very much out of the way, but still!). This got me thinking: since we have 134 temples in operation, and today there were new temples announced in Portugal, the Philippines, Mexico, Indiana, and Connecticut, how come more people don’t know about them and revere them as houses of the Lord?
What I’ve decided is that Latter-day Saints today do not value, use and teach about the temple as they should. How on earth would my boss know about the temple in Spring without first being introduced to a member of the church that could teach her? It is my testimony that we must teach those we love about the temple, and show in our behavior, the love we have for Christ and the sacred work performed within the walls of the temple. I think it is also highly important that we attend the temple as frequently as we can.
Howard W. Hunter said regarding temple attendance, “Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the House of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing.” ( “Exceeding Great and Precious Promises, ” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8.)
Please go to the temple. Do your own work, and the work for your ancestors. Teach those you know about the vital work we perform as members of the church. And if you’re reading this and are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ask me more and I would be glad to teach you all about our temples.