“27. Temple Ordinances for the Living,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“27. Temple Ordinances for the Living,” General Handbook.
A bishop should consult with his stake president if he has questions about temples and temple work that are not answered in this chapter or in 38.4 and 38.5. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency.
Temple ordinances and covenants are sacred. Members who enter a temple should be worthy and should understand the purposes and eternal significance of temples. They should also understand the solemn and sacred responsibilities they assume as they participate in temple ordinances and make covenants.
Stake presidents and bishops help individuals prepare to receive the sacred ordinances of the temple at the appropriate time. Relief Society presidents and elders quorum presidents assist stake presidents and bishops by helping ensure members are prepared to make the covenants and receive the blessings of the temple. Youth leaders and parents also help young people prepare to make and keep temple covenants. They do this through both formal teaching opportunities and by example.
The bishop oversees the temple preparation course for members who are preparing to receive their own endowment. The purpose of this course is to help members prepare to receive the ordinances and blessings of the temple. Instructions are provided in 25.5.1.
Members who are preparing to receive their endowment or who are preparing to be sealed should carefully read the booklet Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple. Leaders may use the booklet as a basis for counsel and instruction when interviewing and orienting these members.
Each stake and mission is included in a temple district. While individual members may attend any temple they desire, organized ward or stake visits to temples outside the assigned temple district are not encouraged. Such visits require the approval of the stake presidency and should be coordinated with the temple.
Members who are planning to go to a temple to receive their own endowment, to be married, or to be sealed should contact the temple in advance to schedule the ordinances.
Leaders encourage members to set personal goals for temple attendance and to go to the temple as often as circumstances allow. However, leaders should not establish reporting systems or set quotas for temple attendance.
If members will need translation assistance in a temple, they should contact the temple in advance to ensure that such assistance is available.
Temples are equipped to care only for children who come to be sealed to parents or to observe sealings of living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings. Other children should not be brought to a temple.
Members who go to a temple should wear the type of clothing that they typically wear to sacrament meeting. They should avoid wearing casual clothes, sports attire, and tuxedos. This instruction is best taught by local priesthood and Relief Society leaders as members prepare to attend the temple. See also 27.5.3.
Local leaders encourage endowed members to purchase their own temple clothing for use when performing temple ordinances. This sacred clothing may be purchased through Church Distribution Services. Some temples also have temple clothing available for rent. If a temple does not have rental clothing, members need to bring temple clothing with them.
Temples maintain a limited supply of temple clothing that full-time missionaries may use without charge when they receive their own endowment, while they are in missionary training centers, and when they are authorized to participate in temple ordinances while serving in the mission field.
Distributing and selling garments requires the authorization of the First Presidency. Garments are available in a variety of styles and fabrics. They may be purchased through Distribution Services. Relief Society presidents may assist sisters with questions concerning garment fabric and style. Members who have special needs may contact Distribution Services about special orders.
When needed, bishops, Relief Society presidents, and stake presidents instruct members in how to purchase temple clothing and garments. Stake and ward clerks may help members order the clothing.
Members may make their own temple aprons only if they use the approved apron embroidery and sewing kit. This kit is available from Church Distribution Services. Other temple ceremonial clothing and temple garments may not be made.
Church members who have received the endowment have made a covenant to wear the garment according to the instructions given in the temple. When issuing temple recommends, priesthood leaders should read aloud the First Presidency statement on wearing the garment.
It is a sacred privilege to wear the temple garment. Doing so is an outward expression of an inner commitment to follow the Savior Jesus Christ.
The garment is a reminder of covenants made in the temple. When worn properly throughout life, it will serve as a protection against temptation and evil.
The garment should be worn beneath the outer clothing. It is a matter of personal preference whether other undergarments are worn beneath the temple garment.
The garment should not be removed for activities that can reasonably be done while wearing the garment. It should not be modified to accommodate different styles of clothing.
The garment is sacred and should be treated with respect. Endowed members should seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to answer personal questions about wearing the garment.
Garments for members who are bedridden or who have severe physical disabilities are available by special order from Beehive Clothing. Bishops, Relief Society presidents, and elders quorum presidents may assist members with these orders.
Shorter temple robes are available for members who are in wheelchairs or who have other special needs. These are also available by special order from Beehive Clothing.
To dispose of worn-out temple garments, members should cut out and destroy the marks. Members then cut up the remaining fabric so it cannot be identified as a garment.
To dispose of worn-out temple ceremonial clothing, members should destroy the clothing by cutting it up so the original use cannot be recognized.
Members may give garments and temple clothing that are in good condition to other worthy endowed members. Priesthood and Relief Society leaders can identify those who might need such clothing. Members should not give garments or temple ceremonial clothing to Deseret Industries, bishops’ storehouses, or charities.
If possible, deceased members who were endowed should be buried in temple clothing. If cultural traditions or burial practices make this inappropriate or difficult, the clothing may be folded and placed next to the body in the casket.
Only members who were endowed in life may be buried in temple clothing. An endowed person who stopped wearing the garment before his or her death may be buried in temple clothing if the family so requests. However, persons whose blessings have not been restored after withdrawal or resignation of Church membership may not be buried in temple clothing. A person who was endowed in life and who died by suicide may be buried in temple clothing.
Temple clothing that is used for burial need not be new, but it should be clean. The member’s own temple clothing may be used.
A member who is to be buried in temple clothing may be dressed by an endowed family member of the same gender or by the spouse. If a family member is not available or would prefer not to dress the body of an endowed man, the bishop invites an endowed man to dress the body or to oversee the proper dressing. If a family member is not available or would prefer not to dress the body of an endowed woman, the bishop asks the Relief Society president to invite an endowed woman to dress the body or to oversee the proper dressing. Leaders ensure that this assignment is given to a person who will not find it objectionable.
A man’s body is dressed in temple garments and the following white clothing: a long-sleeved shirt, necktie, pants, socks, and shoes or slippers. A woman’s body is dressed in temple garments and the following white clothing: a dress (or a skirt and blouse), socks or hosiery, and shoes or slippers.
Temple ceremonial clothing is placed on the body as instructed in the endowment. The robe is placed on the right shoulder and tied with the drawstring at the left waistline. The apron is secured around the waist. The sash is placed around the waist and tied in a bow over the left hip. A man’s cap is usually placed beside his body until it is time to close the casket. The cap is then placed with the bow over the left ear. A woman’s veil may be draped on the pillow at the back of her head. The matter of veiling a woman’s face prior to burial is optional and may be determined by the family.
In some areas only a licensed funeral director or an employee of the director is allowed to handle a deceased body. In these cases, an endowed family member or an endowed person who is invited by the bishop or Relief Society president ensures that the clothing has been properly placed on the body.
Some countries require that deceased persons be dressed in biodegradable clothing when they are buried. In such cases, biodegradable temple clothing is available through Church Distribution Services.
The Church does not normally encourage cremation. However, if the body of an endowed member is being cremated, it should be dressed in temple clothing if possible.
In areas where temple clothing may be difficult to obtain in time for burial, stake presidents should keep on hand at least two complete sets of medium-sized clothing, one for a man and one for a woman.
If temple clothing is not available, a deceased endowed member is clothed for burial in the garment and other suitable clothing.
A living person whose baptism and confirmation are not recorded on Church membership records may not be endowed until the baptism and confirmation are verified, ratified, or performed again. Brethren whose Melchizedek Priesthood ordination is not recorded must also have it verified, ratified, or performed again. Procedures are outlined in 126.96.36.199. That section also explains the procedure to follow if a living person is endowed without a valid record of baptism and confirmation or if a male is endowed without a valid record of Melchizedek Priesthood ordination.
Church leaders encourage members to qualify for temple marriage and be married and sealed in a temple. Where temple marriages are not legally recognized, leaders can perform civil marriages that are followed by a temple sealing. This process may also be followed when a temple marriage would cause parents or immediate family members to feel excluded.
A couple must obtain a legal marriage license that is valid in the place where the marriage is to be performed.
The purpose of a temple marriage, referred to in the scriptures as “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage,” is to seal a husband and wife for time and eternity, subject to their faithfulness. This ordinance is necessary to enter the highest degree of celestial glory (Doctrine and Covenants 131:2). Only a marriage that has been performed in the temple with the proper authority and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise can be eternal (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:7). Through this ordinance, a couple’s children may also be part of their eternal family.
A man and woman must each be endowed before they may be married and sealed in a temple. They must each have a valid temple recommend and a recommend for living ordinances.
Bishops and stake presidents encourage members to have temple sealers perform their marriages rather than asking General Authorities.
Only members who have received their own endowments and have valid recommends may attend a temple marriage. Couples should invite only family members and close friends to be present for a temple marriage.
The bishop reviews the following guidelines with each bride and bridegroom well in advance of the wedding. It is especially important to review the guidelines for temple wedding dresses with each bride and her parents before they make or purchase the dress. The bishop also makes the following information about brides’ dresses available to the Relief Society and Young Women presidencies so they can help members be informed of the expectations far in advance of the actual events.
All dresses that are worn in the temple should be white, modest in design and fabric, and free of elaborate ornamentation. Sheer fabric should be lined. Three-quarter-length sleeves are acceptable. Brides’ dresses should not have a train unless the train can be pinned up or removed for the temple ceremony. The temple may provide a dress if needed or desired.
Those being sealed in the temple should be made aware in advance that neither they nor their guests should wear tuxedos, dinner jackets, cummerbunds, formal headwear, boutonnieres, or corsages during a sealing ceremony. Formal wear and flowers may be worn outside for photographs after the ceremony.
Couples should not ask their wedding guests to dress in white unless the sealing room must be entered through the celestial room. Members who come to a wedding directly from an endowment session may wear temple ceremonial clothing.
Exchanging rings is not part of the temple marriage ceremony. However, couples may exchange rings after the ceremony in the sealing room. To not detract from the marriage ceremony, couples should not exchange rings at any other time or place in a temple or on temple grounds.
For those who are married and sealed in the same ceremony, a ring exchange at a later time is permissible to accommodate those unable to attend a temple marriage. The proceedings of the ring exchange should be consistent with the dignity of a temple marriage.
If a couple is married civilly before their temple sealing, they may exchange rings at their civil ceremony or at their temple sealing.
A member who has been sealed to a spouse may remarry after the spouse’s death or following a divorce or annulment. A member’s divorce proceedings must be final according to law before he or she may remarry. Worthy members in these circumstances may also be sealed in the temple according to the guidelines in 38.5.1.
Marriage in a temple for time only may be performed only when all of the following requirements are met:
The man and the woman are each already sealed to a spouse who is deceased.
Neither the man nor the woman has been involved in a divorce while a member of the Church.
The man and the woman each has a valid temple recommend and a recommend for living ordinances.
Temple marriages are legal marriages in the country where the temple is located.
The couple has a valid marriage license.
A marriage in the temple for time only will not be authorized for a woman who is in the process of seeking a cancellation of sealing.
For the policy on sealing a couple who were married in the temple for time only, see 188.8.131.52.