Handbooks and Callings
27. Temple Ordinances for the Living
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“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.

27.

Temple Ordinances for the Living

27.0

Introduction

Since ancient times, whenever a faithful people has been on the earth, God has blessed them with temple covenants and ordinances. He has sometimes allowed His holy ordinances to be administered outside of temples when there was no dedicated temple (see Genesis 28:12–22; Exodus 24; Exodus 25:8–9; Ether 3). But whenever the Lord has established His Church, He has commanded His people to build a house “unto [His] name.” There He reveals His ordinances and the glories of His kingdom and teaches the way of salvation. (See 2 Chronicles 3–5; 2 Nephi 5:16; Doctrine and Covenants 97:10–16; 124:29–39.)

The temple is the house of the Lord. It points us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. In temples, we participate in sacred ordinances and make covenants with Heavenly Father that bind us to Him and to our Savior. These covenants and ordinances prepare us to return to Heavenly Father’s presence and to be sealed together as families for eternity.

In the temple, great blessings are also made available to God’s faithful children in this life. In temple covenants and ordinances, “the power of godliness is manifest” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:20). The temple is a holy place where members can worship, learn, and receive guidance and comfort (see Doctrine and Covenants 109:13–16). Those who attend the temple can have access to God’s power to help accomplish His work (see Doctrine and Covenants 109:22–23; see also 3.5 in this handbook).

Temple covenants and ordinances are sacred. The symbols associated with temple covenants should not be discussed outside the temple. Nor should we discuss the holy information we promise in the temple not to reveal. However, we may discuss the basic purposes and doctrine of temple covenants and ordinances and the spiritual feelings we have in the temple.

Ward and stake leaders discuss the information in this chapter with members who are preparing to receive the endowment or sealing ordinances.

27.1

Receiving Temple Ordinances

27.1.1

Preparing to Receive Temple Ordinances

Members should prepare themselves spiritually to receive temple ordinances and to make and honor temple covenants.

Parents have the primary responsibility to help their children prepare to receive temple ordinances. Stake and ward leaders, ministering brothers and sisters, and extended family members support parents in this role.

Stake and ward leaders regularly encourage members to prepare to receive their own temple ordinances. Leaders also emphasize the importance of honoring temple covenants and remaining worthy of and holding a temple recommend.

Resources to help members prepare to receive temple ordinances are available at temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Members who are preparing to receive their own endowment or to be sealed to a spouse are encouraged to participate in a temple preparation course (see 25.2.8).

Members meet with their bishop and stake president to obtain a recommend for living ordinances when they are:

  • Receiving their own endowment.

  • Being sealed to a spouse.

  • Being married in a temple for time only.

For information about issuing temple recommends in these circumstances, see 26.1 and 26.3.1.

27.1.2

Scheduling Temple Ordinances

Members who are planning to receive their own endowment or to be sealed or married should schedule the ordinance in advance with the temple they plan to attend. Normally they do this after they have received a recommend for living ordinances. See temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org for each temple’s contact information.

27.1.3

Members Who Have Physical Disabilities

Worthy members who have physical disabilities may receive all temple ordinances (see 38.2.1.9). These members are encouraged to attend the temple with endowed relatives or friends who can assist them. Those who assist must have a current temple recommend. If it is not possible to attend with a family member or friend, members may call the temple in advance to see what arrangements can be made. See temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org for each temple’s contact information.

Service animals and emotional support animals are not allowed in temples. Stake presidents may contact the Temple Department at TempleDepartment@ChurchofJesusChrist.org if they have questions.

27.1.4

Translation or Interpretation Assistance

If members need translation or interpretation assistance, they should contact the temple in advance to see if it is available. See temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org for each temple’s contact information.

27.1.5

Clothing to Wear to a Temple

When going to a temple, members should wear the type of clothing they typically wear to sacrament meeting. They should avoid wearing clothing that is casual or that does not cover the temple garment. They should also avoid wearing clothing that is overly formal, like tuxedos. This instruction is best taught by parents, ministering brothers and sisters, and ward and stake leaders as members prepare to worship in the temple.

See 27.3.2.6 for information about clothing to wear to a temple marriage or sealing.

See 38.5 for information about:

  • Clothing to wear during the endowment and sealing ordinances.

  • Obtaining, wearing, and caring for ceremonial temple clothing and garments.

27.1.6

Child Care

Children must have adult supervision if they are on temple grounds. Temple workers are available to supervise children only in the following circumstances:

  • If they are being sealed to parents

  • If they are observing the sealing of their living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents

27.1.7

Meeting with Members After They Receive Temple Ordinances

Members often have questions after receiving temple ordinances. Endowed family members, the bishop, other ward leaders, and ministering brothers and sisters may meet with members to discuss their temple experience.

Leaders also encourage members to seek answers to their questions through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. In the temple, the Spirit can provide answers to many of the questions that members may have about their temple experience.

Resources to help answer questions are available at temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

27.2

The Endowment

The word endowment means “a gift.” The temple endowment is literally a gift from God through which He blesses His children. The endowment can be received only in holy temples. Some of the gifts that members receive through the temple endowment include:

  • Greater knowledge of the Lord’s purposes and teachings.

  • Power to do all that Heavenly Father wants His children to do.

  • Divine direction when serving the Lord, their families, and others.

  • Increased hope, comfort, and peace.

All the promised blessings of the endowment are in force both in this life and for eternity. The fulfillment of these blessings depends on faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The endowment is received in two parts. In the first part, a person receives a preliminary ordinance called the initiatory. The initiatory is also known as the washing and anointing (see Exodus 29:4–9). It includes special blessings related to the person’s divine heritage and potential.

During the initiatory, the member is authorized to wear the temple garment. The garment represents his or her personal relationship with God and the commitment to obey covenants made in the temple. When members are faithful to their covenants and wear the garment properly throughout their lives, it also serves as a protection. For information about wearing and caring for the garment, see 38.5.5.

In the second part of the endowment, the plan of salvation is taught, including the Creation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Apostasy, and the Restoration. Members also receive instruction on how to return to the Lord’s presence.

In the endowment, members are invited to make sacred covenants to:

  • Live the law of obedience and strive to keep Heavenly Father’s commandments.

  • Obey the law of sacrifice, which means sacrificing to support the Lord’s work and repenting with a broken heart and contrite spirit.

  • Obey the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the higher law that He taught while He was on the earth.

  • Keep the law of chastity, which means having no sexual activity except with those to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded according to God’s law.

  • Keep the law of consecration, which means dedicating their time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed them to building up Jesus Christ’s Church on the earth.

In return, Heavenly Father promises that those who remain faithful to their temple covenants will be endowed “with power from on high” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:32, 38; see also Luke 24:49; Doctrine and Covenants 43:16).

27.2.1

Who May Receive the Endowment

All accountable adult members of the Church are invited to prepare for and receive their own endowment. All prerequisite ordinances must be performed and recorded before members may receive the endowment (see 26.3.1). See 27.2.2 for information about deciding when to receive the endowment.

27.2.1.1

Newly Baptized Members

Worthy adult new members may receive their endowment at least one full year from the date of their confirmation (see 26.5.2).

27.2.1.2

Members Who Have an Unendowed Spouse

A worthy member whose spouse is unendowed may receive his or her own endowment when the following conditions are met:

  • The unendowed spouse gives his or her consent.

  • The member, bishop, and stake president are confident that the responsibility assumed with temple covenants will not be a disruption to the marriage.

These conditions apply whether the spouse is a member of the Church or is not.

27.2.1.3

Members Who Have Intellectual Disabilities

Members who have intellectual disabilities may receive their own endowment if:

  • They have received all prerequisite ordinances (see 26.3.1).

  • They have the intellectual capacity to understand, make, and keep the associated covenants.

The bishop counsels with the member and, where applicable, his or her parents. He also seeks the direction of the Spirit. He may counsel with the stake president. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency if necessary. See 38.2.1.8.

27.2.2

Deciding When to Receive the Endowment

The decision to receive the endowment is personal and should be made prayerfully. The endowment is a blessing of power and revelation to all who prepare to receive it. Members may choose to receive their own endowment when they meet all of the following conditions:

  • They are at least 18 years old.

  • They have completed or are no longer attending high school, secondary school, or the equivalent.

  • One full year has passed since their confirmation.

  • They feel a desire to receive and honor sacred temple covenants throughout their lives.

Members who have received a mission call or are preparing to be sealed in the temple should receive the endowment. The bishop also counsels with other adult members who desire to receive the endowment.

Before issuing a temple recommend for a member to receive the endowment, the bishop and stake president should feel that the person is prepared to understand and keep sacred temple covenants. This eligibility is determined individually for each person. Leaders do not use generalized criteria, such as those listed below, when determining whether a person is prepared to receive the endowment:

  • Reaching a certain age

  • Leaving home for college, employment, or military service

  • Desiring to observe the temple sealing of a family member or friend

27.2.3

Planning and Scheduling the Endowment

27.2.3.1

Receiving a Recommend for Living Ordinances

A member must receive a recommend for living ordinances to enter a temple and receive the endowment. For information about these recommends, see 26.5.1.

27.2.3.2

Contacting the Temple

Members who are planning to receive the endowment should contact the temple in advance to schedule the ordinance (see 27.1.2). The temple will provide instructions, including information about temple clothing, when the appointment is scheduled.

27.2.3.3

Escorts for Members Receiving the Endowment

Members receiving their own endowment may invite an endowed member of the same gender to act as an escort and assist them during the endowment session. The escort must have a current temple recommend. The temple can provide an escort if needed.

27.3

Sealing of Husband and Wife

“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). A temple sealing joins a husband and wife together for time and all eternity if they are faithful to the covenants they make in the temple. Couples who are sealed in the temple are promised glory and joy throughout eternity (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–20). Through this ordinance, their children may also be part of their eternal family.

Church leaders encourage members to prepare to be married and sealed in a temple. Where temple marriages are not legally recognized, authorized Church leaders or others can perform civil marriages that are followed by a temple sealing (see 38.3). This pattern may also be followed when a temple marriage could cause parents or immediate family members to feel excluded because they cannot attend the temple ceremony.

27.3.1

Who May Be Sealed in a Temple

All accountable unmarried members of the Church are invited to prepare for a temple sealing. Those who are civilly married are encouraged to be sealed for time and eternity in the temple as soon as they are prepared. Members must be endowed before they can be sealed (see 27.2).

Couples being sealed in the temple must be either (1) married civilly before being sealed or (2) married and sealed in the same temple ceremony. See 27.3.2.

27.3.1.1

Members Who Were Sealed to a Previous Spouse

See 38.4.1.

27.3.1.2

Members Who Have Intellectual Disabilities

Members who have intellectual disabilities may be sealed to their spouse, fiancé, or fiancée if:

  • They have received all prerequisite ordinances, including the endowment (see 27.2.1.3).

  • They have the intellectual capacity to understand, make, and keep the associated covenants.

The bishop counsels with the member and his or her spouse, fiancé, or fiancée. He also seeks the direction of the Spirit. He may counsel with the stake president. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency if necessary. See 38.2.1.8.

27.3.2

Planning and Scheduling a Temple Marriage or Sealing

27.3.2.1

Receiving a Recommend for Living Ordinances

A member must receive a recommend for living ordinances to be sealed to his or her spouse. For information about these recommends, see 26.3.

27.3.2.2

Contacting the Temple

Members who are planning to be married or sealed to a spouse should contact the temple in advance to schedule the ordinance (see 27.1.2). The temple will provide instructions when the appointment is scheduled.

27.3.2.3

Obtaining a Marriage License

Before being married, a couple must obtain a legal marriage license that is valid where the marriage will be performed. If the couple plans to be both married and sealed during the same ceremony, they must bring a valid marriage license to the temple.

Couples being sealed after a civil marriage do not need to bring a marriage license to the temple. Instead, they provide the date and location of their civil marriage as part of the record verification process.

27.3.2.4

Escorts for the Bride and Groom

An endowed sister may accompany the bride to assist her in the dressing room. An endowed brother may do the same for the groom. An escort must have a valid temple recommend. The temple can provide an escort if needed.

27.3.2.5

Who Performs a Temple Marriage or Sealing

A temple marriage or sealing is usually performed by a sealer who is assigned to the temple where the couple will be married or sealed. If a family member holds the sealing authority and is assigned to the temple where the couple will be married or sealed, they may invite him to perform the marriage or sealing. A sealer may also seek First Presidency approval to perform a sealing for his lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) in a temple other than the one to which he is assigned. He must receive a letter of authorization from the First Presidency for each such sealing. He presents the letter at the temple.

Members are discouraged from asking General Authorities to perform their temple marriage or sealing.

27.3.2.6

Appropriate Clothing for a Temple Marriage or Sealing

Bride’s Dress. A bride’s dress worn in the temple should be white, modest in design and fabric, and free of elaborate ornamentation. It also should cover the temple garment. Sheer fabric should be lined.

To be consistent with other dresses worn in the temple, a bride’s dress should be long-sleeve or three-quarter-sleeve. Dresses should not have a train unless it can be pinned up or removed for the sealing ceremony.

The temple can provide a dress if needed or desired.

Groom’s Clothing. The groom wears normal temple clothing during the marriage or sealing ceremony (see 38.5.1 and 38.5.2). He may wear formal clothing outside the temple for photographs after the ceremony.

Guests’ Clothing. Those who attend a marriage or sealing ceremony should wear clothing similar to what they would wear to a sacrament meeting. Guests should not dress in white unless the sealing room must be entered through the celestial room. Members who come to a sealing directly from an endowment session may wear ceremonial temple clothing.

The couple should share this information with guests well before the marriage or sealing.

Flowers. The couple and their guests should not wear flowers during the marriage or sealing ceremony. Flowers may be worn outside the temple for photographs after the ceremony. The couple should share this information with guests well before the marriage or sealing.

27.3.2.7

Exchanging Rings after a Temple Marriage or Sealing

Exchanging rings is not part of the temple sealing ceremony. However, couples may exchange rings after the ceremony in the sealing room. Couples should not exchange rings at any other time or place in a temple or on temple grounds. Doing so can detract from the ceremony.

Couples who are married and sealed in the same ceremony may exchange rings at a later time to accommodate family members who are unable to attend a temple marriage. The ring exchange should be consistent with the dignity of a temple marriage. The exchange should not replicate any part of the temple marriage or sealing ceremony. The couple should not exchange vows after being married or sealed in the temple.

Couples who are married civilly before their temple sealing may exchange rings at their civil ceremony, at their temple sealing, or at both ceremonies.

27.3.3

Marriage in a Temple for Time Only

Marriage in a temple for time only may be performed when all of the following requirements are met:

  • The man and the woman are each already sealed to a spouse who is deceased.

  • The man and the woman each have 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 is not authorized for members who are in the process of seeking a cancellation of sealing or a sealing clearance.

For the policy on sealing a couple who were married in the temple for time only, see 38.4.1.6.

27.3.4

Who May Attend a Temple Marriage or Sealing

Couples should invite only close family members and friends to a temple marriage or sealing. Accountable members must be endowed and have a current temple recommend to attend.

The stake president may authorize a person who was not baptized or endowed due to intellectual disabilities to observe the temple marriage or sealing of his or her living siblings. The person must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.

  • Be able to remain reverent during the ceremony.

The stake president writes a letter stating that the person is authorized to observe the sealing. This letter is presented at the temple.

Members must be endowed and have a current temple recommend to observe the sealing of their parents.

27.3.5

Wedding Receptions

See 35.4.22 for information about holding wedding receptions in Church buildings.

27.4

Sealing Living Children to Parents

Children who are born after their mother has been sealed to a husband in a temple are born in the covenant of that sealing. They do not need to receive the ordinance of sealing to parents.

Children who are not born in the covenant can become part of an eternal family by being sealed to their birth or adoptive parents. These children are entitled to the same blessings as those who were born in the covenant.

See 38.4.2 for policies about sealing children to parents.

27.4.1

Issuing a Recommend for Sealing Living Children to Parents

Accountable members ages 8 and older need a recommend to be sealed to their parents. They also need a recommend to observe the sealing of living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents. Children ages 8 and older must be baptized and confirmed to receive a temple recommend. Males who are at least 11 and turning 12 during the year of the ordinance must also hold the priesthood.

The stake president may authorize persons who were not baptized or endowed due to intellectual disabilities to be sealed to their parents. The stake president writes a letter stating that the person is authorized to be sealed. This letter is presented at the temple.

See 26.4.4 for information about issuing recommends to children.

27.4.2

Contacting the Temple

A couple who wants to have their children sealed to them, or children who desire to be sealed to their deceased parents, should contact the temple in advance to schedule the ordinance (see 27.1.2). In some cases, other temple ordinances may need to be performed before the sealing can occur.

27.4.3

Child Care

See 27.1.6.

27.4.4

Who May Attend a Sealing of Living Children to Parents

To observe the sealing of living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents, children under the age of 21 must be born in the covenant or sealed to their parents. In addition, children ages 8 and older must be baptized and confirmed and must have a temple recommend (see 26.4.4). Males who are at least 11 and turning 12 during the year of the ordinance must also hold the priesthood.

Members who are married or are 21 or older must be endowed to observe such sealings.

The stake president may authorize persons who were not baptized or endowed due to intellectual disabilities to observe the sealing of their living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents. Such persons must have been either (1) born in the covenant or (2) sealed to their parents. The stake president writes a letter stating that the person is authorized to observe the sealing. This letter is presented at the temple.