What is a temple?
For faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a temple is the most sacred place of worship on earth—it is the house of the Lord. It is a place set apart from the rest of the world where members can draw closer to God.
Modern temples are dedicated to the Lord and have purposes similar to biblical ones. They are places of peace, inspiration, and learning. They are also where sacred ceremonies such as marriages are performed. These ceremonies are called ordinances.
Everything in the temple points us to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of the world. In the temple, we learn more about Him and how to follow His perfect example.
What is the difference between a temple and a regular meetinghouse or chapel?
Regular meetinghouses (chapels) are used for Sabbath day worship services and weekday activities such as youth groups, socials, service projects, and sporting events. They are open to the general public and visitors are welcome to observe or respectfully participate.
Temples are different. They are special places of worship where members learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ and participate in sacred ceremonies. Temples are not open on the Sabbath, so that members may attend their local congregations. When a temple is first built, it is briefly open for public tours. Once dedicated, attendance is reserved for faithful members of the Church who are ready to participate in additional gospel ordinances (though the grounds around the temple remain open to the public).
Why do Latter-day Saints build temples?
The scriptures teach that God has often chosen specific places for His special purposes. These places included the Garden of Eden, where He communed with Adam and Eve. Prophets such as Noah and Abraham built altars for sacred ceremonies. The Lord spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. All of these are sacred places.
Since the days of the Old Testament, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples and other sacred structures where He could teach and bless them. For example, the Lord commanded Moses and the Israelites to build a tabernacle—a tent that served as a "portable temple" while they traveled in the wilderness for 40 years (Exodus 26, 27, 40:35). One of the most well-known temples was constructed by King Solomon nearly a thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Starting when he was just a boy, Jesus Christ often visited the Temple of Herod in Jerusalem. After the deaths of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, and the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem and elsewhere, there were no dedicated temples on the earth for many centuries. When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored upon the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1830, temple construction was renewed. The first modern temple was built in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836.
What is it like inside a temple?
Unlike other large church buildings, there is no large hall or sanctuary inside a temple. Instead, temples contain a variety of rooms designed to accommodate certain functions such as marriages, baptisms, and religious instructional services. Participants change into simple, modest, white clothing before taking part in temple ceremonies. The white temple clothing symbolizes purity, equality, and reverence. For a more detailed look, see Inside Temples.
What happens inside of a temple?
Temples are places of reverent worship where members strive to commune with God. Members are taught important gospel truths, such as the plan of happiness offered by our Heavenly Father, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the divine nature of each person and the great blessings offered to all of God’s children. The primary purpose of temples is for members to participate in sacred ceremonies rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. For additional information, see Why Ordinances and Covenants Matter
Why are there oxen under the baptismal font?
The baptismal font rests on the backs of 12 oxen statues, following a tradition that dates back nearly 3,000 years to the Temple of Solomon. The oxen represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
What is the statue on top of the temple spire?
The statue depicts Moroni, a prophet of God who lived on the American continent about 400 years after the birth of Jesus Christ. His ministry is recorded in the Book of Mormon and also referred to in the Bible (Revelations 14:6). The Book of Mormon is a scriptural record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. Moroni delivered this record to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1827.