Why Cannot All Enter LDS Temples?

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While reading an article online about Mormons in the political sphere, one comment by some random person caught my eye (okay, a number did but there’s only one I will address). The commenter was bitter towards the LDS Church because people who are not members of the church and church members who do not have current temple recommends cannot attend marriages performed in the temple. I’ll quote the statement (Source – see comments): “No other religious group excludes family and friends from a wedding because they are not ‘worthy’ or members of the group as do the Mormons if the couple is wed in the temple. I always thought church buildings were God’s house and all were welcome there.”

I’ll not address the logical fallacy of appeal to the majority (“no other religious group”). Overall, this person’s statement represents a rather stark misunderstanding of temples (including in Biblical times). The statement also expresses misunderstanding about who is welcome where and for what reasons.

I’ll start with a scripture not directly about a physical temple but one that demonstrates something important about temples: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17). Clearly, a temple can be defiled (again, I know Paul is talking about our bodies being temples but this also applies to temples that are built). Temples are meant to be holy so unholy (not sanctified or set apart or dedicated) things can defile them. In other words, unholy people can defile temples. God does not want just anyone to enter His house. He calls to all, but not all listen to and heed His words.

When Christ was on the earth, He cast out moneychangers and other people doing sinful things in the temple: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:12-13). Again, clearly there were people who were not welcome in the temple. Jesus “cast out all [of] them.” Could they have come back if they had ceased their wickedness? Sure, but that’s exactly what modern LDS temples are like – we welcome everyone who is willing to meet the requirements to attend.

Further, we know from the scriptures that God dwells in (or at least has one to sit in) a temple in heaven: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1). Not everyone will be invited into this heavenly temple: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). Again, there seem to be conditions on going to Heaven, namely, doing the will of God. So do all indiscriminately go to Heaven? To say so is a misunderstanding of the scriptures. If God imposes limits on who goes to Heaven, why would He not impose limits on who can enter a temple on earth?

If we go back further in time to the Tabernacle of Moses and the Israelites, only certain people were allowed to touch the Tabernacle and go into parts of it. This was the case with the temple of Solomon (in all its forms over the years). Women were not allowed into some areas of the temple and only a high priest could go into the Holy of Holies. Clearly, there have been longstanding restrictions on who could enter temples.

I want to wrap up my brief post by responding to one thing this particular poster said: “I always thought church buildings were God’s house and all were welcome there.” First, in all LDS church buildings (chapels) all visitors are welcome. Temples are not church buildings in the general sense; they are owned by the LDS church but are not where we attend church services. Second, I’m glad this commenter recognizes that LDS church buildings are in fact “God’s house {sic}.” I agree (although, saying the temples are God’s houses is more accurate). But in the end, temples are open to all; people just have to be willing to meet the worthiness standards set by God in order to enter them.

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