Why does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints build temples? What are they used for? Can I visit one?

Indianapoloish Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Thank you to Greg Geiger

From the earliest days of the Old Testament, the Lord has commanded His people to assemble in sacred places where He could teach, guide, and bless them. Many will recall the scriptural account of Moses leading his people from slavery to Mount Sinai, when they received the Ten Commandments and covenants of the Law of Moses. Subsequently, the Lord told the Israelites to build a portable tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, that would be their temple, while they traveled in the wilderness. This led to the construction of the magnificent Temple of Solomon, and its reconstruction as the Temple of Zerubbabel.

When Jesus Christ was on the earth, the only existing temple was known as the Temple of Herod. Jesus was often found in this temple, teaching and worshiping in accord with the Mosaic Law.  After the deaths of Jesus, his Apostles, and the destruction of Jerusalem, there were no temples on the earth for many centuries.

When the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the early 1800s, the Lord again commanded His people to build temples as centers of worship and instruction. The earliest temples of the LDS Church were built in Kirtland, Ohio, Nauvoo, Illinois, and eventually in Utah. Today, the LDS Church has 140 operating temples around the world, including one in the Detroit area, on Woodward Avenue. Regardless of the place or time period, church members regard temples as the most sacred place on earth — a place where earth and heaven meet and where we feel close to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Here the sealing powers “to bind on heaven and earth” are used to create eternal marriages, link children and parents in sacred covenants, and perform ordinances by proxy for ancestors.

Because their sacred nature, consecrated temples are open only to faithful church members. When entering the temple, they dress in simple white clothing, symbolizing our shared relationship and divine nature as children of God. Teaching in the temple is by symbol, inviting inspiration and personal revelation as we ponder the meaning of God’s promises to his children. Because of their sacred nature, and deep personal meaning, members do not share specific details of temple covenants with others outside of the temple. However, members of the general public are invited to visit and tour new temples following their construction and prior to their dedication.

For those who are interested in visiting an LDS Temple, there is a rare opportunity over the next month. A new temple has been completed in Indianapolis and will be dedicated in August. Beginning July 17, and extending through August 8, visitors are welcome to tour the new Indianapolis Temple, ask questions of tour guides and personally experience its sacred character.

Information on the location of the Temple, free tour hours, and reservations are available at here.

More information about the history and significance of temples can be found here.