For Latter-day Saints, the Temple Is for Life Outside the Temple

Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple. Photo courtesy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at churchofjesuschrist.org.

These thoughts are primarily for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who generally understand what we do in our temples and why, and how the temple connects to the gospel of Jesus Christ as we understand it. In case that’s not you, and you’d still like to make sense of the following, let’s take a few paragraphs first and try to give you a foothold.

The Temple: Quick Background

In ordinary times Latter-day Saints meet for worship every Sunday, on our Sabbath, in the local chapel. (Sometimes we call it a meetinghouse or simply a church.) There are thousands of them scattered around the world; they are thick on the ground in Utah suburbs and cities and parts of neighboring states. In the rural Idaho village where I spent my teen years, we had one post office, no stoplights — and three large Latter-day Saint meetinghouses, including two on the same road, a mile and a half apart.

We have far fewer temples in the world, only about 200. These are closed on Sundays. A Latter-day Saint will go to the temple for his or her own rites only two or three times in a lifetime.

Building Our Refuge

Author's Note
I was invited to write the front-page feature for my ward (congregation) newsletter for October 2014. This is based on a longer sermon from April 2008. 

We all have things in life which cause us to seek refuge – either refuge from our troubles, or at least a place where we can endure them in relative safety and find some measure of peace, kindness, and understanding.

There is a refuge for us. Its name is Zion. It is our place of safety, our land of peace, our refuge from the storm. (See D&C 45:66-71; 115:5-6.) In the temple we promise the Lord that we will build Zion – not someday in some other place, but here and now. This place where we live must be a refuge for us and for anyone else who may come here.

You might see a problem here: this place is where our troubles are. How can it also be our refuge?

I suggest four important refuges which together constitute our Zion. It’s important that, when any of the four fails to be a proper refuge for any of us, the others are already built and functioning.