The work that goes on in these buildings sets forth God’s eternal purposes with reference to man, who is God’s child and creation. For the most part, temple work is concerned with the family, with each of us as members of God’s eternal family and with each of us as members of earthly families. It is concerned with the sanctity and eternal nature of the marriage covenant and family relationships.
It affirms that each man and woman born into the world is a child of God, endowed with something of His divine nature. The repetition of these basic and fundamental teachings has a salutary effect upon those who receive them, for as the doctrine is enunciated in language both beautiful and impressive, the participant comes to realize that since every man and woman is a child of Heavenly Father, then each is a member of a divine family; hence, every person is his brother or sister.
When asked by the scribe, “Which is the first commandment of all?” the Savior replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
“And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:28, 30–31).
The teachings set forth in modern temples give powerful emphasis to this most fundamental concept of our duty to our Maker and to our neighbors. Sacred ordinances amplify this ennobling philosophy of the family of God. They teach that the spirit within each of us is eternal, in contrast with the body, which is mortal. They not only give understanding of these great truths but also motivate the participant to a love of God and encourage him to demonstrate a greater neighborliness toward others of our Father’s children.
Accepting the premise that each person is a child of God helps us see that there is divine purpose in mortal life. Here again, revealed truth is taught in the house of the Lord. Earth life is part of an eternal journey. We lived as spirit children before we came here. The scriptures bear testimony of this. Witness the word of the Lord to Jeremiah: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
The treasured relationships of family life may continue in the world to come
We come into this life as children of mortal parents and as members of families. Parents are partners with God in bringing to pass His eternal purposes with reference to His children. The family, therefore, is a divine institution, the most important both in mortality and in eternity.
Much of the work that goes on within temples is concerned with the family. Basic to an understanding of its meaning is recognition of the fact that even as we existed as children of God before we were born into this world, so also shall we continue to live after death, and the treasured and satisfying relationships of mortality, the most beautiful and meaningful of which are found in the family, may continue in the world to come.
When a man and a woman are married in house of the Lord, they are joined not only for the period of their mortal lives but for all eternity. They are bound together under authority not only of the law of the land that joins them until death but also through the eternal priesthood of God, which binds in heaven that which is bound on earth. The couple so married has the assurance of divine revelation that their relationship and that of their children will not end with death but will continue in eternity, provided they live worthy of that blessing.
Was there ever a man who truly loved a woman, or a woman who truly loved a man, who did not pray that their relationship might continue beyond the grave? Has a child ever been buried by parents who did not long for the assurance that their loved one would again be theirs in a world to come? Can anyone believing in eternal life doubt that the God of heaven would grant His sons and daughters that most precious attribute of life, the love that finds its most meaningful expression in family relationships? No, reason demands that the family relationship shall continue after death. The human heart longs for it, and the God of heaven has revealed a way whereby it may be secured. The sacred ordinances of the house of the Lord provide for it.
The blessings of the temple are available to all
But all of this would appear to be unfair indeed if the blessings of these ordinances were available only to those who are now members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The fact is that the opportunity to come into the temple and partake of its blessings is open to all who will accept the gospel and be baptized into the Church. For this reason, the Church carries forward an extensive missionary program in much of the world and will continue to expand this program as widely as possible, for it has the responsibility, under divine revelation, to teach the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
But there are uncounted millions who have walked the earth and who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Shall they be denied such blessings as are offered in the temples of the Lord?
Through living proxies who stand in behalf of the dead, the same ordinances are available to those who have passed from mortality. In the spirit world these same individuals are then free to accept or reject those earthly ordinances performed for them, including baptism, marriage, and the sealing of family relationships. There’s no compulsion in the work of the Lord, but there must be opportunity.
(part three coming Monday, if not Sunday ....
I'm off to my hometown for the weekend)