Q. What and how do you learn at the temple?
The temple in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the most sacred and holy edifice that we have. The ordinance of baptism is essential to entering the kingdom of God; however it is the mere departure point or gate to a life of learning. As a member of our Church grows in knowledge, they are encouraged to prepare themselves to attend the temple to be taught even more.
First, I want to discuss the question, “How do we learn at the temple?” God has always used symbolism to teach his children. For instance, Jesus taught in parables (symbolic stories), partly so that a wide range of people who were all at different stages of learning and understanding could be taught at once. This is no different in the temple. Virtually all teaching in the temple is accomplished in a symbolic way. For instance, have you ever wondered why the LDS temples are usually set on a hill, where they can be viewed easily, and are lit up at night? This is a symbol of the light of the Gospel that will eventually fill the whole earth. Or why is there a gold statute of an angel sounding a trumpet on the highest spire? This is a symbol that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has once more been restored to the earth and will be sounded to all nations. Or how about the exterior of the Salt Lake temple? On the lower level there are stars, the next level the moon and higher yet, the sun. This symbolizes the kingdoms of heaven, but also how we acquire more light and truth as we progress. These are three small examples of things we can learn from the outside of the temple.
To learn effectively in the temple one needs to come to the temple in humility, being willing to be taught. We attend the temple as often as we can, because each time we are able to understand better what God is trying to teach us. In essence, the way we learn in the temple is the same way we learn in life, step by step and line upon line, receiving more knowledge, as we are able to understand it.
At this point I want to comment on why the members of our church who have attended the temple do not talk openly about what occurs in the temple. First, these places and what takes place in them is sacred and there is no reason to flaunt before the world that which is sacred. I doubt that Moses said everything that he learned on Mount Sinai. After all, he was up there for forty days, certainly all he learned wasn’t the Ten Commandments. I know that many are curious about what takes place here, but mere curiosity and interest does not qualify a person for receiving this knowledge from God. God imparts knowledge only when we are ready to receive it. Thus, we hold things back and shield them from the world. Not because we are ashamed of them, but because our knowledge is sacred. I will say though, that nothing occurs that would be offensive to anyone.
To address the question, “What does one learn in the temple?” I will say this, within these sacred buildings we are taught more fully the plan of salvation and how we, as God’s children, can receive all of the blessings that He wants to give us. More specifically we learn about the nature of God, the relationship between God and man, the creation of the earth and man, the fall of Adam and Eve, and the role that Jesus Christ plays in our salvation.
I do wish to inform you that before a temple of the LDS church is dedicated for use, it is opened to the public for tours—anyone, including those not of our faith can walk through on a guided tour. If there is one in your area being constructed, please take this opportunity to go on a tour, to see and feel for yourself the grandeur and awesomeness (proper usage of the word) of these buildings. Here is a link that shows the temples in operation and those that are currently being constructed. From this site you can find out when the open house for a particular temple will be. The Draper Utah temple will be having an open house from January 15-March 14, 2009.
Thanks for your inquiry.