While I was in Utah a few weeks ago for my sister’s wedding I was able to be there when she went to the temple for the first time. In Mormon culture this is a pretty big deal. My whole family was there along with her fiancé, future in-laws and a few other close loved ones. Going to the temple for the first time signifies a lot to Mormons. It usually happens before a big event like going on a full time LDS mission, getting married, or before starting a new direction in life like beginning a full time career. It also signifies a willingness to have a deeper commitment to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In preparation for going to the temple for the first time my sister (as well as myself and most other people that go) take a temple preparation class. Like I said, it’s a pretty big deal when someone goes for the first time. If you are baptized when you are older you have to be a baptized member of the church for a least a year before you go. If you are baptized when you are young you wait until you’re an adult to go to the temple. I used to think when I was younger that so much emphasis was placed on going to the temple for the first time because the person wouldn’t be able to handle it without all the family support and preparation. What happens in the temple isn’t really talked about that much, even within the church, so I didn’t really understand.
With my sister going to the temple and being able to be there for it has made me think a lot lately about going to the temple and I realized I was all wrong about it before. When we are baptized we make a commitment to God to follow his commandments and to live the gospel. Often when we are baptized we are young or have just recently learned about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Baptism is a real commitment and covenant with God but it is only the beginning and foundation of our commitment to God. Going to the temple is actually pretty similar to baptism in our commitments. In the temple we make commitments and covenants with God to follow his commandments and to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The reason for all the preparation and support and attention is because these covenants are no longer the basic covenants of baptism.
When I went to the temple for the first time, like most other people, I was an adult and I had learned the gospel for an extended amount of time and I understood it. Because I was an adult and understood perfectly what I was doing I believe I am held 100% accountable for those commitments. That is the reason for the preparation and attention, to make sure we are ready to take the next step in our commitment to God.
The temple has a bit of a reputation for being secretive. It’s really not. The words spoken in the temple are sacred so we don’t repeat them outside the temple but the main point of the temple is to covenant with God to keep his commandments that are found in the scriptures. After we make those covenants for ourselves we go to make them in the name of those that have passed on so if they choose to they can also have the blessings of making those covenants with God.
My personal experience with the temple has been wonderful and peaceful. When I promised to follow God’s commandments in the temple God promised to bless me, protect me and help me throughout my life. I love knowing that if I do my part to follow God’s commandments that I will not be alone and I will be helped. The temple is a beautiful place. If you live near a temple I would recommend just going to the grounds to walk around and take in the beauty of the area. It’s really a peaceful place to visit and think and come closer to God.