I will never forget the words spoken during the temple marriage of my youngest sister many years ago. The officiator looked around the beautiful room full of family and friends and then said the following:
When we come inside holy temples of God, we feel protected by their sacred, strong and solid walls. We might feel like we never want to leave such a beautiful place because it is so safe and protected from the world. However, please remember and take comfort in knowing that the covenants we make with our Heavenly Father, along with the symbols that we take with us and wear, are stronger than the walls of this temple.
I walked out of the temple that day a different person. Since then, every time I enter into a holy temple or see those strong granite walls, I am reminded that yes, the temple walls are strong, but my covenants are stronger. This has changed the way I view my temple covenants—especially in times of trouble. This knowledge gives me hope knowing that despite whatever chaos or challenges happen in my world, my covenants have been forged with a fire stronger than iron and are longer lasting than anything on earth.
How the Temple Helps Us to Conquer the World
All around the world, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are aching for temples to re-open. We are aching for peace and certainty. We have expressed an almost desperate need to be within those sacred walls. We want to be performing ordinances for our ancestors and experiencing the joy and peace that comes with this service in such a holy place. Why do we run to the temple in times of trouble? What is it about the temple that causes us to yearn so desperately to be inside, especially when our personal circumstances are unsettling?
Paragraph 3 of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” answers these questions in a very simple but profound way: “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God.” We want to be inside the temple because it is the place where heaven and earth meet; it is the holiest place on earth where we can be in the presence of God. Elder David A. Bednar further explains:
Everything that is learned and all that is done in the temple emphasize the divinity of Jesus Christ and His role in Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness. … We do not come to the temple to hide from or escape the evils of the world. Rather, we come to the temple to conquer the world of evil. As we invite into our lives the “power of godliness” by receiving priesthood ordinances and making and keeping sacred covenants, we are blessed with strength beyond our own. (link)
And, from President Russell M. Nelson we learn:
Every woman and every man who makes covenants with God and keeps those covenants, and who participates worthily in priesthood ordinances, has direct access to the power of God. Those who are endowed in the house of the Lord receive a gift of God’s priesthood power by virtue of their covenant, along with a gift of knowledge to know how to draw upon that power. (link)
This direct access to power, even the power to “conquer the world of evil” as Elder Bednar says, is what drives us to want to be in our temples. It’s not that temples are beautiful inside and out (they are). It’s that we are given spiritual power beyond anything this world can offer inside those walls. Even after we leave, we bring the physical symbols of that spiritual power with us wherever we go.
In a study about the benefits of religious rituals and the role of religion in life, LDS researchers found that “religious rituals included greater spiritual growth, happier daily life, more focus and direction, and better personal behavior.” (link) Another study by BYU professors David Dollahite and Loren Marks found:
As more Americans continue to move away from an institutional approach to religion and spirituality to a more personal approach, it is important to explore the ways that personal perspectives about God influence various aspects of life. … Having experiences of God as a close confidant appeared to help participants trust that God was always someone to whom one could turn when life became difficult. (link)
Sustained by Temple Covenants
A foundation of faith is important during times of trouble. And times of trouble are not new. In fact, we can learn a lot from the early Saints’ earnestness in days and weeks preceding their forced exodus out of Nauvoo. In Daughters in My Kingdom, p. 29–30 we learn how spiritually sustaining temple covenants were to those people. There is much to learn from their story:
More than 5,000 Saints thronged the Nauvoo Temple after its dedication. …
The strength, power, and blessings of temple covenants [sustained] the Latter-day Saints during their journey [west], when they [suffered] cold, heat, hunger, poverty, sickness, accidents, and death.
Like many Relief Society sisters, Sarah Rich served as a temple worker. She spoke of her experience: “If it had not been for the faith and knowledge that was bestowed upon us in that temple by … the Spirit of the Lord, our journey would have been like one taking a leap in the dark. … But we had faith in our Heavenly Father, … feeling that we were His chosen people … , and instead of sorrow, we felt to rejoice that the day of our deliverance had come.”
The exodus was not a “leap in the dark” for faithful Latter-day Saint women. They were sustained by their temple covenants. (link)
And so shall we. Just as in times of old, the Saints will move forward as we always have. We will rise to the occasion and work even harder at strengthening our faith. We will become better at teaching, testifying, and encouraging the rising generation to keep the commandments and to prepare for temple covenants and temple marriages. Because the future is bright in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Optimism About the Future
These words by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland should give us every reason to be optimistic about the future:
What a terrific time to be alive! The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most certain, the most secure, the most reliable, and the most rewarding truth on earth and in heaven, in time and in eternity. Nothing—not anything, not anyone, not any influence—will keep this Church from fulfilling its mission and realizing its destiny declared from before the foundation of the world.
Ours is that fail-safe, inexorable, indestructible dispensation of the fulness of the gospel. There is no need to be afraid or tentative about the future. …
If there are some bumps along the way while waiting to see every promise kept and every prophecy fulfilled, so be it. … Believe. Rise up. Be faithful. And make the most of the remarkable day in which we live!
Concerned about social issues involving the family? Wondering how to talk to youth about their tough questions? Check out the rest of this site for the research and the “why’s” behind God’s commandments. Start here: Home — The Family Proclamation