The Importance of Regular Temple Attendance

This week, I gave a talk in church in preparation for the Brigham City Temple Dedication on September 23rd. Since that took most of my time this week, I thought I would post the transcript of my talk. My wife said the beginning is pretty slow, but it got good towards the end. Of course, I didn’t read it word-for-word, but here it is as I wrote it. Let me know your thoughts.

Why should we go to the temple?

In just four weeks, we are going to have a marvelous opportunity that we get to have more often than most other people in the world. We will have the opportunity to attend the dedication of the Brigham City Temple.
This is a unique and powerful opportunity for us. The temple is a holy place, where we are sealed together. It signifies the culmination of the greatest blessings we can have here on the earth. There is much we can learn from going to the temple, and I have heard many men and women who have spent two of my lifetimes in the temple say that they learn something new every time they go.

President Uchtdorf said in his conference talk in April that “We need to be constantly reminded of the eternal reasons behind the things we are commanded to do. The basic gospel principles need to be part of our life’s fabric, even if it means learning them over and over again.”

So, I am probably not going to say anything new today, you’ve probably heard it all before, but I hope that as you listen, you will be inspired with what it is that you personally need hear. Listen to the Spirit, because that is what will tell you what you need to know. Likely, it won’t be anything from my talk, but rather some thought that you have already been having. So, give the kids another bag of cheerios, and let’s dig in.

President Eyring said,

Melchizedek Priesthood holders who are fathers in sealed families have been taught what they must do. There is nothing that has come or will come into your family as important as the sealing blessings. There is nothing more important than honoring the marriage and family covenants you have made or will make in the temples of God. “Families under Covenant”

There is nothing more important. How powerful is that? I think President Eyring has a good idea of what could be considered important. What does he mean by nothing is more important? That means your job is not more important, your hobby is not more important, you calling is not more important. That means that no matter, you should strive for and then protect the sealing blessings. You should strive for and then protect your marriage covenants you have made or will make in the temple.

Lawrence Kohlberg is a psychologist from the late 1950’s. His research exposes stages of moral development. There are three levels. His research helps us understand why we make good choices in life.

Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)

  1. Obedience and punishment orientation
    (How can I avoid punishment?)
  2. Self-interest orientation
    (What’s in it for me?)
    (Paying for a benefit)

In spiritual terms, we do things to avoid punishment or to get certain blessings. This is a perfectly normal and acceptable way to keep the commandments. The Lord isn’t so concerned about why we are keeping His commandments, just that we are.

Level 2 (Conventional)

  1. Interpersonal accord and conformity
    (Social norms)
    (The good boy/good girl attitude)
  2. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation
    (Law and order morality)

I am a good boy, and this is what I think good boys do.

Level 3 (Post-Conventional)

  1. Social contract orientation
  2. Universal ethical principles
    (Principled conscience)

I go to church because I believe that is where I can be my best person. I go to the temple because it is the right thing to do.

What is the benefit for us?

I’d like to tell a story about how the temple has blessed my family. As you probably know, our daughter has down syndrome. The symptoms associated with down syndrome vary greatly among those who have. We have been blessed that she has not had to have any heart surgeries and has been relatively healthy her whole life. What we still struggle with most days are dealing with questions like where should she go to school and when should we have more kids and what will be best for her? Throughout her life, we have gone to the temple with these questions on our mind. The Lord has blessed us with answers. When you have a child with a disability, the extent of which you do not know, every question is magnified. When we are worthy of access to the temple, we are blessed and have our questions answered.

And then I would like to read to you what the Church says some of the great blessings are.

“I think there is no place in the world where I feel closer to the Lord than in one of His holy temples.”
—President Thomas S. Monson

“In addition to the closeness we feel to the Lord when we are in the temple, we can continue to receive blessings even after we have returned to our everyday lives. Attending the temple gives us a clearer perspective and a sense of purpose and peace.”

President Thomas S. Monson described temple blessings as follows:

“As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation. The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls—not the peace provided by men but the peace promised by the Son of God when He said, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’”

This is a powerful promise. We really can have peace in our lives. And we obtain that peace through the temple. If any of you have experienced turmoil, pain, or sadness in your life, you understand the opposite of that, which is the peace the Lord promises.

President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, described additional blessings of attending the temple:

“When members of the Church are troubled or when crucial decisions weigh heavily upon their minds, it is a common thing for them to go to the temple. It is a good place to take our cares. In the temple we can receive spiritual perspective. There, during the time of the temple service, we are ‘out of the world.’

“Sometimes our minds are so beset with problems, and there are so many things clamoring for attention at once that we just cannot think clearly and see clearly. At the temple the dust of distraction seems to settle out, the fog and the haze seem to lift, and we can ‘see’ things that we were not able to see before and find a way through our troubles that we had not previously known.

“The Lord will bless us as we attend to the sacred ordinance work of the temples. Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. We will be blessed in all of our affairs. Blessings of the Temple

The Temple is not a Destination.

I need to get something off my chest. I know a lot of people who have fallen away from the church. They were sold a bill of goods that was not correct. Many times we think, “Oh, we just have to get married in the temple and then everything will be great. If I can find someone I can get to the temple with, I will be happy.” That is a bunch of baloney! The goal is not to “get to” the temple. Let’s rephrase that falsehood and frame it the way the church really teaches it. “All I have to do is find someone who is willing and worthy to hold a temple recommend and attend the temple for the rest of our lives. Then, we will know we can withstand any trial that comes our way.” The fallacy is in thinking that the temple is a destination. We need to change our way of thinking. The temple is a way of life. If you are a worthy temple recommend holder, your life will not be perfect. You will have trials, tribulations, pain, anguish, and worse things than you can imagine. But, if you endure to the end, you will be able to withstand all those things.

For Elder Johnson up here, the goal for him is not to get on a mission, and then he will be happy. The goal is for him to endure to the end of his mission, and then endure to the end of his life. If he comes back and continues to improve his life regardless of what trials he encounters, and does that all the way to the end of his life, he can die a happy man. But if he even thinks for one minute that going on a mission is the end of a journey, he is gravely mistaken. It is truly the beginning. He will set habits and beliefs there that will hopefully carry him and his family through the rest of his life.

The temple is a way of life. When you say you have a temple recommend, you are saying that you live your life in a certain way. A temple recommend is an outward expression of an inward commitment to live life in a particular way. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

When we express our desire to do what is right, we are showing the Lord that we are willing to follow Him, both in public and private. He knows what is on our hearts, so the outward expression is more for us than for Him. The Lord shows us that he understands what is in our hearts in the calling of David to be king of Israel. David was a scrawny younger brother of more capable brothers. And when Samuel was sent to anoint the king, he was worried that David, the scrawny one, was who was chosen. But the Lord gave him some good advice. Samuel was looking at David’s strong, fit older brother, and thought, “Oh, yes, this is guy who will be king of Israel” As we read in 1 Samuel 16:7,

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

The Lord knows what is in our hearts, and when we carry a temple recommend, we know that what is in our heart is what the Lord wants.

While we receive major blessings for what we do in the temple, the real blessing is that we get regular preparation for entering into our Heavenly Father’s presence.

In the conference talk, “Coming to Ourselves, The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service”, Elder Robert D. Hales talks about the importance of holding a temple recommend.

“Worthiness to hold a temple recommend gives us the strength to keep our temple covenants. How do we personally gain that strength? We strive to obtain a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the reality of the Atonement, and the truthfulness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We sustain our leaders, treat our families with kindness, stand as a witness of the Lord’s true Church, attend our Church meetings, honor our covenants, fulfill parental obligations, and live a virtuous life. You may say that sounds like just being a faithful Latter-day Saint! You are right. The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for us to achieve. It is simply to faithfully live the gospel and follow the prophets.”

Let me repeat that last line again, “The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for us to achieve. It is simply to faithfully live the gospel and follow the prophets.”

It is not too high for us to achieve. And it is simple. Don’t forget that. There are only a few questions that you need to answer. If you can answer them all correctly, you are doing exactly what the Lord wants, you are “faithfully liv[ing] the gospel and follow[ing] the prophets”.

Elder Russell M. Nelson counsels us,

“The attributes by which we shall be judged one day are all spiritual. These include love, virtue, integrity, compassion, and service to others. Your spirit, coupled with and housed in your body, is able to develop and manifest these attributes in ways that are vital to your eternal progression. Spiritual progress is attained through the steps of faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, including the endowment and sealing ordinances of the holy temple.”

See how the “including the endowment and sealing ordinances of the holy temple” is added on there almost as a side note? Those are certainly important, but they are part of a larger call–to endure to the end. That is what the real purpose of our life is. “Everything will be great” when we endure to the end. Until then, we are going to have trials. Until then, we are going to struggle. Until then, we are going to have heartache and deal with pain, sadness, and loss.

What gives us the strength to proceed is holding a temple recommend.

Elder Richard G. Scott spoke about receiving the blessings of the temple. He says that

“Worthy character is best forged from a life of consistent, correct choices centered in the teachings of the master.”

via Receive the Temple Blessings – general-conference

If you do not have a temple recommend, please get one. You may be at a time in your life when you can’t attend the temple regularly for whatever reason. But, please, hold a recommend so that you can have the strength to endure to the end.

I know that as you do this, you will be blessed and have the Spirit of the Lord guide you.