Last weekend I took my family to Ft. Lauderdale to see the new temple that was built there. A temple is distinct from the chapels where we hold weekly worship service. In our chapels we listen to sermons, take the Lord's supper, attend Sunday School and fellowship with our brothers and sisters. The temple is reserved for special ordinances and ceremonies for those who have prepared themselves to enter. It is the most sacred place on earth for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It was important to make this trip because we wanted our children to see the temple as an important, aspirational place. Temple admittance is limited to church members older than 12 years who have declared their compliance with commandments. As a result, this might be the last chance that our children have to see inside the temple for years. Participants in temple ordinances agree to maintain the sacred nature of the temple by refraining from discussion when outside, but the emphasis of sacredness should not be confused with secrecy. Temple attendance is open to anyone who meets the requirements for entry, and preparation for the temple is important.
Why does this matter? In the temple we learn more about what God expects from us. We make commitments of fidelity and honor to God. We are also able to be "sealed" to our spouse for eternity. Marriages performed in temples are not confined to our lives on earth, but continue beyond. In the temple we are able to see the fulfillment of the prophecy found in the Old Testament's Book of Malachi:
5 ¶Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that this promise is being fulfilled through the strong desire that many feel to understand their family histories. The ability to be linked eternally to spouses and children is a great blessing, and the temple is where that is brought to pass.
I hope very much that my children will choose to go to the temple. I hope that they choose to marry their spouse in the temple. In my own life, I have felt the temple to be a place of peace and learning, and I'm grateful that I was married there almost 11 years ago to Lacy. I would not have it any other way.