I have noticed that temples seem to cause a lot of excitement in friends and acquaintances who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I grew up in a protestant religion, and was baptized as a member when I turned 18. From what I can remember, and from my experiences with others, the “secrecy” issue seems to be the biggest concern.
In reality, temples are not secret — anyone can go, as long as they have met the requirements. This is not a foreign concept in America: anyone can receive a PhD, as long as they are willing to meet those requirements. The requirements are actually pretty simple, but they are a major shift in how we live our lives — especially if you grew up “outside” of the LDS faith. The short answer for the requirements is three-fold: 1) Love and serve Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, 2) Love your neighbor as yourself, and 3) Be an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can find out more on the official church website, or you can go to the site designed for those who are less familiar with LDS beliefs.
Temples are places of peace — Latter-day Saints build them as houses of God. Everything that happens inside the temple is designed to bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. It is true that we can also perform these ordinances (similar to the more familiar word “rites”) in behalf of family members who have passed away, but this no more “forces” them to be a Mormon than someone putting my name on the roll of any other church in America. The idea is that our job is to extend opportunity to receive the blessings we enjoy in our faith to the entire human family. The choice, in mortality and in the next life, is always up to the individual. It is very similar to what our Savior did when He gave us redemption through His atonement.
I could go on for a long time, but I think I’ll end today’s post by giving you links and videos so that you can find out more on your own:
Frequently Asked Questions about temples