God always gives blessings to those who are willing to obey His commandments. Such blessings may not be material things, and the more valuable blessings are not, particularly those that last even beyond the grave. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon Church” by others) teaches that families can be together forever. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sacred nature of the family.
Many prophets have testified about the value and importance of the family. “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between a man and a woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in the family is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World“).
Many people might have wondered about Mormon Families, especially about the way these families deal with life. Many Mormon families face tremendous trials, just as all families do, but they might respond differently to their trials because of their doctrinal knowledge and faith. Mormon families have great hope from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Disintegration of families leads to the most common and destructive problems of society. Whereas countries and nations may be greatly honored and blessed when there is love in its citizens’ homes.
Mormons are taught to be happy, healthy, and loving people. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches them to love to mingle and to share with others the blessings they have received as they are obedient to the commandments given in His gospel. Mormon families are also taught to share what they have and to gladly lend a hand to those who might need help. There are so many things that these Mormon families can share with and testify to others about the effect of the gospel in their lives.
God has designated the family as the central unit of the Church and the gospel. His eternal plan is centered on families, where each of His children can further develop their talents and attributes, be loved, and be taught the eternal truths of the gospel. God wants His children to obey His commandments so that they will experience a long-lasting and complete happiness as they strive to live righteously here on earth. It is in the rearing of families that each of us can receive the blessings of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in the four corners of our home where vital lessons can be learned and applied in life.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the central core in which these families build their strong foundations. “And now my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, which is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).
Throughout the history of the Church, the family is one of the most important aspects which has been discussed and emphasized. For example, the Church reserves Monday evening free of church responsibilities for the individuals to focus and have time with their families. Likewise, Mormon missionaries all around the world are instructed to put emphasis on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to their investigators in the home, where their families can gather together and hear the glorious message of the gospel.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in the admonition of the Lord. He said, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). The greatest gift is to have eternal life with your family.
More about Mormon families
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called Mormons by those of other faiths) do not openly discuss what goes on inside Mormon temples. This is because the ordinances, or religious rites, which are performed in Mormon temples are considered sacred. If they were discussed openly, they would be open to the world, which would not understand them, and would be subject to mockery. The things of God should not be mocked; thus, these sacred things are discussed only in the temple, by those who are found worthy to participate in them.
In order to enter a Mormon temple, a person must hold a temple recommend. Anyone who holds a temple recommend must be a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormon Church) and must be living high moral standards. Mormon doctrine teaches that any Mormon temple is set apart as the house of the Lord; thus, all who enter therein must be worthy to enter His presence.
Before a Mormon temple is dedicated, a period of a few weeks is set aside for members of the community to go through the temple and to see what it is like. Tours take visitors through all the major rooms of the temple, where visitors can see that there is nothing secret about anything going on. Volunteers and Mormon missionaries are present to answer questions visitors may have as well. However, once a temple is dedicated, only those who hold recommends may enter.
If you were to attend a temple open house, here are some of the rooms you would see:
Each Mormon temple has a baptistry. This is where worthy members of the Mormon Church, age 12 and above, may come to do baptisms for the dead. The Mormon doctrine of baptism for the dead stems from New Testament doctrine that has been lost over time. Mormons believe that all those who have ever lived upon the earth must have the opportunity to hear of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are billions of people who have died without this opportunity. Mormons do family history work to find their personal ancestors who have not had ordinances performed for them. They may then take these names to the temple to have these ordinances done by proxy. This means that a living person will stand in place of the deceased person and perform the ordinance (whether of baptism, confirmation, endowment, sealing, etc.) in their stead. Mormon doctrine teaches that those for whom this work is being done then have the choice in the Spirit World to accept or reject this work. Thus, no one is forced to become a member of the Mormon Church. However, without the work being done by proxy, they would have no opportunity at all, because all ordinances must be performed on this earth.
Each temple baptistry has a font which rests on the back of twelve oxen. These twelve oxen represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Mormons believe that when a person is baptized, he or she is adopted into one of the twelve tribes of Israel, and, through obedience, qualify for the many blessings promised to Israel.
The temple fonts are always located underground. This adds to the symbolism already inherent in the ordinance of baptism by immersion of death, burial, and resurrection, as well as a cleansing. Once a person has been baptized, the next ordinance, which goes hand in hand with baptism, is confirmation (or the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost).
The ordinance room is where a person receives his or her endowment. The first time a person goes through the temple, he or she receives the ordinance of the endowment for him- or herself. Each successive time, the ordinance is performed by proxy for a deceased person, just as baptism for the dead is.
In the endowment ordinance, participants learn more about their true relationship to God. They are taught about the creation and the Plan of Salvation, which is God’s plan for His children to return to Him and to progress eternally. In the endowment ordinance, a series of covenants is made, where the person vows to live a strict and high moral law. With the series of covenants comes a series of blessings, which are conditional upon the faithfulness of the person who made the covenants.
After completing the endowment ordinance, participants end in the celestial room. Mormons believe this like unto entering into the presence of God. While no ordinances are performed in the celestial room, it is the most beautiful room in the temple. It is a place where people can pray, ponder, read their scriptures, and visit quietly and reverently.
When a man and a woman who are both temple worthy choose to get married, they may do so in the temple. A temple marriage is called a sealing. A sealing can only take place in the temple, and may only be performed by a man who has been given the authority to bind families for eternity. This is a wonderful gift. In a sealing, a man and a woman may be married for eternity, rather than just for the time they will spend together on this earth. In addition, if they are faithful, any children born to them after their sealing will also be bound to them for eternity. If a couple chooses to go to the temple after they have been married civilly, they may have their children sealed to them as well.
Each sealing room has an altar, where those being sealed together kneel. There are two mirrors hanging parallel to each other, casting infinite reflections. This is symbolic of the nature of the relationship: it is eternally binding, having no beginning or end.
All temples are sacred places and have the spirit of the Lord dwelling in them at all times. They are place of happiness, peace, and joy. The things which happen in temples are kept sacred because the responsibility of living with the knowledge of those things is so great. The things a person learns in the temple come under the condition that, that person will use the knowledge to better their own lives, as well as the world around them. There is nothing selfish or evil about Mormon temples. They are places where the purest kind of service is done and where people exercise selflessness to make the world around them a better place.
In 1839, Joseph Smith, first prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visited the nation’s capitol with Elias Higbee to seek redress of grievances suffered by Church members in Missouri. The Latter-day Saints were suffering mightily in Missouri, where Governor Lilburn Boggs had issued an Extermination Order against the Mormons. In response, United States President Martin Van Buren reportedly said, “Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you.” The Saints were eventually driven out of Missouri during a bitter winter and sought refuge in Illinois. They prospered in Nauvoo, their own city, for five years, but then were driven out by persecution and mobs once again, Joseph Smith and his brother having been martyred. As they moved west to the Rocky Mountains, hundreds lost their lives.
Early Church members paid occasional visits to Washington, D.C., as they sought statehood for their newly-established communities in the Great Basin. Church leader Reed Smoot was elected to the United States Senate in 1903, and seated in 1907 after a series of hearings that brought publicity to the Church. In 1933, a large granite chapel was completed in the area. Future Church President Ezra Taft Benson worked in Washington, D.C. as Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration, 1953-60. In 1974, a temple was completed in Kensington, Maryland. Ambassadors and diplomats visit the temple’s annual lighting ceremonies during the Christmas holiday, and cultural events and exhibits are held at the Washington, D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center throughout the year.
Late church President Gordon B. Hinckley, along with 26 other religious leaders from across the nation, visited the Capitol after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and met with U.S. President George W. Bush. Many Mormons serve in the U.S. federal government and live in Washington, D.C.
Within the District of Columbia proper, there are over 2300 Latter-day Saints, with many in outlying areas, and a huge population of young single adults who belong to the Mormon Church, some studying at local universities and others pursuing careers there.
Washington D.C. Temple Trivia
The Washington, D.C. Mormon Temple is the tallest Mormon temple (as of 2011). It has six spires like the Salt Lake Temple, and six ordinance rooms, the only temple outside of Utah to have that many ordinance rooms. It’s a large temple (160,000 square feet) with 14 sealing rooms. The Angel Moroni statue atop the temple is one of only a few that is holding a representation of the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. The open house for the Washington, D.C. temple (which was held 17 September–2 November 1974) was attended by 758,328 guests including special guest Betty Ford—wife of then-U.S. President Gerald Ford. These tours resulted in over 75,000 missionary referrals.
The temple sits on 52 acres about 10 miles north of the United States Capitol in Kensington, Maryland. A free temple shuttle, funded by donations, is offered to patrons and visitors traveling between the Metro and the Washington D.C. Temple.
On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, a 5.8 earthquake caused “minor damage” to the Washington, D.C., Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said the temple’s spires and facade were damaged during the earthquake.
“There was no damage to the temple interior and no injuries were reported,” Trotter said. “The temple remains operational.”
Area resident Douglas Wiggins told the LDS Church News that the tips broke off of four of the temple’s six spires. The tip on one of the remaining two spires was bent.