My friend Rocky posted this video online:

In response, another friend posed the following questions about the LDS program of temple-building:

I watched this clip on YouTube because I loved this film years ago and haven’t seen it in a long time. That same day, I had family members talking through email about how incredible the Ogden Temple open house was, and what a beautiful and magnificent building it is.

There was something about the juxtaposition that almost made me physically ill. On the one hand, was babies taking care of babies, children begging in the streets, young girls being forced into prostitution… and on the other was a grand multi-million dollar RE-model (of a temple that seemed to work just fine before). It all just hit me in the face.

But, I’m trying to understand the balance between fine temple building, and “robbing the poor because of fine sanctuaries.” (2 Ne 28:13) It seems that The Lord requires the best at times for temple building, but it’s hard for me to rejoice over the new extravagant temples being built today, when so many are suffering.

Where is the line? (If there is one)
Which temples does The Lord accept? All? None?
Do we need so many?
Should we have way more?
Don’t members across the globe deserve temples too?
Are they not supposed to be fancy? since the church is certainly not in poverty?
Have temples become obsolete?

Help me understand.


I thought it was a fascinating series of questions.  This is my response:

-What good would a temple do for people who don’t take care of the poor among them?
-If a people are not “equal in all things”, then aren’t “the abundance of the manifestations of the spirit” withheld from them as a group? (DC 70:14)
-In those special situations where God DOES command the building of a Temple, would he accept the offering by filling the inhabitants with glory if they robbed the poor as they build it?
-If the institution of the Church has long forfeited a communal connection with heaven (as they did at Nauvoo), and have neglected the poor as they dot the world with fine sanctuaries (as the Latter-day Saints have done), does that prevent a faithful person from obtaining blessing there by her individual faith (like, say, Hannah, the mother of Samuel)?

When the Lord actually commands people to build a Temple, he always couples that with a commandment to sanctify themselves so they can connect with heaven there (Exodus 19:10-25, D&C 84:23,D&C 88:68-75, D&C 88:119-122). Part of that sanctification is to be equal in obtaining earthly things, so they can be equal in obtaining heavenly things (DC 78:5-6). That way, when they meet in the Temple, heaven can meet with them as a group. That is how Zion has to be built. Until we sanctify ourselves, Isaiah 1:10-17 sticks to us like gum on a shoe:

Hear the word of Jehovah,
O leaders of Sodom;
give heed to the law of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!

For what purpose are your abundant
sacrifices to me? says Jehovah.
I have had my fill of offerings of rams
and fat of fatted beasts;
the blood of bulls and sheep and he-goats
I do not want.

When you come to see me,
who requires you to trample my courts so?

Bring no more worthless offerings;
they are as a loathsome incense to me.
As for convening meetings at the New Month
and on the Sabbath,
wickedness with the solemn gathering
I cannot approve.

Your monthly and regular meetings
my soul detests.
They have become a burden on me;
I am weary of putting up with them.

When you spread forth your hands,
I will conceal my eyes from you;
though you pray at length, I will not hear—
your hands are filled with blood.

Wash yourselves clean:
remove your wicked deeds
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil.

Learn to do good: demand justice,
stand up for the oppressed;
plead the cause of the fatherless,
appeal on behalf of the widow.

(Avraham Gileadi’s translation)

Rob Smith wrote an essay on Joseph Smith’s Elijah teachings that interpreted the floor plan of the Nauvoo Temple in light of the expected meeting facilitated by Elijah, or by the power of Elijah being poured on the Saints as a group. That temple wasn’t divided into chambers like a Victorian house to accommodate the endowment ritual(as the Salt Lake Temple is). It was set up for large group meetings. It is interesting to ponder what Joseph actually had in mind for the saints in Nauvoo, and the role the Temple was going to play, and to compare that hope and expectation to what actually happened after his death.

Fortunately, whatever detours we may take, the Lord doesn’t let his prophecies fall to the ground unfulfilled (D&C 1:38). Elijah’s power (the sealing power that makes people’s calling an election sure) will be found again among men and it will seal them to their fathers in heaven (JSH 1:37-39).  A city of refuge and gathering will be built (3 Nephi 16:23-24).  A house of God  will be established, the sons of Levi will offer an offering in righteousness, and they will be filled with glory, light, and intelligence (DC 84:31-32).   When God’s people once again embrace the truth and look upward, Zion will look downward, and the general assembly an church of the Firstborn  will come down and possess the Earth. (JST Gen 9:22-23).   The restoration of these things, which ended at Joseph Smith’s death, can begin again as soon as people prefer it to the traditions which grew in it’s place and sanctify themselves to receive it.