My friend, after a long discussion about the temple, said the following:
"For Mormons, the goal is to get to the temple."
He then said:
"It seems to me the real goal, for all of us as Christians, is to get back to God."
My response was:
The goal for Mormons is NOT to get to the temple. Period. Full stop. The goal of the temple is to focus us more intently on getting back to God. Thus, the temple is NOT an end destination; rather, it's a step along the process - a symbolic representation of our ultimate goal. Not one Mormon I know would bat an eye if I stated that from the pulpit in Sacrament Meeting.
Just as there is a real power in performing a physical ordinance like baptism that is experienced by the submersion of BOTH body and spirit (the whole soul) under water (which is symbolic of the life we desire to live after baptism - being fully immersed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, body and spirit - in order to help us return to God), there is real power in what occurs in the temple for the exact same reason. No ordinance is an ultimate goal in and of itself; every ordinance simply is the manifestation of our desire to achieve our ultimate goal - which is exactly what you say it is, getting back to God in the state he intended when he created us.
We just differ as to what that state is.