Monday, March 11, 2013

Getting to the Temple is NOT the Goal of Mormonism

I had a conversation with a Catholic friend at one point that I want to share with everyone today.

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. 


Anonymous said...

The problem is that so much of the rhetoric seems to be that the temple is THE goal -- for young woman, for members, etc.

Today we had a high councilman give a talk that was exactly that: The temple is the highest goal. Everyone needs a recommend. Everyone needs to go -- often. No context that it is only a step towards reuniting with divinity.

My daughter has related untold lessons above girls should have a goal of marrying a returned mission in the temple. Very little about living worthy to return to Heavenly Father.

I can easily see where your Catholic friend is coming from.

Howard said...

...a symbolic representation of our ultimate goal.. well said Ray!

Paul said...

Yes, yes, yes.

Anonymous is right, however: it's easy for teachers to focus on the observable (and attainable) goal of getting to the temple and give the impression that the temple is the goal.

Of course it's the same with Joseph Smith. We praise him. We honor him. We do not worship him. But someone looking in from the outside might misunderstand.

A good call to remember to put things in proper perspective.

Papa D said...

Amen, Anonymous. Frankly, this post is for members as much as it is for non-members.