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Question

 

Gramps,

Why are unworthy Saints or people who use fake temple recommends able to gain access to the temple? D&C 97:15-17 says no unclean thing shall enter or his presence won’t be there. This is a tough issue for me right now as an LDS member.  The person at the recommend desk is to have the spirit of discernment.

Joshua

 

Answer

 

Joshua,

Thank you for taking a moment to ask a question that is important to you, and the desire you have that the temple remains undefiled before the Lord in accordance with his counsel as declared in these shared verses of scripture:

“And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it.

 

“Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.

 

“But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples.” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:15-17)

Our local leaders and those located in Salt Lake City, for certain, would want that every Latter-day Saint entering the temple are living righteous lives. We have been counseled in a Church pamphlet, “You are a guest in the house of the Lord. You should groom yourself and clothe yourself in such a way that you would feel comfortable should your Host appear.”
The Church, in order to comply with the Lord’s counsel, has implemented more than one policy and practice. The first policy is that of a temple recommend. Each member of the Church is asked a series of 15 questions (or so) for a bishop and stake president (or counselors) to determine worthiness. In their position of stewardship and authority they have the right to receive the gift of discernment, as they are prompted by the Spirit, or as Elder Eyring taught, “Many of us know the pain, the heartbreak, the test of faith that comes when people must be told in that interview that they are not worthy to go to the temple. Even when they answer the questions with all the right answers…” (First Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, January 11, 2003; pg. 12)

The second practice, due to our advancements in technology, the Church initiated barcode temple recommends. The barcode allows a bishop to flag a recommend that has been lost, stolen, or the sad experience when a bishop/stake president requires a member to give them their temple recommend and they are unwilling to give it. I would not be surprised if the Church requested that every member is required to have their picture associated with their temple recommend. This would prevent members from handing their temple recommend to another member who isn’t worthy (my thoughts though).

These are measures the Lord has put into practice through his servants in compliance with the scripture verses shared. In light of this, what happens when a person steals a recommend (before it is flagged) and they enter the temple? What is the temple patron’s responsibility at the front door? The temple patron’s responsibility is to ask for the recommend, scan the recommend, and if the recommend is not flagged they welcome the member in with open arms. The spirit of discernment is not required for patron’s who have been assigned to serve at the front desk. Now, should one of these patrons receive a strong impression, the spirit of discernment, they may take necessary steps in preventing a person from entering the temple; however, this would be a rare occasion and not the norm. Despite this, the temple remains clean and pure, and the Lord’s presence will remain in the temple.

An exemplum of the temple remaining undefiled before the Lord, despite one who enters unworthily, is found within the doctrine specifying that our bodies are a temple because we are tabernacles of the Lord’s Spirit. Even with our best efforts, every week, the majority of members allow sin to enter into their hearts, and the atonement still cleanses and purifies our hearts as we receive God’s grace. The temple likewise is cleansed and purified through the atonement; its power, mercy, and grace.

Another exemplum of the temple remaining undefiled before the Lord, despite one who enters unworthily, is noted during our sacrament meetings. The Lord has also given counsel that our local leaders should not allow someone who is unworthy to either partake or pass the sacrament; however, how often does an unworthy member partake and pass the sacrament? Should we take issue, or be discouraged when a young man who is unworthy passes the sacrament? No. Does a young man’s worthiness affect the bread or water blessed when I partake of the sacrament worthily? No. The bishop, despite having access to the gift of discernment, is not to allow those he knows who are unworthy to pass or partake of the sacrament.

As with the temple, our individual worthiness and faith determine the blessings we receive from the temple, not some thief who has stolen a temple recommend. I remember a period of time when unworthy youth who passed the sacrament bothered me, and wondered about how people who entered the temple unworthily affected the temple in relation to scripture. As my knowledge has increased I have come to understand and accept a simple truth, I am to be more concerned with my own choices and worthiness when entering the temple, and to leave the decision with the Lord in determining if a temple is defiled. In other words, to leave the judgement of determining worthiness in the hands of those whose responsibility it truly is, and it isn’t the patron at the front desk.

Gramps

 

 

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