What are all the reasons why we, as members, can’t tell others about what goes on in the temple? Besides the fact that we are commanded, and the fact that those things are sacred. Also why is it not allowed to take pictures or videos in the chapel? What are all the reasons besides the basic ones?
Sacred things (whether knowledge, teachings, or experiences) are only shared with others when directed by God to do so. Following this practice safeguards that which is sacred from ridicule and protects the hearer from being exposed to truths he or she may not be ready to receive. Or, as the Lord put it:
“[T]he mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet. For the world cannot receive that which ye, yourselves are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you” (JST-Matthew 7:10-11).
Many saints have experienced a natural fear when presented with the opportunity to share the gospel. It’s to be expected. In sharing the gospel, testimony is born. This testimony is received by a witness of the Holy Ghost. The supernatural nature of it – a meeting with a member of the Godhead – makes the receiving of a testimony a sacred experience. And that sacred experience is immensely personal. The sacred aspect of it gives rise to a fear that such a pearl may be trampled. The personal aspect of it gives rise to a fear that the bearer himself will be rent at the trampling.
You may recall that Laman and Lemuel asked many excellent and probing questions about their father’s tree of life dream (1 Nephi 15:7, 21, 23, 26, and especially 31). And yet it didn’t do them one bit of good. James could have been writing to them when he penned, “Ye ask, and ye receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (4:3). Moroni clarifies that the proper way to gain sacred knowledge is to “ask with a firmness unshaken … that ye will serve the true and living God” (Mormon 9:28).
And yet, the Church has asked us to share some of our sacred experiences. We are encouraged to be missionaries and serve as a witness of God at all times and in all places. We are to witness those things which have already been revealed to the world. The Lord has commanded that the revelations of the Doctrine and Covenants should be “proclaim[ed] … unto the world” (D&C 1:18). In contrast, the temple contains ordinances “which had been hid from before the world was” (D&C 124:38).
The Church has published quite a lot of information about our temples and temple work. Before dedicating a temple, the building is opened for the public to tour and learn about the principles that drive our worship there. In the early 20th century, Elder James E. Talmage wrote The House of the Lord and included professional photographs of the Salt Lake City Temple interior with descriptions of each ordinance room. More recently Elder Boyd K. Packer wrote The Holy Temple, which gives an overview of the purpose of temples and proper preparation to worship and receive ordinances there. Portions of this book have been printed in a pamphlet called Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple. The Church has even created a video giving a simple explanation of temple garments.
That said, there is a lot we don’t say about temples and temple ordinances. God isn’t trying to create an exclusive club of those who are “in the know” about what goes on in His house. After giving the endowment to well-known Church leaders, Joseph Smith taught, “There was nothing made known to these men but what will be made known to all the Saints of the last day,” (History of the Church, 5:2). God wants everyone to learn His mysteries, and being a Master Teacher He knows that means teaching individuals at their own pace. For this reason, those truths that have been revealed to you are to be kept and treasured by you. On this subject, Joseph Smith taught, “The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us, is because we do not keep them but reveal them; we do not keep our own secrets, but reveal our difficulties to the world, even to our enemies, then how would we keep the secrets of the Lord? I can keep a secret till doomsday.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 195).
Lorenzo Snow set the example for us in this. Says he, “The Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me – the eyese of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation as it was shown me. …
“As man now is, God once was:
“As God now is, man may be.”
As clear as the revelation was for Elder Snow, it had not yet been taught to the saints, let alone the world. He met with President Brigham Young, his mission president in England and then subsequently kept it to himself. “I did not know but that I had come into possession of knowledge that I had no business with; but I knew it was true. Nothing of this kind had ever reached my ears before. It was preached a few years after that; at least, the Prophet Joseph taught this idea to the twelve apostles. Now, however, it is common property” (Glory Awaiting the Saints, Deseret Semi-Weekly News, Oct. 30, 1894, 1).
An example in the negative is when Joseph shared the manuscript of the Book of Mormon translation prematurely. As a result we have lost that sacred revelation recorded on the 116 pages. For other examples, you can refer to the April 2012 General Conference talk, To Hold Sacred by Elder Paul B. Pieper.
Regarding photography in the chapel, we don’t do it because it is a policy outlined in the Church Handbook of Instruction, vol. 2:21.2.10:
“Taking photographs or making video recordings in chapels is not permitted. Meetings and other events that are held in the chapel may not be broadcast over the Internet or by any other means (see 18.3.1 for an exception).”