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Earlier this month, my wife and I took our oldest child to the temple for the first time. She had just turned 12 years old. It was a sacred and joyous occasion, one we had looked forward to for many years with great anticipation. Our experience at the temple with our daughter exceeded even our highest expectations and was a highlight of our 12 years of parenting. There are few things I hope for more as a father than that my children will cherish the temple and always remain worthy to enter and learn within its sacred walls.
I have reflected this month on the truths our children need to understand about the temple. I believe they need to understand these truths at a younger and younger age, well before they reach the age of 12 and can enter the temple for the first time to perform baptisms on behalf of their own ancestors. As parents, we must take the time to teach our children plain and simple truths about the temple that will help them look to the temple as a beacon that will guide them safely back to our Father in Heaven’s presence. Here are 7 truths we can all teach our children about the temple today:
1. Temples Are a Declaration that the Resurrection Is Real and Life Is Eternal
Last week, as my wife and I sat with our daughter in the baptistry of the Washington DC Temple, a member of the temple presidency came down to visit with us. He asked a simple but profound question that left an impression on us and prepared us for the experiences we would have that morning. “Why does the Church care so much about building temples?” he asked. After pausing for a few moments, he offered an answer: “The Church is focused on building temples because the resurrection is real and because life is eternal.”
His answer reminded me of what Paul taught the members of the ancient church in one of the most beautiful chapters on the resurrection in all scripture, 1 Corinthians chapter 15: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead. If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor 15:29). In other words, without the conviction we have concerning the reality of the resurrection, there would be no reason to do baptisms on behalf of our deceased ancestors. We must teach our children that temples across the earth are a powerful declaration that the resurrection is real and life is eternal.
2. Temples Teach Us to Love Our Ancestors
At a time when it can be easy for all of us to focus too much on ourselves, our wants and wishes, I am grateful that the temple invites us to search for our ancestors and study their lives. I appreciate even more that the temple can teach our children to love and cherish the individuals that constitute the fabric of their personal heritage. I have always loved Isaac Newton’s statement: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” We and our children are so blessed by the ability to stand on the shoulders of ancestors and loved ones who came before us. I am thankful the temple can teach us and our children to honor our ancestors, to look to those ancestors for examples of faith and strength, and to bind ourselves to them through sacred ordinances performed by priesthood authority in temples.
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