Edited to add: Para informacion en Espanol, vea Los Raíces Antiguas de los Templos Mormones
Many people are curious about LDS temples and the ordinances that take place therein. While we don’t talk specifically about the details of the ordinances, there are resources that can help you understand more about the temple and its purpose, as well as its ancient roots. Following are some of those resources.
For a general overview, see here.
This article, by Elder Boyd K. Packer may be of interest.
Elder Packer mentions washings, anointings, reception of the endowment, the garment, sealings, as well as baptisms for the dead. (See the above link for some explanation of these things as well.) He also explains the importance of these ordinances to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It is important to note that we believe that temple ordinances have ancient connections. Consider, for example, the following, which have some parallels in our temple worship:
- Moses’ tabernacle in the wilderness, which included rituals of washing, anointing, and symbolic garments/clothing.
- The architecture of the tabernacle reflected three levels or stages of spiritual progress and light and increasing nearness to God. (See more about that in this article and this article for more discussion about ancient temples.) For those who have been through an open house before one of our temples has been dedicated, they will note that there a similar element of progression (room organization and décor symbolize Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial kingdoms or glory. See also 1 Cor. 15:40-41 and Doctrine and Covenants 76.
While we realize not everyone will share our interpretation of ancient scripture, and while there are certainly distinct and important differences between our temple ordinances and those in ancient days (for example, the death of the Savior, Jesus Christ, ended sacrifice of animals and replaced it with the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit; also, it changed the role of the high priest in the law of Moses, who had symbolized the Savior’s role in helping us come back to the presence of God), a thoughtful reading of the Old Testament might help people understand at least some of the elements of our temple worship.
For more information and help studying the scriptures relevant to this question, see the following:
This talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson includes numerous references and notes that could help the interested reader focus his or her study of the roots of temple worship in the Old Testament.
Also, see this Old Testament study manual, used in the Church education system, which explores Old Testament tabernacle rituals. (See, in particular, ch. 13 on The Lord’s Tabernacle in the Wilderness.)
law of sacrifice
baptism for the dead
temple sealings or temple marriage
washing and anointing
law of moses
broken heart, contrite spirit