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Money spent on temples
Baptism for the dead
The temple endowment
Money spent on temples
Question: Why does the Church spend so much money on temples?
Presiding Bishop Gerald Causse explained the Church's purpose and its focus on how it uses its financial resources:
We are not a financial institution or a commercial corporation. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, and this Church has no other objective than that which the Lord Himself assigned to it—namely, to invite all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him,” by “helping members live the gospel of Jesus Christ, gathering Israel through missionary work, caring for the poor and needy, and enabling the salvation of the dead by building temples and performing vicarious ordinances.”
In addition, President Russell M. Nelson taught,
The good this Church accomplishes around the world to alleviate human suffering and provide uplift for humankind is widely known. But its prime purpose is to help men, women, and children follow the Lord Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and qualify for the greatest of all blessings—that of eternal life with God and their loved ones.
Latter-day Saints believe that these blessings are possible through certain ordinances (rituals) and covenants (promises). These ordinances and covenants are only available in specially designated places, called temples, as explained by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose.
Three Possible Reasons
It is important to remember these doctrines when considering why the Church spends so much money on temples. There are three possible reasons.
First: The Lord commanded it. In a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord commanded:
Come ye, with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones, and with all your antiquities; and with all who have knowledge of antiquities, that will come, may come, and bring the box tree, and the fir tree, and the pine tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth; and with iron, with copper, and with brass, and with zinc, and with all your precious things of the earth; and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein. . . . And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people.
Second: To honor God. In the revelation cited above, the Lord called for a house to be built "for the Most High to dwell therein." A member of the Seventy explained: "By requiring exacting standards of construction down to the smallest of details, we not only show our love and respect for the Lord Jesus Christ, but we also hold out to all observers that we honor and worship Him whose house it is."
Third: To show how much God honors us. In the revelation cited above, the Lord explained that in His house He would "reveal mine ordinances." These ordinances (and their associated covenants) are gifts from God to His children that provide them with greater knowledge, power, direction, and peace. Consider how you would feel if God wanted to give you these blessings in a dingy, dirty, broken-down building. You would likely feel that God doesn't respect you and that His blessings aren't really worth very much. By building temples with the "precious things of the earth," we show how much God values us and the incredible blessings He is providing to us.
- Gerald Causse, "The Spiritual Foundations of Church Financial Self-Reliance," 'Ensign, July 2018.
- Russell M. Nelson, “Opening the Heavens for Help,” April 2020 general conference.
- "Chapter 36: Receiving the Ordinances and Blessings of the Temple," in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2011).
- Doctrine and Covenants 124:26–27, 41.
- Scott D. Whiting, “Temple Standard,” October 2012 general conference.
- See General Handbook, "27.2 The Endowment."