from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1446-1448.
Temples have always been revered and reserved as sacred ground. Anciently, the prophet Ezekiel declared, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary” (Ezek. 44:9). The Prophet Joseph Smith prayed that “[the temple] may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house” (D&C 109:12), “and that no unclean thing shall be permitted to come into thy house to pollute it” (D&C 109:20).
After construction and before a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been dedicated to the Lord, an open house is held and the general public is invited to enter and view the rooms. But for participation in a temple dedication and for all ordinances performed in the temple thereafter, only members of the Church who have a current identification card, called a temple recommend, may enter.
Temple recommends are given to members of the Church who have completed the preliminary steps of faith, repentance, baptism, and confirmation. Adult males must also have been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Temple recommends are usually issued by a bishop and countersigned by a member of the stake presidency in interviews conducted in private. The bishop, who is responsible as a “judge in Israel” (D&C 107:72, 74, 76), conducts the initial interview. He seeks to discern personal worthiness and standards of Christlike living and counsels appropriately with those whose lives are in need of any change or repentance. It is considered a serious matter to become prepared to receive the covenants, ordinances, and blessings of the temple. Questions are asked to ascertain one’s faith in God the Eternal Father, in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and inquiry is made regarding the person’s testimony of the restored gospel and loyalty to the teachings and leaders of the Church. Worthiness requirements include being honest, keeping the commandments, such as chastity-sexual continence before marriage and fidelity within marriage-obeying the laws of tithing and the Word of Wisdom, fulfilling family responsibilities and avoiding affiliation with dissident groups. The First Presidency often emphasizes that it is a solemn responsibility for a bishop or stake president to conduct a temple recommend interview. An equal responsibility rests upon the person who is interviewed to respond to questions fully and honestly (Ensign 8 [Nov. 1978]:40-43). One practical purpose of the recommend interview is to help the applicant be adequately prepared to commit to the way of life the temple covenants will require.
Currently three different types of recommends are given: (1) for members to receive their own Endowment, to be sealed to a spouse, or to be married in the temple for time only; (2) for members who have received their Endowment to participate in all temple ordinances for the dead (see Salvation for the Dead); and (3) for unendowed members to (a) be baptized on behalf of the dead, (b) be sealed to their parents, or (c) witness sealings of their living brothers and sisters to their parents. The same standards of worthiness apply for all recommends.
Approval from two priesthood leaders, including one’s bishop, is required in order to
enter the temple for most purposes. The 1879 “temple recommend” certified Martha Langdon to be a Church member in good standing and worthy to go to the temple to receive her endowment.
Packer, Boyd K. The Holy Temple, pp. 11, 26-28, 50-53. Salt Lake City, 1980.
ROBERT A. TUCKER
Cf. Edward L. Kimball “The History of LDS Temple Admission Standards.” Journal of Mormon History Spring (1998): 135-175. Available on-line from the University of Utah library.
Ben McGuire lists the Temple Recommend questions and compares them to the baptismal interview questions in this FAIR article.