Teaching of temple 'builds child's spiritual armor'

Ask a group of Primary children what they think of the temple and you'll probably hear something similar to the following:

The temple "is a special place 'cause it's Heavenly Father's house," said Stephanie, age 6."They have sealings, but I don't know what it means," said Anson, 10. "I don't know why my parents go there."

"Bad people can't go in the temple because you never know what they'll do in there," remarked Lani, 9.

Tyler, 8, said: "You go to the temple to be restored."

"Anybody can go to the temple if they know where it is. You need to knock," added Morgan, 7.

And Mitchell, 10, said: "If Jesus wanted to visit the earth, the temple is where He would go."

These comments, recorded by the Primary general presidency, illustrate that children recognize that temples are important, but their knowledge is limited, the presidency noted.

"Temples are an important part of the gospel of Jesus Christ, yet they are something children often don't understand," said Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president.

To help children learn more about the temple, Primary leaders are teaching them about the House of the Lord this year in preparation for the Primary sacrament meeting presentation to be held in the fall. But the general presidency also hopes that the emphasis on temples will carry into the home.

"The earlier we start teaching children, the better prepared they will be to receive the blessings of the temple," Pres. Grassli said.

Betty Jo N. Jepsen, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, remarked: "We hope this year in Primary that children will gain a better understanding of why we have temples and will have a desire to be worthy to attend when that time comes.

"Sometimes we adults are a bit hesitant to talk about the temple because of the sacredness, therefore we share nothing. But we need to do better."

When parents or Primary leaders talk about the temple with children, it helps the children gain a better understanding and have more accurate information about the temple, remarked Ruth B. Wright, second counselor in the Primary general presidency.

She said that parents and Primary teachers and leaders would do well to follow Elder David B. Haight's admonition. In an April 1992 conference talk, he said: "When you return from the temple, share with your children and loved ones at home your feelings about what you experienced. Speak not of the sacred ordinances, but of the love and power manifest by them."

And Elder Boyd K. Packer, in the booklet, The Holy Temple, said: "Point your children toward the temple. From the days of their infancy, direct their attention to it, and begin their preparation for the day when they may enter the holy temple."

Sister Jepsen added: "We also hope that this year will help children turn to the temple nearest and dearest to them so they understand the blessings of being close to the temple."

Children can begin their journey toward temple attendance by doing such things as gaining a testimony, attending Church meetings, following the prophet, and learning early the importance of paying tithing and being honest, Sister Wright said.

"We can have the blessings of the temple at any age," she commented. "Sometimes we think children in their younger years don't participate, when in fact temple attendance by parents is what can really bless the home and the child."

This year's Primary sacrament meeting presentation, "I Love to See the Temple," is aimed at helping children understand what a temple is, why they should want to go to the temple, and how they can prepare for temple blessings, the general presidency said.

Suggested monthly themes for Primary sharing time include such topics as: "Temples are a sign of the true Church," "Temples are places of service" and "We can prepare to go to the temple by keeping our thoughts, words and actions pure and by being kind to our families and others."

"Primary leaders need to be wise in the plans they make so that what they do is appropriate and does not detract from the sacredness of the temple." Pres. Grassli counseled. "If they have any reservations about what they are planning, they should probably follow their feelings and do something else."

She said the Primary general presidency is pleased with the enthusiasm that has already been generated as children have learned about the temple. "We are pleased because that means that not only are children learning, but also adults are gaining more understanding as they prepare to teach the children. I really think that it is possible that this generation of children, their parents and leaders will know more about the temple than past generations."

Offering counsel to parents, Pres. Grassli remarked: "Your children will likely grow up with the same feelings that you have about the temple. Help them to know their ancestors and feel bonds of love for them. Teach and express your reverence for the temple and its sacred ordinances. Teach them of the plan of salvation. Many are able to resist temptation because of their understanding of the eternal plan. When you teach your children about the temple, you are strengthening their spiritual armor."

She concluded: "While baptism is the gate into the kingdom, the temple is where we receive ordinances that carry us into eternity. The blessings of the temple give us a glimpse of celestial living."

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