Religious Education Student Symposium: Concept of sacred space

‘Whereon thou standest is holy ground’

From ancient times, the concept of sacred space has been an important aspect of God’s relationship with His children, said Kipp S. Muir, who correlated it with the sanctity that can prevail in the home.

Brother Muir, an economics major from Irvine, Calif., explored the topic in a paper presented at the BYU Religious Studies Student Symposium Feb. 18.

Kipp S. Muir of Irvine, Calif., speaks of concept that the sanctity found in the temple can prevail in the home.
Kipp S. Muir of Irvine, Calif., speaks of concept that the sanctity found in the temple can prevail in the home. Credit: Photo by R. Scott Lloyd

“God taught Moses about sacred space when He commanded him to ‘put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground,’ ” (Exodus 3:5) he said. “In the ancient world, that sacred space often took the form of a temple erected to God: the tabernacle, Solomon’s temple, Herod’s temple, etc. These structures contain shared elements and patterns that worked together to make it a sacred place with holiness to the Lord. Through temple ordinances and sacrifices, men experienced, albeit symbolically, the sacred space associated with the presence of God.”

The Church continues to build temples today for performing saving ordinances on behalf of both the living and the dead, Brother Muir noted.

He said the concept of sacred space stands in direct opposition to profane space and noted that the very word “profane” is derived from a Latin term that literally means “outside the temple.”

“While on earth, we are separated from God,” he said. “Sacred space is an important aspect of worship, because it is so closely associated with God’s presence. It must be protected from the profane, those things that are unfit to be a part of sacred space.”

He added, “Latter-day Saints can enjoy a similar blessing: the blessing of having the spirit of God in their home constantly. By understanding what made ancient temples holy, parents gain great insights into how they can create a similar atmosphere and code of conduct associated with this privilege.”

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