The Ultimate Guide: 17 Best LDS Temples to Get Married In

If you’re a bride in Utah, you may be wondering where you should get married. With 17 temples to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin. Some questions you might be wondering are: Which temple in Utah is the busiest? Which temple is Utah is the prettiest? Which Utah temple has the largest sealing room for all my family and friends? Which LDS temple works best with my family’s schedule and location? Which Utah temple has the most marriages?

All of these questions have been distressing the minds of Utah brides everywhere. This post is an attempt to consolidate all the important information into one place. I’m here to provide information and pictures of all 17 of Utah’s temples, in alphabetical order, with all the important stats a bride could ever want to know.

Now I’m no expert, but having visited all the temples in Utah (except for Cedar City and Jordan River), I feel I can somewhat intelligently comment on the temples’ advantages and disadvantages for the most important ceremony of one’s life.

Note: All my ratings are completely subjective, and are based on my own experience or anecdotal evidence at best.Β Also the “Crowd Rating” is my indication of how busy the temple is. If it’s a super busy temple with brides in every inch of the temple, it’ll get a low crowd rating. If it’s a very quiet temple with little to no bridal traffic, it’ll get a higher crowd rating.

1. Bountiful Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style:Β Neo-Byzantine Greek Cross church with hint of Spanish villa
Dedicated
: January 1995
Sealing Rooms: 8
Largest Sealing Room Capacity:Β 38?
Square Footage: 104,000
Site: 9 acres
Crowd Rating: πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’

Pros of getting married in this temple

This temple is an excellent mix of contemporary and classic architecture, as demonstrated in the circular arched portico. The aesthetic is light and airy, with tall floor to ceiling windows in the Celestial Room. The grounds feature a lush garden area around the portico, and a cascading fountain on the back side of the temple. Nestled on the slope of the mountains, you get a great view of the valley

Cons of getting married in this temple

This temple is the Church’s snowiest temple, getting an average snowfall ofΒ 126.5 inches per year (This one might actually be a pro if you like winterscape photography)

Fun Fact

This temple’s exterior facade is made from Bethel white granite, which was quarried near Sharon, Vermont, that birthplace of the Prophet Joseph Smith

More Info

 

2. Brigham City Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Revived Neo-Gothic (stylistically echoes SLC and Logan temples)
Dedicated
: October 2009
Sealing Rooms: 3
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 50
Square Footage: 36,000
Site: 3.14 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros of getting married in this temple

If historic and sentimental value is important to you, this temple is a great choice. President Boyd K. Packer dedicated this temple, and it was special to him because it was his hometown. This temple is right across the street from the historic Box Elder Stake Tabernacle, so vintage-looking photography will be πŸ’―. With a population of around 18,0000, the Brigham City Temple will certainly offer small town charm.

Cons

The grounds are limited the the 3.14 city block, but feel free to wander over to the Box Elder Stake Tabernacle for additional photo ops. Located in their downtown area.

Fun Fact

Brigham City’s peach blossoms feature as a prominent motif along the walls of the sealing rooms.

3. Cedar City Temple

Aesthetic Style: Pioneer-stock, Presbyterian-style church
Dedicated
: December 2017
Sealing Rooms: 3
Largest Sealing Room Capacity:Β 40?
Square Footage: 39,802
Site: 8.51 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’Β (remote area, but brand new)
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’Β (dessert landscape, plants still growing)

Pros

Gorgeous architecture, large grounds, small town feel. I haven’t attended this temple yet, so I don’t have a lot to say about it, but I’m sure it’s lovely!

Cons

It’s still the desert. The grounds aren’t super pretty yet, give it some time for the plants to grow.

Fun Fact

The architecture of this temple is reminiscent of the Presbyterian architecture style that the pioneers brought with them across the plains, as demonstrated in the cupola bearing the angel Moroni. It also contains features that echo the red rock formations of Southern Utah.

4. Draper Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Contemporary; formal state affair
Dedicated
: October 2004
Sealing Rooms: 5
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 100
Square Footage: 58,300
Site: 12 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

Less popular temple, so you’re not likely to have lots of other brides overrunning you on your special day. It features Elegant architecture to make anyone feel like a queen. Hoisted up on the mountain, you have a breathtaking view of the valley. It’s situated in a very affluent neighborhood. Adjoining Church building makes babysitting children easier during the sealing.

Cons

Large grounds, but mostly taken up by parking and adjacent church building. Not a lot of landscaping features

Fun Fact

The recurring theme of the Draper Temple is the Sego Lily, the Utah State flower. These lily designs can be seen throughout the temple’s many panes of stained glass. The stained glass, crafted by Tom Holdman, miraculously survived a fire in Holdman’s art studio that gutted the entire structure.

5. Jordan River Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Vintage glam
Dedicated
: November 1981
Sealing Rooms: 16
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 30?
Square Footage: 148,236
Site: 15 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

This temple is definitely underrated. It has the most sealing rooms of any temple in the Church, and it isn’t a super popular temple for weddings, so if you don’t want to fight with other brides, this one is perfect. The grounds are huge, and the exterior of the temple, while dated, is undeniably impressive. Not only that, but because of the current renovations, the interior of the Jordan River temple will almost certainly impress any bride.

Cons

Many brides do not find the 1980’s architectural style of the Jordan River Temple appealing, however, that may change drastically with the upcoming renovations on the temple.

Fun Fact

There were some elderly members attending the Jordan River temple dedication who were also present for the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple nearly a century earlier.

The Jordan River temple is one of five temples to feature an Angel Moroni statue holding the plates.

6. Logan Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Neo-Gothic castle
Dedication
: May 1884; Rededicated March 1979
Sealing Rooms: 11
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 20?
Square Footage: 119,619
Site: 9 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’
Building Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’(Exterior is awesome, Interior is a 1970’s remodel)
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

The Logan Temple creates the perfect marriage between historic charm and efficient function. The exterior retains the same construction from its pioneer origins, while the interior was remodeled in the 1970’s to accommodate higher amounts of traffic. The exterior strongly reflects the Neo-Gothic style common in that era, and will make any bride feel likeΒ  a true princess. This means that your wedding photos outside the temple will be radiant, and you won’t have a three hour wait to do your ordinance (before the remodel, patrons complained of sometimes having to wait three hours to do an ordinance).

The grounds are on an elevated terrace, and so offer a stunning view of the area. The grounds also feature mature trees, flowers, and a fountain for photographs.

Cons

While historic and stunning on the outside, some brides have found the interior aesthetic dated and unattractive.

Fun Fact

The Logan temple was the first temple built to have the endowment progress from room to room.

7. Manti Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: French/Neo-Gothic chateau
Dedicated
: May 1888; Rededicated June 1985
Sealing Rooms: 8
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 30?
Square Footage: 103,373
Site: 27 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’
Building Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

If you’re a Francophile, this temple is for you. From the windows, to the towers, to the intricate gilding, you feel like you’re walking around the palace of Versaille. The grounds are absolutely huge, as it accommodates the Manti pageant during the summer. The temple sits atop a hill and can be seen for miles, meaning you have a great view of the rural paradise below and will have exquisite pictures.

Cons

This is a very popular temple, so during the spring and summer, you may very well be stepping on the toes of other brides, but if you don’t mind sharing, then that’s not a problem. The last wedding I attended there this last May had 25 other brides getting sealed that day. It kind of felt like an assembly line trying to get pictures outside with the family afterwards. The sealing rooms are not very large, so you should plan for a small party of guests. Some of the sealing rooms are off of the Celestial Room, so your guests may be required to change into their white clothing (personally I think this is a Pro, white weddings are very special).

Fun Fact

Minerva Teichert painted the mural in the World Room during a renovation in the 1940’s. The Manti Utah Temple is one of two temples that still employs live acting for presentation of the endowment. (The other is the Salt Lake Temple.)

8. Monticello Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Simple, intimate
Dedicated
: October 2002
Sealing Rooms: 2
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: ?
Square Footage: 11,225
Site: 1.33 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’
Ground Rating:Β πŸ’

Pros

This temple is in a fairly remote location and has less traffic, so if you’re looking for an intimate wedding, this one is the way to go. The interior is contemporary, with clean lines and look. It is simple, yet elegant.

Cons

This is a very small temple with small sealing rooms, so you may have to limit your wedding guests, but if you’re going for intimate anyway, this shouldn’t be a problem. The grounds are also very small, so it may be more difficult to get a lot of good photos around the temple. I personally had a hard enough time finding a suitable picture of the temple for this post, because Brides and Grooms often just have to take pictures from creative angles in the parking lot.

Fun Fact

Monticello was the pilot temple for a new generation of smaller temples commissioned by Gordon B. Hinckley. It originally had a white angel Moroni, the design for these newer, smaller temples. However, it became apparent that the white angel was difficult to see, so it was later replaced with a gold-leaf one.

9. Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Neo-Byzantine Greek Cross church with hint of Spanish villa
Dedicated
: October 1996
Sealing Rooms: 8
Largest Capacity Sealing Room: 38?
Square Footage: 107,240
Site: 16.7 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

This temple is a sister temple to Bountiful Utah, so you may think they’re exactly the same. However each one has distinct advantages. For example, while both Bountiful and Mt. Timp feature a long, circular arched portico at the front of the temple, Bountiful’s is exposed, while Mt. Timp’s is obscured by lush foliage. So if you’re way more into architectural features, then go with Bountiful. However, if you just can’t get enough greenery and lush vegetation in your pictures (like me), then Mt. Timp is the way to go. You still can get beautiful pictures inside the arched porticos of both temples. Mt. Timp also has the advantage of more expansive and beautiful grounds for photography. The grounds of Timp are almost twice that of Bountiful. Not only that, but Timp has the additional advantage of being adjacent to a really great park with a rustic stone amphitheater and gardens. Absolutely beautiful for pictures. Another advantage of Timp is that while it is certainly busy, it’s still no Salt Lake or Provo City Center, so you’re less likely to be overrun on your special day.

Cons

I can’t think of any. I’ll let you know if I do.

Fun Fact

When the Angel Moroni was installed in 1995, it had an audience of around 20,000, who spontaneously broke out into singing “The Spirit of God.”

More Info

10. Ogden Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: 1920’s Art Deco
Dedicated
: August 1972; Rededicated September 2014
Sealing Rooms: 9
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 50?
Square Footage: 112,232
Site: 9.96 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

This temple has both history AND style. Originally built in the late 1960’s, it was a sister temple to the Provo Utah Temple. However, during 2014 it was completely refashioned into a more up-to-date temple with Art Deco flair. If you love the idea of a 1920’s vintage-style wedding, Ogden is really the best choice. The design is very geometric, with unique Art Deco chandeliers and torchieres adorning the floors and ceilings. The temple is located in the downtown and is adjacent to the 20th century vintage Ogden tabernacle for additional Great Gatsby-era flair.

Cons

Can’t think of any at the moment.

Fun Fact

The original Ogden (and Provo) temple was commissioned to Emil B. Fetzer by David O. McKay. He was commissioned to design a more efficient, functional space to accommodate more ordinances than ever before, but without sacrificing the quality of previous temples. He was inspired with the elliptical shape while flying across the Atlantic Ocean, allowing for 6 ordinance rooms to feed into a central Celestial Room.

More Info

11. Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style:Β Contemporary, with reminders of Utah’s rugged mountain terrain
Dedicated: August 2009
Sealing Rooms: 6
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 38?
Square Footage: 60,000
Site: 11 acres
Crowd Rating: πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

This temple has a beautiful “star” motif that repeats itself throughout the edifice and increases in frequency the higher you go in the building. It’s star-shaped chandeliers interior details are elegant and breathtaking. The grounds are sizable and pleasant, but simple.

Cons

There are no lush gardens on the grounds, but they still plan lovely flowers and there is a fountain in the inner courtyard of the temple. For brides in South Jordan, this tends to be the preferred temple over the Jordan River temple, so it gets more bridal traffic, but nothing huge.

Fun Fact

The Goshute word “Oquirrh means “shining mountains.” The Oquirrh Mountain temple was the first temple to be built in the same city as another temple, the Jordan River Temple.

More Info

12. Payson Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Beauty and the Beast palace, with a touch of classical style
Dedicated: June 2015
Sealing Rooms: 7
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 1 with 80; 2 with 72; 4 with 20
Square Footage: 96,630
Site: 10.63
Crowd Rating: πŸ’Β (40 sealings/day during the summer)
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

This temple will easily make you feel like Belle in Beauty and the Beast on your perfect day. The beautiful rose motif runs throughout the temple, in the art glass, the carpeting, and the furniture. The roses in the stained glass start out as buds, but bloom into full blossoms as you reach the top of the temple in the Celestial Room. Speaking of the Celestial Room, it feels like the ballroom in Beauty and the Beast, due to the exquisite chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows in the rounded apse. Oh yes, and they have an impressive grand staircase. The interior of this temple is divine, and the grounds are just as good. The temple lies on a sizable plot, and has a fountain, as well as pleasant vegetation for great pictures. This temple is fairly popular, but also a little out of the way for a lot of Utah county, so it might just be the diamond in the rough you’re looking for.

Cons

This temple can get fairly busy during the spring and summer, but not more than almost all the other temples in Utah County.

Fun Fact

81-year-old widow Geniel Pino crocheted the intricate altar cloths for the temple’s ordinance rooms.

More Info

13. Provo City Center Temple

Aesthetic Style: Pioneer Neo-Gothic
Dedicated: March 2016
Sealing Rooms: 5
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 50
Square Footage: 85,084
Site: 6.5 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’Β (30-35 sealings/day in the summer)
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

There’s a lot to love about this temple. If you are a Provo native, or BYU alumnus (like myself), chances are you already have a special attachment to this temple. Previously known as the Provo Tabernacle built in 1898, this building was converted into a temple when the tabernacle interior was consumed in fire in December 2010. It’s miraculous transformation into a temple of God makes it a very special temple with both historic and sentimental value. It’s also completely gorgeous. This temple embodies the Provo-vintage-chic aesthetic perfectly. The rose-colored brick makes any bride’s complexion positively radiant in pictures. The interior is just as exquisite with true-to-history detailing in almost every inch of the temple.

Cons

Because it is located in Provo’s downtown, the grounds are not very large (but still pretty). This is also a very busy temple, so if you’re heart is set on this temple, you may want to consider getting sealed during the off-season, during a week day, or simply reserving your temple date far in advance. One work-around for the business factor, is that Provo City Center Temple largely serves BYU brides, which means it is fairly predictable which times are going to be the busiest. Breaks between semesters are chaotic, while getting married in the middle of a BYU semester might just be the sweet spot.

Fun Fact

Excavators of the Provo Tabernacle wreckage uncovered stenciling on the walls of the tabernacle that was covered up by later layers of paint. The designers of the Provo City Center Temple used this stenciling design to decorate the walls of the bride’s dressing room.

More Info

14. Provo Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Space-age charm with a nod to Biblical motifs
Dedicated:
February 1972
Sealing Rooms: 12
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: ?
Square Footage: 128,325
Site: 17 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:
Β πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

You will probably have no other brides competing for photo ops if you choose to get married in this temple. It was never a terrible popular bridal choice to begin with, but since the dedication of the Provo City Center temple, this temple has been extremely low-traffic for weddings. The grounds at the Provo Utah temple might be the best of them all. While at first glance it might not look like much, they have a full garden in the back, and two large fountains in the front. On top of that, during the spring and early summer, they have lush, pink rose bushes that completely overtake the entire vista (good to keep in mind for planning your wedding colors). It is breathtaking. Add that to the stunning mountain backdrop, and you have something really special.

Cons

The design of the Provo, Utah temple was meant to represent the cloud and pillar of fire that guided the Israelites through the wilderness under the shadow of Mount Sinai. However, today the design is often looked upon as dated and has been affectionately given all sorts of nicknames like “the cupcake” and “the spaceship.” If these things don’t phase you, then the Provo temple is truly an excellent choice for its lush grounds and intimate experience.

Fun Fact

The original spire on the Provo temple was painted gold and didn’t have an Angel Moroni statue. However, during a renovation in 2003, they added the Angel Moroni statue and painted the spire white to highlight the gold statue.

More Info

15. Salt Lake Temple

Aesthetic Style: Neo-Gothic with a little Neo-Baroque
Dedicated: April 1893
Sealing Rooms: 14 (7 in the temple proper, 7 in the annex)
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 30?
Square Footage: 253,000
Site: 10 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

It’s hard to even put a rating on this temple because it is completely iconic and classic when it comes to Mormon weddings. The temple is the absolute pinnacle of Mormon architecture in my humble opinion. It radiates with antiquity and reverence for the devout, and impresses with majesty for even the casual passerby. If you choose the Salt Lake Temple, you have the pride in knowing that you were married in the same place as some very important people in church history, and are participating in the legacy of the sanctuary that took over 40 years and countless sacrifices to build. The grounds are also wonderful and have garden areas, structural features, the famous reflection pool, and all the buildings that Temple Square has to offer (e.g. Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Visitor Centers, Assembly Hall, etc.).

Cons

The biggest downside to this temple is the business. Sometimes this temple processes as many as 30 brides on a given day. Crazy. Not only will you be competing for temple space on the inside, but you’ll be competing for photo ops on the outside. On top of that are the regular temple patrons, and on top of that are the Temple Square tourists (of which there are always many). So plan carefully. If your heart is set on this historic and sacred jewel, book your temple date far in advance, and be ok with sharing. Also plan in advance for traffic if major events are taking place in the city that day (ComicCon, Jazz game, events in the Conference Center, etc.)

Fun Fact

There are far too many facts about this incredible edifice to include just one. I’ll just say that this temple took the longest to build: 40 years. The St. George Temple, the Logan Temple, and the Manti Utah Temple were all begun and completed during the time it took of the Salt Lake Temple.

More Info

16. St. George Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Neo-Gothic
Dedication: April 1877; Rededicated November 1975
Sealing Rooms:Β 18
Largest Sealing Room Capacity: 40?
Square Footage: 110,000
Site:Β 6 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β 
πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Pros

This temple certainly has beauty and history. This temple was the first built in Utah and was the temple where Wilford Woodruff had his vision of the founders of America. The interior is beautiful and still maintains its original decor. The grounds are pleasant and kept manicured despite the hot temperatures during the summer.

Cons

Since this temple serves a large geographic area, it is often a busy temple. Another con of this temple is taking photos in the summer. It’s so HOT. I personally can’t stand it. However, if you are a southern Utah native and are more reptilian than I am OR you choose to get married in the winter, then this probably won’t be a deal breaker for you.

Fun Fact

This temple is the first one where endowments for the dead were performed. This was the first and last temple dedicated during Brigham Young’s time as President of the church. Wilford Woodruff served as the president of this temple until 1884.

More Info

17. Vernal Utah Temple

Aesthetic Style: Victorian-style tabernacle
Dedicated:Β November 1997
Sealing Rooms: 3
Largest Sealing Room Capacity:Β 20?
Square Footage:Β 38,771
Site:Β 1.6 acres
Crowd Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Architecture Rating:Β πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
Grounds Rating:Β πŸ’

Pros

While the Provo City Center Temple has gotten a lot of attention lately, the Vernal Utah temple was actually the first temple to be constructed from a previous tabernacle. The 1907 Uinta Stake Tabernacle was transformed into the beautiful temple we see today. It is intimate, and is not a high traffic temple, so you are sure to have a very special and personalized day

Cons

This temple is very small and their sealing rooms are not high capacity, so you will have to limit your bridal party. The grounds are also very small, so you may have to content yourself with getting most of your bridal pictures at your reception venue.

Fun Fact

When President Joseph F. Smith dedicated the Uinta Stake Tabernacle in 1907 he mused that “would not be surprised if the day would come when a temple would be built in your midst here.” Turns out he was right, and Porter Merrill, who was seven years old at the time, was present for that prophecy, and was present for its fulfillment at the dedication of the Vernal Utah Temple.

More Info

Conclusion

And there you have it, a report on all 17 LDS temples in Utah, and what to consider when picking a temple to get married in. To summarize:

Least Busy Temples

  • Jordan River Temple
  • Monticello Temple
  • Vernal Utah Temple

Prettiest Temples (completely subjective to personal taste)

  • Salt Lake Temple
  • Provo City Center Temple
  • Manti Utah Temple

Prettiest Grounds (again, very subjective)

  • Manti Utah Temple
  • Mount Timpanogos Temple
  • Provo Utah Temple

This post is incomplete and a work in progress. If anyone has any info on the sealing room capacities of these temples, I would gladly add them to this post! It’s hard to know which temples are truly the busiest because the temple schedulers won’t disclose very much to you unless you are looking to schedule a specific date.

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D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 20: Three Kingdoms of Glory

This Sunday I taught lesson 20 in the Gospel Doctrine manual for the Doctrine and Covenants. The lesson was on the Three Degrees of Glory, and dovetailed on the previous week’s lesson on the Plan of Salvation.

 

To begin the lesson, I drew a series of stick-figure scenarios on the board:

stick-figure-family-apostasy

Diagram 1: This family – mother, father, and children – are faithful members of the Church and have been sealed under the covenant. However, one of these children decides to leave the church. What happens to this eternal family? Is this family no longer forever?

stick-figure-family-divorce

Diagram 2: This family – mother, father, and children – are faithful members of the Church and have been sealed under the covenant. However, the mother and father got divorced and their sealing was canceled. What happens to the children? Who are they sealed to? Are they eternal orphans?

stick-figure-family-polygamy

Diagram 3: This family – mother, father, and children, are faithful members of the Church and have been sealed under the covenant. However, the mother dies and the father is sealed to another woman. When that woman dies, the father is sealed once again to another woman. How does this eternal family work? Is the father an eternal polygamist? Which wife will he be sealed to in the eternities?

stick-figure-family-convert

Diagram 4: This family – mother, father, and children, are NOT members of the Church, but are members of another faith. However, one of the children finds the Gospel and joins the Church. This child receives all the necessary ordinances for salvation, but cannot be sealed to his family? How can his family be forever?

As it turns out, most people in the Church today are affected by at least one of these situations. Well, spoiler alert, this lesson can’t provide all the answers to all those conundrums. Some of this requires a lot of faith. But learning about the Plan of Salvation and the Three Degrees of Glory can help us understand the mind of God, and help us develop faith in his Plan. The study of D&C 76 can also give us hints to answering some of these difficult questions.

Historical Context

3

This section is received on February 16, 1832 to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon while in Hiram, Ohio. This revelation came to be known as simply “The Vision” because of its importance in revolutionizing the Church’s theology.

5

Think about it. This revelation was revered even above the first Vision is the early days of the Church. It was also a complete game-changer. It was even difficult for members of the Church to accept at the time. Brigham Young explained, “My traditions were such, that when the Vision came first to me, it was directly contrary and opposed to my former education. I said, Wait a little. I did not reject it; but I could not understand it.”

Why was it so hard to wrap their minds around? Well, Christian thought up to this point in history focused a lot on a dualistic view of the afterlife: it’s either heaven or hell for you. Heaven was the glorious paradise of the pious few, and Hell was the place reserved for most of us mortals, since we’re all sinners.

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By the time the 19th century rolled around, Universalism became wildly popular — this idea that Christ’s grace is sufficient for all, therefore, all are saved regardless of behavior.

As you might imagine, a salvific paradigm where there areΒ multiple options might have been astounding. Not to mention there’s a potential forΒ progression. The most significant doctrine of the revelation, however, was probably the idea thatΒ we can become like God (theosis). The concept of theosis was indeed taught in the early Christian church, but fell out of use by around the 5th century.

Now, because Lesson 19 talked all about the basic tenets of the Plan of Salvation, I won’t go into that here. This lesson is just about Exaltation. The Three Degrees of Glory. What happens after judgment.

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Satan

A good chunk of section 76 has to do with learning about Satan. As it turns out, our Latter-day Saint view of Satan is absolutely unique. This is what D&C 76 has to say about him:

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The Latter-day Saint understanding of Satan largely comes from D&C 76. it also comes from a collection of restoration scripture in the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Moses.

Judaism does not foster a concrete idea of Satan with a captial “s.” The ό σατάν or שטן of the Bible is largely viewed as a more generic “adversary” to God in his Divine Council, more than a evil-incarnate devil. Think of it like a prosecuting attorney. There is a designated individual in God’s court assigned to being the opposition to God to help with the decision making process.

Our Latter-day Saint understanding of Satan expands this in teaching that this designated adversary in the Divine Council at some point rebelled against God, opposed his plan, and was cast out of the Divine Council to forever be “the Devil”

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We get the sense that by 600 B.C., the average Jew didn’t have the same understanding of Satan that we do in the Mormon church. But wait, didn’t Lehi teach about Satan? Good point. Yes, Lehi did teach about the nature of Satan, but 2 Nephi 2:17 clearly states that Lehi “supposed” that Satan must have been a thing based on his studies. This isn’t some already established truth that Lehi is teaching, but rather a theological expansion based on his own studies and personal revelation.

Three Degrees of Glory

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Split the class into 4 groups. Assign each group a block of scripture to read. Have the class members identify unique features of each kingdom.

  • Who will dwell in this kingdom?
  • What is this kingdom like?
  • What is the glory of this kingdom?
  • What part of the godhead can dwell in this kingdom?

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After giving class members time to read, go through each kingdom and write their answers on the board.

Outer Darkness

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Telestial Glory

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Terrestrial Glory

15

Celestial Glory

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Greek Side Note

Sometimes we use 1 Corinthians 15 as a “proof text” for our understanding of the 3 degrees of glory. However, it’s helpful to make sure we’re looking at this scripture in context.

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While this scripture appears to be talking about the Celestial and Terrestrial kingdom and the glory of their heralded logos (sun, moon, stars), that is actually just a product of the King James Translation.

When you look at the Greek, what the King James Version translates as “Celestial” is just έπουράνια, or “heavenly.”

What the King James Version translates as “Terrestiral” is the word έπίγΡια, or “earthly”.

All Paul is saying, is that the glory of heavenly things compares to the glory of earthly things in the way that the glory of the sun differs from the moon.

Still a beautiful concept. Just not proof that Paul was teaching the Three Degrees of Glory.

Conclusion

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Bring together the whole conversation by asking the class why we should learn about the Plan of Salvation. What is it about the Three Degrees of Glory that gives us hope?

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I think that the most important reason to study the Three Degrees of Glory, is that as we do so, we more fully recognize the magnitude and mercy of the Atonement. Jesus Christ suffered all, so that we could become as glorious as Him. He suffered for our sins so that we could enter into His presence and eventually become as gods. Because he loves us.

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