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.

Advertisements

D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 25: Priesthood the Power of Godliness

D&C 84 & D&C 107

I thought this week’s lesson would be a challenge, because this is generally my reaction when I hear we’re having a lesson on priesthood:

31179_all_009_01-meeting

Image result for anti women

Image result for church sleeping

Men. Stuffy. White shirts. No women. Boring. When I hear we’re having a lesson on the priesthood, it’s really easy for me to want to check out.

HOWEVER, I am pleased to say that preparing this lesson was a rewarding experience and I really learned a lot.

THIS is what God wants us to think about when we think about the priesthood:

Image result for council in heaven

The priesthood is the power of God. With the priesthood, we can serve in the ministering of angels, have access to the key of the knowledge of God, and ultimately become like God.

Historical Context

Like with all scripture, we need to make sure we put section 84 in context.

This revelation was received in 1832 in Kirtland Ohio.

It was received in the presence of either 6 or 10 recently returned missionaries on either September 22 or September 23 (or both).

By the time this revelation had been received, both the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods had been restored, and the temple site at Far West Missouri had been dedicated. There’s some discrepancy about whether the Melchizedek priesthood was restored in 1829 or 1831, but suffice it to say that by 1832 we had it.

Joseph and God had the temple on the brain. God reminds Joseph in this revelation to work towards building a temple in Far West in D&C 84:2-3

Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

Here’s a picture of the temple plot today:

Image result for far west temple site

The Lord makes clear throughout this revelation that the priesthood is inseparably connected with the temple, but the Saints wouldn’t really understand what that meant until the institution of temple teachings and ordinances later:

timeline

Moses and the Israelites

D&C 84:6-16, 23-26 talks about Moses. Why? Because “foes oppose us, we take an honest stand. We roll like Moses, claiming our promised land.”

Image result for moses

Just kidding, Hamilton aside, the Lord spends a whopping dozen verses talking about Moses for a couple reasons. First, it serves as a historical prologue in an ancient covenant treaty pattern. But you don’t care about that. The more important reason is that God wanted to inspire Joseph and the Saints to succeed where the Israelites had failed.

Image result for moses sinai

After delivering the children of Israel out of Egypt, Moses went up to Sinai to meet with the Lord face to face. He went to receive the new law and covenant that they would now live under. Moses wanted to bring the Israelites into the presence of God because he believed that they could and should know God personally.

Image result for ten commandments golden calf

However, you know the story, the Israelites were idiots. As depicted in this screenshot of The Ten Commandments, they started worshiping a golden calf and were laying out girls on moving carts. Seriously? How stupid do you have to be? Her leg is practically wedged into the spoke of the wheel. One wrong move and she’d be flung under the cart with a grotesquely broken leg. Not cool, Israelites.

Long story short, the Lord decided that they weren’t ready for the higher priesthood, so they were left with only the Aaronic priesthood and a set of carnal commandments for officiating in the Law of Moses.

Image result for moses aaron priesthood

Now the million dollar question is: Can Joseph succeed where Moses failed? God wants all his children to be able to enter his presence and his divine council. Will the Saints be able to live up to this higher law and officiate in ordinances of the Melchizedek priesthood? Spoiler: Yes.

Image result for joseph smith

Roles and Responsibilities of the 2 Priesthoods

2-priesthoods

At this point, I split the class into 2 groups and had them each research the roles and responsibilities of that respective priesthood. After I gave them time to read the assigned scriptures, we detailed on the whiteboard what those different roles and responsibilities were. Here’s just an example:

Aaronic

Melchizedek

Ministering of Angels
Carnal commandments

Preparatory Gospel

Faith, Repentance, Baptism

Office of Deacon, Teacher, Priest, (Bishop)

Key to the Knowledge of God

Spiritual matters

Higher priesthood

Named after Melchizedek, the high priest

Offices of Elder, High Priest, Patriarch, 12, 70, etc.

Melchizedek Priesthood: The Key of the Knowledge of God

Let’s start with the Melchizedek Priesthood. D&C 84 indicates that a unique feature of this priesthood is that it holds the “key of the knowledge of god” (v. 19). What does that even mean? Well your temple bells should be going off right now.

Key of the Knowledge of God = Knowing special secrets of God

In the Bible, as well as in Egyptian & Greco-Roman mystery cults, when it talks about special or secret knowledge about God, they’re talking about temple stuff. Temples are about coming into the presence of God and being admitted into God’s divine council. One enters that divine council by being worthy and obtaining special knowledge of God.

Image result for tongue of angels

Both Lehi and Nephi indicate that they have had visions of this divine council (seeing God on his throne surrounded by numberless concourses of angles), and were admitted in. Ezekiel also had such a vision, as have many prophets.

This “special knowledge” is not just knowledge from God, but it’s also knowledge about God. We learn about who He is and what His nature is. We learn of his plan and his desires for us.

The key of the knowledge of God then, is about obtaining special ritual knowledge that can help you enter into the Lord’s presence again. We obtain this knowledge by officiating in ordinances of the Melchizedek priesthood.

Key of the Knowledge of God = knowing God

Image result for god the father lds

While using a temple context is useful, it’s not the only way to look at the scripture. You can also interpret it as: Having the Melchizedek Priesthood is how we can come to know God better.

The Melchizedek Priesthood is the power of God, and by using it, we are exercising His power. Coming to know God is how we can ultimately have salvation and eternal life:

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

SoΒ knowing God is a prerequisite for eternal life. At least, that’s one way to look at the verse.

Key of the Knowledge of God = Becoming as God

Image result for god on his throne

Saying knowledge is a prerequisite for eternal life is a completely valid interpretation, but sometimes I like to look at it as saying that eternal life is a prerequisite for truly knowing God. (especially when you look at the Greek’s use of ΞΉΞ½Ξ± “in order that”)

If you take John 17:3, and interpret it as:

This is life eternal. This is the purpose and joy of eternal life: getting to know God up close and personal

all of a sudden, we become peers with God. Eternal Life is an opportunity for us to learn at the feet of the Creator of the Universe. We can become like Him. We can create. We can only harness these powers of creation with faith and the Melchizedek priesthood.

Aaronic Priesthood: The Ministering of Angels

This priesthood is the lesser priesthood, it’s true, but it doesn’t mean it’s not impressive. If anything, we take the power of the Aaronic priesthood too lightly and don’t realize the sacred magnitude this priesthood contains.

What is the ministering of Angels?

Image result for angels walter rane
Painting by Walter Rane

The ministering of Angels is to participate in the work that the angels do. What do angels do? They comfort, they deliver messages, they serve God, they give warning, they protect, they perform miracles by virtue of the priesthood.

The ministering of angels is not only to do what angels would do, but to also interact with angels.

Angel in Greek literally just means “messenger,” so an angel can be anyone, but I’m going to relate some quotes and accounts on real experiences with angels. Angels are real, they are all around us, and they help us accomplish God’s work.

Joseph Smith

The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the World of Spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire they are not far from us and know and understand our thoughts and feelings and notions and are often pained therewith. (History of the Church 6:51-52)

Brigham Young

The Lord’s angels are around us…There is much in my presence besides those who site here, if we had eyes to see the heavenly beings that are in our presence (Discourses of Brigham Young, 41-42)

Wilford Woodruff

The angels are watching over us. The eyes of all the heavenly hosts are over us. Those who have lived in other dispensations understand this dispensation far better than we do, and they are watching over the labors of the Elders of Israel. (Bateman,Β Prophets Have Spoken, 1:1046)

James E. Talmage

Because of God’s great love, He has set heavenly beings to watch over us and to guard us from the attacks of evil powers while we live on earth. Do we realize that in our daily walk and work we are not alone, Β but that angels attend us wherever our duty causes us to go? (Millenial Star 55 [July 10, 1893]: 446)

Accounts of Angelic Visits

Image result for angels walter rane

The following accounts are all taken from Donald Parry,Β Angels: Agents of Light, Love, and Power (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2013).

Joseph Smith and Allen Stout

A story about Joseph Smith and his bodyguard Allen Stout provides yet another example of an encounter with a translated person who concealed his angelic status while fulfilling his mission upon the earth. As Joseph Smith and Allen Stout were walking on a road west of the Mississippi River, “they saw a man walking along a road leading in from the south and coming towards them. The Prophet told Allen to remain where he was while he stepped over to speak with this pedestrian. Allen turned his back towards them and for a time forgot the Prophet and became engaged with his own thoughts, while he stood whipping a low bush with the cane he carried.

“The hand of the Prophet upon his shoulder aroused him. The Prophet said, ‘We must return immediately to Nauvoo.’ They walked silently and rapidly. Allen became very sorrowful over his recreancy to his duty and could not refrain from weeping. The Prophet asked him why he wept. Allen confessed, ‘I am an insufficient bodyguardβ€”criminally neglectful of your welfare. I allowed that man you met to speak with you without even being ready to defend if he attacked you. He could have killed you and made his escape without my knowing who he is, which way he went or what he even looks like. You will have to dispense with my services and take a guard on which you can depend. Your life is too precious to be trusted to my care.’

“The Prophet then said, ‘That man would not harm me. You saw John the Revelator.'” (McConkie,Β Remembering Joseph, 210-211)

Sherrie’s Shield of Faith

This account, quoted inΒ Angels, came from anΒ Ensign article from 1995. The article is about a little girl named Sherrie who had to endure a 14-hour operation and was comforted in her recovery with many angelic visitors:

Following the surgery, Clayne and Debbie spent the day praying fervently and taking turns keeping vigil at Sherrie’s bedside. As he watched his red-haired daughter sleep in a curtained cubicle that night, Clayne worried that she might die, as Dr. Walker had warned. But Sherrie awoke the next morning and immediately began speaking. A feeling of reverence engulfed the cubicle. For a moment, Clayne was puzzled by Sherrie’s words.

β€œDaddy, Aunt Cheryl is here,” she told her father. β€œAnd another lady I don’t know is with her.” Clayne and an attending nurse, the only ones at Sherrie’s bedside, glanced at each other. Sherrie continued.

β€œGrandpa Norman [Sherrie’s deceased great-grandfather] and Grandma Brown [Sherrie’s deceased great-great-grandmother] are here. And Daddy, who is that standing beside you?”

β€œI don’t know, honey,” Clayne replied. β€œWho does he look like?”

β€œHe looks like you, only taller.” Sherrie paused, then continued. β€œHe says he’s your brother, Jimmy.”

Clayne was three when Jimmy, ten years his senior, died of cystic fibrosis. β€œI doubt that during Sherrie’s life Jimmy’s name had ever been mentioned,” Clayne says. β€œShe had never even seen a picture of him.”

Clayne, feeling that Sherrie’s death was imminent, hurried from the intensive care unit to awaken Debbie, who was sleeping in the hospital’s parent room. β€œThere are visitors,” he told his wife. β€œI can’t see them, and I doubt that you can see them. But I can feel them.”

For nearly an hour, Sherrie looked about the cubicle and described her visitors, all deceased family members. Exhausted, she then fell asleep.

β€œDaddy, all of the children here in the intensive care unit have angels helping them,” Sherrie later told her father. Other visits and sacred experiences, before and after subsequent surgeries and during painful tests and procedures, followed.

β€œPeople from the other side helped,” Sherrie recalls tearfully. β€œWhen I was really in pain, they would come and help me calm down. They told me that I would be okay and that I would make it through.”

Wilford Woodruff and the Deathly Hallows

This account slightly reminiscent of the legend of the Deathly Hallows in Harry Potter, but teaches a great principle

At general conference in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, President Wilford Woodruff related another account wherein someone from the world of spirits came to receive a mortal at death. President Woodruff told of a deceased man named Peter Maughan, who had appeared to three mortals with the goal of appointing one of them to die. Peter went to the first and and conversed with him but concluded that he would not “call” that man to come to the other side of the veil. Peter then went to the second man, who, like the first, was not taken in death. The third man, days later, “was taken sick and died.” President Woodruff concluded: “Now, I name this to show a principle. They have work on the other side of the vail; and they want men, and they call them. And that was my view in regard to Brother George A. Smith. When he was almost at death’s door, Brother Cannon administered to him, and in thirty minutes he was up and ate breakfast with his family. We labored with him in this way, but ultimately, as you know, he died. But it taught me a lesson. I felt that man was wanted behind the vail.” (Journal of Discourses, 22:334)

Harold Be. Lee and the train accident

This account comes from Harold B. Lee. He tells the story of John and Almena Wells, who lost their son in a train accident.

President Harold B. Lee related the tragic experience of John Wells, a member of the Presiding Bishopric, and his wife, Almena, when their son was killed by a freight train in a canyon near Salt Lake City, Utah. Both parents experienced deep sorrow and heartache, but President Lee explained, “Sister Wells was inconsolable.” Her mourning and grieving, which began when she first heard of the accident and continued through the funeral, did not seem to help. She was “in a rather serious state of mind.” Soon after the funeral, while Sister Wells was mourning on her bed, “her son appeared to her and said, ‘Mother do not mourn, do not cry. I am all right.'” Her son explained the nature of the accident, that he had tripped on a root and fell on the tracks as the train passed. “He said that as soon as he realized that he was in another environment he tried to see his father, but couldn’t reach him. His father was so busy with the duties in his office he could not respond to his call. Therefore he had come to his mother. He said to her, ‘You tell Father that all is well with me, and I want you not to mourn any more.'” Bishop and Sister Wells’s son had appeared as a ministering spirit to comfort his parents after his untimely death. (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 415.

Conclusion

I ran out of time by this point, so I simply ended by sharing a couple angelic experiences of my own and bearing my testimony of the reality of angels.

As fantastic and incredible as these angelic experiences are, mortals can serve angelic roles too. The Aaronic priesthood requires that we engage in the ministering of angels. Even though it would be amazing for a glorified person in white to come up to you and say “everything’s going to be ok,” it is just as powerful to have an ordinary person in jeans to come up to you and say “everything’s going to be ok.” We can, and should be angels in each others’ lives. Giving inspired priesthood blessings is one of the best ways we can serve as angels to others and be a conduit for God’s revelation.

Additional Tidbits

Covenant Treaty Pattern

For those few interested in ancient covenant-making practices, section 84 fits an ancient covenant treaty pattern pretty well. In other words, this section follows the same pattern of covenant making found in the Bible and the ancient Near East. No wonder it’s calledΒ The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. Joseph Smith must have been really lucky if he made that up.

treaty

Singing with the Tongue of Angels

You should read Book of Mormon Central’s KnoWhy on Speaking with the Tongue of Angels for more information, but basically, the end of D&C 84 makes the same promise as 2 Nephi 32:2

Speaking with the Tongue of Angels means that you can entered into the Divine Council and have entered the presence of God. You are associating with, and speaking with, angels. literally.

D&C 84:98 talks about how if you are faithful, you will eventuallyΒ know God. You will be filled withΒ the knowledge of God. You will see the Lord face to face (“eye to eye”). This is a typical heavenly ascent pattern. Once you obtain knowledge, you can enter the presence of God. Once admitted into the divine council, you can speak/sing with the tongue of angels. And what do you know, what comes right after verse 98? AN ANGELIC SONG. LITERALLY.

They evenΒ typeset this section of D&C in verse instead of in prose. I haven’t done a lot of research on this one, but I don’t think this is a direct quote from any Old or New Testament scripture. I think this is God’s song. This is the song that all shall sing when they enter the presence of God and it’s beautiful. It’s reminiscent of the Song of the Sea in Exodus and songs in Isaiah.

tongue