The commandment to treat our bodies as temples has particular meaning for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes referred to as Mormons. Mormons consider temples to be the House of God, a place where a person can feel the Holy Spirit and receive personal revelation from God.
Our bodies are a gift from God, made in His image, which gives them a unique importance as a gift. The Bible teaches:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
The Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, dwells in our hearts to guide us and comfort us. As a member of the Godhead, it cannot dwell in unclean places and so we need to create a habitat for it that is appropriate. If we are not living appropriately, we are not receptive to the teachings of the Spirit.
Daniel teaches us to respect our bodies
In the Bible, Daniel, as a young man, was taken captive with his three friends. The goal was to train these selected young men for leadership. They were to be given the wine and meat the king partook of, but Daniel refused. He insisted on a healthier diet and refused to drink the wine, wanting only water instead. When the person in charge protested, he offered a trial period. At the end of the trial, the four boys were far healthier than the others and all were fed as they had been. He understood the importance of being careful about what we take into our bodies, even when it means standing up to common wisdom.
Mormons today have a health code known as the Word of Wisdom. It teaches members to avoid alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, coffee, and tea. It encourages the use of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, with meat being eaten sparingly. While these were considered odd in the time in which it was revealed, today we know this is an appropriate way to eat.
Law of Chastity
In addition to health rules, treating our body as a temple also includes sexual purity. Mormons consider marriage to be sacred and teach that God intended certain behaviors to be appropriate only within a marriage. Sexual activity outside marriage is a violation of God’s teachings and shows a lack of respect for our bodies and for ourselves. Mormons teach their young people—male and female—to maintain appropriate limitations in their dating activities, and, when married, to be faithful to their spouses.
Related to this is modesty in dress and appearance. Mormons dress fashionably and in modern ways, but choose clothing that covers the back, shoulders, stomach, and legs above the knees. These rules apply to both men and women.
Mormons also try to monitor what media they take into their minds. They choose moral music, books, and movies. The purity of their mind can impact all other aspects of purity and so it is important to protect it.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).
When we keep our bodies and minds pure, we invite the Holy Ghost to be our companion and make it possible to have the blessings that accompany His presence. The Holy Spirit is our source of truth, so we have to be ready at any time to be worthy of knowing whether or not a new idea is true. It also provides us with safety and can issue warnings in times of danger. The Holy Spirit brings comfort when we’re alone or frightened. It is a gift worth making sacrifices for.
Having the Holy Ghost in my life has made a tremendous difference. I am not one who likes to guess about things, and so I’m happy to be able to take my important questions and decisions to God, who can answer me through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Read more on how our bodies are temples at LDS.org.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.