Topic Study: Body, Sanctity of

(November 2002 TG Entry: Body, Sanctity of.  Given as a youth fireside in the Woodridge II ward.  Given again November 2006. )


We are temple, wherein the Spirit of God dwells.  But we are temples in more than just that one way.  We are sacred places, and should treat ourselves as we treat the temples.  We should keep sacred things sacred.

I             Sacred or Personal “Stuff”

[In the second use of this talk, I took my box of “stuff”, , and told the youth the story of my teaching seminary as written under Trustworthiness. Forward Reference.  I then asked them if they had a box of stuff, and if they felt they could share it with anyone?  They said no.  I asked why?

I also talked about the fragile nature of holding a new born baby, to make the point that certain things can easily break.  Understanding the importance of my “stuff” is something that is a bit fragile.

Afterwards someone suggested that one of the youth had a box of “stuff” that was shared with a girl friend, and now he wondered what he should do with it.  I thought that might be an interesting addition to the talk; sharing things before the right time.  I think I have some notes from girls in high school, that I could contrast with the notes from my wife before we got married, and the difference in value.]

II            We are Temples

16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Cor. 3:16 – 17)

What do we usually think of when we think of that scripture?  We usually think of keeping it clean.  We think of President Hinckley’s talk:

Did you ever think that your body is holy? You are a child of God. Your body is His creation. Would you disfigure that creation with portrayals of people, animals, and words painted into your skin?

I promise you that the time will come, if you have tattoos, that you will regret your actions. They cannot be washed off. They are permanent. Only by an expensive and painful process can they be removed. If you are tattooed, then probably for the remainder of your life you will carry it with you. I believe the time will come when it will be an embarrassment to you. Avoid it. We, as your Brethren who love you, plead with you not to become so disrespectful of the body which the Lord has given you.  (Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” New Era, Jan. 2001, 4)

Certainly, this is one important way to think of this scripture.  But consider with me another meaning to this scripture.  I think we are like a temple in more than one way.

III           Tabernacle Structure

What was the structure of the Tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness?  It had 4 areas.

  1. Outside the temple
  2. The Outer Court
  3. The Holy
  4. The Holy of Holies


(see Old Testament Institute manual page 155)

I believe these four areas are similar to each of us.  Each of us has what we might call four types of “relationships” with others.  In very broad categories, they are:

  1. Strangers.  These are by far the most people we will interact with in our lives.  This category includes people who are at the same baseball game we are at, or people we pass in the mall.  We might make eye contact, or even say, “Excuse me”.  But short of that we don’t know anything more about them than what we can see.
  2. Acquaintances.  This includes people who, usually at a minimum, we have heard their name and they have heard ours.  We might have a very brief interaction with these people, or it might go on for years.  They might be people in our same grade at school, or co-workers or neighbors.  But we rarely disclose something to these people that we would not tell anyone else, such as our names, where we live, what we do for a living, etc.
  3. Friends.  This is obviously a still smaller group of people.  We share more information, experience and trust with these people.
  4. Family.  This is usually a smaller group still.  It should be the place that we feel the safest.  These people should know the most about us—often the good and the bad.

IV          Trust and Sharing

How are these four groups of people like a temple?  Before we answer that, let’s read another scripture.

9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. (Alma 12:9 – 10)

What does this scripture mean?  It means that we grow over time to learn more about God and His ways.  As we are trustworthy, he teaches us more and more.  But if we are not trustworthy, we learn less.

I heard President Marion G. Romney once counsel mission presidents and their wives in Geneva, ‘I do not tell all I know; I have never told my wife all I know, for I found out that if I talked too lightly of sacred things, thereafter the Lord would not trust me.’   (Boyd K. Packer, “Candle of the Lord”, Ensign Jan. 1983 Speaking Today section)

Have you ever had the experience of having shared something personal with someone, only to find out later that that person didn’t keep your confidence?  Perhaps you defined them as a friend, but found out later that someone you considered an acquaintance knew what you had said.

How did it make you feel towards your “friend?”

Did you trust them?

Did you share anything new with them?

People who go through the temple are put under obligation not to speak of the things in the temple outside of it.  Why is that?  Because the Lord is sharing his sacred things with them, and he wants to control how and when and with whom those things are shared.  It is His knowledge.  He has the right to determine who is trustworthy and who is not.

We are temples.  We have things that are sacred, and holy, and are to be kept that way.  We should guard them, and be very careful whom we would share them with.

[See also Trustworthiness Forward Reference]

V           Parts of the Whole

Have you ever considered what makes up you?  Have you ever divided yourself into different areas of you life?

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:52)

2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. (D&C 4:2)

28 ¶ And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:28 – 30)

Consider the following:

Area Luke 2:52 D&C 4:2 Mark 12:30
Spiritual Favor with God Might Soul
Mental Wisdom Mind Mind
Physical Stature Strength Strength
(Social = External, Emotional = Internal)
Favor with Man Heart Heart

VI          Sacredness

In each of these areas of our lives, we have a temple.  There are things that are very sacred, very spiritual, which should not be shared with just anyone.  For example, our patriarchal blessings should be something we hold in our holy of holies.  It is probably best to only share it with members of your family, and then perhaps not all of them.

There are things that the Savior considers so sacred; he has revealed them to very few.  For example:

4 Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.

5 Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them.  And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord.

6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.

7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are. (Ether 4:4 – 7)

There are other things that we should guard carefully.  Emotionally, perhaps, we should be careful in sharing some of our dreams and goals.  There might be things that we have learned that others would not easily understand, or ridicule.  We should guard such.

And certainly there are things that are physical that we must not share, only in the bonds of marriage.

VII         Be One

Why is all of this important?  Is there no time in which we should share these things?

Let’s read what the Savior said in his great, last prayer, prior to going to the garden of Gethsemane.

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21 – 23)

How is God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost one?

The Savior has commanded us, as saints to be one.

24 And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me.

25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.

27….  I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine. (D&C 38:24-25, 27)

What is the commandment to a couple when married?

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Gen. 2:24)

Being one means that we have the same goals, objectives, dreams, and knowledge.  When we are one, we are in that center circle.  We trust each other.

The greatest joy in life comes from having someone that we trust completely, that we are one with, in our hopes and dreams; someone that we can share ourselves with completely.

VIII       Defiled

[Addition about “stuff”:  I also talked about Elie Wiesel’s book “Night”, and the description of stuff left hanging around the Warsaw ghetto when everyone left.  “The procession disappeared around the corner.  A few steps more and they were beyond the ghetto walls.  The street resembled fairgrounds deserted in haste.  There was a little of everything: suitcases, briefcases, bags, knives, dishes, banknotes, papers, faded portraits.  All the things one planned to take along and finally left behind.  They had ceased to matter.”  If what is sacred become common (or “profane,” from Latin, pro = before, fannus = temple, or literally outside the temple), then it has been defiled.]

So what happens if we don’t follow these guidelines?  What is the impact of not treating sacred things sacredly?  Here is what the Lord said:

35 The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple. (D&C 93:35)

If we share our most scared things with someone who does not hold them as sacred, we defile our holy of holies.  We open it for anyone to enter.  It becomes common.  It might become a place of derision.

If we do not protect our most scared places, no one else will.

15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;

16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.

17 But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples. (D&C 97:15 – 17)


But what if you have had a problem, have defiled the temple in some way?  How do you sanctify a temple again?  Consider this quote from Elder McConkie:  “The temples of the future [new covenant] are the bodies of the saints; and the sacrifices of the future are a broken heart and a contrite spirit. (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, Vol.1, p.499)”

In the same way we represent temples, which at their heart anciently had sacrifices performed to cleanse the people from sin, in our day, our sacrifice should happen in the same way.  We all come short of the mark, and all of us are required to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit.


We should remember that we are the temples of God.  We should keep scared things sacred, in our spiritual, social/emotional, physical and mental lives.  We should strive to be one with our family and our spouse.  We must see that scared things are not defiled.

Related Hymns

How Beautiful Thy Temples, Lord Hymn number:  (288)

Verse 1

How beautiful thy temples, Lord!
Each one a sacred shrine,
Where faithful Saints, with one accord,
Engage in work divine.
How beautiful some aid to give
To dear ones we call dead,
But who indeed as spirits live;
They’ve only gone ahead.

Verse 2

How beautiful thy message, Lord,
The gospel, pure and true,
In these our days to earth restored
And taught to men anew.
How beautiful its faith and hope;
All mankind it would save,
Including in its aim and scope
The souls beyond the grave.

Verse 3

How beautiful thy promise, Lord,
That we may grow in truth,
And live, exalted by thy word,
In endless, glorious youth.
With loved ones sealed in holiness
By sacred temple rites,
Worlds without end we may progress
From heights to greater heights.

Rise, Ye Saints, and Temples Enter Hymn number:  (287)

Verse 1

Rise, ye Saints, and temples enter;
Seek the path that leads ahead.
Seal in everlasting circles
All our loved ones, quick and dead.

Verse 2

Learn the plan of exaltation;
With His sacred laws comply.
Live to earn in binding cov’nant
Blessings of our God most high.

Verse 3

Elohim, thou great designer,
Wilt thou heaven’s pow’rs bestow,
As thy faithful sons and daughters
Serve in temples here below.

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