As I mentioned in a prior post, my son got married last weekend in the Mesa Arizona Temple. The bride's father is not a member of the church and was bothered by the fact that he could not witness the marriage of his daughter. All five of his children are married in the temple, so that means he has felt 'left out' several times.
I had a chance to talk briefly with him outside the temple, and he said he doesn't understand, because he's a good Christian man who tries to do right in his life - and I believe him, knowing the rest of his family. I struggled for the right words to say, knowing that he probably has heard it all before, and that the slightest misstatement by me could just make things worse. This was obviously one of those times where speaking without the guidance of the Holy Ghost was just plain dangerous.
My wife mentioned that it was like going into a mountain, referring to the temple being like the 'mountain of the Lord's house' etc. The bride's father responded by saying that he feels closest to God when he is in the mountains. Hmmm... where to go from here? My father-in-law, who is a sealer, and who performed the ceremony, had the opportunity to speak briefly with him. I don't know what was said, but if anyone could come up with the right words, it would be my father-in-law.
Among the many books I have reading in my personal gospel study time, I have been reading 'The Holy Temple' by President Packer. Tonight I read a passage which says that the real essence of what makes a temple special is the Spirit. There is a quote in the book that says "When the people stray from the Spirit their sanctuary ceases to be the house of the Lord." I thought of how this applies to our bodies as temples, as well as to the structures.
In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, the Apostle Paul said: "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.
So I conclude that it takes people who are 'living temples', where the Spirit can dwell, to enter the House of the Lord. In common terms, it takes a person who is not just 'a good person', but a person who has received the gift of the Holy Ghost, who heeds its promptings, and who has accepted sacred covenants to be much more than just a 'good person' by the world's standards.
So how do I explain this to a good Christian non-member father without offending him or sounding self-righteous? This really is a tough one for me. I have been blessed with a great ability to articulate my beliefs and to defend truth. Sometimes I run into a challenge. This issue is more than just a challenge. The only direction I can think of is to align the sacred privacy of temple marriage (and other ordinances) with the accepting of eternal covenants which the world does not understand, and that it can only be received through the restored authority of the holy priesthood. But how will that appease an alienated non-member father? Your comments and insights are welcome.