Becoming Temple Guardians and Gardeners
In June, the Oakland Temple was rededicated. This was my temple in graduate school. Not only did I attend it, I worked there as a groundskeeper and later as a night a watchman. My work protecting the Oakland temple and making its grounds look beautiful has caused me to reflect often over the years on how guarding and grooming a temple might apply to how we should take care of our bodily temples.
The apostle Paul says “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16.)
Whether a building or a body, temples are sacred sites for the Spirit to dwell. We properly guard both kinds of temples against whatever would profane them and groom them to be comely, fit tabernacles for the Spirit.
As profoundly sacred spaces, our temple edifices are closed to the eyes of the world. They are places of purity, to be treated with respect. Temples mediate marvelous blessings to those who have made solemn covenants. Some things that occur in temples are so sacred that they are to be spoken of, if at all, with reverence. These same principles also apply to bodily temples. The Lord expects us to protect the sanctity of our own and others’ personal temples by being guardians of virtue. We become such guardians by living chaste, pure lives.
Likewise, the Lord expects us to be caretakers of our bodily temples. The Church goes to great effort to ensure that its temples are beautiful on the outside as well as on the inside. As a gardener at the Oakland Temple, I spent many hours grooming the temple grounds—weeding, watering, planting, and doing all I could to make the exterior reflect the sacred spirit inside the Lord’s holy house. The Lord expects us similarly to groom and care for our physical tabernacles making it a fitting sanctuary for His Spirit to dwell with ours. We become good groundskeepers of our personal temples by caring for them physically and clothing them modestly.
As a temple groundskeeper, I was daily reminded of the importance maintaining comely, clean, dignified surroundings for the Oakland Temple. As a temple guard, I was reminded every night of the need to protect the sanctity of a House of the Lord. Many years have passed since I was a gardener and guard at the Oakland Temple. But in a deeper sense, I have never ceased being a temple gardener and guard. Nor have you.
We all must become good gardeners and guardians of our personal temple by practicing modesty and virtue. These principles, enshrined in the Honor Code, help us learn in temples of learning that resemble His.
[For those interested in further reflections on this topic, I am attaching a link to a talk I gave some years ago on modesty entitled “To Clothe a Temple”: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1992/08/to-clothe-a-temple?lang=eng]