I am not going to give you a detailed description of everything that goes on inside the Temple, but I will give you a good overview.
Inside Mormon Temples, faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ receive instruction and make covenants with God. One of those covenants is eternal marriage. When a man and a woman are married in the Temple, they are married forever. The marriage covenant does not end when death occurs. It is eternal. One only needs to attend the Temple once to make these covenants for themselves. When members return to the Temple for subsequent visits, they do Temple work for their ancestors. (Please see below for a more detailed description.)
Inside the Temple, one can perform baptisms on behalf of deceased ancestors. (No baptisms for living persons are performed inside the Temple. Those are done at LDS church buildings.)
There are many individuals who died without having the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ or to be baptized. As baptism is essential, God has provided a way for all His children to receive this saving ordinance. All individuals have the opportunity to learn about the Gospel after death and can choose to accept or reject the baptism (or any other ordinance) done on their behalf.
Baptism for the dead is referred to in the New Testament of the Bible.
"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" - 1 Corinthians 15:29
Below is a picture of the Baptistry in the Washington D.C. Temple.
Another ordinance is called the Endowment. During the Endowment, one receives instruction about scriptural topics. It helps individuals understand their purpose in life, and their relationship with God. These are done for both living and deceased individuals.
Below is one of the Endowment rooms in one of the Temples. (I think it's the Draper Temple, but I'm not sure.)
Another ordinance performed in Temples are Eternal (or Celestial) Marriages. When one is married in the Temple of God, one is "sealed" or married to their spouse for eternity. When I was sealed in the Temple, I thought long and hard about whether or not I really wanted to be with my husband FOREVER. (My husband is wonderful, and I am so grateful to be married to him.)
As an interesting side note, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were married in the Temple have a lower divorce rate than the rest of society.
Here's a tidbit from the LDS Newsroom:
- Members of the Church believe that marriages performed in temples are “sealed,” or blessed to last for eternity. The concept that the family unit can continue beyond the grave as a conscious, loving entity, with the marriage partnership and parent-child relationships intact, is a core belief of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Once a couple is married and sealed in a temple, any children who are then born to them are automatically sealed to them at birth. If children are born before the couple is sealed, those children can later participate in a temple sealing with their parents. Children that are adopted also have an opportunity to be sealed to the adoptive parents.
- The concept of eternal families comes from scripture and modern-day revelation. For instance, the New Testament reference in Matthew 16:19 records Jesus Christ telling the Apostle Peter: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The Church equates the word “bind” with “seal.”
- According to research cited in a 2000 article in the Los Angeles Times, “in an era of divorce, Mormon temple weddings are built to last,” with only a 6 percent divorce rate. Another study, published in 1993 in Demography Magazine, concluded that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who marry in one of the Church's temples are the least likely of all Americans to divorce.
This is the Celestial Room in one of the Temples. In the Celestial Room, one can meditate and pray. It is incredibly peaceful. Though no ordinance work occurs in the Celestial Room, it is an important part of every Temple.
If you live near a newly constructed Mormon Temple, there will be an open house prior to it's dedication. I encourage you to take a tour of the Temple, so you can see it for yourself.