Mormon temples are extremely beautiful, extravagant buildings. Wherever they are built, the grounds are kept to immaculate perfection and the building is ornate and gorgeous.
For some, this may beg the question “Why does God need his church to spend so much money on an extravagant building?” I can understand this sentiment and I’ve wondered the same thing.
In short, I believe the answer is that God does not need elaborate buildings. I’ve been to churches in Brazil in dirty rented out offices with an inflatable pool for a baptismal font. In those churches I was able to learn of Christ just the same as in modern churches in the United States.
However, I do want to do the very best I can to show respect for God. So I believe wherever I am able to provide a beautiful place to meet and talk about God, then that would of course be better. God needs no lavish buildings. Christ was born in a stable. However, that same Christ went multiple times to worship at the extravagantly built temple.
Does the Bible Have Examples of Extravagant Temples?
Yes, it most certainly does. In fact, God many times told the prophets of old precisely how a temple was supposed to be built–down to the dimensions and floor plan and exactly how each service was to be performed. You can read more about this in the book of Kings and Hebrews in the Bible.
Solomon’s Temple, as recorded in the Bible, took 20 years to build the huge and extravagant building. It stood for over 400 years and had 9 foot thick walls.
Why Doesn’t This Money Go to the Poor Instead?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) donates a tremendous amount of money to the poor. In fact, I dare say that members of the Church donate more per capita than any other religion I know.
Each month, members of the Church fast (do not eat or drink for 24 hours) and use that time to pray for those in need. They also use the money that would have been spent on those meals, plus a generous extra amount, to donate to the poor and needy around the world. Sacrifice and doing good for the poor is one of the central tenets of our religion.
In 2015 (most recent year of data available), members of the Church spent over 850,000 hours donated to humanitarian projects. They used funds to bring clean water to over 680,000 people; They gave wheel chairs to 52,000 people in countries where they could not be afforded; They gave eye glasses to over half a million people in need, etc.
Mormons can be faulted for many things. I’m not a perfect person and fail frequently. However, in the Church’s efforts to do good around the world and use our money in the best way we know how, there could be little room to complain.
Why Do Mormons Donate Money to Build Temples, Feed the Poor, Etc?
It’s because we want to do what Christ taught us to do. We want to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give comfort to the sick and the afflicted.
No one in the Church gets rich off the donations made by its members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has an almost entirely lay ministry. This means that local pastors (called bishops) are not paid. The same is true of youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, primary teachers, stake presidents, and many others all donate their time. They are not paid for their service.
It is comforting to know that when donations are made, they are not destined to end up lining a pastor’s pocketbook. Instead, they are used as best as they can for their intended purpose–to feed the poor, build temples and churches, etc. For this, I will gladly give.
I can understand that an extravagant building may seem unnecessary; however, I’m learning that God simply wants us to do our best. God doesn’t need my tithing money.
He doesn’t need my money to feed the poor. He could do those things himself! He created the whole earth! So why does he ask us to give the best that we can for helping the needy or for building temples? Because He wants us to learn to sacrifice what we have for the good of others.