Mormons consider the temple experience to be sacred, not secret. In 1 Corinthians 3:2 it says,
“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”
Christ was always careful towards the people He taught, giving them only as much information as they could bear–”milk,” or foundational gospel knowledge, at first, and the “mysteries” (more knowledge, ordinances) after they had proven their faithfulness and had a good foundation in the gospel. There are two good examples of this in the Bible. First, Christ taught in parables, which many of His listeners did not understand. Even the Apostles were sometimes confused. Jesus set aside time later to explain the meanings of the parables to His Apostles. The Apostles asked Jesus why He spoke in parables. He answered, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matthew 13:11). This was wisdom in Christ. What would it have served the masses to receive knowledge without preparation? To the masses, Christ gave basic lessons of the gospel. As they exercised their faith in what they had received, He gave them more.
The second example is the method Christ used to teach the Apostles themselves the nature of the atonement and the reality of the resurrection. Before His crucifixion, Christ told the Apostles He would sacrifice His life for the sins of the world. He also explained that He would rise again. Yet, when Mary found an empty tomb and hastened to inform Christ’s disciples, they were dumbfounded and accused her of telling idle tales. They then verified her account by running to see the tomb themselves. Then ensued great debate among them as they tried to discern what had happened. The resurrected Christ appeared to them many times and taught them, until the whole process became clear and they could testify of it to others.
Thus, if the doors of the Mormon temple were to be flung open to people who don’t have a basic testimony and knowledge of the “restored gospel“, they would be confused and be unable to understand the significance of the temple. To protect the sacredness of the temple, a temple recommend is needed to enter into the temple. Before attending the temple, Mormons must prepare and be interviewed by their local leaders, usually the bishop and stake president. This preparation and interview are to ensure the knowledge, faith, and purity of the believer in preparation for the higher ordinances of the gospel, and added knowledge. Because there are many outside the Church who seek to mock or belittle the sacredness of the temple, Mormons are counseled to refrain from telling others the details of temple ordinances. For these reasons, Mormons try to keep details of temple practices private. It makes no sense for people who don’t have a basic understanding of Mormonism to partake in the ordinances and rituals or even to receive an inadequate explanation of them. Everything done in the temple is legal and moral. The Lord’s spirit of peace and light permeates the temple.
Often times, non-members can be offended because they cannot be included in temple worship. When a Mormon is married in the temple, only those who hold a temple recommend can attend the wedding. This often causes hurt feelings among parents and family members who are not Mormon. However, the Mormon Church is not the only church that is exclusive concerning who can and cannot enter into their most sacred places. For example, only Muslims are allowed to enter into the Kaaba at Mecca. Other religions have similar policies concerning their temples.
Becoming worthy to enter the temple is a slow and gradual process that takes much preparation. One must have the faith to be baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. One must live his life according to God’s teachings. After years of living in faith and harmony with God’s teachings, one can consider seeking a temple recommend.
The temple is literally the Lord’s abode on earth. It is a sanctuary from evil influences, a place for reflection and inspiration. The temple is as close to heaven as one can get in this mortal life.