The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church of ordinances and covenants. The ordinances are ordained of God. "They are essential to our salvation and exaltation. Through the sacred ordinances of the gospel, we learn of His kingdom and learn of Him, we enter into holy and eternal covenants, and we receive an endowment of divine power in our lives."1


In many congregations the emphasis upon ordinances has been replaced by grace and faith. Yet the Mormon Church, as well as The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, teaches the "importance both on the role of ordinances and covenants and on the necessity of divine authority to administer them." 2


The obtaining of ordinances is a progressive process. This progression of ordinances teaches members about their own salvation and the nature of God. "Worthy participation in sacred gospel ordinances changes our lives and brings blessings and power to us that we would otherwise not enjoy. The power of the Atonement itself is unlocked by sacred gospel ordinances that are performed under the keys of the priesthood. Remission of sins is extended through the ordinance of baptism. Confirmation brings with it the promise of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood opens the way for 'every man [to] speak in the name of God' by teaching, blessing, and comforting others. Worthy participation in the holy ordinances of the temple reveals our eternal possibilities and places us in a position to realize them." 3


Baptism washes a person clean from all sin and unlocks the gates of heaven. It is required to return to our Father in Heaven. Because baptism is a required ordinance (Mark 16:16), members do proxy baptisms for the dead within their temples, thus allowing those that did not have a chance to be baptized on earth to receive the ordinance, with the option to accept or reject it.


After members have been baptized they receive the ordinance of the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). The Holy Ghost is a comforter, teacher, and guide to all worthy members of the Church.


Another ordinance is the priesthood. At age twelve worthy boys receive the Aaronic Priesthood, followed by the Melchizedek Priesthood at age eighteen, in preparation for becoming a missionary. The priesthood is the power of God upon earth. It allows men to act in His name and gives them the power to perform sacred ordinances that bind on earth and in heaven.


Other ordinances are only performed within Mormon temples, such as the endowment and sealing ordinances. Of the temple endowment President Brigham Young taught, "Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels." 4 It is a series of instructions and covenants made between God and each member.


The sealing ordinance is performed in the temple during an eternal marriage. It seals families together and assures that family ties will continue beyond the grave. If a couple who is sealed are already parents, their children also participate in that sealing.

Mormons participate in these ordinances because as the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose." 5


1. Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Ordinances and Covenants," Ensign, Aug. 2001, 20

2. Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Ordinances and Covenants," Ensign, Aug. 2001, 20

3. Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Ordinances and Covenants," Ensign, Aug. 2001, 20

4. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 302.

5. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 324; emphasis in original.