“Most of us, most of the time, speak of the facility at Liberty as a “jail” or a “prison”—and certainly it was that. But Elder Brigham H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy, in recording the history of the Church, spoke of the facility as a temple, or, more accurately, a “prison-temple.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell used the same phrasing in some of his writings. Certainly this prison-temple lacked the purity, beauty, comfort, and cleanliness of our modern temples. The speech and behavior of the guards and criminals who came there were anything but temple-like. In fact, the restricting brutality and injustice of this experience at Liberty would make it seem the very antithesis of the liberating, merciful spirit of our temples and the ordinances performed in them.
So in what sense could Liberty Jail be called a “temple,” and what does such a title tell us about God’s love and teachings, including where and when that love and those teachings are made manifest? In precisely this sense: that you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in any situation you are in. Indeed, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced.”
Jeffrey R. Holland – From a CES Fireside given on September 7, 2008, at Brigham Young University – Reprinted in September 2009 Ensign “Lessons from Liberty Jail,” pg. 28.
This quote really encourages us to strive to have the Spirit with us no matter where we are. Being in the temple is one of those obvious places where we can feel the Spirit, but if we can feel the Spirit where ever we are, we can make our surroundings a revelatory and instructive experience. Don’t wait till you go to the temple to listen for the Lord teaching you and guiding you. He will do that no matter where you are.
- D&C 121, D&C 122, D&C 123 (All were revealed in Liberty Jail)
- Genesis 39:20-23
- Mosiah 27:14
- Bible Dictionary: Temple – Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.