What makes the temple holy? Is it the building itself that is holy? Is it the people that enter it that make it holy? Or is it the presence of God that makes it holy?
The verbiage of secular religious analysis encourages us to refer to our temples as “sacred space”, as if the space itself were somehow inherently holy. We seem to buy into that concept as we hear things like, “I feel the Spirit so strongly when I go to the temple.” Some visit the “sacred grove” (in NY) in hopes of a spiritual manifestation, as if that place were somehow intrinsically holier than the space next to your bed where you kneel to pray. But that seems problematic to me. If man can build a building and make it “holy” through a dedication, then man controls what is “holy,” and that feels prone to mischief if not apostasy over time.
If it is the presence of God that makes a place holy;
“That thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house;” (D&C 109:12)
and we don’t ruin it by allowing wickedness to enter and desecrate the space,
“Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house.” (D&C 110:8)
then maybe the sacred space concept might seem to apply. But it’s not the space that is holy. It’s the place where God is. And that can be anywhere. If that seems wrong, do you think the inside of our temples is more holy than the top of the rock upon which the pillar of fire dwelt when Lehi “saw and heard much”? (1 Nephi 1:6)