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Even though only priests were allowed into the Temple in the Old Testament, all of the ceremonies and furnishings were described in great detail in the Old Testament for anyone, Jew or Gentile alike, to read and understand.

However the details of Mormon Temple Ceremonies are kept secret, and, in fact, non-Mormons are prevented from even entering Mormon Temples. The LDS website says

You can talk about what the interior of the temple looks like, and you can freely share the feelings you have in the temple. However, temple covenants and ordinances, including the words used, are too sacred to be discussed in detail outside the temple. By avoiding discussion of these sacred things outside the temple, we protect them from mocking, ridicule, or disrespect. Do not be casual when talking about your experiences in the temple. (lds.org)

What is the reason for keep the ceremonies secret? Why are they considered 'too sacred'?

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nothing else in Christian history was kept secret -- How would you know that? –  Robert Harvey Dec 20 '12 at 19:58
    
@RobertHarvey Do you know of any? –  Narnian Dec 20 '12 at 20:01
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No, because they've been kept secret. –  Robert Harvey Dec 20 '12 at 20:01
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As amusing as watching a circular discussion of pure hypotheticals can be, we know that there were because it's an established (if often ignored) historical fact. See christianity.stackexchange.com/a/5075/68 for one example. –  Mason Wheeler Dec 20 '12 at 20:06
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@MasonWheeler: Merely pointing out the obvious straw man. –  Robert Harvey Dec 20 '12 at 20:07
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There seems to be two questions here. First, "why are LDS temple ceremonies kept secret, seeing as how Old Testament temple ceremonies were not?"

The simple answer is that the Old Testament temples operated under the Law of Moses and were administered by the Levitical priesthood, whereas modern temples operate under the Law of the Gospel and are administered by the Melchizedek priesthood, which necessarily means that things will work differently. (See Hebrews chapter 7, particularly verse 12.) Therefore, it's unreasonable to expect that the Old Testament temple ceremonies--many of which had to do with matters of blood sacrifice and similar rituals of the Law of Moses, which were fulfilled in Christ--should be perpetuated in modern temples.

Second, the slightly broader question, "why are LDS temple ceremonies kept secret at all?"

The answer to this is somewhat subtle, and some people will probably find it unsatisfying, but the Church does not hold them to be secret at all, but rather it considers them sacred.

The value of a secret is exclusivity. The less people who know about a secret, the greater the power it confers upon those who know it. Throughout history, people have been known to go to great lengths to keep secrets, up to and including committing murder to prevent (or retaliate for) the sharing of a secret.

By contrast, the Latter-Day Saints do not see the temple ceremonies as something secret and exclusive at all, but rather as something that is highly sacred. The church has spent a great deal of effort, time and money in both building temples throughout the world, and sending missionaries to teach people the Gospel, with the explicit intended goal of bringing them to the temple. This is the exact opposite of a secret: it is something that the Latter-Day Saints put a great deal of work into sharing as broadly as possible!

But because these matters are viewed as sacred and highly spiritual, that sharing is done within strict boundaries: only people with a certain degree of spiritual preparation are allowed to participate. This is quite in harmony with Paul's teaching on the Lord's Supper:

1 Corinthians 11:27-29

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

As the purpose of the temple ceremonies is to help people along the path to salvation, and not to help condemn them, the church requires that certain standards of preparation and worthiness be met before participating in these sacred ceremonies.

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I was told a large part of the ceremonies is making covenants with God. Ones that if you don't fully understand and break, could cause you problems. The also referenced Matthew 7:6 which made me laugh. –  MaskedPlant Dec 20 '12 at 22:16
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@MaskedPlant: Do you have a question there? Historically, God's people have always been encouraged to make covenants with him, and breaking them has always been considered a serious matter. –  Mason Wheeler Dec 20 '12 at 22:25
    
Restricting participation to members is completely understandable, but it doesn't address why the ceremonies cannot be discussed... –  curiousdannii May 7 at 6:15
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Actually, the Old Testament temple also had things that were kept from public knowledge, but these things having been dismissed by the king of Judah around 600 BC, and never written down, they are not easily discerned today. The bible is full of temple themes, but the contents of temple rites have always been sacred and are not discussed outside the temple in order to avoid taking them casually. It is a matter of integrity between those who have gone through the temple and God. It is not about keeping a secret from others, but about keeping our covenants with God.

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Can you provide more evidence for the things you've said? –  curiousdannii May 30 at 5:05
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Not as secret as you might think: ldsendowment.org –  Narnian May 30 at 12:24
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I think there's a much simpler answer. If you read the old or new testament and read about the temple you will find that only certain individuals were allowed in those buildings.

Just think of how secret the items in the Ark of the Covenant were, The stuff inside of it was so secret the penalty for even touching the box that held the items was instant death!

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Actually, everyone in Israel knew what was in the temple, as did anyone who read the Torah. It was not secret in the least bit, only sacred. –  Narnian Jun 11 '13 at 18:07
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In the same way, we have open houses in our temples before they're dedicated. –  Eric Jun 12 '13 at 17:28
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