I’m writing this Sunday post as my first of 2009 because it is the most difficult topic I can imagine attempting to cover. I expect it to be quite controversial among the LDS readers, as garments are an extremely sacred thing to us, easily mocked and ridiculed by our critics. I expect many members of my faith to comment or contact me saying they think I am making a mistake in covering something so sacred in such a public manner. To you I say we cannot stick our heads in the sand, and we cannot let our beliefs and traditions be defiled by the critics. We can use our voices and our words to spread the truth. I don’t know if it will work, but I hope that addressing the topic will satisfy peoples curiosity and help them develop a sense of respect for something that is often defiled. It is my hope that in writing this post I will help people understand the LDS people just a little bit better.
To my non-member readers, to those who have either heard of the garment previously, or who are learning of it for the first time on this blog, I make a special request. I don’t know it if is possible that we have developed some odd sort of loyalty to each other. I open my heart and mind up to you, sharing the funny, sad, delightful, and special things in my life, and you in turn, become my friends. If this loyalty that I imagine really exists, I ask a special favor of you. Read this post, and let it be enough. I have not read them, for the church discourages us from doing so, but there are many sites out there that make light of our sacred things. They post pictures of the garments, they laugh at them, the pretend to understand them. But in spreading such sacred information to the world at large they prove that they know nothing about the LDS faith and the covenants we make. They laugh at us. They call us peculiar and we shake our heads in reply (sometimes a few tears escape in the act of shaking), and in response we do nothing because it is God who will one day seek retribution for such acts of defilement.
Please, if you have questions, post them below, or email them to me. I will email you personally and we will try to come to an understanding together. Please don’t read those anti-mormon sites. Just… please.
Amanda, Kate, and Cate all asked specifically about the garment so I know it’s something on peoples minds. I won’t copy and paste an entire post often, but I feel it is necessary in order for me to keep from explaining more than is appropriate. Why is this? The garment, in my opinion can only be defined as sacrosanct. The following quote comes from lds.org.
Once people are endowed, they have the blessing of wearing the temple garment throughout their lives. They are obligated to wear it according to the instructions given in the endowment. Those who have been endowed in the temple must remember that the blessings that are related to this sacred privilege depend on their worthiness and their faithfulness in keeping temple covenants.
The garment provides a constant reminder of the covenants made in the temple. The garment should be treated with respect at all times. It should not be exposed to the view of those who do not understand its significance, and it should not be adjusted to accommodate different styles of clothing. When worn properly, the garment provides protection against temptation and evil. Wearing the garment is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.
According to Boyd K. Packer: (Don’t just scroll through the story he tells, read it! It really helped me understand what the garment was before I received it.)
There may be occasions when endowed members of the Church face questions on the garment.
On one occasion one of the brethren was invited to speak to the faculty and staff of the Navy Chaplains Training School in Newport, Rhode Island. The audience included a number of high-ranking naval chaplains from the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths.
In the question-and-answer period one of the chaplains asked, “Can you tell us something about the special underwear that some Mormon servicemen wear?” The implication was, “Why do you do that? Isn’t it strange? Doesn’t that present a problem?”
To the chaplain who made the inquiry he responded with a question: “Which church do you represent?” In response he named one of the Protestant churches.
He said, “In civilian life and also when conducting the meetings in the military service you wear clerical clothing, do you not?” The chaplain said that he did.
He continued: “I would suppose that that has some importance to you, that in a sense it sets you apart from the rest of your congregation. It is your uniform, as it were, of the ministry. Also, I suppose it may have a much more important place. It reminds you of who you are and what your obligations and covenants are. It is a continual reminder that you are a member of the clergy, that you regard yourself as a servant of the Lord, and that you are responsible to live in such a way as to be worthy of your ordination.”
He then told them: “You should be able to understand at least one of our reasons why Latter-day Saints have a deep spiritual commitment concerning the garment. A major difference between your churches and ours is that we do not have a professional clergy, as you do. The congregations are all presided over by local leaders. They are men called from all walks of life. Yet they are ordained to the priesthood. They hold offices in the priesthood. They are set apart to presiding positions as presidents, counselors, and leaders in various categories. The women, too, share in that responsibility and in those obligations. The man who heads our congregation on Sunday as the bishop may go to work on Monday as a postal clerk, as an office worker, a farmer, a doctor; or he may be an air force pilot or a naval officer. By our standard he is as much an ordained minister as you are by your standard. He is recognized as such by most governments. We draw something of the same benefits from this special clothing as you would draw from your clerical vestments. The difference is that we wear ours under our clothing instead of outside, for we are employed in various occupations in addition to our service in the Church. These sacred things we do not wish to parade before the world.”
He then explained that there are some deeper spiritual meanings as well, connecting the practice of wearing this garment with covenants that are made in the temple. We wouldn’t find it necessary to discuss these—not that they are secret, he repeated, but because they are sacred.
The garment, covering the body, is a visual and tactile reminder of these covenants. For many Church members the garment has formed a barrier of protection when the wearer has been faced with temptation. Among other things it symbolizes our deep respect for the laws of God—among them the moral standard. (lds.org)
I have one more link that should help you understand a little bit better, but please remember that this page was created by Brigham Young University and is not officially endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visit the Encyclopedia of Mormonism site on garments to learn more about why the garment is worn, how they are purchased, what they symbolize, and discussion of references to holy garments mentioned throughout the bible.