Faithful Latter-day Saints (Mormons) frequently think differently than the current public. The public often views living God's guidelines, which are called commandments, as someone telling them they can't do something or they have to do it. Faithful Latter-day Saints live these guidelines because by faith they see the opportunity to be schooled by God in how to draw closer to Him. As a result, when faithful Latter-day Saints properly wear the sacred underclothing associated with the endowment ceremony in the Temple, it draws them closer to God.
The public also often views "Mormon Temples" as secret and exclusive places because a person must be a baptized member of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints and currently be living the commandments to enter. Plus, members do not talk about the specifics of Temple ordinances outside of the Temple. However, Temples are not secret, but sacred and God wants all of His children to prepare themselves by baptism and commandment keeping to be able to worship there. It is literally the House of the Lord.
"So, what is done in a Mormon Temple ceremony? What is this Mormon underwear all about?"
In an endowment ceremony Church members strengthen their commitment made at baptism to keep the commandments. At baptism, Mormons promise to "mourn with those that mourn" and to "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places" (Mosiah 18:8-10).
The practice of baptism as an ordinance was given to Adam and Eve as part of the process to overcome their fallen state. They first were instructed to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, be baptized and they would receive the Holy Ghost" (Moses 6:57-61). God is consistent with His formula of overcoming the Fall, therefore in our time we too exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost as the first steps to overcoming our fallen state.
As the Lord prepared Adam and Eve to exit the comfort of the Garden of Eden and enter the challenges of the world, He made "coats of skins" as a covering for them (Genesis 3:21). Where did the coats come from? They likely came from a lamb that was offered as a sacrifice that Adam would later learn symbolized the Savior (Moses 5:4-8). Any time that God has had His gospel in its fullness on the earth, He has introduced wearing the garment among His people.
In the endowment ceremony held only in the Temple, members strengthen their promises made at baptism and are symbolically clothed in the garment as a constant reminder to them to keep their promises or covenants.
Then, during the weekly Church Sunday services held in chapels, members renew their promises made with God by taking the Sacrament or "Lord's Supper." By doing so members "witness" unto God "that they are willing to take upon them the name of [Christ], and always remember him and keep his commandments" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:7).
What!?! Always remember Him? How is that done in the daily grind? God is a Master teacher. He designed the garment as a very personal reminder to help His children remember, remember, remember the two way covenants they have made with Him. God is perfect and faithful in keeping His end of a covenant (Alma 37:17). His children need help keeping their end. He designed the garment to be a help.
Specs and Guidelines for Faithful Members in Wearing the Garment
Guidelines for wearing the garment are best explained in "The Temple Garment: An Outward Expression of An Inward commitment"
- The garment is a sacred reminder of Jesus Christ and the covenant to live His commandments. Treat them as such.
- Pictures of the garment on the Internet (or other mistreatment) are extremely offensive to members who understand and honor its sacred purpose.
- Avoid placing it in a position where it can be mocked. It is sacred.
- Keep it covered.
- Wearing it properly fosters modesty.
- The tops have short sleeves and the bottoms fall a little above the knee.
- It should not be cut or altered to follow the fashions of the world.
- When worn faithfully and properly, it will be a shield and a protection.
- It should be worn night and day. In activities where the garment cannot be worn, like in swimming or athletics, it should be restored quickly instead of lounging around without wearing them. We should look for occasions to wear it, not to take it off.
- It is associated with the endowment ceremony ("Mormon Temple Ceremony"), which members receive when going on missions, getting married or when they consider themselves spiritually prepared to strengthen their commitment to the Lord they made at baptism.
My personal practice
Preparing since my youth. The standards of modesty in dress for the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints stem from the coverage established by the garment. As a teenager, my shirts always had sleeves and the hem of my shorts fell closer to my knees than my hip sockets. I even designed my own prom dresses and had them made because it was practically impossible at the time to find modest prom dresses that were not the epitome of frumpiness. As a teenager, my early commitment to modesty taught me to put the Lord first before the changing trends of the world. It probably benefited my heart more than it benefited anyone's eyes. I didn't have to change how I dressed when I received my endowment (which was at 21 years old) and started wearing the garment. I was looking forward to making the covenant and having to change my modesty standard would have distracted me from the significance of the promise I was making. I'm glad I took the time to prepare.
Rockin' the modest fashions Modesty excludes lots of fashion trends, but Latter-day Saints don't dress like the Amish, thank heavens. A lot can be accomplished by layering. Whoever came up with the business model for Downeast and Shade are now making bank. These companies began with shirts that can be worn under spaghetti strap shirts and the like. I especially like wearing these kinds of shirts even if you can not see them because I like to smooth over the line between my low-rise jeans and the waistline of the garment bottoms, which falls a little above. I also like to rock the midcalf bottoms when I wear leggings or certain kinds of jeans so I don't have a line at my thigh.
A faithful Latter-day Saint would choose wearing the garment properly even one day over not wearing it (though not wearing it during swimming or athletics is appropriate). For example, a friend of my sister's asked her to be a bride's maid, but the chosen dresses were strapless. If the bride was set on having all her bride's maids wear exactly the same strapless thing my sister would have declined the invitation. Gratefully, my sister and the bride were friends and the bride knew how important it was to my sister, so she had a little jacket to go with the strapless dress and if you ask me, she was the most beautiful of all the bride's maids, but I’m incredibly bias in this department.
Shield and Protection I've heard stories about how the garment has been a shield and protection to faithful members when they needed it. I usually accept them as folklore, such as burn victims who received no damage where the garment covered them. Though I do not count these as impossible, I don't wear the garment properly because of these rumors. However, I have heard from a more credible source, my Dad, that before he was a member and knew anything about the garment, he was logging with a man who faithfully wore it. This man got his chainsaw stuck in a tree and when he pulled it out, it kicked back and sawed through his chaps, but the fabric from his garment got caught in the chain and it cut the chainsaw's engine. My Dad, characteristically aware of his safety tells the story as he thought, "I have to get me some of those." J Now my Dad understands the much deeper significance of wearing the garment than viewing it as chainsaw protection.
While at Brigham Young University for college, I frequently went canyoneering in Zion National Park, which I consider the closest place to God on the earth apart from the Temple. My roommate, who at the time was not endowed, asked me if I was going to wear the garment on the trip. Pine Creek at that time of year was expected to have several swims and some people were wearing bathing suits under their hiking attire. Since, I was looking for an occasion to wear it, rather than not to, I told her jokingly (but it was one of those jokes that she knew I actually meant) that if I got into trouble in a canyon, I hoped I could cash in on some of my blessings I was storing up from wearing it properly.:) Later trips progressed us to bigger and better canyons including wetsuits where I continued my same attitude and practice.
More than a physical shield and protection, it is a spiritual one. As I previously discussed the Lord views breaking the Law of Chastity as next to murder on His list of serious sins. I think of how one would first have to discard the garment, which is a sacred reminder of their promise to keep God’s commandments, including the Law of Chastity, in order to break it.
The locker room
My first two years of college I played on a women's volleyball team for my school in Florida. I've often wondered what I would have done in the locker room if I had been endowed then (I had yet to serve a mission, so I had not yet received my endowment). As a team, we practically spent all of our time together either in the classroom, the weight room or on the court, so we all became friends. In hindsight, if I had been endowed then, I would have talked to each teammate individually about the significance of the garment and if there was a complete consensus of respect from everyone and I didn't feel like I would be putting it in a position to be mocked, I would have been fine with changing with the group. However, the locker room at the gym I attend now is a different story. I only see those people in the locker room. Sometimes they are the same people, but since I'm quite modest, I try to give others as much privacy as possible and try not to even look in their direction. It doesn't exactly foster friendship. Since we're not close and since I have no inclination to break the ice with a first hand lesson in religious diversity, I just change in the stall.
"So like that's kind of weird."
American cultural ideas of what underwear should look like (and how we should look in it) mostly comes from Victoria Secret marketing and similar sources. Covenanted and faithful Mormons wear underwear day and night that acts as a special reminder to always remember Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments and well, that's not ordinary. It's quite extraordinary, actually. God began instituting the wearing of the garment with Adam and Eve and He has reintroduced it in every time period the gospel has been on the earth in full, including the present. I sincerely love what wearing the garment does for me. It changes my heart every time, which is all the time, I remember its significance and it draws me closer to the Lord. I consider it a privilege.
Why Mormons Build Temples
Tags: faith in Jesus Christ, magic mormon underwear, mormon cult, Mormon endowment, Mormon Temple, Mormon Temple Ceremony, Mormon Underwear, Mormonism, putting off the natural man through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, repentance through Christ, restored priesthood authority, Temple ordinances