To find out what this series is about look here.
Q: Is there such a thing as Mormon "underwear"? if so, are all Mormons required to wear it? What does it symbolize?
A: Like members of many religious faiths, Latter-day Saints wear religious clothing. But members of other faiths — typically those involved in permanent pastoral ministries or religious services — usually wear religious garments as outer ceremonial vestments or symbols of recognition. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, garments are worn beneath street clothing as a personal and private reminder of commitments to God.
Garments are considered sacred by Church members and are not regarded as a topic for casual conversation.
C: The Mormon temple garment is issued to each Mormon when they go through their first temple endowment ceremony. It carries significant Masonic marks that mirror marks on the temple veil referred to earlier. Mormons wear these garments at all times and they act as a continuous reminder of covenants made in the temple. To not wear your temple garment is as serious an offence as can be imagined.
It is noteworthy that nothing in the Bible even hints at the wearing of such garments in relation to the every-day devotional life of Israel or of the Christian Church. Members of different faiths, both in the Bible and in history, have worn special vestments, garments or jewellery etc. designed to distinguish them in society, much as a surplice distinguishes a priest, or as a wedding ring distinguishes a married person. These are more to do with convention and custom and temple garments cannot fall into this category since there is nothing distinguishing about them because they are invisible to society.
For some the temple garment is an occasion for mirth and mockery but it is quite wrong to take such an attitude to something that is important to someone’s faith. Trivialising it also detracts from the important fact that, actually, it is a first class method of control since its presence acts as a constant reminder and sort of “silent policeman”. In a person’s most private and intimate moments its presence is a check on the wearer and can be like a bridle, reflecting perhaps the power and control leaders wish to have and their lack of trust in their followers. It must be said that it is also a profoundly effective passion killer except perhaps for those few who might get a kick out of strange underwear.
Furthermore, it imposes someone else’s definition of modesty in that you have to wear clothes that cover the substantial (neck to knee) garment. Of course modesty is a characteristic of Christian life but one elects to be modest under the influence of the Spirit and Christian teaching. This practice of imposing a standard by effectual dictate has been problematic for the church down the years as the design of the garment which, like so much Mormon doctrine and praxis was considered unchangeable, has changed, from a neck to ankle one piece item to a neck to knee two pieces, to reflect changes in fashions. It also encourages an elitist attitude in followers who regard themselves as “superior” because of their involvement in secret ceremonies and their wearing of special clothing compared to others who are not initiated as are Mormons. In all these ways it forms a real barrier on several levels.
Previous Posts:Mormon Women
In Black and White
The Elusive Gold Plates