What is Mormon Underwear?
Active adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, wear special clothing that sets them apart from other Christians. This special clothing is called the Mormon garment, temple garment, Mormon underwear, or simply, garments. To some members of other faiths, this traditional Mormon practice becomes a subject of ridicule and erroneous assumptions about the Church. For faithful Latter-day Saints, however, wearing temple garments is an outward manifestation of their innermost commitment to keep the sacred promises they made with God inside the temple.
In reality, special ritual clothing is common to almost all faiths, but no one seems to ridicule them. Jews wear an undergarment representative of the Mosaic laws. Catholic priests and nuns wear special clothing, as do Buddhist monks.
Boyd K. Packer, a high Mormon Church official, said that wearing temple garments “reminds you of who you are and what your obligations and covenants are. It is a continual reminder that you are responsible to live in such a way as to be worthy of your ordination.”
What is Mormon Underwear?
Typically, Mormon garments are two-piece white underclothing, which usually consist of a short-sleeved undershirt and a pair of boxer briefs that extend to the kneecaps. While garments are made from ordinary fabric which can be found in ordinary clothing, the religious significance attached to them by members of the Church go beyond the design and materials they are made of.
While most Mormon garments are white, special, colored garments are also available for Church members serving in the army. Temple garments can be purchased from the Church distribution centers at a much lower price than regular underwear that can be obtained from local stores.
Apart from ordinary clothing, Mormon garments bear a few markings that symbolize reverence and sacred covenants. Two of these marks are located on both sides of the chest, one over the navel, and another one on the right knee. David O McKay, the 9th Mormon Prophet, gave an inspired explanation of these marks, which are currently being used in Mormon endowment sessions.
According to McKay, the “mark of the Compass” on the left chest represents “an undeviating course leading to eternal life; a constant reminder that desires, appetites, and passions are to be kept within the bounds the Lord has set; and that all truth may be circumscribed into one great whole.” The “mark of the Square” on the right chest represents “exactness and honor” in keeping the commandments and covenants of God. The navel mark represents “the need of constant nourishment to body and spirit”; and the “knee mark” represents “that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ.”
Guidelines for Wearing the Temple Garment
Temple garments are designed to fit under various types of modest clothing. Pinning, rolling up, or changing the design in any way to accommodate various types of clothing is not allowed. While temple garments may be removed when swimming, or engaging in strenuous activities such as contact sports, and vigorous exercise, they should be put back on immediately. The wearer should not find any excuse to remove them, either entirely or partially, for activities that can be done properly without removing them.
Temple garments can be washed in laundry like any other piece of clothing. However, it should be done with respect and reverence. Used temple garments should be placed inside a laundry basket until they can be properly washed and dried. They should not be left on the floor or hanging outside where they can be easily noticed by people who do not understand their significance.
When worn properly, Mormons believe that this sacred clothing will provide protection from temptations and any forms of evil. Rumors abound wherein people hear of physical protection provided by the wearing of temple garments. In derision, people then call them “magical.” There is no promise of physical protection in the wearing of the temple garment. However, this does sometimes happen, but the protection is a result of the faithfulness of the person wearing the garment, and not any special quality of the garment itself.
Being a member of the Church almost a year, I have thought long and hard about whether to become endowed and enjoy all the true blessings that the temple brings. Having the temple on earth in our day and time has been such an amazing part of my life. I am fortunate enough to be just a walk across the parking lot from one of these beautiful houses of the Lord. Every Sunday as I arrive at church, I take a minute to marvel and admire the beautiful structure of this gorgeous building, within which I was able to participate in baptisms for the dead.
When I became a member of the Church I remember thinking, “I wonder exactly what all the hype of the temple was about”? Then I had the chance to go in for the first time, just a week after being confirmed a member of the Church. I was told things like it would be a place where I would be safe from all my worries, where Satan could not enter, that it was as close to feeling in life that I was in a glorified state of “heaven” as I could possibly be on this earth. I thought to myself that it was just a building; how could a building make you feel all of these things?
As I prayed to enter the temple for the first time, I did some reading of my scriptures, and found that the Lord has commanded us to build a house for Him, that the Lord desires us to use his house to endow His people with power from on high. He gave us the chance to build a gift to ourselves, to no longer walk in darkness; it was then (before I had to the chance to actually enter the temple) that I gained an understanding of what these meant.
My first experience in the temple was an emotional one; it was almost surreal to be in there. To enter only as far as the baptistery, I remember it being almost like I was living in a dream. As I was able to participate in the blessed ordinance of baptism, I remember feeling a sense of relief, that all my trials had been relieved from me as I entered through the door. I felt a closeness to my Heavenly Father that I had never felt before. It was as if he knew that this was what I needed for that day. When I walked out of the temple, I remember trying to take that image of what I had seen that day with me. People asked how I felt after leaving the temple and I could not place my feelings into words.
It was sometime later that I was able to experience something in the temple that I had yearned for 17 years to experience. After my first trip to the temple, I hesitated going back, as I knew that at this point there was something that had to be done, and that was giving my deceased father the chance to be freed from the spirit prison he had been in for 17 years. I wanted him to learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I wanted to forgive him for the things he had done to me and others while living here on earth. Shortly before I decided that I was ready to do this, I went for a new member lesson with the sister missionaries serving in our area. We met on the temple grounds to talk about nothing more appropriate than the blessings of the temple. It was at that time that I decided it was time to give my dad the chance to be free from the prison, at least the one that was created by my unforgiveness.
The blessings of the temple have meant more in my life than I ever thought they were going to. The temple has given me strength, courage, relief, a sense of forgiveness, and a calmness I never thought I would be able to obtain. It has been a place I can go to escape the adversary, to be able to place my trials in perspective and know that I can continue on and triumph over them. While I have yet to be endowed, I do look forward to it in the future and to enjoying the rest of the blessings that come with participation in the sacred temple ordinances that are performed there.
The Mormon Temple is a very holy place, and the things that are taught inside are held very dear to the hearts of the people who enter. As such, most people are unwilling to discuss what happens inside the temple, not even with other Mormons who also attend the temple. This isn’t because anything is particularly strange or secret, but rather because they are important and sacred. Most members of the Mormon Church don’t know exactly which things would be alright to discuss and which would not. As such, many enemies of the church use this silence to create myths and fraudulent stories about what goes on inside.
It is for this reason that this site has gone into such detail as to what is done in temples. We have been careful to keep the promises we have made to God by not going over the actual ceremonies, but we have tried our best to explain exactly what is done in temples and the purpose of each of the ceremonies as they help the living and those who have passed away.
All of the patrons of Mormon temples are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in good standing. They have been interviewed by their bishop and stake president as to their worthiness. Worthiness includes a firm belief in Christ, moral behavior (including chastity — abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage and absolute fidelity in marriage), honesty in business, harmony in the home, payment of a full tithe (10% of one’s income), charity to the poor, and service in the Church. Patrons arrive in Sunday-best dress and change into pure white clothing. Once dressed in white, it is impossible to tell the worldly station or success of each patron — all are alike before God. The temple is a holy place, so any conversation is kept to a whisper and worldly pursuits and worries are left behind. Nothing untoward or lewd takes place in the temple of God. All ceremonies and worship are conducted in reverence and respect for God’s holy house and His kingdom on earth.
If you have any further questions not answered by this site, feel free to ask a Mormon friend who has visited the temple, or to contact your local missionaries or this webmaster. The Temple is something we want to share with others, and any of these people would be happy to answer your questions. You can also visit the official website of the church and find where a local congregation meets.
This site is neither sponsored nor endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Holy Temple
When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are asked what they think the mission of the Mormon Church is, perhaps the most frequent answer is “Bringing all unto Christ and perfecting the Saints.” To fully understand this goal, one must remember that in the LDS Church all of the members are referred to as “saints.” In other words, one purpose of the LDS church is to help its members in their quest to follow the perfect example set by Jesus Christ.
So how do Mormon temples help in this mission? There are two important answers. The first is on a personal level, in that temples are places set apart from the world allowing increased influence of the Holy Ghost. Only members of the Mormon Church who are keeping certain minimum standards of conduct and have a strong faith in Jesus Christ are allowed to enter the temple. While this may be disappointing to some, both inside and outside of the Church, it serves an important purpose. Each of us is entitled to feel the Spirit of the Lord in our lives as we are prompted by it to be righteous, or change our lives when we are not; but the further one is from the Lord’s path, and the more he or she ignores the promptings of the Spirit, the less he or she is able to feel that Spirit. By only allowing people into the temple who are meeting certain standards and who are firm in their faith in the Lord, the temple becomes a place where the Spirit of the Lord can freely dwell. In this way LDS temples serve as a kind of sanctuary to those who attend them, providing a place that has been kept more pure than the average home or even chapel. They are places for prayer, thought, reflection, and revelation.
Ceremonies and Rituals of the Temple
The second purpose that Mormon temples serve in helping the members of the LDS Church is that special ceremonies take place inside the temple. These are holy and sacred ceremonies that are called ordinances. Ordinances are symbolic rituals that are performed as a way to signify covenants made with God. In Old Testament times the ordinance of sacrificing of an animal to God in the temple was often performed. The person providing the animal joined the priest in laying hands upon the animal’s head and transferring sins to the animal; this was a symbolic reminder of the sacrifice that would one day come through the Lord Jesus Christ. While animal sacrifice was done away with after the death and resurrection of the Eternal Sacrifice, Jesus Christ, the New Testament indicates that ordinances, and the covenants they represented, did not cease. Matthew 26:26-28 gives us the following account:
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt 26:26-28)
The apostles ate bread and drank water that was symbolic of the sacrifice which Christ was about to make for them. This same ritual, or ordinance, is practiced by many Christians to this day. The ordinance goes by many different names, such as the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper, but it is essentially the same ordinance that was instituted in New Testament times.
As was mentioned before, ordinances are not only to remind us of an event, but additionally are a sign of covenants made with the Lord. A covenant is a two way promise. When we are baptized we make a covenant with the Lord that we will strive to follow the example of Christ, and repent of our sins. In return, the Lord promises that if we keep our part of the covenant, he will forgive us when we come to him with our mistakes and a sincere heart, with a real desire to change.
Sealings and Endowments
Inside the temple there are primarily two ordinances that are performed for the members of the Mormon Church. These ordinances are very sacred and holy, so we do not discuss their details outside of the temple, even with other members of the Church. It is important, however, to know what they are and why they are done.
The first of these ordinances is often called, “sealing.” This is where faithful Mormon couples are sealed together in a special type of marriage ceremony. A sealing is different from a typical marriage, though, primarily because it is performed by a different authority than a civil marriage. When a couple is married civilly, they are married by authority of their government. A representative of the State tells them that in the eyes of the State, they are married until their death. This is all that the government can promise, since it is all they have jurisdiction over. In the temple, however, people are married by the authority of God. The Lord promises them that if they keep their vows to each other and to Him they can be together, not just in this life, but for “time and all eternity.” Children can also be sealed to their parents through this authority. (If children are born to an already-sealed couple, they are considered “born in the covenant.” But if no sealing of the parents has ever been performed, the couple is sealed and then the children are sealed to the parents.)
The second of these ordinances tends to be less well known or understood. It is the Temple Endowment. An “endowment” is a gift, generally given by a higher power. Indeed, the Endowment in the temple is a gift from God to help us understand who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. It also helps us understand what we should do in our lives to prepare to meet God, and how Jesus Christ offers each of us ft of salvation. This information is taught in the Temple Endowment in a highly symbolic way. Because of the sacred nature of these symbols, we will not discuss them directly, but the information is contained almost completely in the Mormon book of scripture known as the “Pearl of Great Price.” In fact, the best way to prepare for the Endowment is to read the Pearl of Great Price and pray to understand it as fully as possible.
During the Endowment we also make covenants with the Lord to obey his commandments, however these covenants are more specific then the ones that are made at baptism (to keep God’s commandments). The Endowment is a gift, because it gives us knowledge and the promise of blessings to come. Ultimately, all of these blessings are available to us only through the salvation offered by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These ordinances are necessary for us, but it is Jesus Christ who brings salvation, and through faith in Him alone can we be saved.
Why Those who have Passed On Need us
One major purpose of Mormon temples has to do with those who have died and left this world. After we die, we are not immediately resurrected. The day will come when all men will stand before the throne of God to be judged of their sins, but before that day, there is much to do.
To fully understand this function of temples, one must realize that it is only in and through the name of Jesus Christ that man can be saved. “There shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:17). That being said, there are billions of people who have lived on this earth without ever hearing the name of Christ, or coming to understand the sacrifice he made for them. Would God be just in condemning them for not believing in someone of whom they had never heard? And yet, without faith in Christ, they cannot be saved.
Both infinitely just and infinitely merciful, God has created a plan to help these people. After we die we go to a place called the Spirit World. Here, those who have died faithful in Christ continue their ministry to teach those who have never heard the gospel. In fact, after Christ’s death and before his resurrection, He Himself came to these people and declared to them that he had died for them as well (1 Peter 3:18-19, 4:6).
Necessity of Ordinances
Salvation is open to all who repent, but “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Baptism is not open to those who have passed on from this life. Without bodies, they cannot perform the essential ordinances the Lord requires of them. So once again, proving the infinite justice and mercy of the Lord, these ordinances are offered in Holy Temples. Baptism for those who have passed away is often called baptism for the dead.
Ordinances for the Dead
All of the ordinances offered in the temple for living members of the LDS Church are also performed by proxy for those who have passed on. This means that someone “stands in” for the person who has died. Baptisms are also performed by proxy for these people who have passed on. Because we have no way of knowing who will or will not accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, these ordinances are done for everyone who has passed on (though we have been encouraged by the Church to keep this work within our own family lines. It’s this very reason that makes members of the church so active in genealogy). To have a family member who has passed on baptized by proxy does not commit them to that baptism, it merely gives them the opportunity to accept or reject the ordinance as they choose. Temple Marriage or Sealings and Endowments are also performed for those who have passed on.
This aspect of temples truly shows us the majesty and greatness of God, and proves to us that He loves all of His children, and invites all to come unto Him.