Why do Mormons wear special underwear?
There is a lot of confusion about the Mormon temple garment and what it means. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as the Mormon Church is officially known) builds temples. These Mormon temples are literally dotting the earth, and more are being built every year. These beautiful edifices are very sacred to Latter-day Saints and their idea of worship. So where does the underwear come in?
Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, stand apart from the world in several ways. Their standards are living are very high, and are often at odds with the world’s standards of living. For example, Mormon doctrine teaches that Latter-day Saints should not partake of alcohol, tobacco or other harmful drugs, coffee, or tea. In addition, we should take care of our bodies by eating healthy food, going to bed early and getting up early, exercising and taking care of our bodies. Other standards include the law of chastity, which means no sexual relations of any kind except within the bonds of marriage. This means complete abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity inside of marriage. Modesty is another standard which the world does not, in general, uphold. Latter-day Saints are taught that their bodies are temples of God and should be treated with respect. We should not expose our bodies to the attention of others. While we should be neat and clean, we should also be covered and respectful. All of these things lead up to the purpose of the Mormon temple garment.
Not all Latter-day Saints wear the temple garment. Only those Saints who have gone through the Mormon temple ceremony of the endowment wear this special Mormon underwear. When an individual participates in the Mormon endowment ceremony, he makes certain covenants with God to live an even higher standard of living than he did before, to be worthy to enter the temple. The covenants that are made in this Mormon temple rite are very serious. If these covenants are every broken, the consequences are great. However, the keeping of these covenants brings countless blessings from God. The Mormon garment is a reminder of the covenants made in the temple. When it is worn properly, it offers protection to the wearer by reminding them of these covenants continuously and given them the strength to keep those covenants. Not unlike the vestments which many priests of different denominations wear, the Mormon temple garment is an outward symbol of an inward commitment. It is just a very private matter, and that is why it is worn underneath the clothing instead of on top of the clothing. The Mormon garment is also a reminder of the wearer’s commitment to modesty, since it should be covered at all times while in public.
Though the idea of ”special underwear” may seem very odd to those not of the Mormon faith, ceremonial clothing existed back into Old Testament times. The Mormon temple garment is a sacred reminder to the wearer of the sacred nature of the covenants made while in the temple. These garments are deserving of respect from people of all faiths, just like the Jewish yarmulke or a Catholic nun’s habit are.