Once and for All, Amongst Mormons, It’s Called ‘Temple Garment’

Responding to commenter’s comment earlier about Mormon “magic underwear”… here’s what it actually is. It is called Temple Garment and it is worn by Mormons. Many Jews wear tefillin [phylacteries] for ceremony (straps with sacred symbols and ceremonial meaning tied around arm and forehead.) Many from many different systems of religiousity and spirituality, also place a special sign on the door of their homes. Many Catholics including myself daily wear scapulars of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We old believers often have holy water fonts just inside the door to bless our children with and ourselves to remember Who is at Center.

Sikhs wear the kara for life, a silver band on the wrist and well as not cutting their hair or beards, and wearing a turban is daily garb for many. Buddhists wear their one-shoulder robes and ministers and priests often wear their cassocks and albs for ceremony, although the cassock (a long gown with many buttons up the front) is seldom used nowadays.

Also, in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Rite, often the men officiating are dressed in lace and furbelows and there is also the 60 yard long red ‘cape’ that is used in certain high rites and carried along from the nave of the church to out the front door by numberous altar boys both young and old. There are broad brimmed hats made of fur and tall crescents of hats made of feathers and the yarmulke, depending on whether Hassidim or Karmappa or observant modern Jewish person.

There is the ubiquitous clothing of the Amish who I grew up near, who were the kindest of kind and taught their religious beliefs not by being arch or demanding why others didnt agree with them… but by being living examples of the merciful Christ in every way they could. The Amish seriously are The Beautitudes. Not ‘follow’ the Beatitudes, but ARE the Beatitudes… (three of the eight from the Christian scripture are: Blessed be the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.)

There is too, the sacred burqa which many women from Islam wear, an all encompassing head to toe gown. And it is this, that to my mind, seems closest to the sacred idea Mormon’s put forth about ‘temple garments’.

The term “magical underwear” or “magic tightie whities” or “magic without the Johnson,” are derisive for the underclothing that Mormons are to wear as part of their covenant from the temple.

But as in the use of the burqa, despite all modern day debates about it, it was meant as simple modesty. Not as hiding, but somewhat similar to what many of us female Catholics would do: always cover our hair when we entered any church/ temple/ synagogue, holy place… so as to be modest about the beauty Creator had created in us. To not distract others from prayer… admiring men or women, didnt matter. It is a practice, a ritual, a way of remembering Who is Who, and who is who.

In Mormon religion, there is an Endowment ceremony that has elaborate ritual to it, but /and the temple garments granted then are considered not only to remind of the covenants made in that ceremonial purpose, but also as protection against what I’d call ‘the worldly world.’ The garment “strengthens the wearer to resist temptation, fend off evil influences, and stand firmly for the right.” [Carlos E Asay]

On the front of my Sacred Heart of Jesus that I wear every day, there are words that say, in essence, the same. Blessed talisman as protector of soul and spirit, body and mind, heart.

Also in Mormon thought and beliefs, temple garments are definitely to be worn for life, day and night, and are considered also a form of modesty, as the burqa is also in what seems its original intent (and some say the woman wearing such is/was all the more beautifully alluring as a result, but that I leave for now to those speculate on this.)

The modesty of the temple garment is given chapter and verse in the ways of wearing it, for women and men are not to uncover any part of the body that the garment normally covers… so a woman would not be wearing a low cut neckline, nor showing any part of her shoulder, upper back, nor abdomen, nor knees. And a man the same modesty is required re the temple garment. It appears a dispensation is given for swimming and the temple garment can be removed for that.

There is much more to say about the ways and means of this ritualistic form of dress that is imbued with much by those who belong to the Mormon religion, including apparently in the Mormon handbook that covers underclothing, the temple garment is to be worn next to the skin and bra and hose and whatever other undergarments are to be put on over the sacred garment. There is also a special mill factory that makes the garments only to be sold to those who have undergone the Endowment.

Generally, I see that most all symbols and ritualized ideas made manifest — like temple garments– like the material symbols of Jews, Wiccans, Voudon, Catholicism, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, tribal religions worldwide as well as the old earth religions of Rome and Greece who remember Ariadne, as the one who graced thread and cloth and weaving.. but regardless of belief, the point of wearing the sacred item, to the purest hearts that daily strive to remain so, is that these material manifestations of cloth and thread are meant as
–Recognition that there is Greater.
–That one Accepts certain truths as outlined by usually a holy book[s] belonging to that group.
–that one is now identified as and belongs to a certain group and there are actions required, for some it is evangelization, for others (refering to Amish again) it is only to live not in, but AS peace and love and care for the world within one’s reach.
– that the wearing of various is a demonstration that one is of this world, but also of another world.

Like monks and nuns and ordinaries [and even soldiers who have medals but no heirs to care for them,] when the temple garments are worn out, their symbols are cut from them, and they are then considered ‘just usual cloth’ and can be used for other purposes. Although amongst many, including soldiers’ ribbons and the Catholics, holy garments are just folded gently, blessed and often burned and returned to earth as ashes.

From dust thou art made…

  

Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

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18 Comments

  1. Just another religious tool for control. The burqa being the most perverse of this type of control clothing. I’ve never been a big fan of this sort of thought process in faith. “we are going to make you were this burqa or underwear or hat or whatever in order to force you to show respect for your god. “be modest” but really,it is just another tool to force pack behavior.

    The more free will a religion allows….the more true faith is developed. IMHO

    And I am going to avoid ripping into Catholicism on this topic

  2. What? Are yamakas also “tools for control? Whatever they used to be temple garments are now most often a way of showing respect for heritage and history than anything else.

  3. Yes, EEllis, a Yarmulke is a tool of control. Not over its wearer, but over those who do not wear one.

  4. how is covering your head during prayer a form of controlling others?

  5. I agree with Dr. Estes and would add that a wedding ring in many religions is a sign of the commitment between the individuals involved and their God. Many people wear their wedding ring all the time.

  6. Yes EE, it is. Many religions use head covers as a signal of obedience. To some, wearing the hat forces people to covet or show subordinance to their god.

    Of course, God knows your heart… and IMHO could care less what is on your head.

    and I wear my wedding ring because it make my wife happy. It does not make me more faithful or more in love.

  7. ShannonLeee, I’m curious if you see any kind of behavioral code, such as a requirements to pray 5 times a day facing a particular direction, or to take a sacramental wafer of some sort, or refrain from eating or drinking certain types of food and drink, as a form of control. If not, I’m curious what makes a behavioral code that relates to what someone wears to be any different.

    Also, one person’s “pack behavior” is another’s “sense of unity and community.” My view is that individualism is our culture’s sacred idol and comes at the expense of community. To illustrate, it seems you wear your wedding ring to conform to the wishes of your wife, presumably because you are willing to make that small sacrifice of your own individuality to show her that you care about your relationship. How is this any different than a member of a religious community taking part in a ritual or adhering to a particular code of behavior to show the community that he or she values membership in that community?

    I agree that God cares about what is in someone’s heart, but perhaps he also has some wisdom to impart regarding human nature as it relates to community and how symbols and rituals can have a feedback effect to help ensure our heart is where it should be.

  8. thanks ad, great reply.

    to you first paragraph… yes. All of those rules are tools used to control a population for whatever reason that was important at that time…except for the prayers in a certain direction. That is most likely the result of some anal retentive Imam. jk

    You have a good half point with my wedding ring. I am pretty much ambivalent to whether or not either of us wear our rings. If I had a real problem with wearing a ring… I either probably would not be married or my wife would have just understood whatever irrational reason I had for not wanting to wear a ring. But you are correct to a point. Wearing the ring is something that does require an action on my part, so I am giving up a second of my time to put on my ring in order to make my wife happy.

    In general, my problem is not so much with the individual that makes the choice to adhere. My problem is with community that requires such behavior in order to accept a person into their pack. My problem is with the religion that requires member to stand, sit, and spin… then chant 4 times and then drink the wine colored kool-aid. This then extendes to their beliefs… where you have to hate gays to be part of our church or maybe vote Republican. Or maybe a liberal religion that requires that one join code pink and worship crystals.

    “rituals can have a feedback effect to help ensure our heart is where it should be” – straight out of the church of Scientology. Your heart? more like your mind.

    I do see the point you are making and can understand how others would agree, but this same behavior is so often twisted. Obedience to the rituals translates to obedience of thought… and the brain washing of the pack, which is what organized religion has almost perfected

  9. Many religions use head covers as a signal of obedience. To some, wearing the hat forces people to covet or show subordinance to their god.

    First so? The claim was that it is a form of control of others not the faithful or whatever the heck you wish to call them. Second, if you don’t like religion then don’t belong!!! I don’t, I’m as religious as a brick but what is the passive aggressive BS that so many use? The people who are religious probably think they are showing piety not being oppressed. Let’s flip this to wedding rings like someone mentioned. Your married are you oppressed by yours or is it a show of emotion and faith?

  10. Wrote that wedding ring comment before I saw that AD went much deeper into it.

    My point being is bad or good is more about how something is viewed and used than any inherent value. Sure it’s bad when religion is used to oppress, but then anything is bad when it’s used to oppress. I would hope that it is more often used to support and uplift but for those of us here it seems a bit silly to get all overwrought.

  11. EE, there was a time when religion was an important part of our evolution as a society, but those days are gone and we have advanced past organized religion. Organized religion and the tools they use to keep the flock in line is what is now hurting our advancement towards a better humanity. Granted, there are wonderful people in all sorts of different religions…doing amazing things, but the organizations have become twisted relics that pray upon our children and elderly.

    keeping people doing what the church wants them…whether it be wearing underpants or a rosary…is how organized religion controls people.

  12. Ok! I am a once active Mormon, who once wore the sacred garments of the Temple covenant. I no longer wear those garments, as I have chosen to not hold to those covenants as they are now at conflict with what I now hold has my personal spiritual core. Does this make Mormonism’s Temple covenant and the wearing of those garments as an affirmation of beholding to those covenants wrong or otherwise? Absolutely not! It’s simply something different in its expression for adherence to a religious belief system, as the writer so eloquently described.

    Yes, one can say it’s for controlling the masses of that religious belief, and there is some truth to that, however, not to the mean spirited and self-assured sense some of the repliers have posited. Being subject to a religion’s code of values, whether written, codified or simply handed down is one of the points that makes a religion a religion. Yes, such adherence to such codes can turn to control, however, one should not forget that such control, whether implied or explicit, is nevertheless entered into by consent. And there is where I depart with the demeaning ‘control’ statements made by those who appear to not know what they’re talking about or have not clearly and thoroughly studied a religion’s code, which frankly speaking, is best learned from those ‘within’ the religion itself.

    For me, I learned of the Mormon Temple code and its wearing of garments when I was 19 years old. True, I was not told of the more weighty matters of the code, or its actual historical context and underpinnings, but hey, at 19 years old I am well old enough by then to ‘consent’ to the belief and its practices. Thankfully, I continued to study, ask questions, get the facts and most importantly, observe my own life experiences from a high level of awareness and the realities of life I have been subjected to, and as time went on I found that I moved further and further away from a need to adhere to the Mormon Temple covenant. But that is my story, and should not be taken as a template for others to follow. I know of fellow Mormons who have taken the Temple covenant (and wear the garments) whose life experience has kept them on the Temple covenant path, and they are sincerely happy, fulfilled in their existence and experiencing a successful life. Life is not a singular nifty little plan that is supposed to be exactly the same for everyone within a religious system or in the religious context at large. And on that point, maybe the more devout to fanatical may loose sight of this principle.

    One of the crowning points of Mormonism, and clearly stated in its 13 Articles of Faith (the closest Mormon’s come to a creed of sorts) it states that ALL people have the right to ‘free choice’ and that that freedom of choice is a basic right of all humans and is to be respected. I, by my freedom of choice, have chosen the life path I am currently on, and still I have many friends and numerous family members whom I am as close to and who sincerely love me for who I am as those many years ago when I was a devoted Mormon Temple covenanter. It especially helps that I also have done my part in not disparaging them and in fact supporting their choice and honoring and respecting their choices. It really is a great template for peace and goodwill in a world rife with polarizing divisiveness and simply works for me and those Mormon Temple covenanters I associate with, as well as my Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindi and Taoist friends, business associates and acquaintances.

    God bless, Shalom, Asama Ama Alakum to all.

  13. I, by my freedom of choice, have chosen the life path I am currently on, and still I have many friends and numerous family members whom I am as close to and who sincerely love me for who I am as those many years ago when I was a devoted Mormon Temple covenanter. It especially helps that I also have done my part in not disparaging them and in fact supporting their choice and honoring and respecting their choices. It really is a great template for peace and goodwill in a world rife with polarizing divisiveness and simply works for me and those Mormon Temple covenanters I associate with, as well as my Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindi and Taoist friends, business associates and acquaintances.

    Thank you ceder, your comment is a clear and simple road map of how we all… Everyone… Everywhere should treat each other.

  14. Amen, ceder. I’m glad you posted before I got a chance to return to this thread, since your points are far better than the ones I was going to make. I especially like this:

    “one should not forget that such control, whether implied or explicit, is nevertheless entered into by consent.”

    Consent is the key. If you don’t mind me stealing your argument and applying it to my previous comment, I’d say consenting to yield control (or, in the terms I’ve been using, to sacrifice individuality), to some degree, is an essential part of relationships and, by extension, community.

  15. we have advanced past organized religion.

    Well you might have but it’s a bit presumptuious to speak for humanity.

    Organized religion and the tools they use to keep the flock in line is what is now hurting our advancement towards a better humanity.

    Ok sure I guess you could say “the golden rule”, which I was taught in Sunday school, is a “tool” but I would say it’s tool to help people live together and function better as a society. And I don’t see that particular tool as being a barrier to a better anything. If it is then I question the better. It also presupposes that all religion is false which though I’m not a believer I certainly would never claim that for anyone else.

    the organizations have become twisted relics that pray upon our children and elderly.

    What “good” religion has suddenly gone bad? The idea says so much more about you than it does religion. The majority of charity is done thru religions. Health care, teaching, community service, the list goes on and on. Twisted relics? Really?

  16. great replies..

    I will start with this:
    “Yes, such adherence to such codes can turn to control, however, one should not forget that such control, whether implied or explicit, is nevertheless entered into by consent.”

    Consent? Free will? Considering that many people follow the religion that their parents taught them, how much of your choice of Mormonism is really free will? Many religions or churches teach that questioning your beliefs is an act against god, that you should believe what you are taught. Where it the free will and consent in that? I am guessing you were taught Mormonism since birth (I know I could be wrong). How much of your true free will in the realm of religion do you really have? I admire you for rethinking what you have been taught and doing what is best for you and your relationship with God, but for many followers… being taught a religion from 0-18 years old has sucked every ounce of free will out of their heart.

    Our direct environment plays a major role in our decision making. Holding a warm cup of coffee and sitting in a comfie chair makes people easier to negotiate with… sitting in a wobbly chair makes people want more stable qualities in their partners…. a black briefcase sitting on a board room table makes people more aggressive towards one another. These are just examples of what can effect us in the now… now imagine what 20 years of constant teaching does to our decision making.

    and getting back to the point of the article… all of these religious constructs are part of the process of keeping you in line with whatever teachings of your church/religion.

    “Well you might have but it’s a bit presumptuious to speak for humanity.”

    actually, studies done within the Protestant faiths have shown that as people age, they begin to rely less on their church. Their relationships with God advance past needing a preacher to tell them what to believe. I was told this by a Professor of Christian Theology… PhD from an ivy league school.

    EE, I am not saying that everything that comes from any religion is junk. A lot of teachings, in particular the ones that flow within all religions, are based on teachings or instructions or prophets… from God.

    and to your last comment… I will just say that the Catholic church is a monster… and leave it at that.

  17. I will just say that the Catholic church is a monster

    On that subject I would just say it’s simplistic at best. I will agree that as an organization they have done damage, massive and unforgivable damage, over the years, but they also have done so much not just for those in the church but for all of humanity. The majority of health and aids care in Africa comes from catholic charities, orphanages, food distribution, schools, the list goes on and on. It’s not a balance scale where you just weigh out the bad and the good but a monster?

  18. Wearing the garment is completely voluntary, as is anything done in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am one who administers the ordinance in the temple. However, It is the responsibility of all church members to teach others as well as encourage each other to live as one should. It is a wonderful thing to be a Latter-day saint–it brings incredible happiness to me, my wife and 5 children. But as Paul explains in Corinthians, these things must be understood in a spiritual way. That is a very different process than understanding with the mind. Yet it is very possible for those that sencerely want to understand. See James 1:5-6. What if it were true–the same gospel as taught by the Savior and prophets of old–restored again to us. It is true! Look me up if you have questions. With name like Libutti in Utah–not hard to find.

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