Ask a Mormon Woman: Why Do Mormons Wear Special Mormon Underwear?

Nov 4, 2010 by

~by Brenda**

Mormon temple Washington D.C.

Q: Why do Mormons wear special Mormon underwear (called temple garments)?

A: To Remember.

Have you ever put a penny in your shoe to help you remember something? I have. Unlike a ribbon around my finger, where everyone asked me what I was trying to remember, the penny served to remind me, and only me, of something important. Every once in a while during the day the penny would shift to someplace in my shoe where I would feel it and remember the task that needed completing. My pennies would help me to remember to return a library book, to repay a debt, or to call a friend. When I wrote reminders on my hand they always washed off, when I used a string it would break. My penny was a dependable and invisible way to help me remember.

Wearing my garments serves a similar purpose. They help me remember.

First of all, they remind me of my commitment to Jesus Christ. At baptism I promised to always remember Him. When I wear my undergarment I’m reminded of the covenants I made at baptism and in the temple to remember Jesus Christ.

They also remind me of the things I learn in the temple like who I am, where I came from, what the purpose of life is, and where I go when I die.

When I do laundry and separate my whites from the bright, flashy colors of my daughters’ clothes and my husband’s filthy construction uniforms I am reminded that I can separate myself from prevalent attitudes that an individual’s worth is based on beauty or wealth, and can remember that despite living in a world where there is filth around me, I can be pure.

When I pour the soap and bleach into my washing machine I remember that Jesus Christ can wash away my sins, even though they be as scarlet, He can make me clean if I repent.

When I fold my garments and put them away into my drawers I am reminded that I need to be prepared. Jesus will come again to earth and I must always be ready to meet my God, whether it be at my death or at His coming, preparation is always necessary.

Like many Mormons, I can get uncomfortable when people ask me about my garments. I see them as sacred symbols of my personal commitment to Christ — not my church’s, not my family’s. They represent my individual choice to love, serve, and worship Jesus Christ as my Savior. I want my actions to reveal me as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Like the penny in my shoe, my garments serve to remind me, and only me, of my commitment to follow Him.

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To read more about Mormon temple garments, see the following article:

The Temple Garment: “An Outward Expression of an Inward Commitment”

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**Please note: The answers in “Ask a Mormon Woman” and (other content on this site) reflect the thoughts, experiences, and perspectives of individual LDS women and administrators at Mormon Women: Who We Are. Although we strive to have our content consistent with the doctrine and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we do not speak officially for the Church. You can read official information about Mormon beliefs at mormon.org’s What We Believe or at www.lds.org.
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30 Comments

  1. Whenever I try to explain the concept of temple garments to someone, I compare it to the yarmulke worn by traditional Jews. It is something you put on daily as a reminder of your covenants and a symbol of God’s promises.

  2. Heidi

    I think your analogies are spotless!

  3. Hmmm

    Where in the Bible does it say that one must where undergarments when in fact Jesus called out the religious leaders of his time to tell them that they where being ritualistic of wearing the same clothing day after day. That they also would wear clothes to seperate them from the rest of the religions in Jesus eyes this was wrong because this was a form of an ego problem where they wanted everyone to know they part of a religion by the clothes they would wear and by how wealthy they was.

  4. Hmmm

    Old testimate they would wear things if they was a Priest in the temple but with Jesus death all of those old testimate rules died along with him.

  5. Hmmm,

    Good questions about the practice of wearing temple garments. I’d like to respond to both in one comment.

    First, you mention the fulfilling of the Old Testament laws. Interestingly, the concept of all of Christ’s followers being able to participate in temple ordinances is consistent with the fulfillment of the law. Once Christ died and was resurrected, the role of the high priest in the temple as mediator in those ordinances was no longer needed. The temple is a place where we are reminded that we all have direct access to His atoning grace.

    Please also know that we wear garments to remind ourselves of our covenants, not to feed ego. They are worn under our clothing. But even the priestly garments worn by those who were following the law as God wanted them to were to point to Christ, not to aggrandize self. You are right that the Pharisees ended up twisting some of the law and rituals…but that doesn’t mean that the rituals themselves or the ordinances were not approved of God.

    Another thing that I think is worth mentioning is that when we attend the temple, we change out of our street clothes and into simple all-white clothing. The idea is to bring us into a state of equality, where money and power and prestige don’t matter. An apostle or prophet wears the same thing as everyone else. All are alike in this sacred space.

    Lastly, you won’t find every jot and tittle about Mormon life and belief in the Bible. These things have been clarified and given us through living prophets and apostles. We cherish the Bible, but we also cherish the continuing light and truth that God has chosen to reveal.

  6. Karen

    I don’t need an article of clothing, or underwear to remind me of my commitment to Jesus Christ because I live out my faith daily. Wearing temple garments and dressing in all white is a man-made concept.

  7. Karen, of course we respect your space to have an opinion, but obviously we disagree about whether or not the temple and its rituals and reminders are man-made.

    We, too, seek to live out our life daily. We imagine faith in the Savior is an anchor for you as it is for us.

  8. Karen

    I don’t need to wear special undergarments or dress in a certain fashion to enter my church. I can wear jeans or flip flops because my clothing has nothing to do with my personage relationship with a loving God. At my church, we do not dress the same because we are each unique and we do not need our clothing or undergarments to remind us that money, power and prestige don’t matter because we look to Christ’s example of this in the Holy Bible. Yes, we will never agree.

  9. Karen,
    It sounds almost as though you may have some misunderstandings about our church (for example, we don’t all dress the same at church), and/or some anger about it. I’m sorry for whatever has given you some bad feelings about our faith. I imagine there are probably a lot of things we could agree on, however, seeing as we all worship Christ as our Savior and revere the Bible as His word. I would hope we could celebrate common ground along the way, even as we can acknowledge that we may see some things differently, too.

  10. Karen

    I don’t misunderstand, I just wasn’t clear in my last comment and I do apologize for that. I was referring to wearing all white when attending the temple, not dressing alike. Also, I’m not angry. I feel many things about Mormonism, but not anger. You may use the same terminology as Christians, but our faith differs drastically. Not just in the wearing of temple garments or dressing in all white when attending the temple. Our God and our Christ are not the same. I do not believe God was once a man. So if my God is different than yours, than so is my Savior.

  11. Well, I’m glad it’s not anger. :) I still do think there are some misunderstandings about our doctrine in what you are saying, but I also realize that it’s unlikely that anything I share will change your mind (not that I would want to — I respect your space to see us as you will). I will say that I believe God is the Father of us all, and that Jesus is the Savior of the world, of us all. We are mortals and all seek Them in the best way we can according to the knowledge we have. May you have a blessed Easter season as you reflect on all that Jesus has done for us.

  12. john hibbert

    well i have read all you have had to say.my beleaf is with the god upstairs the bible and myself ,i find i can do more good around me than some body goin to church and thinking they are doin the right thing then few days later or same day or thinking in there mind some evel thoughts abou people ,it happens al to often i see it all the time,people go to church come out and live there daily lives in not a nice way and have evel thoughts ,and most of the wars and fighting is about ,give you one guess?
    no i can let all the beleavers fight among each other .

  13. john, thanks for your thoughts. I won’t argue with you; belonging to a church is no guarantee that someone will live as they should. It’s something that was recently talked about, actually at our church’s general conference. The fact that not all religious people live as they should can sometimes be a barrier to others considering joining a church.

    But I would submit that it’s not the belonging to a church that is the problem. The problem lies in our hearts, and that is a human problem, not just a problem within organized religion.

    Your comment also reminds me of the Q&A with one of our leaders at an address he gave at Harvard Law School, when he was asked something along the lines if we as Mormons think we are better than others. His answer was very clear, and I’ll paraphrase here. There is SO much good in so many places and in so many people. What we seek to share is that Jesus restored His authority to perform the ordinances like baptism that He said are essential to salvation. But we rejoice in the goodness of others.

    And we really don’t want to fight. It’s my hope that we can all try to do and be good, and work together in such efforts, not fight against each other. We all need the grace of God!

  14. john

    ok i see where you are coming from .
    i have a brotherin law and is wife who is a mormon. they gave me the book of mormon,i have it right in front of me now ,so i ask my self would i be any better off being a mormon or staying the way i am ?

  15. john, thanks for the response. Have you read any of the book at all?

  16. And with that, I’d just ask — how does the Bible help you in your life? Maybe instead of jumping right to wondering if you should become a Mormon (no pressure here!), you could see if the Book of Mormon helps you feel the Savior’s love and grace as the Bible does. We see them as companion scriptures, helping us understand more about the role and mission of the Savior in saving the world from death and sin. If organized religion doesn’t click for you, that’s ok. Maybe there can still be something in the Book of Mormon that can add to your personal journey to come to know Christ and involve Him in your life.

  17. john

    well i have read a little of the book of mormon, and the bible ,just wondering, its like any thing else i just put the book down after say 5 mins then could go back to it say in a weeks time.
    is the mormon faith very demanding?
    why do they have such a following?
    while others are going down.

  18. Karen

    I am curious now, Mormonwomen; just what is that I’ve written in my comments that makes you think I might be misunderstanding about Mormon doctrine? Am I wrong that the Mormon god was once a man who attained the status of Godhood? Might I also be wrong that Mormonism believes the Bible has been corrupted? Perhaps Mormons do not also practice baptism of the dead? Might you enlighten me?

  19. john,
    Your two questions sort of relate to each other, I think. I think you might benefit from listening to some of the talks that were recently given in our general conference. Your questions are reminding me of things that were said there. Our church does expect something from us, in part because we believe that sacrifice and service are necessary elements of spiritual growth. In serving others and “sacrificing” some things in our lives, we believe we can draw closer to God.

    You might also consider taking a look at the “people” section of mormon.org or conversion stories and other content here on our site to get a feel for why people choose to be Mormon and what Mormon life is like.

  20. Karen, it was this element in your comment that I think misrepresents or at least misses our core Mormon beliefs.

    Interestingly, I was just having a discussion with other Mormons about this idea, one that is not an uncommon ‘attack point’ for some. I’m reminded of something said in our general conference this past weekend, that not everything that has ever been said by a leader can or should be considered doctrine. One of the things that I think is important about understanding Mormon belief is to look for consistency, repetition, and current-ness. To understand what we believe, I think those tests are important, and I think context is very important. Our faith is more than the ‘attack points’ people like to bring up, especially because those points are often not considered in the context of the whole of our doctrine.

    At this point, I do feel like you are approaching the conversation more with ‘attack points’ in mind. We welcome questions and respectful conversation, but if your intent is simply to attack, we may have to call it good here. Please take a look at our comment policies before commenting again.

    To address the points you brought up that you’d not brought up before: Yes, we do believe in baptism for the dead, and we have discussed that issue here. (It’s actually a Biblical concept as we see it, both in upholding the Savior’s commandment that all must be baptized to be saved, as well as the direct mentioning of baptism for the dead in 1 Cor. 15.) We believe God is a perfect, just, merciful loving God who would not condemn someone for not having the opportunity to receive the ordinance of baptism in this life.

    Also, we believe the Bible to be God’s word, and revere it as the word of God, “as far as it is translated correctly,” as stated in our eighth article of faith, which also teaches that, “we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

  21. Karen

    Mormonwomen, I find it interesting that you consider my last comment and the questions I addressed to you as “attack points”. That was not the intent of the questions, I am just looking for honest answers. Thank you for addressing a few of them for me.

    You stated baptism of the dead as being a Biblical concept and referenced 1 Cor.15 to back up this Mormon practice. 1 Cor. 15: 29 “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?” Paul was not approving the practice of baptism of the dead, he was simply using this as an illustration for his Greek audience of the importance of the resurrection. To use 1 Cor. 15 as an endorsement for baptism of the dead is to take something completely out of context and not consider the text of this chapter as a whole.

    I did read the comment policies and do not feel I’ve violated any of them.

  22. Karen,

    Thank you for the follow-up. I apologize for misreading your comment. This medium is limited and tone/intent are sometimes hard to ‘hear’ through printed words alone. It is true that some of the things you have brought up *are* used as attack points; I’m grateful to know that that is not your intent. Once again, I apologize for jumping to conclusions with your comments.

    As to 1 Cor. 15:29, obviously we look at that scripture differently (at least to some extent), although the context (understanding the Greek’s beliefs and Paul’s focused teaching for them) is also valuable.

    This piece at the Washington Post by Michael Otterson explores more of what baptism for the dead means to us. Perhaps it will be of interest to you. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/what-baptism-for-the-dead-means-to-mormons/2012/02/23/gIQA2sIaVR_blog.html

    ~Michelle (I keep forgetting to sign my name to my comments!)

  23. Karen

    Thank you for your response, Michelle, and I do appreciate all the time you’ve taken to respond to my comments. I also understand how things can be taken wrong because of the limitations of writing. I’ve been researching Mormonism because a close friend of mine recently converted and my questions weren’t attack points but my way of trying understand Mormonism a bit more. After many weeks, and countless hours, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to respectfully disagree with Mormon theology. It’s a difficult place to be, having to love someone but not being able to share our love of God because they are undeniably different Gods and a different Jesus.

    I do thank you for your willingness to respond to me and I am glad to have had these conversations with you.

  24. Karen,

    Thanks for your response in return. I understand what you mean – sometimes it can be hard to have someone you love have beliefs that are different from yours. But I also believe much good can come from having conversations, and from gaining understanding, and also learning to build on the good in each others’ lives and beliefs, even as we are unafraid to say, “I disagree on that.”

    Thanks for engaging in this conversation.

    ~Michelle

  25. MormonConvert

    I being a convert researched many different churches for a very long time. When I came across the LDS faith I had actually never heard of it so going in I had no negative feelings twords or positive about it. I was on the line and open to what I was going to hear. I think one big thing about religion period ,is how you feel. If you go into anything with negative feelings for what ever reason the outcome isnt going to be good. If you go in open minded and with faith in your heart that god will lead and direct you in the right direction which is how I approached the LDS faith you will get an answer.I received my answer and I have never been happier :) My garments do remind me when you are out in the world where I am, gods commandments and the things I agreed to follow and do when I was baptized and sealed in his holy temple. No one forces you to wear them it is your choice just as you get to choose what religion you would like to follow. Thats the beauty about God he gives us that free agency to make our decisions in life good or bad its up to us on what we do with what we have. It is our choice to be kind to our fellow brothers and sisters no matter their choices in life. When I go into the temple and see all the people dressed in white it reminds me of heaven. What everything will look like and how we will all be equal and dressed modestly. I know with all my heart we are given these directions from our living prophet who is led and directed by heavenly father and I will follow these directions all the days of my life :)

  26. Fernando

    I am not a member of the LDS church, and I must admit to having some unfortunate run-ins with some missionaries many years ago. And even though I find Mormon doctrine to be a bit puzzling (having been raised Methodist), I see nothing wrong with letting Mormons believe whatever they choose to believe. I am very disturbed by those who work to tear them down, and if they are allowed to have their way, their hatred will continue to spread to all other faiths. I would strongly advise non-Mormons to stop making a big deal out of side issues like the undergarments, and we need to end this “us against them” mentality that’s so strong in the country today. As a non-Mormon, I appreciate Mormon’s very unique contribution to American history.

  27. Thank you, Fernando, for your kind and respectful comment. Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with Mormon missionaries. Sometimes they do happen. We hope sometime you can have a positive experience with some Mormons. :)

    If you feel like sharing, what do you find puzzling about our doctrine?

  28. Rebekah

    I’m being baptized into the LDS church this Saturday, And I am the only Mormon in my family. I’m 18, almost 19 and I’m very nervous about the garments. To me, a garment won’t have to remind me of my choice. Is it absolutely required to wear garments? Will I get in trouble if I don’t? It’s not strict, is it? I’m very scared as I have never done this before, ever. I chose to convert, and I stand alone here.

  29. Rebekah,

    Congratulations on your baptism. It is a courageous thing to do to take this leap of faith, alone. It’s okay to feel nervous about the unknown. You aren’t the only one who has wondered and worried about temple garments.

    I sense there is more to your concerns that I can’t presume to understand through a simple comment, but I also want to answer your questions directly, to start out my response. Once you do go through the temple for your own endowment (which comes no sooner than a year after your baptism, and usually in preparation for marriage or a mission, or when you and your bishop feel you are ready), wearing the garment can be as much a symbol of the gift you have received as it is a reminder of the covenants you have made in the temple. The symbolism of the temple is rich and layered and the process of discovering its meaning is deeply personal. The process of taking fears and concerns to God is also very personal.

    I say that because the wonder of this path you are entering into is that it really is just the beginning of a process of discovery. That process will happen as you take your concerns, fears, questions — as well as your joys, triumphs, and gratitude — directly to God. He will put people, resources into your path, as well as give you insight and inspiration directly through your own thoughts and feelings and experiences.

    After your baptism, you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that gift can be a treasured blessing for you as you continue forward, line upon line, in this process of discovery.

    I think of a dear friend of mine who converted at about the same age and stage of life as you, and it seemed in some ways that joining the Church only opened up more questions for her, even as she converted because of the many answers the restoration of the gospel provided for her.

    One of the things I love most about her is how she has shown me, perhaps more than anyone I know, that God is there and will help us navigate our questions.

    My hope for you is this — that you can move forward in faith simply and boldly with what you know, today. It’s ok to not want to wear garments today. That is not what you are being asked to do at this point in your journey. Sometimes God gives us just enough to help us know what next step to take, but He won’t necessarily give us the whole package all at once. But your boldness in your statement that, “I chose to convert” to me says it all. You chose it for a reason, and that can be enough for now.

    I keep thinking about this talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen, “You Know Enough.” Here’s a snippet:

    Our spiritual journey is the process of a lifetime. We do not know everything in the beginning or even along the way. Our conversion comes step-by-step, line upon line. We first build a foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We treasure the principles and ordinances of repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We include a continuing commitment to prayer, a willingness to be obedient, and an ongoing witness of the Book of Mormon. (The Book of Mormon is powerful spiritual nourishment.)

    We then remain steady and patient as we progress through mortality. At times, the Lord’s answer will be, “You don’t know everything, but you know enough”—enough to keep the commandments and to do what is right. Remember Nephi’s words: “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”

    I will be thinking of you today and praying for you. God is aware of you and your questions, fears, and needs — and He is so very aware of your courage in this step you are taking today. Trust Him. He will guide you every step along the way.

    Michelle
    Editor

  30. beawesomeb

    Garments are mentioned in the bible. Usually with the prophets wearing them. You half to search for it though or pay attention when you read it. Exodus 28:2, Lev. 6:10 among other places.

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