There are some people who may wonder about the “strange underclothing or underwear that faithful adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others) wear. They may also wonder if Mormons believe that this “underwear” has any sort of magical powers. Therefore, the question that begs an answer is “What is the underclothing that Mormons wear?”
Historical Background of the Wearing of Special Garments
Throughout the course of history, people of diverse religious convictions and backgrounds have worn special clothing that serve as reminders of their sacred beliefs and commitments that they have made. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ are no different in that regard.
The Holy Bible contains many references of people wearing special garments. In the Old Testament, for example, the Israelites are specifically instructed to turn their garments into personal reminders of their covenants with God. In Numbers 15:37-41 we read:
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.
The Mormon Temple Garment
The underclothing, or as derided by some non-Mormons, the “magic underwear”, that some people have questions about is called a temple garment.
The garment is sacred and is revered and not spoken of in casual conversations. The garment is simple white clothing comprised of two pieces – a top piece that is similar to a t-shirt and a bottom piece that is similar to shorts. The garment may also consist of one complete piece. The garment is worn by adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ who have received their endowment. The endowment is something that is personal and is only given in the House of the Lord – the Holy Temple.
In keeping with the basic dictionary definition of an endowment being a gift given by a higher power, the endowment that a person receives is a gift of knowledge consisting of a series of instructions and covenants that enable him to leave the House of the Lord and return to live in the world, but not be of the world, with the Holy Spirit as his constant protection and guide, and an increase in spiritual strength and direction.
The Mormon Temple Garment is a Symbol
Endowed members of The Church of Jesus Christ wear their temple garment as a symbol of the covenants that they have made with the Lord. The temple garment serves as an outward reminder to Latter-day Saints of their commitment to love, worship, and follow Jesus Christ.
The garment is worn under regular clothing, both night and day. The garment should not be removed, either entirely or partially, to do yard work or to wash the car, for example, or to participate in any other activities that can reasonably be done with the garment worn properly beneath the clothing. In the same vein, the garment should not be removed to lounge around the home in swimwear or any type of immodest clothing. In the event that the garment must be removed, such as for swimming, it should be put back on as soon as possible. Also, if the garment consists of two pieces, both pieces must always be worn together.
The temple garment is “an outward expression of an inward covenant and symbolizes Christ-like attributes in one’s mission in life. The white garment symbolizes purity and helps assure modesty and respect for the attributes of God” (What are Latter-day Saint Garments? LDS FAQs, BYU Studies). The garment can also be seen as a symbol by referencing the Apostle Paul’s teaching to take upon us the whole armor of God (See Ephesians 6:13 and Doctrine and Covenants 27:15.)
Wearing the Mormon Temple Garment Bring About Great Blessings
Wearing the temple garments bring about great blessings to those who worthily and faithfully keep the sacred covenants that they have made in the temple.
Once people are endowed, they have the blessing of wearing the temple garment throughout their lives. They are obligated to wear it according to the instructions given in the endowment. Those who have been endowed in the temple must remember that the blessings that are related to this sacred privilege depend on their worthiness and their faithfulness in keeping temple covenants.
The garment provides a constant reminder of the covenants made in the temple. The garment should be treated with respect at all times. It should not be exposed to the view of those who do not understand its significance, and it should not be adjusted to accommodate different styles of clothing. When worn properly, the garment provides protection against temptation and evil. Wearing the garment is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior. (“Gospel Topic: Temples,” Wearing the Temple Garment, LDS.org.)