As a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I wear the sacred temple garment. Some people in pop culture mockingly refer to sacred garments as “magic Mormon underwear.” In this post, I hope to explain what it is, and why it deserves respect.
Many religions around the world have special clothing to symbolize their relationship with God. Mormons wear temple undergarments under their normal clothes to remind them of promises they made to always remember God. It is a physical reminder of our spiritual covenants with God. People of goodwill can show respect for our religion by referring to the Mormon temple garment by its actual name and not mockingly refer to it as “Mormon underwear,” because it has far more significance to us than a normal undergarment.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our religion and for being the type of person to become informed rather than simply mocking the faith of others. The fact that you’re searching this today says something positive about who you are.
What Exactly Is the Temple Garment that Latter-Day Saints wear?
Most of our church services happen in a normal church building. We meet each Sunday where we hear sermons about Jesus Christ and His gospel, sing hymns, and study scripture together. There are many thousands of our church buildings around the globe which provide a meeting space for our 30,000 congregations worldwide. All of our church meetings in our churches around the world are open to the public and all are invited to attend.
Aside from attending regular church meetings, those who become baptized into the church and prepare themselves can make further promises to God in one of the temples. There are 182 LDS temples around the world. In the temple, we learn more about God’s nature, the creation of the world and how Adam and Eve were our first parents, and the commandments we must follow to further devote ourselves to God.
After going to the temple for the first time, members of the church who choose to devote themselves will begin wearing the sacred temple garment. Video of the garment can be seen in the above video which is produced by the church. Not all members of the church wear the temple garment, because not all members of the church have yet chosen to devote themselves in this way by participating in a temple ceremony. Also, there are age requirements (generally after someone is 18-years-old, but it depends on the circumstances).
The temple garment is a physical reminder to us each day of the promises that we made in the temple. The garment reminds us of our promises to Jesus Christ, and it is for this reason that we treat it as sacred. The garment itself is just cotton and thread, but its symbolism means far more.
For more on the reasons WHY Mormons wear temple garments, read this.
How Is the Garment Worn, and Can It Ever Be Removed?
Because of the sacred symbolism of the garment to us, we do not show the garment on the outside of our clothing. It is a reminder for the individual. As a devout Mormon, I wear the temple garment, but it is under my clothes so no one would ever even know.
There are times when a Mormon may remove the temple garment, such as when swimming or participating in a sport where it is not practicable to wear the garment, or when showering (obviously), etc. We change and launder the garment daily as with any typical undergarment. The rest of the time, we wear the reminder to help us to focus on the Lord.
Both male and female Mormons are encouraged to dress in a respectful and modest way. It is our way of representing ourselves in a way that signifies our respect for our bodies. We wear clothing typical of many people. As I’m typing this, I’m wearing a Polo shirt and jeans. Most days you’ll find me in shorts and a t-shirt. You wouldn’t be able to spot a Mormon just by their day-to-day clothing.
Do Latter-Day Saints Believe Their Underwear is Actually “Magical?”
No, and this question may actually be offensive as it shows a lack of sensitivity to our sincerely held belief. We certainly would not mock the religious vestments of other religions, and we simply ask for the same respect from others.
However, there may be a sincere question here aside from the unfavorable wording. Some may yet wonder what value we believe we receive by wearing the temple garment.
Quite frankly, the temple garment alone provides no protection or value. It is simply material sewn into a religious vestment. What does, however, provide protection and strength to us is our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, and we do believe that by making and keeping our sacred promises to Him, we receive His protection from evil. The garment is a memorial of that promise and it is for this reason that we treat it with respect and sacredness. The point is that the temple garment is a symbol of something deeper.
It is for this reason that the vile pop culture references to “magical Mormon underwear” are disrespectful and uninformed. It mocks and misrepresents our belief.
How Did the Practice of Wearing Religious Clothing Begin?
The practice of wearing reminders of one’s faith and devotion has been practiced for as long as history exists. In Old Testament times, God gave lengthy and explicit instructions about the apparel of the high priest. In Christ’s time, Pharisees were well-known for wearing a phylactery on the forehead. Even Christ’s clothing was bordered to represent his authority, which was touched by the woman with the issue of blood when she was healed (Matthew 9, Mark 5, Luke 8). Some Christians today remember Christ’s great sacrifice by wearing the crucifix.
Examples can found in many of the world’s religions:
“The nun’s habit. The priest’s cassock. The Jewish prayer shawl. The Muslim’s skullcap. The saffron robes of the Buddhist monk. All are part of a rich tapestry of human devotion to God.” (Source)
Just as with other religions, we too have this reminder to help us focus on the Savior of the World.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, wearing of the temple garment began not long after our first temple was built, which means the practice in modern time dates back to the 1840s.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about my faith. I hope I’ve been able to explain the answer to this question in a clear way without leaving too many unanswered questions, but if you have other things you’re wondering about, you’re more than welcome to ask in the comments below.
I understand that there may be other questions you’d have and I’d like to be able to help answer them as much as possible while remembering that this is a sacred part of my faith. I just ask that all interaction in the comments be polite and civil.
Thank you again for taking the time to learn about my religion. When you are ready to learn more about the church, please visit Mormon.org.