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.
You are a sheep. There is absolutely no relationship between one’s underwear and God. Wearing extra layers of cloth under one’s outer garments has no meaning. You are brainwashed into believing false lies. Making you wear silly underwear is just a way to keep you submissive to their domination. No one respects you for your choice in panties. If you wish to wear such garb, fine. You are free to wear it. But please do not think normal people owe you any extra respect for such foolishness.
Novella, your comment was obviously intended to be rude, but I’ll respond politely to you anyway. You said “There is absolutely no relationship between one’s underwear and God.” I of course agree that we aren’t going to be judged by our undergarments, but I do believe that throughout time, God has given religious garments to the people to remind them of their promises to God.
In the Bible, Jesus wore symbolic clothing. Remember the story of the woman with the issue of blood and how she touched the border of Jesus’s garment? The border of the garment was very meaningful in the culture and represented God’s power. Of course it was her faith that saved the woman–not the garment. However, the garment did have important meaning to Christ. Further, God gave extremely specific instructions in the old testament to the priests in telling them exactly how they should dress to perform sacrifices and other religious rites.
Don’t wear garments and think it’s dumb? Fine. However, you can choose to at least show respect for others.
I don’t believe the dress of a Hasidic Jew is necessary today. I don’t think the hijab of Islam is necessary. Yet, I would never demean their methods of worship. In fact, I greatly respect their faith. We only ask for the same respect.
That is unquestionably true. I was just pointing out that priesthood rites existed even in those times–not that cloth healed her. It was certainly her faith that healed her.
thank you for explaining the Temple Undergarments, I found your explanation to be enlightening.
Good morning, in my morning Bible study today, I happen to be reading in John 19:23, where it’s stated they removed all of Jesus clothes, but left his undergarment … in reading this it sparked my curiosity, and studied the meaning of the undergarment the Mormons wear. The one important difference of the undergarment Jesus wore was seamless, were as the one Mormons wear do have thread.
However, I totally understand, and do respect your belief. I wear my cross around my neck, my cross in my car, even sometimes on my tee-shirts.
I find the difference in all cultures, and beliefs beautiful, as long as we worship the one true God.
He who judges, will be judged.
How unkind you are.
I think Novella only read this article so that she could post a negative comment. I believe Jim’s response was typical of what I have come to expect from him. He is a genuinely respectful person who is posting information that helps others understand his religious beliefs. I appreciate your efforts Jim. I am Catholic and although I made the huge decision, several years ago, to no longer attend church, as I find some of the things taught there to be unacceptable, I do wholeheartedly believe in a God and I try very hard to live as a really good person. I do not believe that my faith has to be tied to a brick and mortar building although I do miss some of the spiritual rituals involved in actually attending mass ☹️. I am enjoying learning about your faith, Jim, keep up the good work.
Elizabeth, I also was raised Catholic, and chose to leave the church over doctrinal issues in my 20s. I have hunted ever since for a belief system that did make sense to me, and now, 4+ decades later, have made the decision to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I really appreciate Jim Harmer’s blog; it has helped me investigate this faith and church.
Hey Pat! Thank you so much for leaving that comment. I am so happy for you to have found the belief system you’ve been looking for. It will bring great peace to your life. Feel free to reach out any time if you have questions or concerns. My cell is 208.477.9332
Thank you for the educational article Jim. I have several relatives on my wife’s side who are Mormons, and I respect the symbolism of the Temple Garment. Thank you, and God bless.
Thank you for this informative article. I like to know about others faith and beliefs. I consider it mandatory to educate myself on others beliefs and faith so I do not offend or look foolish by assuming I know about the depths of faith of other beliefs.I think everyone should educate themselves and although I was originally taught to mock and ridicule the ways of the Mormons ,I try hard to grow past my upbringing where I was taught to ridicule other Faith. I wish you a great day,but I do not wish to have my mailbox filled with copious amounts of information or any attempt to convert me .Thank you for this article as I am now a little bit more educated on your temple garments and why you wear them. Thanks for sharing.
Jim, thanks for putting up with someone like Novella. A true sign of your spiritual strength. I am not Mormon, nor religious. But I know that the heritage of your Mormon culture is one of the richest and should be one of the most highly regarded. The history of your church is great. You were some of the most educated people to come west. Your love of your families is incredible. I have never met a Mormon that I didn’t enjoy having as a friend.
Question: Are there requirements of the undergarment being worn when you are at home?
We wear the undergarment at home, but obviously take it off for showering and um… certain other activities if that’s what you mean 🙂
Do NOT forget the Mormon “Jesus” is not found anywhere in the Bible. The Mormon “Jesus” cannot save anyone. Nobody, no how. That may anger or hurt you. Sometimes, the truth really hurts. Nevertheless, two plus two equals four, not seventeen. You may want to believe two plus two equal seventeen, but they don’t. Plain and simple. Mormonism is a false, non- and anti-biblical system. May the Lord Jesus show you and many, many Mormons the truth, before it is too late.
It seems that your comment has the purpose of simply lobbing a random hate comment and isn’t trying to create a respectful and serious discussion. You didn’t establish any foundation for your arguments. Just random conclusions.
We believe in the same Jesus Christ that every Christian does. We believe he is the messiah, the savior, and the only way we can be saved.
We don’t believe in any anti-biblical system. We are taught the Bible and commanded to read and follow it.
Again, if you’d like to engage in a respectful and thoughtful discussion, I’d be glad to. It seems you’re more interested in just being hateful and not seeking to understand what you’re arguing about. That’s not what we’re about here.
I am Lutheran and have always believed that mormonism is a cult and its use of the book or mormon as holy scripture is ludicrous. In addition, the practice of Catholics praying to Mary is idolatry. The Bible says that there is “only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” That is clear and refutes the Catholic practice of praying to Mary.
What exactly is your definition of a cult? Because I go to church with a group of very kind and friendly people who only want to be good neighbors, serve others, and be good family people. We sing about Christ and seek to follow him. I just don’t get this cult thing.
No one in a cult ever ‘gets it’. It’s because you’re in the cult Jim. You’re in it.
I just got back from church. Topics of discussion were: having faith in Christ amid times of trouble, raising good kids, and serving our neighbors. We sang hymns about Christ. People mingled and were nice to each other. Only love. If that’s what you consider a cult, then sure. I’m in a cult.
hi my grandmother wears these under garments. she has recently been diagnosed with dementia and is having lots of falls when going to the toilet. She refuses to removed her undergarment and o totally understand why. I just need to find a way that she could remove it to help reduce her falls. If there anything you can advise please help?
Thank you for caring for your grandmother. I have good news for you. The distribution center (the church store that produces garments) will tailor garments for those with disabilities. They do it very very inexpensively to make it easy for people in this exact situation. Just call 1-800-537-5971 and explain that you aren’t a member but you’re helping your grandmother, and describe the issue. They will custom make some to help.
I happened across your posts while doing some reseach on the Mormon church for a project. I felt compelled to leave a note to say i find you have a very wise and effective ability to inform and teach non church members about your churches practices in a way that is respectful, understanding of curiousity and creates relatability. That is a gift and as a non Mormon church member who considers that respect for all religions by all would make for a more God-like world, i am moved by what you share and grateful that you have chosen to do this with your gift. Thank you. It is an example for all of us.
Thank you for such a kind message. I appreciate you saying that.
It is God who heals. Our love, devotion, and faith are all we have that we can give. God can heal without us or our “gifts.” Remember ; we’re talking GOD here! Without Him, our lives are as a vapor. The Gospels can be summed in 7 words, when He says “I Am God. And you are not.” When the disciples asked Jesus how they could increase their faith, He simply put them in their rightful place.
Thank you for this article. I have often referred to your sacred garments as magic underwear, not thinking about the great offense it may cause. I will do my best to do so no more.
I had been told that Mormons did not remove them, even for bathing or…other activities. Was that ever a thing? Or have they always been removable daily for cleaning?
Thank you Ken. It has always been removable for bathing and other activities.
what is the best site to purchase temple garments.
They are only available through the church distribution center.
thank you for information i enjoy learning about other religions i am 71 years old and never get tired of learning
Why would Jesus chastise these Jews for the clothing they were wearing and then do the same thing?
Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
To me that would be very hypocritical to say the least. All garments have a hem. Hems are to keep the material from fraying and make it last longer. This was no special hem such as the Jews wore. It had no special or magical powers. It was only a part of his clothing. IMHO this is nothing more than the genuflecting of Catholics or the making of the sign of the cross on ones chest or the wearing of an amulet such as a cross or crucifix. Jesus is our everything and we need nothing else. They placed a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head so does this mean that we should also wear a thorny crown. In those days they did not wear trousers and shirts such as we have today ….. as shocking as this may sound, if Jesus were here today he would probably wear jeans, then what would the woman have touched?
Isaiah 64:6 ¶But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
We may think we’re doing something holy by doing these things, but we’re not.
I’m not what you would call a religious person by any means, but I do love to learn about different religions, and this was something I had never heard of before. Your article was very informative. I’m sorry some people have to be negative in the comments, but I truly respect how you chose to respond. Although I am not religious, I respect people’s rights to believe in whatever religion fits them best, and regardless of their beliefs, mocking people for for them is just wrong. I just wanted to leave my two cents. I wish you well, and hope you have a merry Christmas.
I was raised Baptist and Catholic, but have been an Unitarian since early adulthood. Thank you for objectively educating people about your faith. I also deeply appreciate your compassionate way of dealing with individuals, who either are intentionally trying to stir things up or are just uninformed. The example you set is one that people of all belief systems could benefit from.
Thank you so much for providing this information! I love that you’re willing to address a topic that is often the only thing that people are aware of regarding your faith.
I’ve known a few LDS members over the years, but I always felt that asking about this was too personal, and an intrusive question to ask.
If I understood correctly, the temple garments are worn essentially for the same reason that a Jewish person wears a kippah?
do mormon missionarys wear temple garments
Yes they do.
Thank you for this explanation of the under garments. I always wondered why you wear them. I still have questions. What do you believe are the “promises of Jesus?” Secondly, do you think Christians can choose to wear a WWJD bracelet, or are they required to wear it? Are those wearers somehow trying to be holy and honoring to God and to the people who see the bracelet? If they are trying to “appear” holy by something they wear isn’t that hiding the truth of who they really are, a sinner in need of an inner heart change? I think it’s easy to slip into a legalistic practice.
I think, like most things, the WWJD bracelet just depends on each individual’s heart. I think most of them just want a reminder of their devotion to Christ’s ways, but I’m sure some people may flaunt it as showing their “righteousness.” I think it’s a good thing as long as it’s not done in the wrong way.
Christ has given us uncountable promises. In the Abrahamic promise, he promised us all the father hath.
I asked the question about what Mormons believe are the promises of Jesus because I’d love to know an example and the actual weight and purpose of that promise in your life. Are you aware that in John 14:9 that Jesus tells Phillip that “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father?” In other words, Jesus is promising us that He is God? Are you familiar with John 3:16 where Jesus says “everyone who believes in Me will not perish but have eternal life?” That seems also to be a promise dependent not on our deeds but simple in our belief in the Diety of God that Jesus embodies. Jesus also promised the gift of His Holy Spirit when He said He wouldn’t leave us as orphans (John 14:18) and later in John 14:26 that all Christ followers would receive His Holy Spirit. Those are just a few of the promises of Christ that came from His own Words. I think the profundity of His words come from His Oneness with God. Only God could say those things I just mentioned. I know Mormons don’t accept the grace of God received through faith in the work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection that would have been worthless acts if He wasn’t actually the one and only God, but I encourage you to read John, maybe in an NIV version or NKJ to ponder the promises fulfilled in Christ. A study of Romans is helpful too. It’s what brought many of our ancestors to Christ like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, etc.
BTW, Paul argues in Romans and his other letters that outward displays of righteousness are worthless (like things you wear) to show the world your goodness. (Romans 3, for example) I’ve worked with Muslim women for years and have witnessed the sacredness they give to their modest clothing and hijabs. They believe that wearing those clothes give them “points” to weigh against the bad things they do and possibly help them enter heaven. Christians simply don’t believe external righteousness makes them righteous. If there are Christians who wear a WWJD bracelet to get “points” into heaven, I don’t know any. A true Christ follower doesn’t believe “works” like wearing a bracelet, (or any good deed), get them to heaven. Rather, they believe that because of the love of God and what His only begotten Son did on the cross and resurrection, that they WANT to do good works. I think it’s a little different than what Mormons believe, certainly different than Islam.
Deb, that was so beautiful said. Praise Jesus, the one and only eternal God. Like you, I believe that Christ-followers will never be gods ourselves; we will be perfected humans (made whole again and free from sin) who will worship and serve Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever because of the finished work of Christ.
Jim, thank you for sharing details of your LDS faith. I have three new Mormon friends in my life, so I’ve been learning more about your religion so that I can better understand the common ground and the large differences between it and Protestant Christianity.
I have relatives who are Mormons and wear the garments. I’ve never asked, but am curious, about the small patches that I have noticed on the garments. Can you tell me what the meaning of those are? I respect Mormonism as I do all religions.
Thank you for asking. Those markings on the garment are reminders to us of the temple ceremony, so we keep that private. They help us to remember our devotion to Jesus Christ and remind us to keep his commandments.