Oh how the Internet brings everything to the foreground. Good and Bad, yes. But I do love the digital information age. And I love video. Visual teaching. It’s one of the best ways to explain things. A few years ago, when Mitt Romney was running for President, I wrote a post about my Mormon underwear. I compared it to other religious garb, and I see the LDS church has a new video out with that same message in this YouTube:
There’s quite a history to the Mormon underwear. I think we should get away from calling it underwear or even the popular Mormon word, “garments.” The garment of the Holy Priesthood should have more meaning to us than just our everyday, 24/7 underwear. We get so used to wearing it that some of the special-ness, the sacred-ness, the meaning — has become lost.
It has become our underwear. And sometimes, our not so comfortable underwear.
I think we Mormons could benefit from a greater understanding of the garment of the Holy Priesthood. And the history of it. Too often it becomes the center of scrutiny among our fellow endowed Mormons. I’ve heard Mormons remark, “she wasn’t wearing her garments.” When Ann Romney was on the Jay Leno show, people posted comments, “she couldn’t have been wearing her garments, her dress was too short…”
And because it’s a requirement for a temple recommend, to wear them day and night — guilt, confusion, and comparison surround the garment. I’m not really sure anyone should be asking us how we wear our garment once we’ve made covenants in the temple. And, for sure we should not be judging anyone about how they wear their garments or when they wear them. Please.
When Joseph shared the endowment with people, they didn’t wear the garment all the time. They only wore it as part of the endowment. In fact, not everyone had their own. Later, Mormons wore a garment for prayer circles — which they even held in homes. The garment and prayer were connected.
The earliest known instructions regarding the wearing of the garment was given in 1845 to the assembled and recently endowed saints. The saints were told to wear the garment if they prayed in the true order. For example, Heber C. Kimball stated that the garments should be “worn continually, by night & by day, in prison or free” because “if we have the garments upon us at all times we can at any time offer up the signs.”
The thought was, the garment should be worn so that the signs of the true order could be offered at any time and in any place. And if you wore the garment day and night, you could instantly at any time pray in the special manner.
Heber C. Kimball recorded this from George A. Smith:
“He [George A. Smith] then related an instance of some children being healed & cured of the whooping cough in one night, through the prayers of himself and Elder Woodruff in Michigan while they were there on a mission. Said that whenever they could get an opportunity they retired to the wilderness or to an upper room they did so and offered up the signs, and were always answered. It would be a good thing for us to put on our garments every day and pray to God, and in private circles, when we can do so with safety. You have learned how to pray [in the true order]. You have been taught how to approach God and be recognized.” (Journal of Heber C. Kimball, Dec 21, 1845) ref
The garment of the Holy Priesthood reminds us of our sacred covenants — true. But it is more than that. We can make it more meaningful if we compare it to the tallit or prayer shawl of the faithful Jew or the skin of light given to Adam and Eve. If we think of it as part of our prayer clothing; our garment regains it’s special-ness. I like to remember this when I pray — I like to face east and acknowledge that I am dressed in the garment of the Holy Priesthood.
I’ve tried to remember this — that I wear the garment for many reasons, (and it’s not for modesty) but one of them is for my personal prayer. That’s one thing I want to remember. But because I wear them as my underwear, it’s easy for me to overlook the fact that I’m wearing a prayer garment, a garment of the Holy Priesthood that enables me to better connect with my God.
Now, for me, that is magical.
If you’re an endowed Mormon, Why do you wear your garment? Think about it. It shouldn’t just be about obedience or to pass the temple recommend questions. Make it better than it has been. Make it between you and God.