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Q. What is the reason for wearing Mormon sacred/holy garments and is it required?

SPO-House-ad_Ask-A-Mormon_0823139 A. Many religions have clothing or accoutrements that serve various purposes: Catholic vestments, yarmulkes, crosses on necklaces, the Sikh 5 Ks. Like other religious apparel, Mormon “garments” are symbols, though because they are worn as underwear they are private expressions of faith rather than public identifiers of our religion.

Adult Latter-day Saints who have gone to the temple and made covenants with God are expected to wear garments as an “outward expression of an inward commitment” to honor those promises. We wear them as a constant reminder to ourselves of who we are and what we believe.

Agency is a paramount principle of the Church and while members of the Church are given guidelines about how and when to wear garments, each person makes his or her own choices as “guided by the Holy Spirit.”

 

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Emily Geddes

Emily Geddes

Emily H. Geddes was born to two physicists and grew up as a Navy brat. Born-and-raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she holds a bachelor's degree in theatre from Brigham Young University, and earned an MBA from Eastern Washington University.

4 Comments

  1. Eric Blauer

    Thanks for the explanation Emily but one clarification, does “expected to wear” mean, required or suggested? I’m curious if the idea of “agency” could you explain that for me? If as a Mormon, someone decided not to wear these items because is that cool too?

  2. Emily Geddes

    You’re welcome, Eric. The garments are required in the temple, but there’s a pretty wide range among my Mormon family, friends, and acquaintances for how often/when garments are worn outside of the temple. Some wear them pretty much constantly, others don’t. As a personal signifier of remembering our covenants, it varies according to personal opinion, beliefs, and how each person has worked it out with God on an individual basis.

    Agency is basically “Mormon-ese” for free will, the ability to choose and act for ourselves.

  3. Eric,
    Perhaps another way to put it, is that as members we covenant in the temple to wear the garments throughout our lives (in and out of the temple). We enter into those covenants of our own free will and choice. I think what Emily might be getting at (correct me if I’m misrepresenting you Emily), is that some individuals might wear them less, generally because of occupation and hobby (lifeguard, football player, or even just exercising, etc.). But if you go through the temple, you do covenant to wear them continually (i.e., when you aren’t doing those activities that might be naturally prohibitive from wearing them). That doesn’t mean you’ll go through some sort of punishment if you don’t wear them. It just means that if you don’t keep your temple covenants, you could lose your recommend (your opportunity to return to the temple), until you repent and strive to keep your covenants again.

  4. Emily Geddes

    As I mentioned before, there’s a range of opinions and beliefs regarding wearing garments among Mormons and what the instruction “throughout our lives” means. Tim has outlined one common interpretation.

    The official Church handbook states: “Members who have made covenants in the temple should be guided by the Holy Spirit to answer for themselves personal questions about wearing the garment.” I don’t believe it’s anyone else’s business when an individual wears his or her garments. It’s between that person and God.

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