The following represents a follow-up on my “The Garment” post, which was originally written as essentially an open-ended question on the subject. In that post, I wrote the kinds of things was I told about priesthood garments prior to attending the temple, things like:
- Garments should be kept completely white in color. No stains, etc.
- Garments should not be left on the floor before or after doing laundry.
- Garments should be laundered separate from other clothing.
- Garments should not show under the other clothing you wear.
- Garments should only be removed for absolutely necessary reasons, e.g. showering and having sexual relations with spouse, and should be put back on as soon as reasonably possible.
- Garments must be touching your skin, i.e. no panties or bras under the Garments for women [my wife was told by a temple matron that during menstruation, the pad should be applied directly to the Garments instead of using panties].
- Garments offer physical protection from injuries such as burns.
And then, I wrote out what I was told in the post-2005 ceremony, which was:
- The officiator was under proper authority
- The garment was now authorized
- The garment is to be worn throughout life.
- The garment represents what was given to Adam/Eve when found naked in the garden.
- The garment is called the garment of the holy priesthood.
- Inasmuch as the garment is not defiled — meaning the wearer is true and faithful to the covenants — it will be a shield and a protection against the power of the destroyer until the earthly probation is finished.
I then wrote about some of the things I saw as divergent between what members are told about their priesthood garment and what we are actually instructed as the standard with respect to our priesthood garments — leaving the matter at that.
Well, between the comments I got on that post, as well as the subject of garments coming up at the-exponent and Wheat & Tares blogs and my comments at those sites — I’ve formulated this post [which is currently still included in the Gospel-based, Egalitarian, Multihusband-Multiwife Tribal Anarchy Model book project].
Typical View: Garments ≠ clothing:
LDS will typically divide their closets and drawers into two categories: garments and clothing.
A “modest” human being is expected to wear clothing at all conceivable times — whether they have been to the temple or not. And then, once, as an LDS, you go to the temple, you will then begin wearing garments in addition to your clothing.
Garments are considered [in the typical view] to be nothing but a newer and more sacred form of underwear. Your outside appearance as an LDS who has just started wearing your garments will not change — unless you were in the habit of wearing non-modest clothing before-hand — then, that would need to change so that the garments you are going to start wearing under your clothing won’t be seen.
Actual View: Garments = clothing and clothing = garments:
There is a dividing line [of sorts] between clothing in your closet, but it is not a division between clothing and garments. All garments are in fact clothing and all clothing are in fact nothing but garments. What there is in actuality is two types of clothing [or two types of garments]. There are:
- Normal, everyday clothing — as worn by all non-LDS
- Priesthood clothing — as all temple-attending LDS have been authorized to wear
The words “clothing” and “garment” are synonymous. They both signify that which is used to cover your nakedness.
clothing |ˈklōði ng |
1. items worn to cover the body
1. an item of clothing.
So, that which are called “garments” [in the typical view] are actually [in the actual view] a special type of garments [or clothing] that endowed LDS have the authorization to wear and that are marked to show that they are in fact priesthood clothing [rather than normal, everyday clothing]. Your outside appearance as an LDS who has just started wearing your priesthood clothing would, of necessity, be different than before-hand — unless you get in the habit of wearing non-priesthood clothing on top of them — so as to appear just like everybody else on the outside.
Covering the coverings:
Insofar as the priesthood garment is given to represent the coats of skins given to Adam and Eve when they were found naked in the garden of Eden — it should be a practical piece of clothing. However, I’ve found that most find it to be quite the opposite: an irritation and a generally unpractical thing to have to wear under your everyday clothing.
This is all such a problem because LDS are taught through oral tradition to worry about covering their coverings? And since the subject of the priesthood garment is linked closely to the subject of body modesty, women are uniquely impacted in this regard. Among my family members, in my congregation, and online, I have found that most women must fret constantly about whether or not their clothing covers their garments or whether they ought to wear panties/bras under or over the garment, etc. Shopping is difficult for them. They experience poor fit, have difficulty finding working sizes, and complain about how garments get in the way of everything — especially when its hot. If it is the intention of the priesthood garment to be our covering — then why care so much about covering the covering?
The intention of the priesthood garment is to cover the nakedness of men and women while they work out their mortal probation. Given that purpose, it is obviously the intention that the priesthood garment [being the covering] be seen rather than what is below the covering [the nakedness].
Let all thy garments be plain […] of the work of thine own hands:
And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands; And let all things be done in cleanliness before me.
The issue with this verse is that most who read it have been raised according to the typical view of garments vs. clothing [rather than priesthood clothing vs. normal, everyday clothing] — as such, they will come to the text with the assumption that since this usage of “garment” came before the endowment proper was formulated and the garment of the holy priesthood administered to members — that the word obviously just means our normal, everyday clothing [which, funny enough, we don’t comply with anyway. We all shop at stores don’t we?]
Prior to initiation, our garments [or clothing] are identical to those worn by other non-LDS. In the temple endowment, LDS are authorized, put under covenant, and instructed in wearing priesthood garments [or clothing]. At the veil, we are taught what converts a normal garment into a priesthood garment — i.e. the marks.
What they misunderstand is that what the Lord is saying here is that any-and-all garments [or clothing] ought to be made by our own hand. Meaning — the verse applies equally to normal, everyday garments and to priesthood garments. Whether you wear one or the other — they are to be plain and their work and beauty should be done by your own hand.
Now people will typically comply with the temple’s instruction to wear the priesthood garment both night and day by wearing two sets of clothing — normal, everyday garments on top of priesthood garments.
However, one is equally free to wear only the priesthood garment that is the work of their own hands, in accordance with D&C 42:40-41, by either making clothing from scratch or by converting their normal, everyday clothing into priesthood clothing by cutting and sewing in the marks — as they have been authorized and instructed in doing.
After reading that scripture and doing some more research — I also found that this practice is more in line with what was done by early LDS. The minutes from an October 1870 meeting in Salt Lake reveal that:
Some enquiry was made as to how many have their shirts marked — A few rose with them marked — President Young said he took scissors & soon made the marks. Even if the shirt is colored, mark it — If there is flannel or buckskin between the shirt & garment, that also should be marked. An overshirt worn as a vest should not be marked.
Thus, in accordance with the scriptural instruction and a historical precedent, any normal, everyday clothing that one would typically wear as a single layer may be made into priesthood clothing [garments] by cutting the marks of the holy priesthood into them and then stitching them up so they don’t fray. Jackets and other second layer-type clothing need not receive any marks.
Keep your covenants:
The 2011 General Church Handbook of Instruction [CHI] states that:
Church members who have been clothed with the garment in a temple have taken upon themselves a covenant obligation to wear it according to the instructions given in the endowment.
This point of general instruction is based on the temple recommend interview question, which asks:
Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple?
Though ecclesiastical leaders will read extra material to you after the temple recommend interview and though the CHI goes on to expound on a paragraph’s worth of extra instructions — neither of these are contained in the temple endowment — and therefore can be ignored when any LDS is addressing their personal compliance with temple covenants.
What is important to remember is that an initiated LDS has covenanted to wear priesthood clothing for the remainder of their mortal life. And, in the gospel, we must honor and keep all agency-based vows we have freely entered. However, no one has covenanted to wear the priesthood clothing that is sold by Distribution Services — nor has any one covenanted to hide the priesthood garment from the eyes of others by wearing normal, everyday clothing on top of them.
This is not to say that if making two sets of clothing [normal on top of priesthood] works for you and the ones sold by the Distribution Centers fit you comfortably — that you are not free to continue to wear your priesthood garments in that manner or free utilize that resource to buy them because that still technically fulfills the vow to wear priesthood clothing throughout your life [albeit a strange way to do it].
However, for many, the sizes and fabrics do not fit well and do not conform to the local environment or culture. If the latter is the case, then please do not go on subjecting yourself to poor fitting clothing and the uncomfortableness of trying to wear two sets of clothing at once. And certainly do not cease from wearing priesthood clothing altogether.
Rather, you should strip away all the cultural conditioning and social pressures away from the covenant you have made with the Lord — and perhaps see if wearing priesthood clothing in accordance with D&C 42:40-41.
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You can check this out too — it’s unrelated but I really enjoy the author’s work [she’s a collaborator on the GEMTAM book as well]: I Am You