Special note: This entry was written on my previous blog while I was still on my path to finding the truth about Mormonism, so therefore, I may not hold the exact same points of view as I did at the initial publication. However, I thought the following would be a good addition to the blog.
I was raised as a mormon. While I don’t intend to turn this blog into a pro/anti mormon blog, I do believe in speaking frankly about my experiences and my view points. First things first, no, I do not attend mormon services any more, nor do I give monetary donations. I have been “through the temple” and wore “the garments” for a period of time.
If you aren’t aware of what I’m talking about, I’ll briefly (and discretely) explain: when a mormon, in good standing, either goes on a mission (you know, the guys in the suits with name badges that knock on your door) or gets married, they go “through the temple” or more specifically, they go to one of over 100 LDS temples world-wide and take part in what is referred to as the endowment ceremony. You can read more about the specifics elsewhere on the web if you are so inclined. One of the major points involved in going to the temple is getting your temple garments. These garments are technically just underwear with some small symbols sewn into them. No, I lie… they are just terribly ill-fitting underwear.
So what’s the big deal about all this temple/underwear mumbo jumbo, then? Well, to inquisitive non-mormons, the whole thing seems, frankly, odd. However, to dyed in the wool mormons, going to the temple is tantamount to seeing Jesus and giving him a high five. Everything that happens in the temple is somewhat like Vegas, minus the gambling/sex/alcohol: what happens in the temple, stays in the temple. Outsiders call it secret, active mormons call it sacred. Perhaps later I’ll go into more depth about the secrecy and my own experiences with the mormon temple, but for now I’ll just go on to the almost superstitious nature of temple garments (I’ll refer to them as simply garments from now on).
Growing up in a mormon family, I knew nothing other than “grown ups wear garments.” I’d see my dad run from the bathroom to his closet in his “angel suit” fairly often, and I’d occasionally have to change loads of my parents’ laundry, so I knew exactly what they were. I also noticed how hidden they really were. As a garment wearing mormon, you’re not supposed to have any bit of the underwear showing (with maybe the minor exception of the collar of crew neck tops… those are bound to show a little bit and I recall being told that it was okay). When you washed them, you weren’t supposed to let them touch the ground. You shouldn’t leave them laying around. But really, they weren’t to be seen. Notice my own father, running the five feet from the bathroom to his closet, as though he were naked, even though he was fully covered. People wear far less to the beach, yet in his own home, my father felt as though he had to hide. Perhaps this fear of exposure translated over to my youthful experience: I always closed my blinds, slept with my door shut, damn near stepped into my (non walk-in) closet every time I changed my clothing, even with my door shut and my blinds down.
So these undergarments were hidden… so what? Well, that’s just one piece of the puzzle. You see, mormon’s believe that these holy underroos are like a bullet-proof vest: you wear them, and you are protected. If you’re out proclaiming the good word, and someone opens fire on you… you’ll be okay. Allow me to share a few morsels that I had driven into my subconscious from years of mormon youth meetings.
- Person X was a missionary. He was mugged and it went wrong. The mugger shot him. Somehow, miraculously, the bullet skimmed past his body, tearing a hole through his dress shirt… but not his temple garments.
- Person Y was on a boating trip. The boat caught fire, and person Y was burned horribly on his arms, legs and face… but not on the area that his garments covered.
- Person Z (and this one was always a little bit disconcerting) was in a crash. When they pulled his body out, all that was left was the areas that were covered by his garments.
Okay, hopefully you can see what I’m saying here… but these sort of crazy ideas have been expounded from the pulpits of mormon churches for years. It’s no wonder why we keep seeing mormon missionaries getting injured or killed: they’re fresh from the temple and think they’re superman. Well, plus, sending young, largely white, americans into third world countries, wearing suits that cost more than most people make in a year… you’re bound to get a high quota of muggings and attacks.
I guess the main significance behind these underwear is that (and I’m not making this up, I swear) wearing god’s underwear is a sign of the promises you made to
god the church when you went through the temple. Thus, for example, when I decided to stop wearing them, to mormons, I was giving the finger to god. I find this highly disturbing, not because I agree with that sentiment, but because I can see how people, especially excommunicated members, could feel so socially pressured and guilty, that they’d be thrown into depression and sometimes suicide, after removing the garments. The world is over… everyone they’ve ever loved hates them and believes that they’ve entered into a pact with the devil. Or so they are lead to believe.
Why did I take them off? Firstly, I found it completely illogical to continue to wear special clothing that signified a connection with a group I no longer wished to be affilliated with, and secondly… they’re really not all that pleasent to wear, and they certainly aren’t flattering. Seriously, all religious animosity aside, why couldn’t they make a proper set of boxers that had the proper markings, etc? I guess it’s kind of like the spiked cilice belt that albino wears in The DaVinci Code… pain and discomfort remind you of the promises you made.
Hallelujah for Calvin Klein.