Acting upon a friends recommendation I visited the Operation Clambake site. While what I read seemed bizarre, my first though was “How could people believe this?” Given my own background as a Cradle Mormon and fully aware of how indoctrination into beliefs can work I had to discount the thought, but there is one thing that most people consider strange that is true and not entirely based in theological grounds. I speak of course of the temple garments, occasionally referred to without respect as “Jesus Jammies” by people who left the faith.
If there is one thing I find embarrassing in the Mormon articles on Associated Content, including the ones that I have written, it is that Google Adsense will often display an ad for someone advertising “Mormon Underwear.” It is for this reason alone that I elected to keep my status as a former Mormon a secret at the last job I held. It is not that I am ashamed of having been a Mormon. After all, while most people view them as a little odd, they are in fact largely viewed as people with good morals, it is questions like this that I wished to avoid.
You may say that I was overreacting to this, and you may be right. It is not like many people have an interest whatsoever in this uniquely American Religion and often get them confused with the Jehovah’s Witnesses or place them outside of Christianity entirely. Such debates are best left up to the theologians, as far as the dictionary is concerned, Mormons do fit the definition of Christian. (Do not get too confident about this however, Mormons, as the dictionary definition can also prove that the you are polytheists.) Do not ask me to post pictures of the temple garments. If you really feel the need to see what they look like, read the Wikipedia article on temple garments. The author goes into far more detail on their origins and purpose than I will in this article.
Mormon underwear, or temple garments as they are called, are long underwear practitioners of the faith earn the right to wear by going through the endowment ceremony. They are often white in color and two markings which show some similarity to Masonic symbols are roughly over where the nipples would be. I cannot say this with any accuracy as I have never been through the temple. The faith started to fall apart for me about the time I would have started doing Baptism for the Dead.
As odd as sacred underwear may seem, it pretty much serves the same function as someone wearing a saint’s medal or a cross. Wearing temple garments expresses the users faith. The faith promoting rumors surrounding this piece of clothing, however, often border on the ridiculous. I heard stories in Sunday school many times about someone who was in a horrible accident and lost their life due to a fire or some other act that would normally cause any piece of clothing worn by the victim to be destroyed, but due to the miraculous power of the temple garment — known to a few outside the faith as “holy underwear” — not only did the temple garments survive but so did the flesh underneath.
While I did not set out to portray the faith as odd, it seems there is no way to talk about them without at least a little silliness creeping into my voice. Perhaps a Mormon commenter, rightfully outraged at this sort of post can explain reverently their purpose. In the meantime, I’ll go back to looking for something inspiring in the Book of Mormon that has not been lifted from the Bible. So far, my search has been unsuccessful. The point is while the temple garments do exist, there are far stranger things in the religion than underwear. Why not concentrate on those?