Over the weekend, the LDS Church released a four-minute video about temple garments (worn daily by temple-endowed Mormon adults underneath our street clothing) and temple clothing (formal white dress and vestments worn only inside the temple itself).
The video is below and on YouTube for public consumption.
I’m pleased by this video and the way it seeks to normalize something Mormons see as sacred, not weird. For years as I’ve tried to explain Mormonism to friends and readers, I’ve been saying that most religions worth their salt have some kind of holy garment that is worn for priesthood and for prayer. (And I’m hardly the only one to make this argument — check out this terrific post on garments from religion professor Bob Rees from a couple of years ago.)
The only difference in Mormonism is that our ora et labora approach to worldly life has laypeople rather than clergy girding ourselves daily for that holiness. Granted, for most of us, the holiness is aspirational; we’re terribly imperfect people on a spiritual journey toward a perfect God. The garments remind us to pray a little harder, do a little better, be a little more loving.
I can understand why it seems strange to non-Mormons that our holy garment is underwear. (Seriously? Underwear?) But to me that is exactly the most beautiful thing about it. What article of clothing could we choose that would be more profane, at the end of the day? What could be more tied to the messiness of being human?
Temple garments remind me that I belong, body and soul, to Jesus. There is no part of me that he has not redeemed. To use Paul’s metaphor, I regard the weakest parts of myself with the greatest honor.
So maybe the Church’s refreshing transparency about garments and temple dress — both of which are shown in the video — will help to persuade gawkers that there’s nothing to see here, folks. Let’s move along.