Mormon Underwear

Rewritten and enlarged by J. Barney

Mormon TempleMormon underwear, normally called garments or the garment by members of the Mormon Church is a source of curiosity and ridicule for those outside the faith. Those who attempt to cast Mormonism in an unfavorable light refer to the underwear as “magic,” “special,” and “secret,” words no Mormon would ever use. Among Mormons, this underwear is a private, sacred matter that they typically do not discuss with others partly out of the sacredness of what it represents and partly because any underwear, religious or not, is typically a personal matter. The guidelines for the proper wearing of this underwear seems strange to many people, but it is an act of faith and devotion for the believers.

Many cultures have special clothing for social and religious ceremonies. Most cultures have special clothing for weddings. Some religious like Judaism and Zoroastrianism have sacred clothing to help the faithful remember their obligations or duties toward God. Mormon underwear is likewise worn to show daily and constant worship. The garments worn by Mormons are similar to what the Lord commanded the ancient Israelites to do in the Bible when they built their temple. Through Moses, the Lord commanded the Israelites to put a fringe of blue, called a tsiytsith (pronounced tsee-tseeth), which corresponded to the blue fringe and lace on the veil of the temple (see Exodus 26:31). Blue was a sacred color for the Israelites since it represented heaven and was used extensively throughout the building of the tabernacle and the temple. The Lord said:

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God (Number 15:38-40).

The purpose of this fringe was to remind the children of Israel of the covenants they had made with God and to help them remember to do right and keep God’s commandments. Mormon garments likewise serve as a reminder to the faithful of the covenants they have made with God in His holy temple.
Mormon underwear is mostly very similar to other underwear. It is made of similar materials like cotton, polyester, or nylon. It is solid white, except for colored ones available only to active-duty soldiers, since white is a sacred color in Mormonism and symbolizes heaven, purity, devotion, and cleanliness. The top is similar to a T-shirt, covering the shoulders and hanging below the waist. The bottom resembles boxer-briefs, but extends to the knee. The design promotes modesty and should be completely covered by outer clothing. Mormon underwear is worn directly next to the skin and replaces any other underwear. For women, even brassieres are to be worn on the outside of the underwear.

Despite critics’ claims, Mormon underwear may be removed for certain activities, though Mormons are counseled not to seek opportunities to remove it. Bathing or showering is the most common time when it is removed. Likewise, swimming, vigorous physical activities like sports, and intimate marital relations are others. The Mormon Church does not produce an official list; rather the choice is left to the individual. Mormons do not believe that God will strike down someone simply for wearing the garment inappropriately. The counsel is simply to wear it at all times unless it is deemed inappropriate to the activity, and not to find excuses to remove it.

A Mormon will begin to wear this underwear as part of the initiatory ordinances of the Mormon temple ceremony.It is here that they will first put on this underwear and promise to always wear it the rest of their life. It is a symbol of this and other covenants made in the temple with God, and the reverence that is shown in wearing these garments is directly tied to the reverence shown toward the covenant made. Part of this reverence is not discussing the symbolism outside of the temple where it may be (and often is) taken lightly. This is the reason that some outsiders refer to it as “secret.” The faithful observer of this covenant is promised that it will become a protection to them. This is where the adjective "magic" derives from. Contrary to the opinion that Mormon underwear is impenetrable armor, the promise is of a spiritual nature as the garment serves to remind the faithful of the blessings and promises of God associated with the covenants made.

Mormon underwear has nothing secret or magical about it. Rather, it is a solemn religious act of symbolism showing a covenant between God and the wearer of it. Because of the sacred nature which is not discussed outside the temple, naturally, the curiosity of others is piqued. But there is nothing to hide. Mormon underwear is worn as a symbol and reminder of a covenant that person has made with God.