Apr 7, 2024 - News

LDS church leaders lay down the law on garments

An image of Latter-day Saint temple garments: white shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, with two wrapped garment packages next to them on a wood surface.

A screenshot of garments from a video by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about temple clothing. Image via YouTube

Religious undergarments should be worn "continuously," leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told members during General Conference this weekend in Salt Lake City.

The big picture: Younger generations have increasingly exerted their own judgment to decide when they should wear the garments.

  • When members undergo temple rites that allow for full, adult membership in the church, they obtain garments and are instructed to wear the them under their clothing "day and night."
  • They are generally removed for bathing, sex and some sports and exercise.

Catch up quick: "Temple garments" are white clothes that resemble long shorts and short-sleeved tops.

  • They are generally worn in place of underwear, and under bras.
  • The church teaches that the garments serve as daily reminders of members' connections to God and promises they made to follow church rules.

What they're saying: "We are instructed to wear temple garments continuously, with the only exception being those obviously necessary," Dallin H Oaks, one of the top three leaders in the church, said Sunday during the semi-annual conference.

  • "Because covenants do not take a day off, to remove one's garments can be understood as a disclaimer of the responsibilities and blessings to which they relate," Oaks said.
  • "As we put on the garment of the holy priesthood each day, that beautiful symbol becomes a part of us," said J. Anette Dennis, a leader in the Relief Society, the church's women's group.

Friction point: Women in particular have complained that the fabrics, seams and fit can cause discomfort; medical issues like yeast infections and rashes; difficulties with menstruation, pregnancy and nursing; and body image problems.

  • In warm, humid climates, some members have said the extra layer is more likely to raise body temperature, cause body odor and force members of color to forego light fabrics that may expose white garment lines against darker skin.

Context: Latter-day Saint influencersmajor trendsetters on social media, whom the church has leveraged for promotional purposes — frequently are criticized for appearing in fashions that show they are not wearing garments.

Zoom in: One of the most famous — home cook and model Nara Smith — recently disclosed she does not regularly wear garments.

The latest: A church leader over garment design has said the faith plans to update the wording of "worthiness interviews" — how local clergy decide whether a member is eligible to enter the faith's temples — to make the question about garment-wearing less flexible, the Salt Lake Tribune reported last week.

  • The change is intended to address younger women's garment habits, specifically.

The intrigue: The church's male leaders have the final say over garment design and instructions, along with all other policies.

In a post on X, a woman writes "The garment is patterned after men’s underwear, and men do not experience the gynecological issues women experience, so it’s hard for men to be sensitive about this issue. A better approach would get male priesthood holders out of the business of policing women’s underwear." A response from an account with a man in the profile pictures dismisses her concerns.
In a post on X, a woman argues men are likely not as sensitive to women's gynecological problems with temple garments. An account with a male avatar dismisses her concern, saying the church has sufficiently addressed female needs in garment design. Screenshot via X
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Salt Lake City.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Salt Lake City stories

No stories could be found

Salt Lake Citypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Salt Lake City.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more