Thursday, July 16, 2015

Temple prep - "Dressed in White"

The following text is taken from the pamphlet "Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple" (2002) and annotated by me.

When we do ordinance work in the temple we wear white clothing. This clothing is symbolic of purity and worthiness and cleanliness. No news here. Baptism clothing is white for the same reason.
Upon entering the temple you exchange your street clothing for the white clothing of the temple. No one wears everyday clothes to the temple. If by "street clothing" you mean "Sunday best", then yes. Actually, no. Men get to keep their why button up shirt they wear in, so not all "street clothing" is traded in. This change of clothing takes place in the locker room, where each individual is provided with a locker and a dressing space and is completely private. Kids, this is good, practical information, but it has absolutely nothing to do with knowing your temple covenants before you go. In the temple the ideal of modesty is carefully maintained. How scandalous it would be for men or women see any sexy skin of another man or woman! :S As you put your clothing in the locker you leave your cares and concerns and distractions there with them. You step out of this private little dressing area dressed in white and you feel a oneness and a sense of equality, for all around you are similarly dressed. Communist uniforms LDS style.

If you are going to the temple for the first time, counsel with your bishop. When he issues you a recommend he will explain something of the nature of the clothing that will be required in the temple. What "counseling" is there to be done? Just tell us what the clothing is! What's that? The Church now does tell everyone in the whole world about our temple clothing? Yeah! Excellent job, Church! Way to disclose! Obtaining this clothing need not be a worry to you. You can either buy it through Church Distribution Services or, in some cases, rent it at the temple. In the latter case a very modest fee is required which covers only the cost of laundering the clothing. Rental clothing is not available at the smaller temples. Good practical information here, kids, but chances are your parents will buy your clothes for you.
As with the ceremonies and ordinances of the temple, outside of the temple we say very little about the clothing worn inside. NOT ANYMORE, DUDE! We can say that it, like the ceremonies, has great symbolic meaning. You can say whatever you want when you prohibit everyone from talking about what you've said.

It is a mark of reverence and respect when the Church member visits the temple dressed and groomed in such a way that he or she would not be uncomfortable in the presence of the Lord. Why should anyone be ashamed to show up as they are to the Maker who made them? Maybe it's time the Lord took a good hard look at his handiwork. Suppose for a moment that you are invited to be the guest in the home of a prominent and highly respected leader. Now imagine you're the kind of fool to grovel at authority... You are given to understand that you will mingle with distinguished guests who have received similar invitations. And you're going to want to do some schmoozing... The invitation is an indication that the host holds you in very high regard. You realize that many others would highly prize such an invitation, but for one reason or another they have not likewise been invited and therefore are not able to attend. So relax, the "leader" already likes your shit. Under those circumstances it is doubtful that you would arrive in old work clothes or dressed as you do for recreation. It is doubtful that a man would go unshaven, or a woman with her hair unkempt. So please show your ability to follow all social norms for dress and grooming! This is one case where the ways of the world are indeed the ways of the Lord. Remember the Lord looketh on your lapels for dander and mustard dribbles, and your shoes for fresh polish.

People of dignity and refinement, upon receiving an invitation to an important gathering, frequently make inquiry as to what dress would be in order. Would you not prepare carefully for such a special occasion? This is rhetorical. You would. You most definitely would. You might even purchase new clothing in the hope that your appearance would not detract from the dignified nature of the setting. You don't want to stick out. Remember the parable of the nail.

Care would also be shown for the pressing and cleaning of your clothes. Holy shit, you're still talking about dressing prim and proper. You would feel uncomfortable if you were not properly attired. Unless that sort of thing doesn't bother you.

The opportunity to visit the temple might be compared to such an invitation. I think every reader understood where you were going with this, but thanks for spelling it out.

There is one occasion only when members of the Church are invited into the temple proper in “street” clothing, and that is when they witness a temple marriage. Again, most people don't call their Sunday best "street" clothing. In that case only the shoes are removed, and these may be replaced with white footwear. Why? This sounds horribly superstitious. Years ago the Brethren authorized this to be so for the convenience of those family members and friends who would not be going through an endowment session immediately prior to the marriage. So there was a temple change? What else has changed?

Brides and grooms enter the temple to be married for time and all eternity. Ahem! ...The word you're looking for is "sealed". There brides wear white dresses that are long-sleeved, modest in design and fabric, and free of elaborate ornamentation. God hates immodest female arms and prideful embellishments! Grooms also dress in white. Brethren who come to witness temple marriages do not wear tuxedos. Unless they're all white tuxedos.

We have been puzzled and a little saddened at times, when attending the temple, to find that some have come to witness marriages or to attend a session in the temple dressed as though they were going to a picnic or an athletic event. Or in terrible black tuxedos like they're going to the Oscars.

The privilege to enter the temple deserves more from us than that. Why do you assholes always act to entitled! Argh! It is pleasing to the Lord when we bathe our bodies and put on clean clothing, however inexpensive the clothing may be. Yes, expensive clothing is of no consequence, but for the Lord's sake, please bath. He really wants to watch you bathe. We should dress in such a way that we might comfortably attend a sacrament meeting or a gathering that is proper and dignified. So you're saying Sunday best, right?

On occasions there has been one to witness a wedding who obviously has paid little attention to the counsel that the Brethren have given about dress and grooming, about taking care not to emulate the world in the extremes of style in clothing, in hair length and arrangement, etc. We wonder why it is that a person who is mature enough to be admitted to the temple would not at once be sensible enough to know that the Lord could not be pleased with those who show obvious preference to follow after the ways of the world. Bro, this entire section you have been hammering us about following American dress norms. How are those norms separate from the world? Are you suggesting that God's culture is mid-century American? This is ethnocentrism at it's finest.

How could a recommended member attend the temple in clothing that is immodest or worldly? Apparently they can't. How could one wear a style of hair that is not in keeping with refinement and dignity? How long has this stick been up your ass??

When you have the opportunity to go to the temple to participate in the temple ceremonies or to witness a sealing, remember where you are. It's very easy to forget because all these LDS places look just about exactly the same. You are a guest in the house of the Lord. He doesn't want to come home to see you lounging about in his favorite chair watching your damn shows on his celestial television! You should groom yourself and clothe yourself in such a way that you would feel comfortable should your Host appear. Exactly! Sit quietly with your arms folded and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING! (By the way, God loves you and is happy to see you.)

Those who hold and share in the blessings of the priesthood should have their bodies covered as was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith when the endowment ceremony was given to him. Temple change alert!

Members who have received their temple ordinances thereafter wear the special garment or underclothing. Garments are provided by an agency of the Church—and are generally available to members throughout the world through a distribution program operated by the Church. And they're very reasonably priced.

The garment represents sacred covenants. It fosters modesty and becomes a shield and protection to the wearer. Can we talk a bit about what you mean by "shield and protection"? I understand the Church is shying away from all those stories of how garments stop bullets and fire and bear claws and other such earthly annoyances, so are we to understand that they just somehow keep Satan out of our pants? Should we not be getting aroused in our garments? Going vague doesn't exactly help your case.

"I make all my clothes in my garage because 
I want to be sexy modest for the Lord."

The wearing of such a garment does not prevent members from dressing in the fashionable clothing generally worn in the nations of the world. Yes, it does. Mormon women have an extremely hard time buying fashionable clothing. That's why Utah fashion is it's own unfortunate thing. Only clothing that is immodest or extreme in style would be incompatible with wearing the garment. Don't laugh! Porn shoulders are a huge problem, man! Any member of the Church, whether he or she has been to the temple or not, would in proper spirit want to avoid extreme or revealing fashions. You keep using the word "extreme", isn't it past time for a definition? To me, Photoshopping sleeves on angels just might fit the definition.

There may be occasions when endowed members of the Church face questions on the garment. Questions like "Why the fuck can't I every find ones that fit right?" and "Why the hell am I wearing an extra layer in 100 degree heat?"

On one occasion one of the brethren was invited to speak to the faculty and staff of the Navy Chaplains Training School in Newport, Rhode Island. The audience included a number of high-ranking naval chaplains from the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths. Yes! I love this very defensive story!

In the question-and-answer period one of the chaplains asked, “Can you tell us something about the special underwear that some Mormon servicemen wear?” The implication was, “Why do you do that? Isn’t it strange? Doesn’t that present a problem?”

To the chaplain who made the inquiry he responded with a question: “Which church do you represent?” In response he named one of the Protestant churches.

He said, “In civilian life and also when conducting the meetings in the military service you wear clerical clothing, do you not?” The chaplain said that he did. Yeah, dumb fucker, you sure do!

He continued: “I would suppose that that has some importance to you, that in a sense it sets you apart from the rest of your congregation. It is your uniform, as it were, of the ministry. Also, I suppose it may have a much more important place. It reminds you of who you are and what your obligations and covenants are. It is a continual reminder that you are a member of the clergy, that you regard yourself as a servant of the Lord, and that you are responsible to live in such a way as to be worthy of your ordination.”

He then told them: “You should be able to understand at least one of our reasons why Latter-day Saints have a deep spiritual commitment concerning the garment. He sure a fuck should be able to understand but he's a near-sighted, self-centered Mormon hater! A major difference between your churches and ours is that we do not have a professional clergy, as you do. Because Mormons are way above showing off their devotion like that, you superficial sack of shit! The congregations are all presided over by local leaders. They are men called from all walks of life. Yet they are ordained to the priesthood. They hold offices in the priesthood. They are set apart to presiding positions as presidents, counselors, and leaders in various categories. The women, too, share in that responsibility and in those obligations. Just at home though when their husband unload on them and ask for advice. We really don't allow any women to preside over men directly. The man who heads our congregation on Sunday as the bishop may go to work on Monday as a postal clerk, as an office worker, a farmer, a doctor; or he may be an air force pilot or a naval officer. The only thing he may not be is a woman. By our standard he is as much an ordained minister as you are by your standard. He is recognized as such by most governments. We draw something of the same benefits from this special clothing as you would draw from your clerical vestments. The difference is that we wear ours under our clothing instead of outside, for we are employed in various occupations in addition to our service in the Church. These sacred things we do not wish to parade before the world.” Because we're not self-righteous show offs!

He then explained that there are some deeper spiritual meanings as well, connecting the practice of wearing this garment with covenants that are made in the temple. Oh, do tell us what "deeper spiritual meanings" he explained! No one in the temple really bothers telling us anything more than that they represent the lamb skin garments God made for Adam and Eve and that they have some kind of protective power. We wouldn’t find it necessary to discuss these—not that they are secret, he repeated, but because they are sacred. Not secret, we just won't tell you about it because you're all swine.

The garment, covering the body, is a visual and tactile reminder of these covenants. Which covenants? For many Church members the garment has formed a barrier of protection when the wearer has been faced with temptation. Ah ha! They do keep Satan out of some Mormons' pants! (Just not mine.) Among other things it symbolizes our deep respect for the laws of God—among them the moral standard. Or more accurately they symbolize our tendency to shame God's creation and guilt those in our group who do not abide by this culturally specific dress standard.

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