Sunday, November 30, 2014

Religious Garments (More Than Just a Colander Hat)

When Phillip gets up in the morning, he eats breakfast while he reads the news on the computer. Sometimes he leaves interesting stories up on the screen for me like Woman Wears Colander for Driver's License Photo.

Yep. On her head.

The lady was a Pastafarian, a member of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It's a parody of organized religion, but it's an official church nonetheless. They're allowed to wear spaghetti strainers on their heads in government-issued IDs because it's their religious clothing.

Get it? Pastafarians? Flying Spaghetti Monster? Colander hats?

As I read the story I started laughing uncontrollably. Then again, I'm not very reverent. Phillip thinks I'm going to get struck by lightning one of these days.

Of course, I only think it's hilarious because I don't think these folks really understand what they're making fun of.

Real religious clothing, as opposed to wearing a colander on your head, is an outward reminder of inward commitments to God. Almost every religion has some kind of sacred clothing or object to symbolize their faith and stay connected to the divine.

People wore religious clothes even way back in Exodus, when Moses and Aaron got all these detailed instructions from the Lord Himself about the holy breastplate and ephod and robes they were supposed to wear during their priesthood duties (Exodus 28.)

I have the highest respect for religious people and the physical reminders they carry around with them. In fact, I'm one of them.

Mormons wear religious clothing, too, but unless you're married to us or share a locker room with us at the gym, you probably won't see them. We wear them under our street clothes. We call them our temple garments.

Garments are white to symbolize purity, and they remind us of the covenants (promises) we've made in the Mormon temple. I suppose they look like an undershirt and a pair of boxer briefs, although they're obviously more meaningful to us than any old undershirt.

Religious Garments (More Than Just a Colander Hat) -- People of faith often wear something as a symbol of their religious belief. Here's why that's so beautiful.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Mormon temple in Fort Lauderdale, FL

There are three things I really love about the symbolism of temple garments in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

1. We wear them all the time. We don't just put them on when we're going to church on Sundays and then change into something else afterward. Since they symbolize our ongoing commitment to God, it makes sense that we'd always have them on, right?

I don't know about you, but during most of my waking hours I feel like my brain is a wheel powered by a hamster on methamphetamines. So it's really, really helpful for me to be wearing garments, because whether I'm at my kid's soccer game or at girl's night out, there's this physical reminder of my real priorities in life.

2. Garments aren't restricted to just a few key people in the congregation  all faithful temple-attending Mormons wear them, regardless of their education, gender, marital status, or position in the church.

Garments are called 'the garments of the holy priesthood,' and we all get to wear them. Just think about that for a minute. We're all very much a part of God's kingdom on the earth and He wants us all to participate in His power.

Since we serve in ministering roles on a rotating basis in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we're all either clergy or "clergy in waiting," so to speak. We may not be Relief Society presidents or bishops now, but one day we probably will be. And besides, we're all responsible for ministering to someone right now (like our children.) I love that temple garments reflect that.

3. Garments are strictly a personal reminder for the person wearing them. They're not for show or to make a statement. Garments are simple and plain.

Remember how Jesus called out the Pharisees for "mak[ing] broad their phylactories, and enlarg[ing] the borders" of their prayer shawls? (Matthew 23: 5) What started as a reverent practice of wearing religious clothing had turned into a "my prayer shawl is better than your prayer shawl" contest. (For more on what the heck a phylactory is, see this short article with pictures from Brigham Young UniversityIdaho.)

People are weird, and can make just about anything into a competition. But with garments, there's nothing to show off. They're our underwear, for goodness' sakes.

Because garments aren't meant for anyone's eyes but our own, they're just a personal reminder of the promises we've made with God in the temple.


Religious clothing  or any religious object, really  is so great because human beings learn best when things are tactile, physical, visible. Jesus taught in parables because sheep and coins are things we can easily see and touch. Those physical objects help us focus our minds on things we can't see and touch.

Like parables, I think Mormon garments teach symbolically. A leader of our church named Carlos E. Asay put it beautifully when he said:

I like to think of the garment as the Lord’s way of letting us take part of the temple with us when we leave. It is true that we carry from the Lord’s house inspired teachings and sacred covenants written in our minds and hearts. However, the one tangible remembrance we carry with us back into the world is the garment. And though we cannot always be in the temple, a part of it can always be with us to bless our lives.

So if the Flying Spaghetti Monster people want to make clever jabs at us by wearing colander hats, I say let them. Of course you could choose to be offended, but I choose to laugh.

They've got a kitchen tool on their heads, but I've got an ever-present reminder of the power of God and my commitment to Him. I'll take that deal.

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3 comments:

  1. I like how you presented such a special topic in a simple way. I wish there were more LDS women who blogged about their faith!
    Jean - scripturesisters.com

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  2. You did a wonderful job of de-mystifying things that I consider sacred and others find to be a source of ridicule. Thank-you!

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