It is easy for daily actions to lose their importance in our minds. Putting on our temple garments is something we do every day. If we do not pay attention, this choice can become the routine of simply putting on undergarments.
The Lord commands nothing without purpose, so we need to seek to find the greater purpose of this sacred clothing. We receive these garments in the temple. There is symbolism in everything in the temple, and through much study, I found that included the garment.
In the temple, we are taught about Adam and Eve. Before they were cast out of the garden, the Lord gave them coats of skins. (Genesis 3:21) Soon after, they were given instruction regarding the law of sacrifice, obedience, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and repentance. (Moses 5:5-8)
We are taught these same things in the House of the Lord, after we are anointed and dressed in the garments of the Holy Priesthood. When the Lord sent Adam and Eve out of His presence, He did not let them leave empty handed. This coat of skins was to be a protection for them, both physically and spiritually. They were also to be a reminder of the instructions they had received from Him.
The temple is the House of the Lord, and while we are there, it is the closest we will ever be to being in His presence in this life. Just like Adam and Eve, we do not leave empty handed. We leave with that same protection.
Elder Carlos E. Asay said the following of the temple garment:
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 mind 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.
Garments are not only a symbol of the temple that we can carry with us, but they can be likened to the armor of God. When we speak about the armor of God, the pieces of armor are mostly metaphorical. However, our temple garments are a daily physical representation of putting on that breastplate of righteousness and holding up the shield of faith.
The phrase, “put on,” is used throughout the standards works. In some verses, this phrase referred to the armor of God or to put on the name of Christ at baptism. Some spoke of literal temple clothing worn by ancient priests.
In Colossians 3:12-13 it reads, “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another…” As we put on the garment of the Holy Priesthood, we can remember to put on these characteristics of the elect of God.
Conversely, Mosiah 3:19 uses the phrase “to put off,” in reference to the natural man. As we put on our garments, we are simultaneously putting off the natural man and replacing it with the armor of God. Reverence and recognition for the significance of this small action, will only strengthen that armor.
Sister Linda S. Reeves said, “There are also great blessings and protecting promises associated with the proper wearing of our temple garment. I have come to feel that I am symbolically putting on royal robes given me by my Heavenly Father.”
We give up blessings when we treat the things of the Lord casually. At times, choosing to wear the garment can feel inconsequential. While this small choice may not noticeably affect our day-to-day life, we have chosen not to put on the armor of God. As we are deciding whether to wear our garments for a certain activity, our thoughts should be, “is it possible to keep them on,” instead of “when can I take these off.”
There is much symbolism behind the putting on of the garments that may take time to understand. The words of Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley can help here. She simply said, “First I obey, then I understand.” We must first act, and the Lord will fulfill His promises and our understanding of the purpose of any commandment will strengthen.
In 1988, the First Presidency released a statement, “Endowed members of the Church wear the garment as a reminder of the sacred covenants they have made with the Lord and as a protection against temptation and evil. How it is worn is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.”
The wearing of the garment is a simple, yet significant way in which we can show our Savior that we love Him. We put our faith in Him over our earthly understanding. And when we become less casual and more careful about the wearing of the garment, the blessings will only increase.
- “The Temple Garment: ‘An Outward Expression of an Inward Commitment” – Elder Carlos E. Asay
- “Discovering the Spiritual Power of Temple Covenants” – Rosemary Wixom on the Latter-day Saint Women Podcast
- Sacred Temple Clothing (churchofjesuschrist.org)
- What Are Latter-day Saint Temple Garments and Why Do They Wear Them?