Garments aren’t sexy. It’s just the truth of the matter! But we are taught that they are an outward symbol of an inward commitment so maybe it’s time that we look at them differently. Symbols are arbitrary – they only hold the meaning that we assign them. So in this episode, we talk about some ways that we can change how we look at our garments, what we can do to change the way we think of them, and how we can increase our intimacy with our spouse.
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Additional Information on the Temple Garment:
A brief video is available that provides additional context on temple garments and temple ceremonial clothing.
Additional teachings by modern-day prophets and apostles referencing the temple garments can be viewed at: ChurchofJesusChrist.org/temples/prophetic-teachings-on-temples.
Many women tell me that they just don’t feel sexy in their garments. That they almost seem like a barrier to sex and intimacy. So we are going to talk about that today.
What are garments?
While I understand the majority of my listeners are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I understand that I have many listeners who are not. So I thought I would take a minute and explain what the heck we are even talking about here.
The following explanation was taken from the Gospel Topics Library on ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“Adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who receive the endowment enter into sacred promises, known as covenants, to follow the highest standards of moral integrity and dedication to God. As part of entering into these covenants in the temple, members receive a simple undergarment—often referred to as the ‘temple garment’ or ‘garment of the Holy Priesthood.’ The garment is worn underneath members’ normal clothing for the rest of their lives, serving as a daily physical reminder of their covenant relationship with God.
In ancient times, the Lord commanded the prophet Moses to make special clothing for his brother Aaron and others who would officiate in the tabernacle: ‘Thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty … that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office’ (Exodus 28:2–3). This included clothing that was visible to an observer and clothing worn underneath these outer layers.
For Church members who have received the endowment, the garment reminds them of their connection to God, their commitment to follow His will, and the blessings and protection God has promised the faithful. The First Presidency of the Church has stated that how the garment is worn ‘is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior’ (First Presidency letter, Oct. 10, 1988).”
Over the years, the wording has changed on how members of the Church have been instructed to wear the garment. Right now the question in the temple recommend interview is this: Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple, including wearing the temple garment as instructed in the endowment? (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2020/01/aus-eng-local-pages/local-news-002) Although there is an additional statement that members of the bishopric are asked to read about the garment that is not just the yes/no question. To my recollection, right now it says the garment should be worn when it can reasonably be worn without defiling it. I’m not sure if it still says something about you should be able to reasonably wear them to exercise and do yard work, but I believe it has stated that in the past, although I could be wrong about that. But the wording has definitely changed over the years and people have interpreted it differently as well. I remember hearing stories of women being taught in relief society that you should leave them on while having sex, which I do not agree with at all (and don’t think most women do at this point).
I know many women who have struggled wearing garments because of infections. Over the years, instructions have changed about how they can be worn during our menstrual cycle and when nursing babies. They definitely have not been any easy thing for many women and even some men.
I think a huge problem exists in The Church of judging others for if/how/when other people wear their garments. I know I’ve definitely been that person in the past. But, a person’s underwear is really between them and God and no one else. We all have to figure out what works for us as individuals and that is no one’s business but our own. In the endowment, we are instructed to wear them “throughout our life.” What that looks like varies for each individual.
We need to remember that garments are just a symbol–a tangible, physical thing that represents a concept or holds meaning to someone.
Symbols are completely arbitrary–they only hold the meaning that we assign to them. The meaning is not an inherent part of their nature. We can have cultural symbols, national symbols, religious symbols, or even personal symbols. For instance, white in our western culture is a symbol of purity and innocence, and is often used at weddings for this reason. In many Asian cultures, white represents mourning and death, is worn at funerals, and would be completely inappropriate at a wedding. The cross is a very meaningful symbol to other Christian denominations, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does not use it because it is associated more with Christ’s death and we like to focus on His resurrection. The symbols themselves don’t change based on the beholder, just the feelings associated with them.
Garments are the same thing. They are a symbol and have no power or meaning except that which we assign to them. If we choose to think about our temple covenants every time we change our clothes, that is great and can be just as helpful as taking the sacrament every week. Such daily symbols were a big part of the Law of Moses. Jews have numerous physical symbols to remind them of the Lord and their religious responsibilities (hair, apron fringe, skull caps, the little thing they touch near the door). However, sometimes people focus more on maintaining the symbol than on the meaning behind the symbol. This is what had happened with the Pharisees and others who judged Jesus and his disciples for healing on the Sabbath or eating the shewbread. Similar to the Sabbath, you could say that garments were “made for man, not man for” the garments.
I don’t believe that wearing your garments 24-7 will be a qualifying question on Judgment Day. I believe staying true to the spirit of our covenants will be far more important to our Father in Heaven than what we wore. If your garments help you to do that better, then great. But you can still do it without them. They are a tool, not the covenant itself.
I personally love my garments and have a strong testimony of them. If you have listened to Episode 79 – Why I Believe, the missionary that was hit by the car and didn’t even have bruises on his body or his legs and torso – it was actually that he didn’t have any bruises on his body where his garments were. I have many experiences where I felt my garments were a personal protection to me. And I love being reminded of my temple covenants by wearing them. But you may feel differently, and that is ok.
Garments are promised to be a shield and a protection to you through your life. But I think often we use them to shield and protect ourselves from things that feel uncomfortable. Shield us from growth. Shield us from intimacy. Shield us from revealing ourselves to our spouse. We put them on as a barrier to protect us from what feels unsafe. But do we really need to feel unsafe from our sexuality and sexual relationship from our spouse?
So back to the original statement – that many women (and men) just feel like garments aren’t sexy. And I can totally understand that. But they don’t need to inhibit your intimacy if you don’t let them. You get to decide what that looks like and feels good and right for you and your spouse. I’m going to give you a few ideas of what I have heard from clients and friends and used in my own life, and how we’ve made things work in our own marriages. You may be inclined to judge. You may be inclined to think that we are justifying bad behavior. But I encourage you to open your mind to other possibilities. Think about things. Weigh them out in your mind. Discuss them with your spouse. And most importantly, discuss them with the Lord. Work to receive personal revelation on what is right for you. What is right for you may be different than what is right for someone else. I want you to also think about my rule of thumb…by their fruits ye shall know them. Does what you are thinking and doing with your garments create greater intimacy, connection, and better your sexual relationship? If it does, then it’s probably a good choice for your marriage. If it doesn’t, don’t do it. Also remember that your marriage relationship is the most important relationship (outside of your relationship with God) that you have. You need to do whatever is necessary to create goodness in it.
- Wear a sexy bra and panties under your normal clothes during the day to help get yourself in a sexy frame of mind. Maybe let your spouse know that you are doing this. You can do this as often as you like.
- Wear lingerie or a bra and panties out on a date with your husband. You know you’re going to have sex as part of date night, this is just part of the foreplay.
- Wear your garments during the day, but sleep in comfortable lingerie, panties, nightie, T-shirt, or tank top to get more skin to skin time. While it may not lead to sex every night, it will definitely lead to more connection and intimacy.
- On vacation with your spouse, wear panties and bras instead of your garments. Wear sexy swimsuits, and outfits too. You know there’s going to be more sex on vacation anyway and it just helps turn up the heat and foreplay the whole time and helps you feel sexier.
- After sex, don’t rush to put your garments back on immediately. Make sure you are getting skin to skin time and connecting afterwards. Remember this is a critical piece in the next sexual response cycle as I described in Episode 85 – Stages of Sex.
Now any of these can be done all the time or just sometimes. You get to decide what is good and right for you and your marriage. But you feeling better about yourself and feeling sexier is definitely going to help things overall. And if taking your garments off, every once in a while or even daily, to do that, then great!