Temple Ceremonies and the Clothing
By Melissa Grimes
My journey out of Mormonism began with the Mormon Temple. One night my husband was watching a documentary on Freemasonry and noticed how similar their temple rites were to those we participated in at the Mormon Temple. At this point of my Mormon experience I had doubts off and on about the validity of Joseph Smith’s claims yet never delved into any serious research. I was simply content in my ignorance, as I trusted in the words of the church leaders to quiet my concerns.
Instead of letting my husband’s discovery slip by like I did with so many doubts before I decided to check out his findings to see if there was any cause for concern beginning with the Mormon Temple. The Mormons are very ritualistic and symbolic when it comes to any of their religious ceremonies; everything has to be just right and done in a certain way to the point of being repeated until it’s done correctly.
You see this in their most basic rituals such the “sacrament” and “baptismal” ceremonies. In the sacrament ceremony if a priesthood holder misspeaks during the sacramental prayer he must start the prayer from the beginning. The baptismal ceremony is no different, the individual must be fully immersed in the water, if a piece of clothing, hair or a leg comes to the surface the individual is dunked again, if the priesthood holder performing the baptism flubs up the words the individual needs to be dunked again. When I was baptized into the Mormon Church I was dunked three times because I wasn’t fully immersed, or my Bishop messed up the words he was suppose to say.
Their temple ceremonies are no different as each handshake, sign and accompanying phrase must be spoken and delivered correctly. During the endowment ceremony each temple patron has a “packet” that contains articles of clothing they are to put on during the ceremony. The clothing has special meaning to the Mormon to the point of being buried in their temple clothing.
The Endowment Ceremony
The endowment ceremony is where the Mormons dress in their full temple clothing. Upon entering the temple, and before they can begin their endowment session, each Mormon must remove their “street clothes” and dress in their temple clothing as a way of leaving behind the outside world and entering God’s presence.
Females dress in a white dress, slip, the sacred undergarment, knee-high hose, and slippers. Males dress in a white button-down shirt, tie, belt, and pants, along with the sacred undergarments. The reason for dressing in all white references purity, and since everyone is dressed the same there is a feeling of equality among the people.
It should be noted that those who are attending the temple for the first time will receive the “sacred undergarment” prior to dressing in their temple clothes, in a ceremony known as “the Initiatory”. Those who have been through the ceremony before will already have their undergarments.
All Temple clothing including the dress, slip, slippers, white knee high hose (for women) and white shirt, pants, shoes
socks, slippers (for men) and the accessories which include:
veil (for women)
hat (for men)
These can be rented for a small fee or purchased in the temple. The green apron, sash, hat or veil and robe are all enclosed in a white cloth envelope.
After the Mormon dresses in their temple clothing they take their envelope containing the contents I mentioned above and head to the endowment room. While in the endowment room the Mormon watches a film that depicts the creation and fall of Adam and Eve from the church’s point of view. During the film the participants will also learn the significance of their temple clothing.
Endowment Room in the Mormon Temple
The first accessory they put on during the ceremony is their apron, which looks like this:
As you can see the apron has what looks like leaves on the front. The Mormon learns during the ceremony that this represents the fig leaves Adam and Eve made in the garden after they yielded to Satan’s temptation. According to the temple film after they realized what they had done, Satan tells Adam and Eve to take some figs leaves and make aprons to cover their nakedness, at this time the audience is then told to put on their aprons.
(As I look back on it now I wonder why we were commanded to obey Satan, and why have Mormons never made that connection?)
“Sacred” Undergarments (Female garments pictured)
After the Mormon puts on their apron they are told the undergarments they have on represent the “coat of skins” God made for Adam and Eve upon leaving the garden. Another question which comes to mind is why the Mormons would wear the green apron which represents the fall over top of the garments which represents what God gave Adam and Eve prior to being exiled from the garden.
Another thing I think about is why they need to wear the apron when they are wearing their temple garments.
As a Mormon I was taught that the garments would serve as a protection for me, as long as I was worthy to wear them.
This is one example of the counsel I received from my church leaders about the significance of my undergarments:
“The promise of protection and blessings is conditional upon worthiness and faithfulness in keeping the covenant. Members of the Church wear the garment as a reminder of the scared covenants they have made with the Lord and also as a protection against temptation and evil. How it is worn is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.” (Letter for the First Presidency, October 10, 1988)
Markings on the garments:
The Mormon undergarments have some very distinctive markings on them. Below are the markings on the top portion of the garments.
Left Breast Mark, Right Breast Mark, and Naval Mark
When the garments became worn out, I was instructed to cut out the markings and burn them before discarding the rest of the material. Considering that after the markings are removed the garment material can be used as a rag or tossed in the trash, one has to wonder if they believe the “power” of their protection lies within the markings, and not the garment itself.
In my investigation into the Mormon Temple Ceremony I learned that Joseph Smith was a Freemason. After learning this it wasn’t hard to surmise that he had appropriated what he learned in the Masonic ceremony and drafted the first Mormon Endowment ceremony.
I say first draft because the ceremony has undergone many changes from when it was first instated by Smith until present day. Most Mormons are unaware of or don’t really care about Smith’s involved in Masonry. Either way, it’s still a strong component in the core principles of their church and most of them wear it every day of their lives.
The “square” and “compass” markings found on the top portion of their undergarments are Masonic in nature. I’ve found there’s very little “official” doctrine which would give us insight into the meaning behind the symbols; most Mormon references only say the markings have a “sacred” significance. However the temple ceremony does give us some clues as the meanings behind markings.
After the temple film is finished the patrons are then instructed to proceed to the veil. The veil is a white curtain that goes from floor to ceiling; cut into the veil are the same markings found on the undergarments. According to the transcript from the endowment ceremony, the meaning behind the symbols are as follows:
The mark on the right is the square and it suggests to the mind exactness and honor in keeping the covenants.
The mark on the left is the compass and it suggests to the mind an undeviating course leading to eternal life.
The naval mark suggests to the mind the need of constant nourishment to the body and spirit.
The knee mark suggests every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ.
In Mormonism’s Temple of Doom we read:
“The placing of magick talismans in underwear is common in witchcraft.” (William J. Schnoebelen/James R. Spencer, Mormonism’s Temple of Doom, 1987, pp. 13-14)
I wonder if the Mormons have ever really thought about the association between the occult and the symbols on their undergarments. Non-Mormons have jokingly called the undergarments “magic underwear”. It sounds like they aren’t too far from the truth; even Mormons themselves believe they offer a protection from injury, temptation and sin. As I stated earlier it’s the markings the Mormons find scared not the cloth or design itself.
I think what gets me to the most about this special protective underwear isn’t so much that they wear a certain type of underwear, we all have our quirks. It’s that they are relying on a few strategically placed markings on a piece of cloth to protect them from falling into temptation or escaping in a car wreck unscathed. Instead, they should be putting their trust in God who promised to watch over us, be with us always, ( Psalm 121:1-4) and give us an escape from temptation ( 1 Cor 10:13).
The last few pieces of Mormon Temple clothing are:
The Robe, Veil and Sash –
The veil is tied under the chin; the women only “veil” their faces when praying during the temple ceremony. The sash is tied around the waist over the robe, and above the green apron on the opposite side the robe is tied on.
As I close I can’t help but publicly thank my Father in Heaven for leading me out of this dark and oppressive religion. Mormons live in a very different world than most Christians do. For them everything is about appearances, whether it be at school, church, or the temple they believe it’s what’s going on on the outside that counts, the sad thing is they’ve been conditioned to believe this is how God sees things as well.