By request of baffo, here's the skinny on one of the weirder elements of Mormonism. Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who are above 18 wear special undergarments. No kidding! I'm actually wearing some right now. Unlike many crazy things people think Mormons do, this one's for real.

A male LDS member will start wearing garments before they leave on their mission, or sometime after they're older than 19 or so. Women often start wearing garments when they get married, or in their mid-20s otherwise. I'm really not sure if there are any exact rules for this. A member will start wearing their garments after they've gone to a Mormon Temple and received their endowments. The endowment is an ordinance to prepare oneself for the afterlife*. The endowment ceremony is also closely connected to sealing, which is Mormonism's pumped-up version of marriage.

The garments themselves are pretty simple. The men's top is basically just a normal undershirt. The shirt sometimes sports a dipped neckline. This dip can sometimes be seen through the shirt, or the impression can be seen on clothing and is sometimes called an eternal smile. ::shudder:: The other half of the men's garments is very similar to knee length boxer briefs. I'm not as familiar with the female garments. The bottoms are just like the men's though. They are available in several different fabrics for either sex. Mormon Garments can only be purchased through the Church and the tag states they are authentic. They are, of course, only available to members.

There are a few rules with regards to one's garments. Members are admonished to wear them at almost all times. Except when showering, swimming, exercising or doing anything that would get them overly dirty you're supposed to keep them on. Your outside clothing should completely cover your garments. This is why it's so common for Mormons to wear knee length (or longer) shorts. Garments are supposed to be treated sacredly. Most Mormons try to keep them off the ground and wash them by themselves. If they become extremely soiled or fall into disrepair they are to be destroyed. Wow! Just like the flag!

Ok, so what are the benefits of wearing funny underwear? By far the biggest benefit is that they cut down on the chafing caused by jeans. Anyway, many Mormons feel they gain a certain amount of protection from them. Mormon Urban Legends are filled with stories of the faithful surviving fires with burns only outside where their garments were. Since there isn't really any mention of garments in Mormon scripture it's hard to say exactly what the real benefits are. One commonly mentioned benefit is that they serve as a constant reminder that you're a follower of Christ. Garments aren't used in any daily ceremonies or prayers.

The use of garments doesn't totally come from out in left field. The Old Testament does mention special ceremonial and "holy garments" worn by Aaron and the priests. There are other religions place significance on some clothing as well, like the vestments of Catholic Priests.

*You may have noticed I didn't go into a great deal of detail with some things. As a practicing Mormon I'm actually not allowed to discuss certain aspects of the Temple and the garments. The reason give is that they are sacred topics and not to be discussed lightly. E2, where I can have this node softlinked to how to give good head, isn't the best forum for such things. Go ahead and /msg me if you have any questions though and I'll add to this WU.

Here are some more of the secret details of Mormon garments. Before 1990, the Mormon endowment ceremony promised a penalty for revealing the sacred details: your throat would be cut, your breast torn open, and you'd be disembowelled.

The garments are sacred, embroidered long underwear to be worn at all times, except when bathing, swimming, or on a doctor's visit. Garments must not be cut, sewn, or altered in any way, but when they wear out, you can cut out the sacred embroidered symbols and burn them - then the rest of the underwear can be disposed of however you wish.

The sacred signs are reminiscent of Freemason symbols: over the right breast is a buttonhole which resembles a mason's square, like a backward L; over the left breast is a compass, a mark like a capital V. Sewn into the abdomen and over the right knee is another marking which looks like a horizontal buttonhole. These symbols stand for various phrases said in the Mormon endowment ceremony.

Garments are usually white, but also come in olive drab to match the U.S. military uniforms.

Some Mormons believe that the garments actually protect them from evil and harm. They are said to represent the garments given to Adam and Eve when they were kicked out of Eden.

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