Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Treatment of the Garment

A friend of mine asked me once why we aren't supposed to let the garment touch the floor.  I knew that wasn't the actual wording in the Church Handbook of Instructions, but I also knew some members think that is what the CHI says, so I looked up the actual wording.  I decided to use that experience as the foundation for a post here, largely because I think it illustrates why I believe is it critical to parse what actually is said and taught - and it also shows how twisted things can get when we work strictly off of memory or try to impose personal views on others as rules or commands.

The CHI does not say that garments should not touch the ground; rather, it says the garment should be "kept off the floor".  It's not "ground" vs. "floor" that is the issue for me, especially since the ground and the floor are the same things in much of the world.  It's "touching" vs. "kept off" that is the difference.

I don't see anything disrespectful about garments touching the floor or the ground, but I do see disrespect in throwing / dropping them on the floor and leaving them lying around the house with other clothing that is scattered on the floor. When I read "kept off the floor", I picture something like a laundry basket or hamper - instead of a pile of clothes or clothing scattered on the floor.  When I see "kept on the floor",  I see them treated as nothing more than the soiled underwear that got kicked under the bed and turned into something really nasty.

Frankly, I don't like that this kind of detail is included in the CHI, but I really do think I understand why it is - especially as worded. I think the leadership knows that the garment is underwear, in practical terms, but I think they really, really, really don't want it to be treated like underwear - so we end up with things like this. I understand that.

One solution I think is just fine, even though I don't wear the garment that way:

Wear regular underwear and the garment over it. That alone would change the way it is viewed by many people from "underwear" to "symbolic clothing worn beneath outer clothing".  Many women already do that when they are menstruating and nursing, so I don't see any way it could be anti-doctrinal - and it would keep the garment cleaner than the way it is worn traditionally.  Also, if the regular underwear is skimpy enough, nearly all of the garment still can be "next to the skin" - and it wouldn't be nearly the sexual turn-off it is for quite a few members.  Seriously, even with most modern, traditionally "modest" underwear, nearly all of the garment still will be next to the skin. 


Anonymous said...

Long ago, it seems the instruction (maybe in the temple) was to always (where practical) wear the garment next to the skin. That's the way my wife and I have always worn ours. My wife would occasionally wear underwear on the outside when menstrating to keep things in place "down there" but that was it. Then, a couple of years ago, someone (again at the temple) said women could wear their bras against their skin, with the garment on top. I suppose your suggestion to wear underwear then the garment is similar in nature. I guess I've worn garments for 35 years that I really can't imagine wearing them any differently. I think the thrust of the CHI is to encourage us as members to treat them with respect. I've never been one to throw my clothes on the floor, anyway, so it hasn't been a challenge for me.

ji said...

I never heard the "off the floor" rule, and I was endowed almost 30 years ago. If the teaching is in Handbook 1, well, most members never get a chance to read that book. If we're working off memory, it may be that the teaching is in the wrong book.

"It also shows how twisted things can get when we work strictly off of memory or try to impose personal views on others as rules or commands."

Oh, my, why do we do this so much?

Anonymous said...

Actually the latest care and treatment of the garment is found in Handbook 2, 21.1.42.