Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Temple Garment Is Sacred - but So Are We

I was involved in a long conversation online quite a while ago focused on how the temple garment affects some people with severe psychological issues relative to body image and self-acceptance.  It was a fascinating conversation, and I am grateful I was able to participate in it and learn from so many different people.

Near the end of the conversation, one person referenced Jesus' statement about the Sabbath being made for man and not man for the Sabbath.  He said that he views the temple garment in the same way - that, while it is sacred in his eyes and important symbolically, it should not become more important than the person wearing it and that person's spiritual connection with God.

Someone else responded with the most concise, profound summary I have ever heard, and I want to pass it on to everyone who reads my blog.  She said:

I don't object (when people say) that the garment is sacred and should be treated with respect, but so are we. 

I wear the temple garment day and night, since I have no issues with it and am completely comfortable by now in doing so.  However, I believe, deeply, that anyone for whom wearing the garment all day and all night, every day and every night, with the only exceptions being as outlined in the general guidelines of the Church Handbook of Instructions, constitutes a true hardship and is damaging in some real way (and I believe there are more people, especially women, in that situation than most members realize) - that anyone in that situation should be given the respect to make reasonable adaptations to their practice of wearing the garment in an effort to lessen or eliminate the harm maximum wear creates.  If that means they wear the garment for a certain amount of time each day and night - or remove it for more activities than generally is accepted - or wear sizes outside the standard norm - or any other adaptation that doesn't violate the symbolism, then so be it.

Interestingly, the Church Handbook of Instructions validates this stance, as it states clearly, after all the general guidelines are listed, that each individual has the right and responsibility to make the final decisions as to how to wear the garment.  

After all, the garment was made for wo/man, not wo/man for the garment - and the person wearing it really is just as sacred (more so, I believe) as the garment being worn. 


Anonymous said...

There would be some that minimize the importance of being visually attractive to one's spouse and that's fine. I believe the attractiveness of one's spouse is important to others and for them, garments can be an obstacle. Even when modestly dressed I find my wife more appealing without them than with them. I cannot think of any outfit where she would look better with them than without and that gap can be frustrating. There's more to be said but I'll leave it at that.

Jenifer Pullman said...

For years now, our stake presidency has fairly aggressively promoted a "raise the bar" system; when you arrive for your temple recommend interview you are asked to sit in the waiting area and "after you have read this material" you can be admitted to your interview. I have tried this approach; "I've read that, thanks." The response is; "The Stake President would like us all to read it every time we come for our interviews." It's just the normal quotes that we find in all of our lesson manuals and other materials, but I find it all a bit "over the top".