By Cordell and Janice Vail
08 June 2003
A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail
The Sacredness of Temple Garments
The Sacredness of Temple Garments
In this day and age one of the more difficult things to teach our children is REVERENCE and RESPECT for sacred things. Many of the tools of yester-year have been done away. I remember well living in the South and how courteous youth were to older people. They never called an older person by their first name. They were addressed as Sir and Mame. Some were even so careful to teach "SOUTHERN MANNERS" that the boys would bow and girl curtsey when greeted. Now the tone of the youth of America seems to be IRREREVENCE.
Maybe it is not important now days that younger people not call older people by their first names. It was just a tool to help children learn respect. And obviously the final respect we are trying to teach them is respect for God. We can not worship him if we are irreverent. So we try to teach our children that the Chapel in the church house is a sacred place. We do not go there with our street clothes on. Women are asked to not come to meetings in the Chapel without a dress on. WHY? Just to help them learn reverence for sacred things.
Why do we take the sacrament with our right hand? Is the covenant of the sacrament not just as valid if we take it with our left hand? It is just a tool to help us learn respect and reverence for sacred things. They have asked young boys to wear a white shirt and tie when they pass the sacrament. WHY? Just to help them learn respect and reverence for a sacred duty they perform.
Missionaries are asked to conform to a certain dress and grooming standard? WHY? Why can't an Elder go on a mission with long hair and an ear ring if he is a good and faithful missionary? WHY? Because the church uses it as a tool, to not only teach the missionary - but the public as well, a respect for their sacred calling. To be an ambassador for the Lord is no small thing. And the Lord has asked certain standards of those who wish to be his representatives.
Why do you seldom read articles in the News Papers who want to complement President Bush, say that BUSH did this or that? Normally they say President Bush. But if they are criticizing him, then it is BUSH did this and BUSH did that. Do you ever hear people refer to the president of the church as GORDY? I have! It hurts my ears. Why? Because it shows a lack of respect of him and the office he holds. Even to say HINCKLEY said..... None of the General Authorities ever call him Gordon. It is always President Hinkley. He is their senior and they show him respect by calling him by his title. We have been asked to pay that same respect to the Stake Presidents, Bishops and Branch Presidents in the Church. Several years ago I attended a training class by a General Authority where he even asked us to refer to the Elders Quorum Presidents by their title just to show respect for their calling. They have, as well, ask the full time missionaries to not call each other by their last name only, but out of respect for the their calling to refer to them as Elder Jones or Sister Jones and not get in to the habit of saying, "Hay Jones". They are just tools that the Lord has given us to help us learn reverence and respect for sacred things.
Obviously the temple is one of the most sacred things we have on this earth. It is His House. And so the Brethren have asked us to come to the temple dressed in our Sunday Best clothes. Going to the temple in street clothes would not keep you from making the covenants there, or even feeling the spirit there. They have also ask us not to talk loud or participate in loud laughter inside the temple but to talk in a quiet whisper. WHY? These things are all just a tools to help us feel reverence and respect for a sacred thing.
When I was a youth I had an experience that changed my life in a way that I doubt I will ever be the same again. When I was a deacon we were at the Logan Temple grounds which are surrounded by a tall metal fence. They told us that there was a man who came there from Samoa to visit the temple. When he got to the gate of the temple he took off his shoes. The people who were with him tried to tell him he did not need to take off his shoes just to walk on the temple grounds. But he would not put them back on. He said the temple grounds were too sacred to him to walk on them with his shoes on. That had a very lasting effect on me.
When we enter the temple, the Lord gives us a garment to wear. We are told to wear it all the rest of our lives. The temple garment gives us one of the greatest tools of our lives to learn respect and reverence for a sacred thing. Garments are one of the most sacred things that we have and it would do us all well to learn some basic principles of respect and reverence concerning them. So here are just some suggestions from me. Things that Janice and I have learned over the years that help us to show reverence and respect for our garments.
1. In the temple recommend interview we are asked if we wear our garments "NIGHT AND DAY". The Brethren have told us it is not inappropriate to take off our garments to wear appropriate sports apparel when we participate in sports events where it requires the removal of the garment to participate. But we have been asked to put them back on immediately following participation and not go around in the sports wear for long periods of time after the event is over. They have also asked us not to do things like go out to do yard work with out our garments on. It has been sad for us to watch many of our friends take their garments off to wear shorts or other immodest clothing and then go around that way all day. We feel that is not appropriate. We are to wear our garments "NIGHT AND DAY".
2. We are not to remove our garments, only wear the bottoms, or pin them up just because we want to wear some kind of clothing that would not be possible if we had our garments on. One of the purposes of the garment is to help us learn modesty. If the clothing you are wanting to wear could not be worn with the garments on, then maybe you should consider wearing something else.
3. Some people feel that garments are like pajamas. It is not appropriate for a person to walk around the house in their garments. Not even if you are home alone. Garments are not pajamas. It is especially inappropriate for someone to be seen in their garments by someone else like a missionary companion or friend. That is what bath robes and pajamas are for. It is not uncommon, especially for young men, to see them consider the top of their garment as a T-shirt. Garments are not T-shirts. Not even the 2 piece kind. It is not appropriate for a man (or a woman) to be seen by others in their garments. If you want to wear a T-shirt then you should wear it over the top of the garment. Children seeing their father walking around the house without his shirt on, revealing his garments will have a hard time ever teaching his children reverence and respect for garments.
4. When we change our garments, we feel that it is not appropriate to take them off and let them lay on the floor. Maybe that is not a big deal, but to us it is. When I was young the Boy Scouts taught us that we should have reverence and respect for the flag. And one of the things they taught us was to never let it touch the ground. It was no big deal... it was just a tool to teach us reverence and respect for the flag. It is our opinion that it would not be appropriate to take off your garments and let them lay on the floor. Especially not to step on them or use them to dry your feet after a shower. Garments are a sacred thing and should be treated with respect. It is not that hard to hang them up on the towel rack or put them in the dirty clothes. Again just a tool to help us learn and SHOW respect for a sacred thing.
5. When your garments are worn out they should be destroyed. We are told that we should cut the marks out of them. Once the marks are cut out and destroyed, the remaining cloth is just cloth. They are no longer garments and can be used as cloth. I have yet to ever be able to use the cloth from old garments as a rag. I just can not do it. It is such a sacred thing to me that I can not use it as a rag. Even though the Brethren have told us it is OK to do it... I can not. When our garments wear out, we destroy the entire garment not just the marks. It is just something so sacred that we have not been able to come to using the cloth as rags after the marks are cut out. The depression is over. We are not so hard pressed for cloth now that we need to save every scrap. We can buy plenty of rags at the store for very little money. That is just the opinion of Janice and Cordell Vail. It is not church policy! Once the marks are cut out and destroyed you can do what ever you want with the remaining cloth.
6. Many times missionaries are in locations where they have others wash their clothes for them. Having other people wash your garments is something you need to be very careful about. I was taught when I first went to the temple that it was not appropriate to send your garments to a professional cleaning place. If you have any concern that people might see them and make fun of them or abuse them, then wash them yourself by hand. We have also tried to be very careful over the years to not just hang them out on a line to dry where others could see them. If you do hang them on the line to dry, I would think it would be better to either hang them on the lines in between other clothes where they can not be seen, or fold them in half over the line so they would not be recognized by others as a pair of garments. Again that is just our personal opinion. Non-members should not see garments in a way that would cause them to show disrespect or irreverence for the garment. In the military service the First Presidency has even given soldiers permission to not ware them while serving or doing certain functions if it would cause the garments to be made fun of when seen by others.
6. There have been many changes in the temple clothing in the past several years. The garments themselves have gone from being a long sleeve, long leg garment that tied in the front with strings to the very comfortable and convenient two piece garments that we can wear now. Just a few years ago we used to wear special long garments just in the temple and finally that too was discontinued. Now we wear street garments in the temple and out. But again just as a personal thing, I have felt that I wanted to show special respect to the Lord for my garments and my temple clothing. So I have tried to have a special pair of garments that I only wear in the temple. It is not required. It is not expected. It is just MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION. I just do it because I too feel that the grounds of the temple are so sacred that I scarce can even walk on them with my shoes on. So it helps me to have a special reverence for the temple and the temple clothing to never wear my street garments as my temple garments. Sure it takes me a few minutes longer to get dressed. I have to take all my clothes off to get dressed. And yes you are right... I never wear my street white shirt in the temple either. I am just not in that big of a rush to get dressed. I have a special white shirt that I only wear in the temple. So when I walk out of the dressing locker, dressed in MY TEMPLE CLOTHES that are only my temple clothes, I have such a special feeling. I feel that I am in a very sacred place and I am dressed in very sacred clothes that I never wear anywhere else but in the temple. And that is ONLY MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION. You do not have to do that. It is not Church or temple policy. It is just something that I do for my own benefit to help me feel special and DRESSED CLEAN from the world when I enter through those doors.
So there you have it. The OPINION of Cordell and Janice Vail about Temple Garments