LDS leaders alter temple recommend questions to make it clear: No room for personal interpretation on garments

New statement tells members they are to be worn “day and night throughout your life.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Underclothing, known as garments, worn by faithful men and women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are shown in these church-authorized photos. The church has alerted temple recommend questions to reemphasize the wearing of garments "day and night."

A Latter-day Saint general authority warned last month that a new statement about wearing temple garments that was more strict and less open to individual choice was coming.

Now, it’s here.

On Friday, the governing First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a letter to all local and regional male leaders that reiterated the importance of the sacred underwear worn by temple-going members as a “reminder of [their] covenant relationship with [Jesus Christ] and Heavenly Father.”

The letter also explains that one of the temple recommend questions — used to determine a member’s “worthiness” to enter the holy place — has been revised and another one added.

The changes are subtle, rather than broad, but there is a clear message: Garments are to be worn “as instructed in the temple” and not left to members’ own inspiration and interpretation.

General authority Seventy Kevin Hamilton reportedly said as much during a March stake (regional) conference in Elk Grove, Calif.

Hamilton, who serves on a committee studying possible redesigns of garments, told the assembled lay leaders that too many younger women wear them mostly on Sundays and when attending the temple and then opt for “yoga pants” during the week.

Temple recommend questions — then and now

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) An instruction room inside the new Taylorsville Utah Temple.

Until now, the church’s online handbook has directed leaders to ask templegoers — women and men — if they wear the garment “as instructed in the endowment.”

An additional statement explained that “the garment should be worn beneath the outer clothing. It should not be removed for activities that can reasonably be done while wearing the garment, and it should not be modified to accommodate different styles of clothing.”

The handbook added that “members should seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to answer personal questions about wearing the garment.”

The new question is: “Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple?”

A second question has been added: “Do you honor your sacred privilege to wear the garment as instructed in the initiatory [a temple ritual] ordinances?”

The new statement to be read to every recommend seeker says the sacred underclothing “reminds us of the veil in the temple, and that veil is symbolic of Jesus Christ. When you put on your garment, you put on a sacred symbol of Jesus Christ. Wearing it is an outward expression of your inner commitment to follow him.”

[Read the full list of temple recommend questions, including the new garment instructions.]

The instruction is to “wear the garment day and night throughout your life. When it must be removed for activities that cannot reasonably be done while wearing the garment, seek to restore it as soon as possible.”

The allowance for individual inspiration from the Holy Ghost has been deleted.

The First Presidency, led by 99-year-old church President Russell Nelson, promises that as members “keep the covenants they have made, including the sacred privilege to wear the garment, they will have greater access to the Savior’s mercy, protection, strength and power.”

A clear concern

Proper garment wearing was a topic discussed by two church leaders — one woman and one man — at the faith’s recent General Conference.

Covenants “do not take a day off,” said Dallin H. Oaks, Nelson’s 91-year-old first counselor and next in line to lead the global church, so “to remove one’s garments can be understood as a disclaimer of the responsibilities and blessings to which they relate.”

On the other hand, those who wear their garments “faithfully and keep their temple covenants,” Oaks said, “affirm their role as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Dallin H. Oaks speaks at General Conference on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

The wearing of sacred underwear by Latter-day Saint women and men “is both a sacred obligation and a sacred privilege,” said J. Anette Dennis, first counselor in the worldwide women’s Relief Society presidency. The “garment is deeply symbolic and points to the Savior.”

Members wear “the garment of the holy priesthood, both during temple worship and in our everyday lives,” Dennis said. The holy underclothing “reminds us that the Savior and the blessings of his Atonement cover us throughout our lives. As we put [it] on …. that beautiful symbol becomes a part of us.”

[Learn more about the challenges Latter-day Saints, especially women, face in wearing garments and the choices they are making in this “Mormon Land” podcast recorded in the wake of Hamilton’s speech and just before the latest General Conference.]

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) General Relief Society counselor J. Anette Dennis speaks at General Conference on Saturday, April 6, 2024.