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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : What Kind of “Protection” is the Garment? » What Kind of “Protection” is the Garment?

What Kind of “Protection” is the Garment?

Rusty - May 1, 2008

“It will be a shield and protection to you”

Years ago I was a fan of Bill Maher’s show Politically Incorrect and I now listen to his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher via podcast. It’s usually pretty entertaining, though his stand-up bits are never funny and he often comes across as a jackass. But I like the format of the show and I enjoy some of his commentary. But there’s something he continues to say that drives me nuts. Whenever Mitt Romney comes up in conversation he feels the need to bring up his “magic underpants” whether or not it has any relevance to the conversation (which is never).

Now, I understand why a tactless, unfunny comedian would use the combination of the words “magic” and “underpants” rather than the myriad less provoking other possibilities, but it has made me wonder what the general Mormon populace thinks about garments. We’ve all heard the anecdotes in conversations, firesides, over the pulpit and even on 60 Minutes (thanks Willard) about how someone was protected from physical harm by the garments they were wearing. But is that what is meant by “it will be a shield and protection to you”? In your view what is the purpose of the garment?

A couple great posts on this topic can be found here and here.

Also, please don’t make this about Bill Maher.


  1. Bill Maher is a dick.

    Comment by Steve Evans — May 1, 2008 @ 5:16 pm

  2. Bill Maher is a moron.

    The garment is to remind us of our covenants to God. Keeping God in our thoughts is what helps us to stay close to the Holy Ghost. Staying in tune to the Holy Ghost is primarily what a shield and protection is for us.

    Comment by JA Benson — May 1, 2008 @ 6:40 pm

  3. 5% physical and 95% symbolic

    Comment by Bret — May 1, 2008 @ 7:08 pm

  4. It can be either.

    The garment is simply a symbol of the faith that we possess and hold.

    Can faith stop bullets?

    Yes, I believe it can.

    Can faith buoy up a depressed spirit and strengthen the resolve to act righteously.

    Yes it can.

    In this sense, the garment can do either.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 1, 2008 @ 9:25 pm

  5. Seth,
    Where is it taught that the garment is a symbol of our faith? Or is that something that you’ve personally adopted?

    Comment by Rusty — May 1, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

  6. Go through the endowment session in your mind. In the end, it amounts to the same thing.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 1, 2008 @ 10:44 pm

  7. Garments can certianly stop bullets, especially when they are made of Kevlar! I always said that’s what they issued me when I got called to serve in L.A.>8p

    Comment by Bret — May 1, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

  8. Totally both. And mostly for the reasons in #2 and #4.

    Comment by cheryl — May 2, 2008 @ 5:54 am

  9. From the strictly anecdotal file —
    I have participated in disciplinary councils and had friends and acquaintances who have been exed for violations of covenants of chastity. None were regular and routine wearers of the garment as prescribed in the recommend interview. For me, that amounts to protection from the destroyer – the stated blessing and purpose of the garment. And, anecdotally, physical protection does occur in some instances.

    Comment by mondo cool — May 2, 2008 @ 7:48 am

  10. I believe the protection it provides is spiritual protection. While I do not believe it is physical protection, I also do not believe the protection is symbolic.

    Comment by Kim Siever — May 2, 2008 @ 10:33 am

  11. Kim,

    Good point. I think that’s what Rusty meant originally but used the wrong word.

    Comment by Bret — May 3, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

  12. While the idea is largely disappearing among modern LDS, up into at least the 1980s it was widely believed among LDS members that the Garment would provide physical protection. Stories were often told of individuals being burned badly except where their Garment covered, etc. The origin of the idea goes back at least to the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, when Willard Richards was the only person in the jail who was wearing his Garment, and escaped with no more than a minor injury to his ear.

    Comment by Nick Literski — May 3, 2008 @ 6:36 pm

  13. I believe that the garment protects use from spiritual harm. I have heard the stories about physical protection but most of them are second hand and amount to the “Mormon urban legend” variety.

    But then, come to think of it, if I find out while I’m deployed to the Middle East that they do offer physical protection how many people will discount the experiance and urban legend? (I would probably be inclined not to share my experiance but if I did…)

    Comment by Jared — May 3, 2008 @ 7:57 pm

  14. You know…

    Does anyone else feel like we’re taking all the fun out of Mormonism?

    Comment by Seth R. — May 4, 2008 @ 6:35 pm

  15. Very simply, the garments do protect us spiritually in a very literal sense. Physically?…well, not necessarily I guess.

    Comment by Chris — May 5, 2008 @ 4:39 am

  16. Certainly the garment is a symbolic “protection” for all of us. But if wearing the garment reminds to “stand in Holy Places” and stay away from situations that might be harmful (physically, emotionally and sprititually) then I guess it protects us physically as well.

    But Rusty, don’t you think you’re pushing the envelope by listening to or watching Bill Maher? ;-)

    Comment by lamonte — May 5, 2008 @ 9:24 am

  17. I knew someone first hand that was burned while working under a car. The burns were everywhere except under garmetns. But, I agree that if you’re living with the Spirit, you’re typically honoring your covenant to wear the garment, and the Spirit is what gives you protection.

    Comment by Mark — May 8, 2008 @ 7:04 am

  18. I look forward to the day Gs are replaced with a simpler less cultish symbol. If we don’t want people mocking us we shouldn’t be so silly. While I think Maher is a sad atheist, there are plenty of LDS for whom his magic underpants joke is fitting.

    Comment by Steve EM — May 10, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

  19. I don’t know Steve. That sounds suspiciously like wishing your religion was comfortable enough that you could feel free to ignore it.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 11, 2008 @ 8:06 pm

  20. Seth,

    I’m sure the FLDS w/ their long wrist-to-alkle one piece Gs feel that way about modern LDS Gs. My point is since the G is symbolic, why not move to something less cultish like a pendant akin to a cross that would make us more mainstream? In the end, it’s up to the Pres of the Church, and such a reform is only a matter of time, as are many other temple reforms.

    Comment by Steve EM — May 12, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  21. Steve EM–

    I think the whole point is NOT to be mainstream.

    Comment by cheryl — May 12, 2008 @ 8:38 am

  22. Steve,

    When I think of my ultimate aspirations and dreams in life, “being mainstream” isn’t one of them.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 12, 2008 @ 9:21 am

  23. You can always join the FLDS if you don’t like the modern LDS march towards the mainstream. BKP aside, it is far better to jump into inevitable reform than drag one’s feet and then reform when the pressure becomes unbearable. You’d think we’d have learned our lesson on that score. In any event, it’s silly to get upset about people teasing us for being odd, when we are indeed odd. Since the Gs and other things about the temple are symbolic, why not modernize the whole thing? It will happen eventually, why not now?

    Comment by Steve EM — May 12, 2008 @ 11:26 am

  24. I don’t care if the garments (they are not “Gs”) are modernized.

    But I do object if the motive is to “fit in with the cool kids.” That’s just petty.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 12, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

  25. I’ve found that the garment protects me from heat in that it provides an extra layer of insulation that keeps the coolness from evaporated sweat in.

    It protects me from the eyes of men, because it adds an extra opaqueness when I’m wearing a white shirt.

    I know there are other ways too.

    My dad told me about having acid spilled on him and it burned through his jeans but not his garments.

    The protection of the garment is real.

    Comment by Michaela — July 17, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  26. I was just thinking about the garment and other parallels in the Bible. The Jews had the Mosaic law that required their priests to wear priestly garments. Adam had garments given to him to remind him of the priesthood.
    Hugh B. Nibley states that Joseph’s coat of many colors was a garment of the priesthood. The New Testament talkes about being clothed in righteousness and keeping our garments spotless. It also talks about putting on he armor of God and Christ. Then I thought about the veil at the Jewish temple that was torn as Jesus Christ’s flesh was torn for us. Garments can represent covering our “nakedness” or shamefulness and the covering of the Atonement. It can represent a protection from temptation and spiritual darkness. Thus it is a spiritual protection.
    As to physical, I dont understand why it couldn’t be as many other physical objects can provide spiritual protection like the Ark of the Covenant. I don’t think its bad to be odd-we are a peculiar people chosen to be separate from the blood of this generation or race of this generation. We are to maintain high standards with the help of Christ.

    Comment by John Lee — May 9, 2009 @ 7:23 pm

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