Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why do people care about other people's underwear?

(I've been busy all day, but these thoughts have been running through my head all day. They were more eloquent in my head.)

It started with a question. Several years ago. “Mrs. Kage, why do Mormons wear two pairs of underwear?” I do not shy away from questions from students; I tell my students that I am open book. This question, however, was different. I replied, “Under no circumstances will I discuss my underwear with my class.” We laughed and moved on.

Hours later when relaying this story to two other teachers, one genuinely asked, “Do Mormons wear two pairs of underwear?” It was a sincere question, with a desire to know. I briefly explained the garment to my friends. My explanation was truly inspired. I said, “Just as many Jewish people where a Yamaka as an outward sign of their faith, I wear the garments as an outward sign of mine. The difference is that I do not wear mine for others to see. It is an outward sign of an inner commitment between me and God.” This satisfied my friends better than I could have imagined. Like I said, inspired.

I am faithful in wearing my garments and in keeping my covenants, but recently it was mentioned that garments have become a way for other Mormons to judge the righteousness of others. I have been thinking a lot about this statement, and it bothers me. The truth behind this statement that bothers me. I do not wear the garments for other people to see, and certainly not for other people to judge me. That is not the point. I wear them as an outward sign of my faith…of my commitment. I am ashamed to say that up until a couple of years ago, I, too, would look for the tell tale signs of garment wearing among any LDS that I met…or went to church with. I, like many others, saw it as a way of seeing who was “faithful.” I cannot count the number of times that people came up to me and said, "Hey, your Mormon!" I would inquire as to how they knew, and they would point to a line in my shirt or some other indication of my garments. This always bothered me. Why on earth would someone look that close?? (I truly don't think I ever looked that close.)

It was after too many of these instances that it hit me what a hypocrite I was being. It did not matter that I was not looking that close, I was still looking. I realized that I did not want others to judge my righteousness based on my underwear. I wanted to be judged based on my own actions, and I should afford the same courtesy to other people. So, I stopped. I stopped looking or even noticing whether or not others were wearing garments. I even took off my own garments for a dear friend’s wedding. (Others did not agree with this decision, but I know the Lord understood.) A few hours in a strapless dress for a wedding did not negate my Temple recommend or my righteousness. And those who judged? Let them judge. I do not answer to them.

I digress…why is it that many Mormons feel perfectly justified in judging another’s worthiness by the clothes others wear? Whether it is noticing the garment through clothes or a tank top, when on earth did it become okay for anyone to judge anyone’s worthiness in the eyes of the Lord on that person’s  underwear, shoulders, knees and thighs, or anything else. As covenanted Mormons, we make our sacred promises within sacred walls. We are instructed to keep sacred things sacred…to not talk about them, yet too many people judge the covenants and commitment of others based on clothing! It is quite frustrating.

I faithfully wear my garments as an outward sign of my own faith and commitment. I know that other people judge me based on what I wear. I know that I have been guilty of that in the past. I am so grateful that I had the epiphany that caused me to change my ways. Garments are personal, and they should stay that way.

People really need to stop looking at and worrying about other people’s underwear.