“Let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands; and let all things be done in cleanliness before me.” -Doctrines of the Saints 4a:51
As a part of receiving one’s Initiatories we are given the Garments of the Priesthood. Into these garments symbols are sewn or cut, that they may function much like a classic amulet that has power from God. What are these garments? When should we wear them?
Symbols Make Sacred
The Garments of the Priesthood, or more simply “garments,” are clothing with the four symbols of the priesthood upon them. These are the Square, the Compass, the Horizontal Line on or about the Navel, and the Horizontal Line on or about the Knee. These symbols are what make the garments sacred. Without them, the garments are merely mundane clothing.
The Lord has told us:
“And on the right breast place the sign of the square, yea, and on left breast the sign of the compass; for these are signs unto me from before the beginning. Yea signs of which are the justice of Elohim and the salvation of the Only Begotten; for in the square is Gevurah, the justice of God, and in the compass is Chesed, His mercy. And place upon this, my holy garment, two lines; one at the bottom on the right about the kneee as a reminder that every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, and the other midway upon the front thereof, yea or upon the the right of the divide, about that of the navel; and this thou shalt do for health in the belly, and as a sign and token of my Holy Spirit, and of temporal salvation.” -Doctrines of the Saints 106:51-55
This revelation makes clear the meaning of these symbols. They represent the attributes of the God we worship and represent as His ministers. More specificity, they represent the atonement of Jesus Christ. God the Father is represented by knowledge, and the Justice of the Holy Spirit; the Mother by wisdom and the mercy of Jesus Christ. In the atonement both justice and mercy were appeased.
Because of the sacred nature of these symbols, we cut them out of the garments and burn them before discarding them when they are worn out.
Types of Garments
While the revelation above describes one type of garments, there are a number of types: under garments, ephods, vests, or tabards. The sole requirements are that they be white they are close to knee length. When sewing on the symbols, the thread color should match the material, both bring similar shades of white. We recommend they not be drawn or stained on.
“And behold, if thou desire to do as the Latter-day Saints and wear these at the day and at the night, hidden beneath the clothing, thou mayest purchase from them that sell these; this I say unto all that have made the covenant of the priesthood in me; but behold, if they shall keep these things unto themselves, and shall not sell them unto my servants in the Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship then I say unto you to condemn them not, for they know not what they have nor what to do with it; therefore, to keep the peace between my Saints I say that thou should makest thine own garments.” -Doctrines of the Saints 106:61-63
By sewing or cutting the symbols on white underwear, we change the nature of the underclothing to garments. These should always be worn under our clothing, the symbols hidden, in a manner that does not call attention to them.
The advantage of these is that one is always ready to minister in the name of the Lord. The disadvantage is that if one isn’t wearing them they must remove their clothes to put them on. We encourage members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to wear them at all times, as their denomination requires. They may be used then for work preformed in the name of that denomination, and when doing work in God’s name for the Fellowship.
However, if one is removed from the ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints they should stop wearing their version of the garments, per the revelation above. Their garments are a symbol of ministry in their branch of our shared faith. If one is no longer a minister for them, while they are still ordained, there is no reason to wear items that symbolize their ministry. We do not wish to create ill dealings between the two branches of our shared faith.
To make undergarments into Garments of the Priesthood, one may purchase white underwear that meets the requirements and cut or sew the symbols on.
Ephods and Vests
“And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water. And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him,” -Leviticus 8:6-7
An ephod is a sleeveless garment traditionally worn by Jewish priests. For use within the Fellowship, it should be a sleeveless vest that falls just below the knee. It may hand open, or be tied by a white sash called a gartel. Gartel is Yiddish for belt. While Jewish gartels are typically black, sometimes white, ours are always white, or off white.
If tied by a gartel, the vest should either be open, or the right side should overlap the left to make the symbol about the navel visible if worn closed. The vest may have a collar or not. The cloth shouldn’t have any patterns that would detract or hide the sacred symbols. And, if it does have a pattern, it should be shades of white.
Tabards and Jerkins
“Behold, I say unto thee: take unto thee a white cloth, be it about the width of thy shoulders and as long as thou art tall; and cut the cloth in the middle of it’s longest side two thirds inwards and seal up the edges round about.” -Revelation to the First Elder, David, January 10, 2016
There are two types of tabards, the first being that mentioned in the revelation above. By following these instructions, one’s tabard will fall just below the knees, perfectly as required by the Lord. If one is making their own garments, this is one of the simplist way to go about it. It just measuring, cutting and hemming.
When making tabards for me and my daughter, my wife went the extra mile and cut an actual neck line. This was a very comfortable modification. When making these, please keep in mind that it’s the spirit one is making it in that matters, there are no hard rules other than length, color, and placement of the correct symbols.
A jerked is another type of tabard, and it’s just as simple. It’s much like a Jewish tallit karan, but longer. Take a cloth about sholder’s width and as long as one is tall. Fold it in half and cut a “T” that one’s head will fit through, like a poncho. The vertical line of the “T” should be the front. And, the line about the navel should be centered, rather than at the side as it would be done on the other type of tabard described above.
Either of these may be tied loosely at the waist by a gartel or sash, as desired when worn alone. When worn with the robes of the priesthood, the gartel should be worn as appropriate.
When to Wear
“Yea, and these garments thou shalt wear throughout thy life, at times even as the Spirit directs: to bless the sick, and to preach my gospel at the pulpit, and to do works in my name as thou art moved to do so by my Spirit.” -Doctrines of the Saints 106:57-58
When officiating one should wear the proper Robes of the Priesthood, with the garments beneath. However, there will be times when one may merely dawn their garments. When giving a blessing, for example, one may dawn their garments alone. Also, if one is meeting with someone at home or a hospital, etc. the garments alone may be warm that people understand the one is clergy preforming the duties of their ministry. If one is ordained but not actually engaged in the ministry for the Fellowship, they may wish to wear their garments above their clothing at worship. There may be other times as well when the Spirit moves us to wear them.
“And it came to pass that I set them, even Adam and Eve before the altar, facing eastward, and there give unto them the Garments of the Holy Priesthood; there I did show unto them the proper wearing of these holy garments tying a sash in a bow on the right side for these as they wert new to my works… And there they were then instructed to bless one another as such: ‘Having authority on the name of God, I place this garment upon thee, which thou are to wear in service to the Lord throughout thy life; inasmuch as thou doeth not defile it, but are true and faithful to thy covenants, it will be a shield and a protection to thee against the power of the destroyer until thou hast finished thine work here upon the earth.’” -Book of Remembrance 12:3-4, 7-9