Since my youth, I have been well aware of how wearing garments made church members different from “non-members.” I remember going to music camp one summer (yes, I’m a nerd) to pick up another musician we were hosting for the week and noticing that her mother had markings under her shirt that looked a lot like my own mother’s garment lines. Taking a chance, I asked if they were Mormon, and they were (and ecstatic that the host family for their 12-year-old daughter was also LDS).

With Mitt Romney in the news and the LDS church gaining media coverage at an alarming rate, garments are going to be a topic of interest for non-LDS people who are curious about our religion. The topic of garments was covered (once again) on the latest Rock Center special, Mormon in America.

Robert Rees, Ph.D., a Mormon instructor at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, recently wrote about the sanctity of LDS garments. The post entitled “Is Nothing Sacred? Thoughts on Mormon Undergarments” offers some great examples of other religions that utilize holy or sacred clothing for a variety of reasons as well as a perspective on other religions’ sacred practices we may not understand.

I think we often use the “outward symbol of an inward commitment” or the “constant reminder of promises made to God” lines to explain garment wearing. However, I really like the other examples Dr. Rees offers in his explanation. I think offering analogous examples from other religions that aren’t ridiculed for their traditional clothing makes it easier for those not of our faith to understand the whole “mysterious Mormon underwear” issue.

How do you explain garments to your non-endowed friends? Or how were they explained to you before you became a “card-carrying” member?