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Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 08:51
by BuffetMormon
Hi!

I am in my late 40s and converted to the church 25 years ago. I love the Gospel (but really dislike the church).

About 20 years ago, I married in the temple and left my entire family out. (They are not members). It was awful. Until last year, I believed marrying in the temple first was DOCTRINE. I then found out that it is a church POLICY that is only for USA and Canadian members that they came up with in 1960!!! I think finding this out was a real shock. I can't believe that the church leaders would have a POLICY like this, especially when they preach how important the family is.

Anyway, so now I am questioning whether garments are doctrine or just another stupid church policy???? Most of the time, I like wearing my garments. I find them comforting (in a spiritual sense). But sometimes I hate them......like in 100 degree heat. Sometimes I do not want to wear them.

As you know, the garment is very restrictive. I can't even buy a sleeveless shirt and I am not talking tank top here. I did look up "garments" on the forum but never really found the answer to my question.

So.....is it doctrine (from God) or policy (from old men sitting in SLC with nothing else to do)?

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 09:09
by On Own Now
BuffetMormon,

It's a really great question. But let me first address this:
BuffetMormon wrote:So.....is it doctrine (from God) or policy (from old men sitting in SLC with nothing else to do)?
That's not really the distinction between doctrine and policy. 'Doctrine' in any organization is a formally stated set of core beliefs. 'Policy' in any organization is a set of rules that govern the organization. Whether it comes from God or not, most churches and organizations of any consequence have doctrines and policies.

An example is same sex marriage. Church 'doctrine' is that it is against God's plan. Church 'policy' is not to perform same sex marriages in Church buildings. Yet, I believe all this is from "old men". The 'policy' is short-sited and unnecessary (IMO). The 'doctrine' is not clear (as I always say, the best source for the 'doctrine' is found in Leviticus, which is pretty weak provenance to hang such an important issue on).

But, to the question of whether the wearing of garments is an LDS doctrine, I would say, 'yes'. Because the Temple ordinances are considered to have been 'revealed' and the ordinances instruct the person to wear the garment, then, yeah, I think it is doctrine. Is it from God? That's a different matter. Let each person decide for themselves.

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 09:52
by Roy
I agree with OON that we are unqualified to say what is from God and not.

However... in regards to garments we are instructed in the temple to wear it throughout our life. This does not mean that we never take it off. Nor does it necessarily mean that we wear it every day. I have read that JS did not wear his garments when it was hot and muggy outside. It is also commonly known that he was not wearing them when he went to Carthage. I would argue that the temple recommend question about wearing them both night and day is not doctrine as that is not mentioned in the temple.

So yes, there is wiggle room to decide for yourself how and when you wish to wear garments. However - please be aware that others (including your bishop) might strongly disagree with your choices. If you choose to not wear garments when the temperature creeps into the triple digits, I recommend for that to be a personal decision between you and God and not something that needs to be publicly advertised. I even would caution against discussing these personal decisions with your bishop as he also might have his personal opinions that may contrast strongly to yours.

This brings me to another point. There is usually significant leeway for personal interpretation in many LDS matters as long as you keep it to yourself. If you start to stir up contention or convince others that your interpretation is better then the problems begin.

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 10:27
by NightSG
Roy wrote:I would argue that the temple recommend question about wearing them both night and day is not doctrine as that is not mentioned in the temple.
The way I look at that is that I wear shoes night and day; it doesn't mean I never go barefoot, but it also doesn't mean I only put my shoes on for special occasions. I'm pretty sure if the Lord meant "at all times" He is perfectly capable of expressing that.

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 10:55
by Roadrunner
Roy wrote:I even would caution against discussing these personal decisions with your bishop as he also might have his personal opinions that may contrast strongly to yours.

This brings me to another point. There is usually significant leeway for personal interpretation in many LDS matters as long as you keep it to yourself. If you start to stir up contention or convince others that your interpretation is better then the problems begin.
This. Ultimately we have our agency and are responsible for our own behavior. We are also the only ones who know our own hearts and our needs. Do what you think is best - it's really between you and Heavenly Father. Even the instructions in the temple recommend book say it's between the member and the Lord.

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 11:57
by hawkgrrrl
So.....is it doctrine (from God) or policy (from old men sitting in SLC with nothing else to do)?
Just to add to OON's comment which is right on, member often conflate these three things: policy, doctrine, and revelation. But they aren't exactly the same thing. They are all probably fairly "binding" within the Mormon community, though, unless you keep your deviations somewhat to yourself.
- Policy is the set of operational guidelines we follow. The stuff in the handbook.
- Doctrine is anything we teach, generally the attempt to put the gospel into practical terms for members to discuss.
- Revelation is what God has revealed.

An important distinction is that the Proclamation is "doctrine," but is not "revelation." When BKP called it "revelation" in GC, the term was stricken from both the written and recorded talk because it is widely known that it was written by lawyers for a specific purpose, although it has certainly been given the stamp of approval as a teaching (or doctrine).

The trick with "revelation" is that individual exceptions are revealed to individuals, not to the church at large. If you feel you should live in a way that is an exception, and you feel this is the right thing for you (e.g. through personal revelation), you may be judged for it by your fellow Mormons, but according to doctrine, that's how personal revelation can work. Many members would prefer to control everyone into conformity and seem to think personal revelation is only possible to affirm what applies to all, not allowing for any individual exceptions. This seems to be a misunderstanding of personal revelation from all I can tell, but it's becoming alarming dominant in Mormon thinking.

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 12:12
by Roadrunner
hawkgrrrl wrote: Policy is the set of operational guidelines we follow. The stuff in the handbook.
Doctrine is anything we teach, generally the attempt to put the gospel into practical terms for members to discuss.
Doctrine can be a tricky thing and GAs say stuff is doctrine all the time when it isn't. I've heard Dallin H. Oaks label the handbooks as "doctrine". There are lots of examples of this. Ultimately I think we decide what is doctrine for us through personal revelation.

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 12:45
by DarkJedi
Roadrunner wrote:
hawkgrrrl wrote: Policy is the set of operational guidelines we follow. The stuff in the handbook.
Doctrine is anything we teach, generally the attempt to put the gospel into practical terms for members to discuss.
Doctrine can be a tricky thing and GAs say stuff is doctrine all the time when it isn't. I've heard Dallin H. Oaks label the handbooks as "doctrine". There are lots of examples of this. Ultimately I think we decide what is doctrine for us through personal revelation.
I have, too, and he's a lawyer and should know better. I will say I have noticed a subtle shift in the way Oaks speaks over the years, however - he is softening from my point of view. I used to really dislike him and his black and white attitudes, but I see some gray now. If only Bednar will follow suit!

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 12:49
by Holy Cow
Personal revelation can be tricky. There was a woman on my mission who had personal revelation that she should pay 7.5 % tithing. She said she had a dream that Jesus came to her directly to give her the message. Before she had this revelation, she would round her tithing up and pay an even number. For example, if she owed $380 for tithing, she would just round it up and pay $400. But after her revelation, she was meticulous about paying exactly 7.5%, to the penny. The problem came when it was time for her to renew her temple recommend, and she told the bishop that she was paying 7.5% tithing, because of her personal revelation. The bishop refused to renew her temple recommend if she didn't start paying 10%. Personally, I'd rather pay the 10%, just to avoid having to do the math to figure out 7.5%! But, this woman was seriously stressed out about this. On one hand, she truly felt that she had been commanded by God to pay exactly 7.5%, and she took that seriously. On the other hand, if she didn't pay 10% then she couldn't go to the temple. And she was not the type to be misleading and just say that she was paying a full tithe, if she knew the bishop meant 10%.
So, when personal revelation contradicts LDS doctrine, things can get confusing. For me personally, I haven't worn garments in quite a while, but that's my personal decision and has nothing to do with revelation. I just personally feel more comfortable without them because of my own personal issues with the temple and other LDS doctrines. For me, it doesn't make much difference whether garments are a part of LDS policy or LDS doctrine. What matters for me is my own personal relationship with God and Christ, regardless of the doctrines and/or policies of the church.

Re: Is the temple garment doctrine or policy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2015, 12:59
by DarkJedi
Holy Cow wrote:Personal revelation can be tricky. There was a woman on my mission who had personal revelation that she should pay 7.5 % tithing. She said she had a dream that Jesus came to her directly to give her the message. Before she had this revelation, she would round her tithing up and pay an even number. For example, if she owed $380 for tithing, she would just round it up and pay $400. But after her revelation, she was meticulous about paying exactly 7.5%, to the penny. The problem came when it was time for her to renew her temple recommend, and she told the bishop that she was paying 7.5% tithing, because of her personal revelation. The bishop refused to renew her temple recommend if she didn't start paying 10%. Personally, I'd rather pay the 10%, just to avoid having to do the math to figure out 7.5%! But, this woman was seriously stressed out about this. On one hand, she truly felt that she had been commanded by God to pay exactly 7.5%, and she took that seriously. On the other hand, if she didn't pay 10% then she couldn't go to the temple. And she was not the type to be misleading and just say that she was paying a full tithe, if she knew the bishop meant 10%.
So, when personal revelation contradicts LDS doctrine, things can get confusing. For me personally, I haven't worn garments in quite a while, but that's my personal decision and has nothing to do with revelation. I just personally feel more comfortable without them because of my own personal issues with the temple and other LDS doctrines. For me, it doesn't make much difference whether garments are a part of LDS policy or LDS doctrine. What matters for me is my own personal relationship with God and Christ, regardless of the doctrines and/or policies of the church.
If she believed God told her to pay 7.5%, why didn't she just answer yes when asked if she pays a full tithe? Perfect example of reading something into a question. Whether or not she received such a revelation is immaterial - that she believes she did is what matters. If she believes that for 7.5% is a full tithe then 7.5% is a full tithe.