While reading the Millenial Star blog, I noticed an article on the side that caught my attention that was about Joseph and Hyrum Smith and John Taylor taking off their garments before going to Carthage, where Joseph and Hyrum were killed. The reasoning behind them doing it varies, but it is either because they didn’t want to be revealed as “Mormons” to their enemies, or it was too hot in Illinois to wear them and Joseph Smith is quoted as saying he chose not to wear his garments when it was too hot. (http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith/Martyrdom/Removed_garments)
This may be a big shock to some people of the LDS faith because when one goes through the temple they covenant to where the garments as a token of their faithfulness and devotion to the Savior. Furthermore, LDS members are told that the way the garment is worn is an outward expression of an inner commitment to Jesus.
In the same article, there is an account written by B.H. Roberts, of an LDS Elder Robinson, who was actually saved because he removed his garments, which is quoted below:
But unfortunately if Elder Robinson should fall into the hands of enemies, it would be a betrayal of him as to his being a Mormon elder. He therefore retired to a densely wooded section of the country and, stripping off these garments, rolled them up and climbed a tree and tied them securely….But approaching the neighborhood of Kane Creek where the elders were reported to be killed, the railroad passes over a bit of trestle work over a very deep and quite large ravine, and near the middle of this trestle work he observed three men approaching from the other side, guns in hand. There was nothing left to do than to go right on. These men proved to be members of the mountain guard watching for me. On meeting Elder Robinson they questioned him as to where he came from and what his purpose was, and when he told them that he was looking for a job cotton picking they laughed saying, “A damn fine cotton picker you would be. Look at your hands.” And, of course, as Elder Robinson had not engaged in physical labor, his hands were white and soft, not at all characteristic of cotton pickers. He then told them of having been sick for sometime, and that accounted for his pallor in his face and hands and that he was just now beginning to get about and was now strong enough to begin cotton picking. Hence he was in search of that job. They invited him to sit down while they thought things over. No sooner did he do that when one of the three grabbed his shirt by the collar and tore it so as to expose his body, but they found no garments incriminating him as to his Mormonism and finally allowed him to pass.
These accounts raise some questions, which will be outlined below:
If the garments are to be a shield, protection and an outward expression of inner faith, why is it that Joseph Smith and the others removed their garments?
Do you think their lives would have been saved had they worn them?
In Elder Robinson’s case, did he show a lack of faith by removing his garments?
For LDS members today, do you feel that you lack faith if you remove your garments?
Personally, it doesn’t matter to me if someone else chooses not to wear their garments. For me, it is a personal thing between God and myself and no one elses matter.