LDS Religious Trappings – Why? (part 3)

We move from church steeples, to chapel pulpits, to Sunday dress.  And it is an appropriate topic, especially in light of the most recent General Conference.

Why do you put on a suit or dress each Sunday?  And do you know the historical origins of Sunday dress? 

Here is a plethora of LDS opinions on the topic:

BiV’s take on Sunday Dress

Newsroom’s take on teenage respect and honor for the LDS prophet

David’s rebellion to a Sunday Dress internationally

Wilfried really gets into it (Dress is just one part of the issue.  Notice the opening comment by Craig H. in the thread.  I look forward to when we get into music hymnology.)

Jeffrey R. Holland on Sunday Dress for young women

More rebellion by Lisa Turner on Mormon Matters (I have my tongue in cheek; I am chuckling.)

W. John Walsh gives us the visitor’s guide to dress standards

And then there is the 160 comments thread on Feminist Mormon Housewives about Sunday Best


But do you know what most evangelicals think in regards to Sunday dress in the I-15 Corridor?


Liberating, isn’t it?  Haven’t you seen these words on the big billboard by Alpine Church on Interstate 15 in Utah?


  1. Todd,

    With all humbleness and respect — the way I see it is that churches today are lowering their dress standards to what makes people “feel” good — why? To keep from losing their revenue stream…if they don’t have enough people in their congregations, they can’t afford to stay open.

    I always get a chuckle when I talk with new neighbors (non-LDS) moving to the area — when the topic of religion comes up, they usually say something like “ya, we haven’t decided on a church yet — we haven’t found a pastor we like yet and we’re still looking around to see where we feel comfortable”. Since when has the Gospel been about what we “like” and think is “comfortable”???!! Whose doctrine are they preaching?

    As soon as the church says something that doesn’t fit our “lifestyle” or makes us feel uncomfortable, do we turn tail and find another church (or create our own) that teaches our “lifestyle” and what feels “comfortable”?!?!?

    Shouldn’t our outward appearance reflect the inward state of our heart and our attitude towards the Savior and His Gospel? Are we too poor in Spirit that we feel we can’t afford to dress up from our everyday casual wear?

    In the end, it isn’t our dress or what we wear that will save us, it is the condition of our heart *after* we have passed through the trials of this mortal life.

    Messages that call attention to our outward appearance should be a call for us to examine the inner heart, not simply change our dress style. If we will take care of the inside, then the outside will take care of itself.

  2. Rob, you make some good points.

    Seth, should your Church make a tie or dress a demand for pleasing God? This is Idaho. The intermountain West. 😉

  3. Todd,

    Even though you may be surrounded and outnumbered by a large number of LDS members there in the I-15 corridor of the “intermountain west” of Idaho — the principles and challenges of the living Gospel in a wicked world are the same everywhere. I think things just stand out a little more to you because you are surrounded. 🙂

    One of my favorite statements comes from the Lectures on Faith, Lecture #6 –

    “Let us here observe that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. For from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It is through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life. And it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.”

    Abraham was required of God to sacrifice his son and only when God knew that we would do it, was he spared.

    How many “religions” are there that demand the sacrifice of all things?

  4. Seth,

    How sad it is that “respect” doesn’t provide enough of a “return” to pay the bills and keep the lights on… 😉

  5. The reference to Abraham and Isaac makes me think of the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. A perfect, bloody sacrifice.

    Clothing is crucial.

    Is there clothing that enables one to stand completely spotless before the Holy God? Beyond just the animal skins that clothed Adam and Eve?


    This is the “Sunday Dress” that must be emphasized every Lord’s Day.

  6. I wear a suit every weekend at church because it is what I feel most comfortable wearing to church. I would never think of wearing jeans to church because I was raised differently. But on the other hand, I would rather sit in a church full of people wearing jeans and a polo shirt and hear the true Gospel of Jesus Christ than be in a church full of people wearing suits and neatly groomed where a false gospel is proclaimed. Looking godly on the outside is the easy part, being godly in the heart is hard.

  7. Jesus Christ speaking to the 12 apostles on the American continent:

    And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

    Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
    (3 Nephi 27:19-20)

    This clothing or “Sunday Dress” must be repentance, baptism, and the sanctification by the reception of the Holy Ghost unto the end in order to be found spotless at the last day.

  8. Rob, was the thief on the cross baptized? He was with Christ that day in paradise because of his faith and Christ’s propitiation. Yet he was not baptized. You have the order backwards, we are baptized because we are saved, we are not saved because we are baptizzed.

  9. Todd (#6):

    THAT comparision sounds way more expiatory than penal to me: “washed in the blood of the lamb”.

    BTW, this whole discussion points to the reason that clergy in Churches originating with ministry of the Apostles wear vestments.

    Arthur: No, the thief on the cross was not baptized, but then, he accompanied Christ to “Abraham’s bosom” (“paradise”) and then ascended with Christ into heaven, as did all the other righteous dead. The thief was last of the saved of the former dispensation. As far as your order goes, the New Testament does not support you. (Valid Trinitarian) Baptism IS regeneration, says the New Testament.

  10. Greg, I need both expiatory and propitiatory clothing, covering all my sin and preserving me from the judgment to come.

    And the Apostles wore vestments?

  11. LOL. No, Todd, the Apostles (probably) did not wear vestments. However, the priests of the Temple in Jerusalem did…

    “The prophets[/apostles/bishops]….are your high priests.” Didache: Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, c. AD 90

    “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 1:11 (also alluded to in the Didache as referring to the Eucharist).

  12. Arthur (#9):

    No, the thief on the cross was not baptized. How can we be saved before we repent? Clearly repentance is required before baptism and the Savior teachers us (John 3:5) in many places that we must be baptized.

    So did Jesus tell the thief that he was saved?

    “No. In fact, as Joseph Smith explained, Christ said no such thing. Paradise is a modern word (meaning “garden”) that does not answer to the original word used by the Savior. Paradise is used in two other instances by the King James translators. In all three cases the text is sufficiently ambiguous to defy any meaningful definition (see Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7). Said the Prophet, “There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise; but it was—This day thou shalt be with me in the world of spirits: then I will teach you all about it and answer your inquiries” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 309). Thus the thief on the cross was being promised neither salvation nor a place among the redeemed. The promise given him was that he would have the opportunity to be taught the gospel in the spirit world.” (Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions, pp 99-100, Joseph F. McConkie)

    In 1 Peter 3:19, Paul says that Savior went to preach unto the spirits in prison.

    Because of Jesus Christ and without any effort on our part in mortality, we are all “saved” from the physical death because we will all be resurrected. However, to be “saved” from spiritual death, we must repent, be baptized, and be sanctified so that we can stand blameless before God at the last day”.

  13. 1. Compartmental theories for the dead . . . hmmmm. I am not convinced.

    2. Rob, is Joseph related to Bruce McConkie? And do you like the LDS systematic theology of Bruce?

    3. Back to dress, let me say this, Greg, some evangelical dispensationalists believe the temple garment fashion will once again rise in the world. Figure out this among some of the American evangelical mindset. Jeans are for today in worship. But in the millennial kingdom, the distinct temple garments will be worn for some in worship.

    And thinking of LDS Sunday dress, who did they borrow that from? 😉

  14. Todd,

    1. What do you need to be convinced?

    2. Joseph is the oldest son of Bruce R. McConkie. And yes, I “like” the theology of a called, special witness, and apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in these latter days.

    3. I keep asking myself are we following the things taught by the world or the Savior? Who decides what is taught by the world — man and the arm of the flesh. Aren’t we command to be not of the world?

    Did the LDS “borrow” it from someone, or was it “revealed” to them?

  15. Church of England Bishop N.T. Wright also believes that Christ’s declaration to the thief was NOT an assurance that the thief would go to heaven as a final destination, but was rather a reference to a temporary state where the departed go BEFORE final judgment.

  16. But then, Seth and Todd, according to Tradition, the deal with the thief, et. al. (“Adam,” Abraham, John the Baptist, etc., etc., etc.) is closed at the Ascension. There are also Scriptural allusions to this (besides the I Peter reference) : Matthew 27:52-53 and Ephesians 4:8-9). The basic point, again, is that the thief did not live, did not die, within the Christian dispensation, that of the Church, which begins with Pentecost.

  17. Rob, yep, I think that LDS Sunday Dress is adopting Western Protestant dress.

    And here is the thing, when my family dresses up on Sunday, do you know what religion the community thinks we are?

    I have to chuckle.

  18. Rob,

    ” How can we be saved before we repent? Clearly repentance is required before baptism and the Savior teachers us (John 3:5) in many places that we must be baptized.”

    Of course we are commanded to be baptized, but again NOT TO BE SAVED. We repent because of a changed heart, when we are born again. That change of heart, being born again is not something man initiates.

    So basically you are saying that after the thief confessed Christ, Christ basically said thanks but that just ain’t gonna do it? I am dubious of Joseph Smith’s “translation” of the Greek, in the same way I am dubious of his “translation” of the funerary documents that you hold as scripture. It is a pretty huge leap from you will be with Me this day in paradise to you get nothing but the same thing everyone else gets. That is what is convenient about feeling free to rewrite Scripture however suits you.

  19. When I stepped into the baptismal waters, which is not what Jesus is talking about in John 3:5, I had one thing on my mind -show and tell people what Jesus did for my full salvation.

    Jesus is the full garments for my justification, sanctification, and glorification.



    Wait a minute. It is only Thursday.

  20. Truly. I believe that with all my heart. He is my washing. He is my living water. And so yes, since I have been united with Christ, he is my Sunday Best Dress.

    I owe everything to Him for what He already did. What I do is a direct result of what He has done.

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