I have looked through all of the questions I could find on your website about temple garments and have had a little clarity, but not answered my question completely. My husband is a recent convert to the church. He was baptized in March of 2015. We were sealed in the temple this past March 2016. Since then he has become a little “disenchanted” with the church. He doesn’t want to go to the temple and feels he doesn’t need to. He wears the temple garments but doesn’t see why he has to. He doesn’t understand what the purpose is and why we have to wear them all of the time. He finds them “horrible and uncomfortable”. I have a difficult time answering his questions. He loved the church, the gospel, was prayerful, studied scripture, loved going to church, etc. Now he says there are people there who pressure you, expect too much of you, and don’t practice what they preach. He said he doesn’t want to go anymore and thinks that he just made himself believe because it’s what he thought I wanted and because he wanted to believe. I don’t know what to tell him. I don’t know how to handle this. How does one go from where he was to where he is today? He doesn’t think he needs to wear the garments all of the time. He said they are hot, uncomfortable, and miserable. Help?
I’m so sorry that you are in this painful situation. I don’t know what is troubling your husband, but I believe it is something beyond wearing garments. As you said, it’s not just the garment wearing, but he doesn’t want to attend church anymore, or pray or study the scriptures. We’ve been taught that wearing the garment is an outward expression of an inner commitment, so it is not surprising that when the gospel, scriptures, prayer, and service become uncomfortable and miserable the garment does as well.
The garment is a symbol and reminder of our covenants much like a wedding ring. The rings we exchange are an outward witness of an inner commitment to our spouse. Similarly, garments are a symbol of the covenants we have made with God. This commitment is personal; it’s between us and God, not for the world. Thus garments are worn next to the skin, not outwardly for show. Each time we put on the garment it is as if we are reaffirming that we remember and will keep the covenants we have made. When our desire to keep those covenants wanes, so does our desire to wear the garment.
So why have your husband’s feelings toward the church and his covenants changed? Only he can answer that. We should be careful not to make assumptions about that. President Uchtdorf talked about this, he said,
“One might ask, ‘If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?’
Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.” Come, Join with Us
I know you want to help him, and that is right. The question is what is the best way to do so?
I think that it is helpful to think of a testimony like a house. You can go in and fix the roof, replace all the windows, and redo the floors, but all of that will be useless if the foundation is not strong. A gospel testimony needs a solid foundation too. That foundation is Jesus Christ. Does your husband still believe in Christ? If not, then that is where to start. If he still believes in Christ then the next “layer” is the Book of Mormon, because it testifies of Christ, but also if it is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet, and this is Christ’s church on the earth. And so it goes, step by step until you find where the crack in the foundation is or where the termites are so to speak. Too often we try to solve problems by treating the symptoms, but to truly resolve a problem we need to go to the cause. When the foundation of Christ is in place other things, like wearing the garment, fall into place naturally.
Love your husband, and stand by him. Don’t push, be patient. There are many examples in the scriptures of those who loved the Lord but fell away, and then later returned. Don’t give up, and keep praying, The Lord will sustain you and bless you,