Guest Post: Appearance and Worthiness in the Church

by Tanya Spackman
I currently have a couple blue streaks in my hair. I don’t like it and will soon be dyeing my hair– all of it — a lovely auburn. The blue was preceded by a couple purple streaks (liked it) and several fuchsia streaks (liked it). I’m much too old for this to be any sign of rebellion; it’s just something I’ve always wanted to try. I’m almost over it. Luckily, I work in a job where I don’t necessarily have to have a professionally conservative appearance to meet with clients or that sort of thing, so while my supervisor may be thinking, “Early midlife crisis,” he isn’t thinking, “Conform or be fired.” However, this experimentation has led to some interesting (to me) thoughts.

As I’ve explored my looks with various colors, I haven’t felt comfortable going to temple, so I haven’t gone. In reality, my temple attendance is not as frequent as it should be and I would likely not have gone anyway during these few weeks, but the fact that it has been hanging there, not feeling like an option, has bothered me. I certainly don’t feel that merely slapping a little unnatural color in my hair has made me any less worthy. However, I feel like I would be a distraction to others, and that seems selfish of me. While it is likely no one would say anything, and if anyone thought anything, it would probably be something like, “Hmm, you don’t see blue hair in the temple every day,” and then they would go on with their work, for some I may be a stumbling block. They might find my blue streaks offensive, or even just distracting enough that they may have a difficult time focusing on the reason for being there. Whether they are going out of duty, seeking the Spirit, or to find answers to questions, my presence distracting them is selfish on my part when the blue streaks are totally in my control.

It may be that I attribute too much power to my hair and, really, no one will care and I’m just being silly. Yet, this is a very conservative church, and that includes appearance. And I would definitely argue that (let’s be realistic) people should not be so focused on others as to care what someone else does with their hair. And yet, appearance matters and, like I said, it is selfish of me to place myself in a position to distract others when distractions really shouldn’t happen. I don’t know how much of this concern about appearance is American culture and how much is Church culture. Should we be less concerned about it in the Church? Should we be more accepting? Or do we believe that what is on the outside reflects the inside?

On a related issue, a youth in my ward had pink hair, and I’ve been told it is now blue. I found out that he is not allowed to pass the sacrament until his hair returns to a natural color. I don’t know this kid at all– I don’t even know his name– so for all I know the hair color is only part of the issue in his case. I can see how a rebellious attitude could play a part in it. But the impression I was given was that he had no other issues besides the hair. Assuming it is just the hair, I think it is silly that he cannot pass the sacrament, and yet I also feel torn between how much we should submit to requests from priesthood authority, regardless of how we feel about it (Humility? Authority? Sustaining?), and how much we should say, “This doesn’t matter” and give it no more thought. Does pink or blue hair make him unworthy? Does it have something to do with the appearance of evil, or is conformity too much of a Church value? And is this just an American issue, or does it come up in other wards throughout the planet?

Where is the line between This Matters and This Doesn’t Matter? Have we moved too many things across the line into This Matters?

Tanya Spackman is single (and looking) and lives in Dugway, Utah. She served a mission in Chicago, and graduated from BYU in 1998 with a degree in molecular biology. She currently works for a contractor as a technical writer and editor at Dugway Proving Ground, a fun place to work. And, yes, she is related to Ben Spackman — they are cousins. (Hi, Ben!)

59 thoughts on “Guest Post: Appearance and Worthiness in the Church

  1. Interesting thoughts Tanya. During my teenage years there were a few times I briefly considered getting a radical haircut. Each time it was the realization that I needed a certain appearance to pass the sacrament that stopped me from considering it more seriously.

    There are at least two problem I can think of, that probably prevents the kid with pink/blue hair from passing the sacrament. One is a point you already brought up in your post. It is a distraction. Instead of thinking about the Savior, people in attendance will think about the kids hair and have a wild variety of reactions and moods as a result.

    The second problem is the contagion of teenage excitement over being allowed to do something different. If this boy is allowed to pass the sacrament with his dyed hair, this then becomes a reason for others to go to their parents and say: “See, he’s allowed to do it AND pass the sacrament! So why can’t I do this?!”

    Probably drawing the line in the sand at this point is wise. Because there are other potential distractions that could become a serious issue as well. I’m thinking of facial piercings, spikes and bores that appear in the brows, nose, chin, ear lobes, etc.

  2. I think the appearance question has two parts in it, how I feel about myself and distractions to others. What does any extreme physical decoration say about how I feel about myself? Am I trying to get attention? Push the envelope of what’s acceptable? Or define myself in some way? Am I not happy with “natural beauty”?

    I think the gospel message of humility calls for not drawing unnecessary attention to yourself. We read in the Book of Mormon that the rebellious Nephites marked themselves to set them apart from the righteous. The church discourages tattooing, excessive piercing, and other unnecessary alterations to one’s body. Making your appearance the best it naturally can be through exercise, keeping clean hair and skin, and flattering (modest) clothing are all encouraged. There are better ways to make your mark on the world than by shock value.

    As for the distraction to others, I am impressed that you worried about this. I wish those who like to drown themselves in floral perfume thought along the same lines. I think that if something – anything makes you feel like not going to the temple, it’s probably wrong. I can see how the bishopric felt that passing the sacrament with blue hair might take away from the real purpose. There’s nothing wrong with a blue or tan shirt, but passing the sacrament is a honor and priviledge. Requiring non-distracting attire of any kind is understandable.

    As a side note, I am a YW advisor to a girl with pink highlights in her blond hair. She dresses in vintage, bright, crazy outfits. She’s one of the best Young women I know, and has shared her testimony (and the Missionaries) with more friends than anyone I can think of!

  3. I briefly had long, green hair in a Manhattan ward. I think once you break out of the black/brown/red/blond spectrum you pretty much know that you’re not going to be asked to pass the sacrament, even in New York. I didn’t have a problem with it.
    The bishop basically told me that seeing a green-haired kid pass the sacrament wasn’t going to do wonders for anyone’s testimony of the priesthood.

  4. Heather, I’m not entirely certain I would say the discouragment from the church on piercings and tatoos has as much to do with drawing attention as with the body-as-temple teachings. If that were the case, what is considered modest would probably better mirror the world’s views.

    You said, “There’s nothing wrong with a blue or tan shirt, but passing the sacrament is a honor and priviledge. Requiring non-distracting attire of any kind is understandable.” However, what is really considered non-distracting? Is a tan shirt really distracting? I had never even noticed what color of shirt the sacrament passers were wearing until relatively recently when I began to read of white-shirt-only rules in online forums. That particular rule seems to vary stake to stake. Are the white-shirt-only people taking much too rigid a stand on what is appropriate?

  5. Kim, I have both blessed and passed the sacrament numerous times in various wards while sporting a full beard without so much as a disapproving glance from either leaders or members. I think the beard stigma in the church is somewhat exaggerated.

    Green hair on the other hand… 🙂

  6. Kim, did you mean non-white shirts?

    I don’t think a man’s beard is anywhere nearly as distracting as non-natural hair color. (I don’t mean a color different than your natural color, but rather a color not found in nature.)

    Tanya: in fact it is every day that we see blue hair in the temple. It’s just that we don’t see it on women younger than 70.

  7. I think the white shirt and tie standard for the young men who administer the sacrament is meant as a mirror of missionary standard atire. It helps tie their current priesthood service to their preparation for a mission.

  8. There are indeed reasons for some of the rules, especially when dealing with the youth (i.e., relating the attire for passing the sacrament with what they will wear as missionaries), and yet everyone has examples of people who didn’t fit the traditional, conservative appearance who were just as righteous and stalwart as the best of them. This leads me to wonder if appearance is emphasized far too much, that it serves to divide and hurt rather than unify.

    That said, I’ve seen a correlation between appearance and behavior. For example, jeans and t-shirts at work lead to a much more relaxed, less-professional environment than business attire, which could be good or bad depending on what it is you do.

  9. I had maroon hair for awhile during my freshmen year at BYU. Maroon is okay, probably because of all the European ladies that sport it (i.e., variations from pink to purple).

    I think you would have been fine in the temple (especially if your hair was pulled back). I always love it when there is what looks like an old biker dude in the temple (tattoos and all). It makes me feel like we are actually doing something.

  10. Funny story. Shortly after I got married, my wife wanted to paint my toenails (very out of character for her, since she doesn’t normally paint her own toenails.) Bright purple.

    Forgetting about my neon toenails, I did initiatory in the Temple the next day. The worker got to my foot, took one look, and cracked up, completely lost his train of thought. Kinda embarassing 🙂

  11. My brother-in-law had to shave off his beard to teach seminary. It seems strange to me since many of our modern day prophets had beards.

  12. I’m wondering if there’s a distinction to be made in ‘natural’ vs. ‘unnatural’ alterations in your appearance.
    Beards, long hair = natural
    Piercings, dyed hair, tattoos = unnatural

    (Note that ‘unnatural’ isn’t a code word for ‘abomination’ here–just marking which things are part of the body’s natural design and which are ‘man-made’)

    My guess is that most members would tend to look upon the unnatural alterations a lot more strictly and disapprovingly than the natural ones. I have facial hair myself, and I’ve never felt it to be a ‘distraction’. Pink hair, on the other hand…

  13. No, Kevin, the facial hair isn’t the distraction. It’s the macaroons trapped therein that distract.

  14. If I remember correctly, Hugh Nibley said something to the effect that Zion is for the pure in heart, not the pure in appearance. I believe it is in one of the Approaching Zion essays.

  15. Folks, whether we like or not, appearance matters. If I am interviewing somebody for a job, and he shows up with messy hair and tattered clothes, he’s not getting the job. In my field, salespeople are in front of the public and you’re not going to sell if you are not dressed nicely. In my field, nice, clean business suits are necessary. That’s just the way it is.

    The same principle applies at church. There is tremendous social pressure to dress a certain way — in your “Sunday best.” I have never seen or heard of a bishop telling somebody to change his clothes, and here in Miami, Florida we get people coming to church in t-shirts every single Sunday. But people do feel a need to dress nicer as they get more involved in the Church. It is more self-imposed than anything else.

    We have a teenager with shoulder-length hair who blesses the sacrament. We have a guy who lives on a boat who comes to Church without a tie and passes the sacrament. We have one member whose appearance is directly linked to the state of his testimony — if his testimony is strong he shows up in a suit, if his testimony is weak he will not even wear a tie.

    If I were bishop, I would not set down rules for how you should dress (within reasonable limits — no shorts and flip-flops, for example). But if Brother X does not want to wear a tie or a white shirt, no big deal. And yes I would let Brother X pass the sacrament. But I would observe to people that there is often a correlation between how a person dresses and the level of their testimony of the truth of the Gospel. It is worth noting that Tanya goes to the temple less than she might otherwise at least partly because of the dye in her hair. So, in the end, how she dresses matters most of all to *her*. That is the point — how you dress and groom yourself does have something to do with the status of your testimony. But you cannot force people to dress and groom themselves a certain way — you can only make suggestions and point out that it is having an affect on their own lives and their own progression.

  16. But Geoff, Tanya also said that she did not feel any less worthy to go to the temple because of her hair–the fact that she’s not going has more to do with the unrighteous judgment of others (and her admirable concern that they not be tempted to such distractingly unrighteous sentiments) than with her own sense of her relationship with God.

    People feel a need to “dress nicer” as they are more involved in Church, as you note, because of “tremendous social pressure,” NOT because there is any neccessary or inevitable correlation between righteousness and appearance.

    I think it’s fine to acknowledge the social pressures, and it is gracious to bow to them in the way Tanya has described if we feel we might be a stumbling-block to others. That’s why I don’t wear pants to church. However, once we start attributing more weight than that of culture and tradition to our dress and grooming habits, i.e., when we start to think that God prefers white shirts, then I think we’re in the same kind of trouble as the Pharisees were.

  17. Geoff B,

    You said, “It is worth noting that Tanya goes to the temple less than she might otherwise at least partly because of the dye in her hair. So, in the end, how she dresses matters most of all to *her*. That is the point — how you dress and groom yourself does have something to do with the status of your testimony.”

    I would like to correct this in that not going to the temple during that time had more to do with self-consciousness than testimony. My testimony is as strong as ever. While I agree with your point that there is often a correlation, I think the correlation might be weakening. Perhaps this is because of the greater culture in which the Church is a subculture. If pink hair is considered a great abberation in the larger culture (for me, American and Utah culture), then I’m likely to see it as such, too. But it is becoming less of an abberation, though in the Church the taboo is stronger, I might be outside the norm for the subculture of the Church, but within the norm for my larger culture. Thus, it would be harder to see a correlation to testimony.

    Though I could be wrong.

  18. Geoff B,

    I like your approach on this issue. I’ve lived all over the country and this sensitive and low-key attitude has mostly been the norm. That’s why it’s always disheartening to come across the rare leader who conditions participation on his own arbitrary codes.

  19. What a coincidence, Kaimi! The scoutmaster in my ward has a long ponytail and often blesses and/or passes the sacrament. My ward’s even more similar to yours when you consider that he was just released as Young Mens president a few months ago. 😉

    These dress and grooming “requirements” defintely vary from stake to stake, region to region. When I was Institute teacher I wasn’t even asked to shave my beard. I’m very glad to live in a place where enforcing dress and grooming standards is off the radar as far as things our ward has to consider. But, of course, that’s just me. Maybe once we can get a full EQ presidency we’ll start worrying about it.

  20. Perhaps dress and grooming say nothing about righteousness or testimony, but they certainly say something about maturity. That’s why beards and blue shirts don’t bother me, but mohawk hairstyle would (unless culturally appropriate, like, say, you’re the last of the mohicans).

    To be clear, I don’t think I’d condition participation in church on thee standards, but they seem reasonable bases to question whether you want to put someone in a position of representing the Lord.

  21. I’ve often heard the idea that one should avoid “distracting” dress and grooming at church (and by extension in the temple). I think there is some merit to that idea.

    But might it not also be the case that someone could be edified by seeing a temple patron with blue streaked hair? That they might learn a lesson about not judging others by appearance? The idea that unusual grooming implies an evil heart is one that we should try to eliminate.

  22. gst, I think I’d say that dress and grooming more accurately indicate conformity. That can be closely correlated with maturity, and perhaps there’s even an element of conformity in maturity (I wouldn’t know about either very well) but I think there is a distinction.

  23. When I met my now-husband, he was an eighteen-year-old priest with eight-inch Aqua-Netted spikes (his hair, I mean.) He blessed the sacrament every Sunday. It was 1989. I was fifteen. It was the coolest thing ever. I knew right away he was my kind of guy. These days he shaves his head.

  24. You’re right, Logan, inasmuch that conforming to dress norms is not a certain indicator of maturity. Rejecting them is, however, a reasonably good indicator of immaturity.

  25. Now we just have to define “dress norms” and “rejecting”, and this will be as clear as mud (who dictates the norms? if someone is different, why is that rejecting? etc, etc.).

  26. One of my best friends has blue hair (right now, that is—it may be violet tomorrow and green the next day). He wears stuff like old auto-mechanic work shirts with “Mr. T Experience” stenciled in spray paint on the back (apparently they’re a band he likes). He’s a pretty affluent 30-something technology guy and a very observant Jew—believe it or not, almost none of my really good friends are Mormon. We have him over for dinner all the time. He’s relentlessly humorous about my Mormonism (when the coffee maker at the office broke, he said it was because “the Mormon Jesus hates coffee”). I, on the other hand, look every bit the silly, white toothed, nicely dressed, short haired Mormon idiot. His joking aside, he accepts me for who I am.

    Even so, I never quite agreed with Reagan that it was so very respectful to keep his jacket on in the Oval Office. I assume, for example, that he had no objection to farting in the Oval Office. At any rate, I can’t imagine that he felt it contributed to the dignity of the place to run outside to pass gas. And if he didn’t care about smelling the place up a bit, then what harm could a few shirtsleeves do? Likewise, I’ve always been a bit confused about why Mormons posit a correlation between mode of dress and religious fervor. To re-use the previous example, it’s as though farting during the Sacrament is disrespectful.

    In the end, God loves us most for the parts of us that he did not create. These are the portions of who we are that are eternal, uncreated, without beginning or end. These are the differentiators that make us individuals. God’s people share a unity of morals and a unity of heart—but not a unity of behavior. Aside from commandments, behavioral conformity is of no value to God at all. On the contrary, it’s what gives rise to classes and castes. I wonder if many of those harping for it don’t have ulterior motives.

    I think your highlights sound great, Tanya. Nice post.

  27. gst (#28) – It is possible that rejecting dress norms is an indication of a mature disdain for peer pressure, rather than of immaturity. Our young women certainly must reject dress norms these days to meet church standards.

    Heather (#2) – What do more socially acceptable alterations such as “normal” hair dye, hair spray/gel/mouse, cosmetics, grecian formula, plucking and shaving and waxing various body parts, breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, etc., say about how one feels about ones body and some nebulous concept of “natural beauty”? Let’s see a show of hands of all those who have employed none of these ploys. Anyone? Anyone? I certainly can’t raise a hand.

    Geoff B. (#19) – Most of the young women in my ward wear flip-flops year round, and I’m awfully glad to see them in church every week.

    A dear brother at the recommend desk told me that my knee socks and flat shoes were not appropriate for the temple. Apparently righteous sisters wear hose and heels, which he suggested I go home and put on. I made with the big eyes and meek little voice and told him that I had been instructed to dress as I did for Sacrament Meeting, and that I owned neither hose nor heels. I was allowed to go in.

  28. Arturo: Note that I disclaimed any “correlation between mode of dress and religious fervor.” Your flatulence argument requires no rebuttal.

    Marta: Resisting peer pressure can be either mature or immature. It depends on who the peers are and what they’re pressuring you to do.

    Bob: We don’t have to define anything. People send messages by the way they dress. The message from the guy who wears the red and white striped Seuss hat is that he’s a jackass. Listen to him.

  29. Elder Oaks spoke what could have been the last word on this subject when he gave his great talk on the Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament. See the October 1998 General Conference. The principle was stated simply:

    The principle I suggest to govern those officiating in the sacrament—whether preparing, administering, or passing—is that they should not do anything that would distract any member from his or her worship and renewal of covenants.

    Since Elder Oaks allowed for differences of culture and expectations as to dress and grooming, so should we. In our ward in Brooklyn, for instance, nobody suggested that my son with blue hair should not bless the sacrament. Of course, it was a dark blue that looked almost black, not a neon blue. When it faded, and the undyed hair faded towards blond, it became a sort of lime green. Sort of a lime blond, instead of strawberry blond.

  30. I’m trying to picture a young Mark B. with blue hair. It makes me smile.

  31. gst, I’m not so sure I completely agree that “rejecting dress norms is immature”, but I particularly have a problem with how that has become “wearing a Dr. Seuss hat makes you a jackass.” I realize that people send messages about themselves with the way they dress, but that’s no license to insult them or make judgements on their character or jackassicity. I also know that you meant this as a joke, but so often people make the same kinds of judgments as to another’s character or testimony in very serious ways. And when they do I get really angry.

    And I promise you I am not making this up: my brother owns a Cat in the Hat hat that he wears sometimes. And he’s no jackass.

  32. Priesthood leadership (including EQ secretaries, etc) are not allowed to have facial hair in our stake. All priesthood holders are repeatedly told in our stake to wear white shirts (not just when passing the sacrament). We even had someone point out someone in the congregation who wasn’t wearing a white shirt.

    I have had a few people this last time I grew a beard make comments about it, including the bishopric and high priest group leader.

  33. When my daughter was still a teen, she had pink hair just at the time our family took a vacation to Tennessee. That was not a pleasant experience for her; she endured enough dirty looks and rude comments to last a lifetime. Lesson learned: don’t wear strange hair color in redneck country!

  34. Arturo: You’re absolutely right–I’m dodging that argument. If you would like to conclude that because I refuse to engage in a discussion about whether President Reagan was flatulent in the Oval Office, or whether flatulence during the ordinance of the sacrament is disrespectful, it is only because I have no good response, you are free to do so. You win by forfeit.

    Logan: You correctly conclude that I used the term “jackass” as a joke; nevertheless, I apologize for jokingly suggesting that your brother was one. However, the hat in question, you must admit, is not a sign of sober maturity.

  35. So, gst, you’re all bottled up with no gas to speak of. You must keep beano® in your year supply. Anyway, your willingness to divine the traits of others based on their taste in clothes is perhaps the most stereotypically Mormon behavior evidenced thus far on this thread.

  36. “However, the hat in question, you must admit, is not a sign of sober maturity.”

    Why is this case? Please refer me to a place where I can look up “Cat in the Hat hat = lack of sober maturity”. If you can’t direct me to a source that states this as some sort of universal truth, then it seems to be that the logical conclusion is that YOU, in fact, made this up based on your own cultural upbringing and are politely asking Logan to conform to your definition of what constitutes a lack of sober maturity when it’s just as likely that the opposite is true: The Cat in the Hat hat IS a sign of sober maturity.

    In any event, I’d be interested why you would automatically conclude that no sign of sober maturity exists when the hat in question is worn. How do you know that so assuredly that you ask others to admit it as well?

  37. Eric,

    Ah, now that you attach a context to the situation, you may be on to something. That’s much better than blanket statements. All would most likely agree out of respect for the appropriateness level associated with the sacrament. But who knows, a Cat in the Hat hat could mean a sign of maturity in some culture we are not familiar with to the point that everyone passes the sacrament with one on. If that were the case, then I don’t think the brethren (or more importantly, the locals there who would most likely be part of the same culture) would have a problem with it.

  38. Bob, I concede that I have no authority for the proposition that dressing like the fanciful cat from an illustrated children’s story is not the behavior of a mature adult. You got me there.

  39. gst, I don’t mean to act all huffy and offended about the Cat in the Hat thing. The coincidence with my brother was interesting, though. Sorry (well, kind of — it’s been a while and it reminds me of the “good ol’ days”) to unleash the full effect of the bobandlogan-sticking-their-fingers-in-the-eye-of-conformity on you for what was just meant to be a silly comment.

    But this topic is one of my real soapboxes (meaning that what follows isn’t necessarily directed toward gst or anyone in particular). Since I left Utah and moved to New York, I’ve met so many amazing (and mature, mind you) people in and out of the Church who dress in ways that I’ve heard people associate with poor character. (It makes me think many of the people in Utah who didn’t dress very nicely were probably much better and more interesting than I gave them credit for at the time.)

    I’ve seen people who are trying really, really hard to come to Church dressed as nicely as they can leave sacrament meeting in tears because of a comment from the Bishop about what’s appropriate for Church and what isn’t. And I know wonderful people for whom the judging glances of others about the way they look are so harsh that they are some of the main things keeping them away.

    True, people send messages about themselves by the way they dress. But as far as dishing out the consequences of a certain way of dressing, let’s leave that for their potential employers during their job interviews. I can understand a Bishop having certain grooming requirements for passing the sacrament (although if I were Bishop those requirements would be pretty spare). But as far as insults or judgments go, Church should be a place where people can feel loved and accepted — which is likely to be what people who dress wildly need most of all. Maybe it’s unrealistic for me to think that’s how Church could be someday. I still think it’s a shame that Tanya would feel like others would consider her hair a distraction.

  40. There was one time returning from the Denver temple, that a couple of friends and I stopped to see some people in Taos. Before leaving town, we three went for a walk downtown. One of the three of us was dressed somewhat unconventionally, a little like that Emmanuel prophet kidnapper guy, but with neater grooming.

    As we walked along, a Mercedes pulled up with three or four older white woman wearing white turbans. They asked us, “How do we get to the Booku Temple?” We’d never heard of the Booku Temple and confessed that we hadn’t and that we didn’t live in Taos, and so couldn’t direct them at all. We had to protest our ignorance several times, and even when the women left, they seemed to suspect that we really did know where the Booku Temple was and just weren’t telling.

    The moral of this tale is that you’ll break some hearts if you appear as one who should know the way to the Booku Temple when you really don’t.

  41. That’s a good point, John. People are constantly asking me directions to the Mos Eisley spaceport cantina, but I think it has more to do with my face than my outfit.

  42. As I read this talk, I remember how the members dressed when I was serving my mission in Korea. To the Western eye, it was terrible–the colors and patterns clashed horribly. But to the Eastern eye, it was absolutely appropriate. The men would wear their Best Shirt, their Best Tie, their Best Pants, their Best Jacket, and so forth. Once I figured that out, I had a new respect for the kaleideoscope of colors I saw in church each week. But none of them would be allowed to pass the sacrament in our stake.

  43. Marta:

    Confessions of my non-natural beauty:
    I pluck eyebrow hairs that nature gave me, turning my unibrow into two more “natural” ones. I also shave, however, not as much as I used to! I find as I age, my “natural” beauty comes at a more unnatural cost. My once naturally highlighted hair now costs $80 per application to duplicate. (I am embracing brown hair at present, but I will definetly be fighting the grays as they come). My once slender physique needs 4-5 workouts a week to maintain any resemblence to the pre-childbirth body I used to have. I guess my point is that my body is a temple, and we all need a little remodeling from time to time! 🙂


    I agree that the most important matter is the body as a temple. Speaking as one who has had a child with life-threating illness, I have been even more sensitive to unnecessary assaults on what is usually a beautiful, healthy body. To see children suffering from causes not of their own making, it is difficult to see what people do these days to “decorate” or “choose” for their own healthy bodies.

    That said, I like the idea of applying the “body as a temple” analogy. I don’t know of any temple which has fushia carpeting or neon green furniture. Maybe there’s a lesson there…

  44. Heather, while the temple may not have fuchsia carpeting or neon green furniture, I don’t know if I want to take that analagy very far. I like a little beige in my wardrobe, but we’d all be pretty boring to look at if that’s all we ever wore. I suppose we could add a nice silk flower to our hair. Guys, too. 🙂

  45. Does pink or blue hair make him unworthy?

    No. But his worthiness wouldn’t be affected by wearing a swimsuit at a pool, or a bathrobe at home–but showing up to pass the sacrament in them would be entirely inappropriate. And I think we should expect leaders to say, “No, you can’t pass the sacrament dressed like that. You need to have an appropriate appearance.”
    What is or is not appropriate? Everyone has a different answer, much of it is based on culture and circumstance. A sacrament meeting in a prisoner of war camp, for instance, would have no expectation of white shirts. The church used to not have particular rules about this. But sometimes people ask, and the prophet replies.
    Let’s not forget that Emma asked how men of God could chew (and spit) and smoke, habits she probably thought were messy and gross. The Lord did not give a guideline until he was asked for clarification. He then gave us a guideline.
    I think perhaps many people kept asking. What if he doesn’t wear a tie? What if he wears a sweatshirt? What if he wears sneakers?
    The fact is that any young man who is spiritually worthy, and wants to pass the sacrament, can. Let’s imagine two young men. One has blue hair who thinks it kinda sucks that he can’t pass because he’s not drinking or going too far with his girlfriend, and the other is a young man who is also worthy but has no white shirt and tie because he is a convert and his family has never bought dress clothing for him. Both are easily fixed–both easily fixed with $10 and a trip to the DI or walmart for a package of hair dye. I am sure any Deacon advisor or bishop, home teacher or someone could help either of these boys out. All they need to do is say, “I want to pass the sacrament. Help me prepare for it.”

  46. I am constantly amazed why this is such a big issue to some people. If a bishop has certain reasonable rules for some things, why do people get all in an uproar about them?

    Joseph Smith established the Church when he was 24 years old. One presumes the Lord was more than ready to preach the gospel when he was 24. But the rule among the Jews was you had to be 30, and the Lord didn’t make a big deal out of it, but waited until that time, in order not to get everyone in an uproar. If Christ could wait a few years to preach the gospel, people can wear a white shirt to pass the sacrament.

  47. I’ve worn a full beard and moustache for over 30 years. If they want me cleanshaven they’ll have to pry the razor from my cold, dead fingers.

  48. Growing up I had all sorts of crazy hair. I had Pink hair for a long time, and didn’t pass the sacrament. It was an outward sign of what was going on inside me, I wasn’t worthy, and most of the guys I knew who followed suite with extreme hair, piercings, etc. weren’t worthy. Coincidence? No.

  49. As it happens, the Nauvoo Illinois Temple has “neon green” chairs in the men’s dressing room. The furniture in that temple is of the period Federalist style, which is known for bright jewel-tone colors. When I first saw those particular chairs, I was shocked. After a while, I came to enjoy the bright colors.

  50. As a former stake executive secretary, I have sat in stake presidency meetings where with completely straight faces, men have expressed their shock and dismay over other men wearing non-white shirts to a sacrament meeting. These were good men, but they had no hesitation in reaching an immediate conclusion that those who were so “casual in proper attire” (their words) were also going to be “casual in living the gospel” (again, their words). They expressed a similar, though slightly lower, level of worry over those who dared attend without wearing a suit jacket.

    I was asked to share my feelings on the matter, and politely declined, saying that I didn’t feel I had to anything to say that would be productive at the time. The stake president took that as an indication that I did have some strong feelings, and insisted that I share them. I gave a rather strong, heartfelt response (while trying to be humble about it) to the very idea of judging another person’s spiritual standing by what color shirt they were wearing, etc. I pointed out that one doesn’t always know circumstances. I made myself an example, pointing out that I hadn’t worn a suit jacket even to stake presidency meetings in quite some time. I told them that the reason was I had gained weight, and didn’t fit my suits. I further confessed that I frankly could not afford to buy another suit at the time, given the needs of my children, etc. The resulting conversation was actually very productive.

    I think that if people are not careful, modern LDS-ism lends itself rather easily to judging on appearances. I have personally seen recommended individuals rejected from certain callings, on the basis that they often wore non-white shirts to church meetings. When I was on my mission, a dear sister wanted us as missionaries to assist her husband in giving her a blessing. He had just come home from work, and she demanded that he change into a white shirt and tie, dress slacks, and dress shoes, before she would allow him to give the blessing. These sorts of circumstances, at least in my opinion, demonstrate a frightening misunderstanding of what spirituality is all about.

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