“Costly Apparel”

K. Douglas Bassett

contrast with Alma 1:27, 32 [Alma 4:6; 5:53; Jacob 2:13; Eph. 4:17; James 2:2-4; 1 Cor. 1:26-29; refer in this text to Alma 31:28 and 32:2]

[Regarding wealth among the Nephites during times of pride] “Why should we labor this unpleasant point? Because the Book of Mormon labors it, for our special benefit. Wealth is a jealous master who will not be served half-heartedly and will suffer no rival—not even God: … Along with this, of course, everyone dresses in the height of fashion, the main point being always that the proper clothes are expensive—the expression ‘costly apparel’ occurs 14 times in the Book of Mormon. The more important wealth is, the less important it is how one gets it.” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 393 )
“When money and possessions become the chief marks of distinction in society then the pursuit of money becomes the only action worthwhile. And if this pursuit requires the sacrifice of honesty, integrity, compassion and all other virtues, then so be it for the love of money is indeed the root of all evil. Thus the wearing of costly apparel involves the soul as much as the body.” (Mae Blanche, Studies in Scripture, K. Jackson, 7:292)
“Are not many of us materialistic? Do we not find it well-nigh impossible to raise our sights above the dollar sign? Are not many of us pragmatists—-living not by principle but by what we can get away with? Are not many of us status-seekers—measuring the worth of a man by the size of his bank account, his house, his automobile? … surely these are among the many reasons why this is truly an era of peril… . Many of us imagine in the foolishness of pride, that our manifold blessings are due not to God’s goodness, but to our own wisdom and virtue… . This is a sad commentary of a civilization which has given to mankind the greatest achievements and progress ever known. But it is an even sadder commentary on those of us who call ourselves Christians, who thus betray the ideals given to us by the Son of God himself.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, Oct.1960, pp. 103,105)
“Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.” (Edwin Hubbell Chapin, quoted in Spiritual Roots of Human Relations, Covey, p. 24)
“I see and admire beauty in people. I am not so concerned with the look that comes of lotions and creams, of pastes and packs as seen in slick-paper magazines and on television. I am not concerned whether the skin be fair or dark. I have seen beautiful people in all of the scores of nations through which I have walked. Little children are beautiful everywhere. And so are the aged, whose wrinkled hands and faces speak of struggle and survival. I believe in the beauty of personal virtue. There is so much of ugliness in the world in which we live. It is expressed in coarse language, in sloppy dress and manners, in immoral behavior which mocks the beauty of virtue and always leaves a scar. Each of us can and must stand above this sordid and destructive evil, this ugly stain of immorality.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Aug. 1992, p. 4)

Latter-Day Commentary on the Book of Mormon