Not too long ago I was having a conversation with my wife about how people dress for church. I was relating to her a sermon/message posted on Facebook by another minister. His message was not pointedly about how one dresses for church, but rather he used the contrast between traditional and modern views as an analogy for how we approach God today.
But our conversation (my wife’s and I) was about dressing for church on Sundays. And yes, you can call me old fashion; a problem I’m working through. But as I told my wife, I am torn about it. I grew up understanding that we were to approach God with reverence and respect. In our day, and I say our day because I know my wife grew up in a similar church environment, wearing your best outfit was the order of the day on Sundays.
It was proper to show God our best. At least that what we were taught. Now as I just said, I was torn about the issue of how people should be dressing for church. I believed people should where their best to Sunday services. I just don’t understand why people must show up to church wearing shorts, Hawaiian tee-shirt, and sandals; not to mention the sunglasses.
Traveling another avenue, I had taken our conversation in, I touted, in defense of my view how clothing does indeed represent respect; right or wrongly. But I had at various times had the opportunity to observe directly what I felt would strengthen my case; as it were:
I related to her (my wife) how I had observed someone attending a funeral service dressed casually in Jeans, a buttoned, untucked shirt, and sunglasses. I also shared my observation of the same person on another funeral occasion dressed in suit and tie. While it may have come out in a judgmental manner, it was meant as a sincere question. Is the way this person attended these different services a sign of respect paid to the deceased and their family?
And though I was only attempting to defend my viewpoint with the analogy, I was in fact judging this person. My wife however, I believe, was standing on much firmer grounds with her less-than-traditional view. I truly appreciate the result of my wife helping me to be less old-fashioned, even though I rarely, if ever tell her that.
In light of how difficult it is to get people to go to church these days, I have since deferred to my wife’s view. And that is; “what’s more important is getting that person to church in the first place, not being concerned with what they’re wearing there.”
Now, at this point I can cite a myriad of “what ifs.” I mean, we must draw a line, somewhere don’t we? As I sit here writing, I’m nervous about accepting my own admission. It’s difficult I suppose not to address this because the vibrant battles over lines in recent times (in political and social matters) is hard to avoid. Again, where must we draw a line?
Is it alright for people to wear swim shorts and bikinis to church; I guess if your church is only a few steps from the sandy beach, and it’s the middle of a hot summer, it may be entirely acceptable.
Just over half way into this article now, and you’re probably wondering what Christian thought I’m trying to convey today. Well, on my mind this morning is how we all judge one another; how I myself judge others. As traditions stand in many parts of the world, we grow up learning how to judge others. We’re taught it, we observe it, we learn it; and all while we’re in church on Sunday morning; (as well as everywhere else).
But, where does this teaching come from? It’s certainly not Biblical. There is no verse in the Bible that tells us how one ought to dress for church. That said however, I would be willing to point out the verses that tells us that we should not be wearing anything on our feet while standing on Holy ground, in the presence of our Almighty God, (Exo 3:5, Act 7:33, Josh 5:15); but then that would open a whole other can of debate and judgments.
Jesus never commanded us to dress a particular fashion. None of His disciples commanded it either. Additionally, I can think of no verse in the entire Bible that address how one is to be clothed, either in synagogue, house church, or anywhere else. Jesus is in no way concerned with how you are dressed. I would venture to guess that He doesn’t care whether you’re dressed at all.
In conclusion, my lengthy letter comes down to this; How we dress for church is not what Christianity is about. Judging others is not what Christianity is about. What’s more important is for us to get our hearts right with God, not our outfits. It’s more important to get our own hearts right in the sight of God and be first concerned with judging ourselves, rather than worrying about what others.
When we leave church on Sunday afternoon, or finish listening to a preacher preach a sermon, a speaker giving a lecture, or a vocalist singing out gospel music, we must remember that Christianity is not about the preacher; not about the minister, the singer, the music, the lecturer. Christianity is about Christ.
If we spend more time praising the preacher, speaker, or singer, than we do Christ, then we have completely missed out on what Christianity is. If we don’t leave church on Sunday afternoon praising Christ and sharing Christ with others, how do we then call ourselves Christians? Christianity is above all else, about Christ; and what He did for us.