Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wear Your Heart Is: does casual attire send a message of irreverance toward God?

Brian at Voice of the Sheep asked a good question in a post I read yesterday. In light of the bigger question that maybe we've all become far too casual in our attire in the house of the Lord, he poses this question:

"Is our dress on Sunday mornings a reflection of our reverence and awe of our Creator?"

I'm going to have to first say no... then say yes... then say "maybe". It's not a simple question nor are the answers, so I hope to just explore this a little. Before I do that however, I want to address another question he asked in this post: "You Wouldn’t Wear Flip Flops to A Funeral…Would You?" Well, yes I would, and yes I wear them to church too, every Sunday. Well, in the summertime anyway.

First then, the YES. Obviously if you're dressing provacatively or suggestively, or immodestly, then your apparel does in fact reflect your view of God. If you're dressing this way then either you don't know or don't care what His word says about NOT dressing this way. If you know what it says and you do it anyway, then yes, you have a very low view of God and there are issues you need to be addressing. If you don't know what it says then you need to find out, and ditch the suggestive clothing (this applies to men AND women both).

Now to the NO. This is where traditions have a stranglehold on our thinking and we really need to examine them closely in light of God's word, and James 2:1-7 would be a real good place to start. A lot of us come from the days where men wore suits to church and women wore a nice dress and THAT was the traditional Sunday morning uniform. We get locked in to this line of thinking and honestly border on legalism about it. When you really think about it, the question comes down to "do you love God less if you don't wear a suit/dress?" What if you don't have a suit? What if you don't have a dress? I think this is where we let the opinions & traditions of men dictate our thinking. Sometimes that can be a good thing, to be influenced in this way - but other times it can be a very bad thing too.

Now for the MAYBE. This is really a rather messed up issue, oddly enough. If one man comes to church in sandals and shorts, another man comes in a nice suit, a woman shoes up in jeans & t-shirt and another shows up in a skirt, how in the world can we ever get the idea that we know which of these people stand in awe of God, and which do not? At this exact moment in time, I sit wearing comfy fleece pants (with teddy bears on them, no less) and a pink Montreal Canadienes hocky t-shirt. Do I love God less right now, than I love Him on Sunday when I show up in better clothes? No, I certainly do not. I love Him exactly the same - and He knows it. The lady that I know that used to wear the same dress to church every Sunday - did she love God less than me? No, she loved Him immensely, she just had the one dress so that's what she wore. Does the man who shows up in his real sharp looking suit love God more than I do, because his clothes are nicer? Do we really believe the way we dress is the single, determining factor in how much we revere the Lord? Yes indeed, most of us really do. We have it in mind that if someone shows up to church in sub-standard (and we are the ones sitting in the judgement seat of what is standard, aren't we?) attire, then they have spiritual issues that they need to get straight with the Lord.

In some cases, this actually may be true. In other cases it may be the furthest thing from the truth. I think the more glaring question is, who in the world do we think we are, to dare presume anything about anyone's spiritual condition, based on what they're wearing? (And yet, this is an issue that crosses every Christian denomination, doesn't it?) I can't help but think of a very good recent example where a dear brother from church came over recently to help us move our firewood into the basement. He had on a t-shirt from The Beer Store and I had on my Names of God t-shirt from my store. Based on what we were wearing, which one of us loves God more? No one really wants to answer that question, but the truth is WE judge people on outward appearance all the time. Maybe we also have spiritual issues that we need to get straight with the Lord?

Lest anyone think I'm immune from this, let me be clear and admit that I am not. This Saturday I will do what I always do and pick out my clothes (and approve the ones the kids pick out for themselves) and iron if they need it, and set my clothes out for Sunday morning. I will not get up and slap on my comfy pants or wrinkled shirt and slouch off to church. I'll dress UP from what I normally wear because I like to do that, and I will expect my kids to do it as well. Why? Honestly, because culture says I should, and I don't want to stand out like a sore thumb.

So, there ya go. I know people that don't feel welcome in church because they don't have the right clothes. I know people that strut around thinking they're all that & a bag of designer shoes because they have the best clothes. I know people that wear the same thing to church every Sunday, and I know people that fuss over this issue their whole lives. It's really a much bigger issue than it should be, and honestly I believe our bigger concern should be the state of heart, and not the state of the dress. When going to church becomes a struggle over whether it's a fashion show or a day at the beach, then we've got problems.

Yep, that's what I think. No doubt, your mileage will vary.

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