Since this is my own personal corner of cyberspace, I can rant and rave about any topic of my choosing. I have dedicated entire blogs to the personal driving skills (or lack thereof) of my fellow commuters and to the concept of choosing the number of children you want instead of trying indefinitely for a particular gender. I have made my opinions known in subtle and "in your face" ways alike. Today I am choosing to complain and rant about the way people dress for church.....specifically Easter Sunday.
For as long as I can remember, I have dressed up for church. As a child, that meant a slip, ruffly panties, starched dress, frilly lace socks and seasonally appropriate shoes. Let's all say it together for any Yankees out there (or Southerners who ought to know better but don't)....no white shoes after Labor Day or before Easter. As a teenager and adult, it meant panty hose, heels or dressy flats, a slip and a nice dress.
Now I realize that times have changed. Panty hose are not particularly popular and I have actually embraced that particular fashion change rather readily, unless I am wearing close-toed shoes. Women do not feel compelled to wear dresses but wear pants and men (and some women) wear jeans and tennis shoes to Sunday morning worship. I have become accustomed to this type of dress when I attend church.
Having said that, I draw the line when I see teenagers in tight pants, halter tops, t-shirts with holes and short shorts. I cringe when I see adults in in shorts and flip-flops. Is this really what the modern day Christian finds appropriate for worship these days? I know that many would argue that it doesn't matter what you wear as long as you show up, and I can understand that to a certain degree. Not having the means for dressy clothing or for any clothing beyond work clothes should not be a deterrent for attending church. I am not suggesting that we should all go into debt to be able to purchase expensive, showy clothes for church. All should feel welcome in the house of God no matter how they are dressed, but there is a difference between not being able to dress up and choosing not to because you are too lazy to put a little effort into your appearance on Sunday morning. How many people out there would go to a job interview in shorts and flip-flops or hot pants unless you were applying for a life guard position or cocktail waitress? Not many, because you want to make a good impression...put your best foot forward. You are showing respect for the people that you are going to see.
Why do we treat the weekly opportunity to come together as a body of believers with less respect than we would a job interview? It's not that God expects us to dress a certain way, but I do believe that outward appearance should be a reflection of your inner heart. My inner heart wants to stand before God the Father in a respectful, modest way. He's the "person" I'm going to church to see. Tight pants that say "Bootylicious" across the bottom are not respectful or modest. Shorts and flip-flops scream, "I was too lazy to iron my pants and shirt this morning. I had other things on my mind". I think that it is a sign of respect, not vanity, to wear your best when you are coming to church to worship the Maker of the universe.
Now I realize that I am stomping all over the feet of many of my friends and fellow believers, but I am entitled to my opinion. If you are entitled to come to church like you are ready to go to the beach, I am allowed to vent about it on my blog. And please don't post and quote James 2:1-4 to me. I'm not suggesting that people who wear expensive clothing should be venerated and people who can't should be outcast and made to feel inadequate.
So, now we come to Easter Sunday morning. The Queen Mother of all worship services. The one day out of the entire year that you expect to see most people in new dresses or coats and ties. The day when we can pull out those white shoes and wear them proudly with no fear of being talked about over dinner. When I arrived at church yesterday morning in my new dress with children in tow wearing freshly ironed and starched dresses and sports coats, I was feeling all Eastery. I was struck (for the millionth time) how handsome my husband looks in a suit. Then I went inside. I saw only a handful of people that looked like they had even taken a second look in the mirror before they left the house. No sea of pretty spring dresses; no starched white shirts with ties and jackets. I saw a female member of the choir in an old button down shirt and jeans, the music minister was in a wrinkled button down shirt, and even the pastor didn't bother to wear a tie. IT'S EASTER SUNDAY!!!!!!!!! What are you people thinking????????? Are you from an alternate universe? Is the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord so unimportant that you would take no care with your appearance?
I love this quote by Phil Johnson: "To a certain extent, our attire in church reflects our attitude toward the significance of corporate worship and the holiness of the One whom we worship, and we ought to give some thought to that fact when we decide what to wear. The tendency toward making Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts, sandals, bare midriffs, and gold chains the standard attire for corporate worship is related to the very same mentality that is cheapening and trivializing every other aspect of our worship."
I know that sounds like I'm being shallow and that I should be more focused on the reason we come to church and less on what everyone around me is wearing. Like I said before...it's my blog and I can say whatever I want. I think that the way we are progressively dressing further and further down for worship is an indicator of our respect for God. We are commanded to keep the Sabbath holy....why doesn't that extend to our dress? If you truly believe that it doesn't matter what you wear as long as you show up, then why doesn't that extend to other areas of our lives? Would you attend a wedding in shorts and flip-flops? Would you attend a funeral dressed that way? Why not? Because you have respect for the bride and groom and you have respect for the dead. Do you not have respect for God? Do you really think it doesn't matter how we present ourselves to Him?
I think it matters a great deal (if you're still reading along, this should be clear by now). I think that it would do a lot of people good to start dressing like they care on Sunday morning. Dress like you are going somewhere special, because going to a place of worship is special. It's not to impress the people sitting in the pew next to you or to impress God. It's to show respect for the awesome God that we serve.