Last week, after service, there was a forum conceived and hosted by the youth of my church (3/4 of which rarely come). The forum was supposed to be on sexual immorality in the church (I’ll get back to that in a later post) but it somehow turned to whether or not we should have standards of dress in the church.
Youth: “Standards” sounds harsh; it should be more like “guidelines”. You can’t impose a dress code on [outsiders] coming into the church because it might offend them.
First, “standards” and “guidelines” are pretty much synonymous and we have “standards” already set for us in the Bible. We are not to attack non-members as they come in the door by telling them that what they can and can’t wear. As the pastor said, one would hope that as they embrace the Christian lifestyle, a non-member would see what’s appropriate and be impressed to change accordingly. If not, we have a duty to pull them aside and gently inform them what changes need to be made. When non-Christians come to church, I suppose it’s out of compellation by God, or they want to change (or curiosity); if they want to change, then they are searching for a lifestyle different from their current lifestyle and would probably not be offended if asked to change some things.
Youth: I don’t think there should be a standard because God said to come as you are and we shouldn’t turn people away because they might not be able to go out and buy “church clothes”.
“Come as you” is a Biblical concept but is not stated as such in the Bible, it is interpreted from an assortment of other scriptures that imply that you don’t have to “clean up” before you come to Christ (as noted in my “911” post). As another member pointed out, “’come as you are’, doesn’t mean stay there”. Some people believe it only refers to the condition of one’s heart or that one has a free pass to come into the “fold” and continue doing whatever they want without having to change. However, while one’s heart is being conditioned in Christ, it is only natural that the outside begin to reflect what’s inside (“outside” meaning appearance and actions). As far as I know my church has never turned someone away because of how they were dressed. One of our members said that back in the day, they would give choir robes to people who were dressed immodestly or inappropriately. Part of the rebuttal to the youth’s initial statement, the pastor remarked that parents are also at fault. Instead of buying their children jeans and t-shirts to wear to church, they should be more vigilant in buying what’s appropriate instead of appeasing their children (of course personal finances come into account).
The pastor also pointed out (and I assume it was mostly intended for the female population) that if one is constantly pulling at their clothes or has to borrow a jacket from someone (to cover up) it’s a good indication that one is uncomfortable and or inappropriately dressed. Also, if one is dressed in a way that causes another to look at them in a lustful manner, then not only are they inappropriately dressed, but they are also causing someone to sin.
Youth: Well, I don’t think it makes a difference, even if you are wearing a skirt down to your ankles, guys are still gonna look.
That may (or may not) be true but why entice someone to sin in their mind? Not only is one accountable for their own sin but also for causing someone else to sin on top of it. I don’t think one needs to “wear a skirt down to their ankles” to be modest but one should be aware of the image he or she projects through their mode of dress.
A visitor raised an excellent point about setting standards of dress in the church. He said that if one follows a dress code at work then they should have no problem dressing appropriately for church. Amen! How can we be so respectful of man and so disrespectful of God? Most employers deem it unacceptable to dress just any kind of way, expect a professional (or uniform) look among their employees, and will reprimand anyone who does not follow suit (pun); yet we somehow reason that it’s ok to walk into God’s holy place looking like it’s party time.
It’s not just in the church that we should dress a certain way either. As Christians, we are representatives of God. It’s not ok to come out the church and sag one’s pants or hike up one’s skirt. Be mindful of the image you project. If you have ever told someone you are a Christian and they look confused (and say something like, “Really? I never would have thought so”) then it’s time to reevaluate how you present yourself. I feel sorry for the youth; they know the truth, yet are so set on doing what they want to do that they constantly look for “loopholes” in the Bible to justify their inability to follow God’s will. Prayerfully, God will get through to them one day and they will feel comfortable enough in their Christianity to be in the world but not of it.