Saturday, July 5, 2008

Worship Attire

I recently went through a period of study on the theme of worship in the Bible. The conclusion that is eminently clear is that worship is not something we do for an hour on Sunday morning, rather it is the sacrifice of an entire life to God (Rom. 12:1-2). So I've been trying to flesh out how this applies to all of our lives and one of the areas that I would like some help with is the issue of clothing worn to our time of gathered worship. There seem to be three views that I will outline. If you know of another position please feel free to enlighten me, or if you can help me to see which of these views best fits with the Bible's teaching on worship please help me.

First, is the Sunday Best position. Those who hold this view say that it dishonors God and the special time of Sunday worship to wear any old thing. That we must dress our best to show our reverence for Him. To commend this view is the Biblical evidence that entering God's presence is a special time and should be treated with reverence. However, on the other side of the coin is the fact that if worship is all of life then all of life is lived before Him to honor Him, so why dress up on one occasion. Also there is the teaching that we must be careful not to alienate the poor brothers and sisters in our midst who would be put off or ashamed of their clothing.

Second, is the Casual position. This position says that we should wear what we wear all week. This position has the benefit of seeming to take most seriously the truth that worship is all of life. Yet it seems to be a stumbling block to many who are already Christians. This is very subjective but it seems that this most often goes with a seeker-sensitive model that I feel is very unhelpful in the life a local church.

Third, is the No Distraction position. This position says that we should simply dress in such a way that we simply blend in and there is no attention drawn to ourselves at all. This position takes the truth seriously that worship is about God and that our attention must be placed on Him, therefore we should not dress in a way that distracts from the focus on God. So if your church is more casual you should dress casually so that no attention is drawn to you. And vice versa with a Sunday Best crowd. I am leaning toward this position to be honest, but I fear that it may be a position of compromise (maybe cowardice).

I would love to hear from any of you, I am willing to take correction and wise counsel. Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

Joshua Owen said...

Jamie, I tend to agree with your third option. Paul does give some advice on how a Christian is to dress (1 Timothy 2.9-10). Though this instruction is aimed directly at women, I think it contains principles for all. I'd sum it up like this: dress modestly, both to cover your nakedness and to avoid appearing ostentatious. Don't let your outward preparations distract you from the hidden person of the heart.

The application of modesty with regard to socio-economic status is relative. What one group considers extravagant may be casual to another.

I would discourage anyone from making dress a matter of policy. Some churches actually have "casual dress" as one of their core values. I went to an ordination at this church wearing a suit, which is how I usually dress for any meeting. I was shunned by many in the congregation for not abiding by the "come as you are" policy.

I talked to my friend afterward and pointed out that I've never been judged for what I wore to church, until I came to a church that made "casual dress" a core value. Indeed, I've had people come to church in battle dress uniform, mechanic's coveralls, Fireman uniforms, police uniforms, etc., and no one batted an eye or said a word. It was a non-issue.

I think that those who focus on these issues are either immature in their faith or are exhibiting a sin like covetousness (for those who despise the rich) or pride (for those who despise the poor).