I always love when youth question why we do things a certain way in church. To me, that is an important stage in strengthening your faith. I have always cautioned them to be very careful in their search for an answer. Where do most people go for answers? We tend to go to friends, the internet, or even tradition for our answers. Everywhere except the most important place, which is God’s Word. A few weeks ago, we had a good discussion about dressing up in church. There were different opinions, but I think it is great that they are willing to question the why.
So, to address the issue of dressing up in church. We live in a very traditional area where most people have grown up in or around church. So for us to be a church that does not encourage people to dress up can be a little controversial. To me, the first question is does the Bible address the way we dress. Here are a few places to look:
1 Samuel 16:7
1 Timothy 2:8-10
James 2:1 -4
1 Corinthians 4:11
1 Corinthians 9:22
1 Peter 3:3-4
Most people say that we should dress up out of respect for Christ. But how do you define dressing up. Is a tie enough? Or do you need a suit as well? Do nice jeans count? Or do you have to have slacks? Flat front or pleated? Cuffed or not? Shirt tucked in or out? What about sweater vests? Just kidding about that last one. But I think you may get my point because I could go on and on. What one person considers dressing up may not be consistent with what other people think. Very quickly you start down a road that leads to legalism and pride. You also start down a road that causes division between generations. What most 20 year olds consider nice, most 50 year olds would not even consider wearing, and the reverse is true as well. What I would wear to a job interview is very different from what an older person would wear. Why, because we grew up in different eras.
When I think about suits, I think about lawyers, bankers, business men, and funeral homes. But yet Jesus was constantly around the sinners of his day. Not the affluent and wealthy. The Pharisees were the religious of the day who were impressively dressed, but Jesus had some of the harshest words for them. I also think that dressing up can become a barrier to reaching people for Christ. I have had people ask me if they have to dress up for our church and then have a sigh of relief that they don’t. Why? Because they didn’t own any clothes that people would find acceptable in most churches. They felt like they couldn’t even attend church unless they bought “nice” clothes. How sad of an indictment is that against churches today. We are known more for what we wear instead of who we love.
To me it’s a matter of your personal conviction, but it’s not something you can force upon someone else. It simply is not directly addressed in the Bible. These are the type of issues that cause division in a church. When we focus on secondary issues, we are distracted from God’s vision for our church. You will never hear me preach against dressing up in church, but you will also never hear me preach against dressing casually. Why? Because as a church we have more important things to talk about. And if it bothers you when people don’t dress to your standards, please take a look at John 7:24. Let’s not focus on secondary issues that do nothing but cause division.