The Christian Dress Code

The Christian dress code is the controversy that keeps on going. What do you wear to church?

It seems to be one of the controversies where we make judgment calls on others based on their outfits. I have to admit I am conflicted and (maybe?) outdated on my thoughts here. On the one hand, I LOVE the idea of “Sunday Best” and I dress for church. The question becomes what is best for me on Sunday may not be so for you. On the other hand, I hate the fashion police mentality. Jeans on the platform, no jeans on the platform is one question. Most Christians have rules on this.

Do jeans make me sing better or worse?

Do jeans say something about me?

What is it that it says about me?

Does it say I have such a great relationship with Jesus that we no longer pretend that I am not a jean’s kind of girl and wear a pair most days?

What length of skirt pleases God? Does one below the knee make him happy or does he like my bony knees? Boots, do they offend him or is He more concerned with my open toed shoes because they show my red polish?

And if God only judges my heart does he care what is on the outside or is what on the outside determine what is on the inside?

So many questions and I have more! Could it be that God wants me in church regardless of what I wear? Does God really hate for me to show my shoulders or do you hate for me to show them? Is he really offended by flip-flops or are you? Did he create me with a certain style or did I pick one up?  Do I need to change for him or for you? Would it bother you to wear a suit if I didn’t? Would it bother you if I wore a dress and you preferred pants? Why does it bother you?

Why does it bother me that it bothers you?

And while we are here, who appointed either of us spokesperson? I have a confession, I hate when people wear pajama bottoms or slippers to Sunday service. I don’t care if they wear them to bible study.

What would Jesus do? Would he be thrilled that I chose to be with a group of followers who want to access the power of unity in prayer or would he be appalled at my clothing? Would he tell me to get over myself and love people and quit caring what they wear or would he ask me to gently guide them to more holy clothing? Although, admittedly he technically has never asked me not even with the pajama wearer.

What is holy clothing?

This is going to sound so stupid, but it’s my blog so I will take license today, but Nirvana’s song Come As You Are keeps going through my head as I write today.

Come as you are,

As you were,

As I want you to be,

As a friend, As a friend,

As a known enemy,

Take your time, hurry up,

The choice is yours don’t be late, take a rest….

Come doused in mud,

soaked in bleach,

As I want you to be,

As a trend, as a friend….

The song always invokes a “make up your mind” feeling when I hear it. As if nothing the writer did was the right thing to do. As if people tell him to come as you are but really want him to come as they need him to be.

This is what the Dress Code invokes in me. As if no matter what side I pick on this issue it won’t be right. No matter what I do it won’t be right. Help me Jesus to allow me to see in others what You sees in them.

Let me look past the exterior to the beauty that was created in each of you. Let me instead of looking at your outfit; see the fingerprints of your creator.

I think I could find peace in that. Maybe.

Maybe I could get past all of this. I still prefer to dress in ‘Sunday Best’ but whose to say I’m right? Maybe I could past all of this.  Then again, I’d probably still check out your shoes.

16 thoughts on “The Christian Dress Code

  1. I like this one, I will say when I teach sunday school I like to wear jeans and my crocs (comfortable shoes), because I want to be comfortable and I usually teach 2-4 yr olds so I am running around a lot. One day they wanted us to go into the sanctuary and I thought “Oh no I am wearing jeans” I went in and no body cared but it was my conviction. I wear jeans all the other days to church but on Sunday, I like to wear what I call “my church clothes”(smile). I say to each his own, we should just be happy they are there, some peoples “Sunday best” is what they wear; just like you said. I have learned look past there clothes and hug and welcome there heart. Isn’t that really what it’s all about? See you at church on monday night, I will be the one wearing her jammies and slippers (just kidding).

  2. lol ya know, i dont think i’ve noticed any adult at ours take it that far as the jammies… lol

    to me, its somewhat more about respect than about “he says to”. sort of along the lines of dressing up more to meet with someone important or dignified…

    though usually in practice, i take a middle road… nice shirt and either decent jeans or black capris… sometimes crocs as i expect to be on my feet for a while. boo usually wears casual dresses, though only less than half or so of the sunday school class does.

    though, i think it also has some to do with reinforcing gender differences too. in a society that has tried to remove much of what makes women different from men, the dresses and skirts and frilly things act a bit of a reminder in a week that might not have much that is distinctive womanly if we wear jeans and tshirts to work… (hopefully what i mean makes sense here…)

  3. I think dirty work clothes are not appropriate unless you’ve come to church from work without the opportunity to change into something cleaner. Clothes that are distracting or draw attention should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, this is impossible from a more traditional POV because anything besides traditional garb will draw attention.

    Personally I wear what is comfortable to all three churches I attend and play music for—which is black jeans in winter or the equivalent, and khaki shorts in summer.

  4. I will have to add my two cents to this, I also think clothes that are distracting or draw attention should be avoided just out of respect for ourselves. I will just leave it at that before I start a debate:0

  5. It’s funny that we would dress up to go to a party, wedding, funeral or interviews for work but we can’t dress up to go to church??

    I don’t think that dressing up to go to church like I was going to the park or play is showing respect in the house of the Lord.

    1. Great point! We do dress differently for those occasions. Although I did go to a wedding recently where a woman wore jeans and a shirt with her belly showing.

  6. And what did that tell you about the person?? I’m sure the bride and groom and family really appreciated the dress of the person.

  7. There is only ONE reason I don’t wear jeans on the platform…for the sake of those who will find it a stumbling block during their worship with the Lord. I don’t find it offensive when I see people with jeans and T-shirts on the platform; I’ve seen an entire worship team in jeans and white T-shirts and seen the glory of God upon them and unleashed in the room. My dressing up for Sunday is out of respect for the people around me, the older folks that find it necessary for their peace of mind, the ones who feel any different would be disrespectful, and for myself who likes the to use her 2+ inch heels!

    Could we say that this is a culture preference? Some cultures have a more traditional view on clothing, others are modernized, still others have no clothing.

    Even when wearing skirts, dresses, or slacks, there are still people who will judge what we wear on Sunday. Someone told me a couple of weeks ago that they were uncomfortable with the length of our dresses in our church and the fact that we did not “cover” our legs (no pantyhose). Can’t keep them happy. Make HIM smile when HE sees you come into the sanctuary. Make HIM gasp at the offering you bring to HIM. Make HIM say, “Well done beloved.”

    1. Maybe it’s about presentation. Sloppy is sloppy no matter what. Things like wearing a ball cap in church tends to be sloppy to me or t-shirts with words and pictures on it. But I think if you are neat it makes a big difference.

      I tend to dress in things I would wear to a job interview or an event (not sports related). The complainers were probably talking about me with the no covering on the legs. I don’t wear pantyhose either. I don’t have varicose veins or cellulite and because I’m a brown girl, I don’t need to “color” my legs so I don’t wear hose. But I dress neatly, so hopefully that gives me some points. This is really a controversial subject. Fortunately, my mom taught me how to dress for church!

  8. I agree with your point of view on what people wear to church, to allow them come as they are. But many cultures and religions it is more acceptable if you dress a certain way.

  9. Hello I’M a male age 42 I wear sheer Knee Highs with all my dress pants in tan or black (men’s or women’s) I think if you go before God you should look your best! dress for him. women should dress in skirt & hosiery before God to..

  10. Well, here’s MY opinion. lol
    I see both sides in the since of, does it matter what we WEAR…unless it’s something that doesn’t honor God. He says in His word we as women should not wear anything that is a stumbling block to our fellow christian brothers. As long as it covers what needs to be covered, if you decide to wear t-shirt and jeans, that’s fine. Are we really caught up on CLOTHING in the since of having to doll up just to go to church. There are much more important ways to honor God than something so superficial.

    Now that being said, I do agree that if that is a way that you personally feel you honor God, then let your convictions be your convictions. Just don’t judge people who come to church in what YOU wouldn’t consider being their best.

    I believe God wants us to show our individuality b/c that’s what we are. We are all unique…all different with different tastes. And if you are expressing yourself in your best way (as long as it isn’t once again distracting) then you honor God in that!!

    But the point I feel is most important again, is are we judging ppl by the way they dress at church? We shouldn’t judge others to begin with, but something as petty as clothing. Granted you shouldn’t be dressing skantily..but if you aren’t.

    ummm.. the PJ’s…think I can agree with that one b/c I kind of feel that is a little ridiculous. Laziness possibly? idk… that is a little far out tho lol

    anyways. best REGARDS 🙂
    Tabitha Davis

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