5 June 2023 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
The way people dress for church nowadays is disgusting. Even restaurants and pubs have a dress code. And yet people seem to come to church in almost anything. I’ve even been surprised by what some pastors wear in the pulpit.
What happened to a nice long dress and a hat for women, a suit with white shirt and tie for men? Shouldn’t we try to follow the Bible in how we dress for church in order to honor God in his house?
Signed, I’m Dressed Up!
Dear Dressed Up:
It can be tempting to suppose that the way people have dressed traditionally in church is the “right” way to dress. And it is okay if you prefer to dress more conservatively, and avoid more modern looks such as green hair, tattoos, large earrings, or low cut/high slit outfits.
Aunty prefers to dress more traditionally for church. But she doesn’t spend her time in church evaluating everyone else’s wardrobe. She just tries to join in praise of God, while listening and learning and loving.
Though you may find green hair, tattoos, and short skirts in church uncomfortable, Aunty would gently remind you that we want those very people to be in church with us. If we are to make our churches more inclusive, then we are going to need to become more accepting of the way people look, even if it flies in the face of decades of tradition.
Aside from basic modesty (per Peter, Paul, and Proverbs), there is no biblical dress code. Where do you find trousers, suits, ties, and hats in Scripture? Aunty supposes that if you must dress biblically, the closest you could come is some kind of loosely draped robe, like we think the patriarchs and the apostles wore. But can you imagine how most congregations would react if someone actually showed up for church dressed like Jesus?
A friend of Aunty’s from Africa told her how on one unusually hot and humid Sabbath he slipped on a formal short-sleeved African dashiki/kitenge shirt—the best article of clothing he had. When he got to church an elder told him he could stay, but he couldn’t do his scheduled part on the platform that day because he wasn’t wearing a white shirt, necktie, and jacket. How ridiculous to insist that people wear the formal American business uniform in such a hot place! Even most westerners don’t wear such things to church on hot days anymore!
There is a famous Latin phrase going all the way back to ancient Rome: “De gustibus non est disputandum” which means, “About taste, there can be no dispute.” It’s time to accept that fashion is fluid, conditioned by our evolving cultures.
So as long as someone has clothes on, let’s be happy they’re in church.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.