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  • Stop dressing so tacky for church

    Stop dressing so tacky for church
    By John Blake, CNN

    (CNN) - If the Rev. John DeBonville could preach a sermon to lift the souls of churchgoers across America, his message would be simple:

    Stop dressing so tacky for church.

    DeBonville has heard about the “come as you are” approach to dressing down for Sunday service, but he says the Sabbath is getting too sloppy.

    When he scans the pews of churches, DeBonville sees rows of people dressed in their Sunday worst. They saunter into church in baggy shorts, flip-flop sandals, tennis shoes and grubby T-shirts. Some even slide into the pews carrying coffee in plastic foam containers as if they’re going to Starbucks.

    “It’s like some people decided to stop mowing the lawn and then decided to come to church,” says DeBonville, rector at the Church of the Good Shepard in Massachusetts. “No one dresses up for church anymore.”

    All of you folks visiting church this Easter Sunday take a good look around. Soak in the Easter tradition of people wearing their best new outfits for church: The fidgety girls in pink dresses; the pouting boys in stiff new suits; everyone looking all fine and dandy. Because come next Sunday, the people wearing flip-flop sandals, shorts and grubby T-shirts will rise again.

    Church leaders like DeBonville have harrumphed about declining dress standards for Sunday service for years, while others say God only cares what’s in someone’s heart.

    But which side is right? What does the Bible actually say about dressing properly for church? And does Jesus provide fashion advice anywhere? Wasn’t he a homeless, Galilean peasant who wore flip-flops?

    The answers to these questions are not as easy as they may seem. The Bible sends mixed messages about the concept of wearing your Sunday best. And when pastors, parishioners and religious scholars were asked the same questions, they couldn’t agree, either.

    Wearing ties on first dates

    There was one point on which both sides did agree: People are dressing sloppier everywhere, not just church.

    Take a trek to the supermarket on Saturday morning and you’re bound to run into a sleepy-eyed woman in slippers and rollers at the checkout counter.

    Pajamas in public: The battle of 'appropriate' vs. 'comfy'

    Or take a walk outside and you’ll be greeted by teenagers slouching around with their jeans sagging over the butt-cheeks.

    Even corporate America isn’t immune. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual every day and even tech tycoons like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wear bland T-shirts during public presentations.

    It’s a sharp departure from another era in America before the 1960s, when people wore suits, dresses and white gloves in public.

    The Rev. Gerald Durley, a sharp-dressed civil rights activist in Atlanta, recalls taking his future wife, Muriel, on their first date. When he showed up at her house, her father opened the door, looked at him, and took him aside gravely, “Young man can I talk to you for a minute.”

    “He told me, 'If you’re going to take my daughter out, you can wear one of my ties,'” says Durley, a retired Baptist pastor.

    Jennifer Fulwiler, who wrote an article for the National Catholic Register titled, “Why Don’t We Dress up Anymore,” says her great-grandfather would put on a coat and tie just to go grocery shopping.

    The reasons why people stopped dressing up could fill a book. Yet Fulwiler offers one explanation that’s seldom mentioned – lack of gratitude.

    Fulwiler’s revelation came one day as she watched scruffily dressed people board a plane. She flashed back to a black-and-white photo she had seen of her grandparents boarding a plane in the 1940s. Most of the passengers were dressed in suits and ties and dresses because air travel was such a privilege at the time.

    “We dress up for what we’re grateful for,” she says. “We’re such a wealthy, spoiled culture that we feel like we have a right to fly on airplanes,” says Fulwiler, author of “Something Other than God,” which details her journey from atheism to Christianity.

    Church is like air travel now – it’s no longer a big deal because people have lost their sense of awe before God, Fulwiler says.

    Yet some of these same people who say it doesn’t matter how you dress for church would change their tune if they were invited to another event, Fulwiler says.

    “If you had the opportunity to meet the Queen of England, you wouldn’t show up in at Windsor Castle wearing jeans and a T-shirt,” she says.
    Much more.

    My church is "dressy" in the sense that skin is covered, real shoes are worn, and very few people wear jeans. People aren't particularly fashionable or expensively dressed - a cheap pair of jeans costs the same as a cheap pair of slacks or a skirt.

    The idea is that you are meeting Someone important in His own house. You'd clean up to meet an employer or a celebrity or a favored sports figure so why not clean up a little for God?

    The contra argument is that some poor people can't clean up or wear non-work clothing so the rest of us shouldn't shame them by dressing better than they could.

    I don't know about that argument. I've been pretty broke and I've still been able to wear a skirt from a thrift store. Besides, welcoming a new person doesn't mean we should all emulate that person. They came for a reason and that reason probably isn't fashion.

    CNN
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

  • #2
    I abhor those who look down on people because they aren't dressed up for Mass. It's completely silly. We even have a special "Spirit Mass" on Sunday evening where it's almost expected to be casual. Just got off the boat? Come on in! It's my favorite Mass.

    As it turns out, lots of times I'm already at the Church working on something else. It's either a Scout meeting, camping in the Gym, a Christmas tree sale, or rebuilding something. Our tradition is that we don't take time out of our ministry to get showered and changed only to go back to our dirty clothes to finish the work, we wash our hands, comb our hair and head into Mass. We had a service project at another Parish, we were replacing the stucco (for free, including the materials because they didn't have the money for it). I was asked to walk in a few minutes early to save us a pew. These folks looked at me like I had two heads. It was different when the rest of the group showed up and we were all dressed in t-shirts and jeans but the initial glares stuck with me. All of these people could afford expensive clothes but couldn't pay $20 each for their own building?

    No thanks.

    I like that my Church does a Mass out in the groves for migrant workers. We have a portable PA system and we go up and down the rows to hand out Communion. That's a great solution, minister to the people who need it most.
    "Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind : which, if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but upon good reason, and so cannot be opposite to it."
    -John Locke

    "It's all been melded together into one giant, authoritarian, leftist scream."
    -Newman

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by scott View Post
      I abhor those who look down on people because they aren't dressed up for Mass. It's completely silly. We even have a special "Spirit Mass" on Sunday evening where it's almost expected to be casual. Just got off the boat? Come on in! It's my favorite Mass.

      As it turns out, lots of times I'm already at the Church working on something else. It's either a Scout meeting, camping in the Gym, a Christmas tree sale, or rebuilding something. Our tradition is that we don't take time out of our ministry to get showered and changed only to go back to our dirty clothes to finish the work, we wash our hands, comb our hair and head into Mass. We had a service project at another Parish, we were replacing the stucco (for free, including the materials because they didn't have the money for it). I was asked to walk in a few minutes early to save us a pew. These folks looked at me like I had two heads. It was different when the rest of the group showed up and we were all dressed in t-shirts and jeans but the initial glares stuck with me. All of these people could afford expensive clothes but couldn't pay $20 each for their own building?

      No thanks.

      I like that my Church does a Mass out in the groves for migrant workers. We have a portable PA system and we go up and down the rows to hand out Communion. That's a great solution, minister to the people who need it most.
      We do a lot of outreach but frankly, we don't encounter people who don't themselves dress up for parties or job interviews. We've had mission guys who were coming off benders who obviously didn't have clean clothes but we got them clean clothes and within a couple of weeks, they were in living situations with showers and private apartments, where we got them jobs, and clothing, and social activities.

      It wasn't and either/or situation.
      "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

      Comment


      • #4
        I got a rather important lesson, along with a whole lot of other people, when I was about six years old and we were attending the "fashionable" (for lack of a better term) Hillsboro Church of Christ.

        Hillsboro, like most other Churches of Christ in the South (at least), was completely independent (there is no Church of Christ hierarchy; there's no bishop over the churches, no diocese, etc.), and it was (and still is) extremely literal in their interpretation of the Bible. The Bible says "raise a joyful voice unto the Lord;" it doesn't say anything about an organ or a piano or a guitar or a kazoo, so all music was singing and singing only. The Bible says no graven images, so there are no Crosses on or in the church, and people attending the church may not wear a cross on a necklace, for example. You get the idea.

        It was very expected that everyone attending the 10:00 service on Sunday (in particular) would be in their "Sunday best." And everyone was. It wasn't a fashion show, per se, but people certainly eyed what others were wearing in church. Most people wanted to impress the church elders (who held the true power in the church) with, somewhat ironically, how pious they were by wearing their finery in the presence of God in His House.

        Then one day the lesson came, perhaps from the least-expected source.

        One of the wealthiest men in Nashville was an elder at the church, and elders took turns delivering the sermon each Sunday, as each had something to say. On this particular Sunday, I rather distinctly remember that the sermon was on Job, and the lessons therein. It was the mid-70s and a lot of people (though almost no one in that building that day) were suffering pretty badly financially. Much of the lesson was on helping those who were attempting to help themselves.

        We were seated near the back of the church when the doors opened behind us, and three men in dirty overalls came in, causing a little bit of a stir. They seated themselves quietly in one of the vacant pews at the very back of the sanctuary. The man preaching (let's call him John; names changed to protect the innocent) noticed this from the pulpit, and stopped his sermon and acknowledged the men who had come in. He asked them to approach the pulpit, and asked them who they were, since clearly they were not regular members. They explained that they were itinerant workers who were hitchhiking from one job to another when they had seen the church and asked to be let off to go inside to worship. All three were working whatever odd jobs that they could in order to send money home to their families. They apologized to the entire church for their appearance, but they had no clean clothes, much less any fine clothes, to wear to church.

        Then "John" invited them to sit in the front row, resulting in some protest from those who were seated there. "John" thundered at them "do you think that you're somehow closer to God in those seats than these men are sitting in the back row?! Are you somehow more Christian than these men because of how you are dressed?!" I mean real hellfire and brimstone "thundered;" this church seats probably 2500 in the sanctuary and had no microphone and amp; his voice literally shook the windows he was so loud. The entire church was stunned from this explosion. And rightly so.

        Shamed, the people in the front row cleared out so that these three men in their dirty overalls, hitchhiking around middle Tennessee to get whatever work they could to send home to their families, who were moved enough, spiritual enough, whatever you want to call it, were called to church that Sunday morning, could sit in the front row and receive The Message. "John" then integrated those men into the remainder of his sermon on Job and how those people should be treating the least among them.

        A whole lot of people left church that Sunday with their heads hung low. "John" took them out to lunch and put them up for the night in his Belle Meade home, and eventually helped them get permanent, steady work much closer to home, and personally drove them there.



        I, at least, learned a very powerful lesson that day to not judge someone's Christianity based upon how they dress coming to church.

        Should people dress nicely if they're coming to church? You bet. That's just polite, not only in the Eyes of God, but to your fellow church-goers. Should church be some sort of fashion contest? Absolutely not, and that's one of my biggest turn-offs to a lot of churches: I can't tell a whole lot of difference between a lot of church services and a sorority formal.

        Should churches go out of their way to welcome those who can't dress in the latest $400 dress from Macy's? You better believe it.



        Dress appropriately for church. Don't wear flip-flops and dirty T-shirts. Don't judge those who don't have those means; welcome those people into the church and invite them to sit next to you to make them feel welcome.
        It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
        In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
        Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
        Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Gingersnap View Post
          We do a lot of outreach but frankly, we don't encounter people who don't themselves dress up for parties or job interviews. We've had mission guys who were coming off benders who obviously didn't have clean clothes but we got them clean clothes and within a couple of weeks, they were in living situations with showers and private apartments, where we got them jobs, and clothing, and social activities.

          It wasn't and either/or situation.
          There's nothing wrong with that. When I'm at the Church to work if given the choice between taking an hour out to prepare for Mass or just work though it I'll just keep working. I'm not there for the approval of the harpies. If I'm not working and not attending Spirit Mass I do dress up. Perhaps Rev. DeBonville could look into why his congregation doesn't dress up and decide what to do.

          I've never liked the social hierarchy that comes with many places of worship, all while listening to the exact opposite directly from the Gospel.
          "Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind : which, if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but upon good reason, and so cannot be opposite to it."
          -John Locke

          "It's all been melded together into one giant, authoritarian, leftist scream."
          -Newman

          Comment


          • #6
            See my bunch would never have that issue. Nobody wears a $400 dollar outfit. I have never seen it in all these years.

            New people are always seated in the best places. That's standard. It's like, a Federal regulation.

            My church is Anglican so we don't have as much in common with some Protestant groups. We're separated from the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. We do take church seriously.

            I guess we think that if you "do" church as a regular thing (not while dropping in after a base-jumping event), you should show up in whatever clothes you would wear to your best friend's important party. Maybe that is torn jeans and a message teeshirt. For most of us, it isn't. We'd take a little care to look our best, particularly if we knew some of the over 60 crowd were there and some of the under 15 crowd were there. We'd want to look as though we respected the event. As though it wasn't a routine, meaningless trip to 7/11.
            "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

            Comment


            • #7
              1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

              Comment


              • #8
                It's jeans and boots out here. I was taken aback by it at first when I saw what people wore (especially after I told my husband that he better wear slacks when he came downstairs in his black jeans and a nice shirt) but seriously, there is so much more to do as a church than to judge or be upset over someones attire.

                The only thing I'm not wild about..bra straps showing underneath a tank top..I'm even fine with sandals and flip flops. Still, I hug on those girls just as much as if they were all covered up. I care more that we actually have youth in our church and that they want to be their to share in the praise and worship of God.
                May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
                Children who sense the rose needs the thorn and run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards the sun...
                And when they're grown and someone has to speak for those who have no voice,
                may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things and be the one.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am suit and tie at church. But I am nosebleed.
                  “Thus it is that no cruelty whatsoever passes by without impact. Thus it is that we always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.”

                  ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    In Maryland I was very surprised to see that even the readers will show up in shorts, t shirt, and flip flops, but I've gotten used to it. Even more surprised that at Easer Vigil mass everyone was dressed up.
                    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
                    Robert Southwell, S.J.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      LOR]I I used to take my mom to church at St Alban's (Episcopal) in St Pete Beach. Everyone there dressed nice for church. All fifty of them. Across the street, the Catholics ran two shifts of khaki shorts and aloha shirts... hundreds of them.
                      The year's at the spring
                      And day's at the morn;
                      Morning's at seven;
                      The hill-side's dew-pearled;
                      The lark's on the wing;
                      The snail's on the thorn:
                      God's in his heaven—
                      All's right with the world!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        WWJW
                        If it pays, it stays

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Novaheart View Post
                          LOR]I I used to take my mom to church at St Alban's (Episcopal) in St Pete Beach. Everyone there dressed nice for church. All fifty of them. Across the street, the Catholics ran two shifts of khaki shorts and aloha shirts... hundreds of them.
                          AKA vacation dress up.
                          "Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind : which, if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but upon good reason, and so cannot be opposite to it."
                          -John Locke

                          "It's all been melded together into one giant, authoritarian, leftist scream."
                          -Newman

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Frostbit View Post
                            WWJW
                            It doesn't specifically say but all the historical, anthropological, and cultural evidence is that Jesus put on a clean robe when He went to the temple or the synagogues.

                            I guess I find it odd that you would wear sports wear or night club clothing to church when you clearly have enough spendy income to go to a thrift store and get "interview" clothing.

                            But it comes down to culture, not finance for 99.9% of people. Are going to church for the people, the music, the fellowship, and the socializing or are you taking a tiny portion of your week to worship the Creator of the Universe?

                            I'd put on a real shirt for that guy.
                            "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gingersnap View Post
                              It doesn't specifically say but all the historical, anthropological, and cultural evidence is that Jesus put on a clean robe when He went to the temple or the synagogues.

                              I guess I find it odd that you would wear sports wear or night club clothing to church when you clearly have enough spendy income to go to a thrift store and get "interview" clothing.

                              But it comes down to culture, not finance for 99.9% of people. Are going to church for the people, the music, the fellowship, and the socializing or are you taking a tiny portion of your week to worship the Creator of the Universe?

                              I'd put on a real shirt for that guy.
                              I guess I've spent so much time doing his work being sweaty, grubby, and worshipping in places where isn't impossible to be dressed up (retreats, ministries, camping, combat zones) that it doesn't have much significance for me.
                              "Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind : which, if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but upon good reason, and so cannot be opposite to it."
                              -John Locke

                              "It's all been melded together into one giant, authoritarian, leftist scream."
                              -Newman

                              Comment

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