Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Tie (02/28/13)
TITLE: To tie or knot to tie?
By Christopher Bruce
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boys, and a nice dress for women and girls. However, this trend has began to disappear in many churches across our nation, especially among non-denominational churches, apparently to the disdain of some of the more traditional Pastors and Christians. I've seen articles written by Pastors who seem to view this trend change as a sign of immorality in the church; and I've witnessed a preacher publically criticize his congregation for not 'dressing their best' on Sunday mornings. So what does the Bible say? Does it really matter what we wear?
Examining the Bible, there is little said about a 'dress code' for the church. We can find in the Old Testament that there were holy garments to be used by priests when conducting service in the holy place, but nothing is said of those worshipping or having fellowship. Later on, while choosing the next king of Israel, the Lord tells Samuel that "man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7). However, taken into context, this verse seems to be referring more to a man's stature than his clothing. In the New Testament, Paul wrote that women should be dressed respectably and modestly (1 Timothy 2:9), and also warns us not to do anything (or perhaps wear anything) that will cause our brother/sister to stumble (Romans 14). James wrote that we should not show partiality to someone who's dressed nice over someone dressed poorly (James 2:2-4). Jesus strongly condemned the Pharisees for attempting to appear clean before men, but being full of hypocrisy and lies on the inside (Matt. 23:25-28), and He tells the disciples not to worry about what they will wear (Luke 12:22-23). Jesus also said not to judge by appearance, but rather to judge righteous judgement (John 7:24). Therefore, we can conclude from the Bible that as long as we dress appropriately and modestly, it doesn't matter what we wear, and we shouldn't judge how others choose to dress...even at church on Sunday mornings. It then becomes a matter of man's opinion and/or tradition. One popular idea is that we should 'give God our best', which many take to mean we should wear our best clothes to church. However, that ideology seems to imply that we're out of God's presence until we get into the front door of the church building. Are we not to give our best each day? If so, why take this idea and only apply it to our Sunday morning gatherings? It then seems logical that we either 'dress up' to please others, to please ourselves (after all, dressing nice does feel good) or we feel that it pleases God. If we dress nice just because we like to, or we feel it's God's will for us to do so, or perhaps to make others more comfortable, then by all means, suit up. We should not, however, act as if we're participating in a Sunday morning fashion show, primarily going to show off the latest additions to our wardrobe.
Many of us Christians are guilty of stereotyping, or 'judging a book by it's cover', so to speak. In our culture, if someone's wearing baggy jeans, an oversized t-shirt, and a baseball cap sideways, some would say
they're dressed like a gangster, or a 'gansta rapper'. If a person has a died mohawk, several piercings and tight jeans on, they might be considered a 'punk rocker'. In either of the cases above, it will often be assumed that the person uses drugs and is likely a criminal of some sort.
However, if we 'put the shoe on the other foot' and apply this same logic to those who wear suits, it could be said that they're dressing like John
Gotti, Adolph Hitler or Aleister Crowley; so should it then be assumed that someone in a suit might be a gangster, evil dictator or a wicked
satanist? As Christians, we are to love our neighbors (Matt. 22:29), and we should be careful not to make others feel unwelcome or uncomfortable, especially in our churches. After all, if our stereotypes are accurate, then shouldn't we be quicker to welcome those who 'look like sinners' in rather than turn them away? As Jesus put it, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17)
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