These posts from Marla have weighed heavy on my mind since she posted because it’s something I’ve struggled with during recent years.
I’d highly recommend you reading them for yourself but she basically makes the case for dressing how YOU feel appropriate for church. For her, that’s jeans. For many of you reading, that’s your very best dress, skirt, heels. For some of you, it’s jeans but you wear skirts because that’s just what your church does. For me, I wear jeans (and some casual dresses) because I’m comfortable AND that’s what most of my church wears.
But I haven’t always been casual at church. In fact, it’s only the past 3 years attending our new church did I even fathom wearing jeans on a Sunday morning. I grew up in a Church of God church. Church of God historically is very strict. Very. Women just did not wear pants. I was in my very best dress every single Sunday. I can remember my mom making me change when I wore anything not dressy enough, even as a 15 and 16 year old I had a dress, pantyhose and dress shoes on. But so did everyone else. It’s just the way church was.
Then I got engaged and started attending church at Scott’s Southern Baptist church where we stayed for over 10 years. Same thing. Everyone dressed up. It’s just the way church was. And for the first time, I saw some some ugly things regarding dress. And I don’t mean ugly dresses. I mean ugly attitudes toward dress. Now, before I say this, hear me when I say I’m not putting that church down. That church is like family. I’m serious. In fact, many of them are literally family members. But I did see some ugly things in regards to dress. I know of people that were highly judged because they did not have a tie on when they were on stage. People were looked down on when they wore shorts on a Sunday night. You were definitely singled out if you weren’t in a dress or skirt Sunday morning. No one would ever say anything to you directly, but the judgment was still there. NOT by everyone. Many could care less what you wore. But some people did. A lot. And some people didn’t really care much but dressy was just the acceptable standard.
Our current church accepts any sort of dress. There are some folks who still wear dresses but not often. Most people are in jeans or a casual skirt. All the men wear jeans, even the lead pastor. Only a few men have jackets. Kids are mostly in casual wear. Some girls have casual dresses, but not Sunday dresses. My girls wear jeans most Sundays unless it’s a holiday and then we’ll dress up. Scott hasn’t worn a suit, dress pants or dress shoes since we’ve started there.
And FOR ME, I feel so much more free. Before I was SO CONCERNED with what I was wearing. Clothes were almost 90% of what I was thinking of on Sunday mornings, more than any other day of the week. I had to have the just right outfit, the just-right shoes. I had to make sure my makeup and hair were just right. And then I’d spend all morning pulling at my skirt, tugging at my pantyhose, comparing myself to everyone else dressed up. Church was like the Super Bowl for fashion every week. On the other hand, I didn’t care what anyone else wore. I honestly could have cared less if someone walked in with shorts. The concern was all inward and how I looked and stacked up. Was I any better than the folks looking down on people for not wearing a tie? I doubt it.
Now? I get dressed like I would every other morning. Sure, I care about what I look like. I make sure I’m modest and respectful and am not dressed like a slob but I’m not thinking about what everyone else thinks. Because no one is dressed up and no one cares. My feet don’t hurt when I’m standing to worship. I’m not worried about tugging a skirt or shirt. And best of all, I don’t spend time seeing how I stack up to everyone else. I still worship the same. I still concentrate the same. In fact, at times, I’m less distracted by looking at everyone. Furthermore, the one time I remember being distracted is by someone wearing a dress.
Hear me, I’m NOT bashing folks that dress up. I dressed up for 30 years of my life and ALL of the rest of my family and many close friends dress up Sunday morning. But what I am saying is now that I don’t, I’ve realized that dressing up on Sunday brought some ugly things out of me at times and I think it does for a lot of other people too (but not everyone!).
And here’s my most important observation: I think it can create a false sense of I-have-everything-together and enforces people acting and dressing one way on Sunday and then another during the week. You are polite and nice and worship in your nice clothes but then you walk out of the door, not only do your clothes change but also your attitude and actions do too.
I’m not looking down on anyone for dressing up or dressing down. You have to do what you feel comfortable with. But what I would ask is, are you TOO preoccupied with what you’re wearing on Sunday morning and furthermore what OTHER people are wearing on Sunday morning (comparing or judging)? I can honestly say I was and I’m not sure I even saw how much I was until I wasn’t. Sunday mornings have very little thought to what I wear and NO thought to what anyone else is going wear OR what they’re going to think about what I wear. I’m wholly concentrated on worship and the sermon and reconnecting with like-minded believers. And I think that’s just how it ought to be.