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Church Idols – Attire

November 9, 2013

Today is Saturday and I am posting a new post. Yes, this is unusual, but it is the perfect day for this particular idol – attire. Clothing can be an idol in the church? It sure can and is. Tomorrow morning many will wake up and search their closets for appropriate attire to wear to church. They search for just the perfect thing. For some it will be a suit and tie, others khaki’s and a button-up, and others it will be shorts and a t-shirt. Who is correct? How is this idolatry?

Clothing can be an exclusionary. For example, if I walk into a church and see a room full of suits and ties I most likely will not be comfortable on the average Sunday. It lends an appearance of richness and privilege. That is my problem. But, if I try to come in and you offer me a jacket – and it has happened – you have now made attire an idol. It is as if you are saying, “To come before the throne of God in my church you must wear Godly cloths.” The opposite is also true. I have attended church where t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops were the norm. When someone in a suit walks in they feel uncomfortable. That is on them. But, if in any way you let them know suits are not acceptable in that church, then attire has become an idol.

You see, God’s table is diverse. I expect there are suits and shorts there. Long hair and short. Beards and clean shaven faces. Sandals, dress shoes, and dirty cowboy boots will be under the table. I’ll bet there will even be bare feet under the table. When I hear people discussing what should be worn to church I want to tell them to knock it off. They are trying to decipher what is “appropriate Godly attire” for church. Sounds very subjective to me, especially when you consider all clothing is for us to hide our nakedness. The very things we wore, because of our discovery of nakedness in the garden after the first sin, have become an idol and we still sin over clothing. Pretty ironic.

Let’s tear down the idol of attire. Welcome all in your church. Let them dress however they feel is comfortable and hear the Word of God preached. I am confident God is big enough to handle any attire problems from there.


From → Church Idols

  1. While I definitely get where you’re coming from, I was raised with the idea (and now choose to do myself not because I have to) that when we go to church we dress our best for God. Because worship is something we do daily, and we dress up for the special events in our lives, should we not also dress up for God and give him our best just like we would a special occasion? While everyone has a different interpretation of “their best” that is the beauty in it. Some people’s best may be a pair of dress blue jeans, other people’s “best” may be a designer suit. Just a different take on it…and again, I definitely get where you’re coming form on it becoming an idol. For many, church becomes a fashion show where we go to “see and be seen.” Not what it’s supposed to be at all!

    • Thank you for your reply. I greatly appreciate it. I have a few thoughts for you.

      I guess I am more approaching this from the aspect that some churches are using the clothing style as an entry requirement, therefore idolizing the fabric. This typically casts out those who are frequently referred to as “the least of these.” This leaves the most needy cast out because they are not sharp enough.

      I do understand what you are saying about dressing well out of worship. I own a nice suit, but only wear it during weddings and funerals as more of a “uniform” than fine attire. I think I dress nicely, but in attire which more suits me – is comfortable to me. That is when I feel I am dressed the best, when I am in a nice pair or jeans, button up, and boots.

      Another way to look at this is context. An inner city Mission Church would not be the place for 3-piece suits and ties. In Cowboy churches they come in wearing their jeans and boots they had been wearing while feeding the livestock that morning with their spurs jingling. Suits and ties are disappearing in America so we as churches need to take that into consideration.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

      • When I attended the church my father pastored the rule was “We love you as you are.” This meant exactly those words. We will love you exactly as you come through those doors. And we will love through your journey to a further relationship with Christ. And usually, this meant people wanted to bring their best to church.

        However, I have to admit that on missions trips or inner city services I did not in fact wear my most expensive clothing, best shoes or even carry a purse. Not because these people weren’t worth it, but because my goal in dressing well is never to shame others at their lack. We are called to be love in the world and sometimes the best way to show love is to show your ability to connect with people where they are at. In this way I do understand where you’re coming from.

        In my church tradition, we dress up on “normal” Sundays. Youth services not so much…every other services falls somewhere in between there. For me, it’s a matter of principle. I wouldn’t go to see the President in my “dailies” so why would I give God any less.

        Yet…it doesn’t work in every tradition or even in every culture. Location makes a difference too! Good discussion here!

      • I think you have hit the nail on the head – cultural differences are in the drivers seat here. For example, if I was going to meet the president he would find me in jeans, boots, button-up, and a sport coat. And I would have to go buy the sport coat for the occasion.

        We (you and I) operate in different cultural and theological contexts. We both dress our best, with different definitions of best, for our context to best reach those we are called to minister to.

        Thank you for brining the conversation here!

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