Monday, June 20

Skimpy Sundays

Once upon a time, Christians built breath-taking churches and cathedrals. With beautiful spires that pointed all eyes towards heaven and stone laid by masons who intended their work to serve for the glory of God for centuries, they were impossible to miss or mistake. (The picture is of the Old North Church in Boston.) They were a source of public pride and dignity.

I think of that whenever I drive past the modern industrial style buildings most churches in my state call home. While I appreciate that it is the people who make up a church and not the building, I see the failure to invest in and maintain beautiful churches as symptomatic of the larger lack of reverence in modern culture.

"Don't judge".
"We want everyone to be comfortable."
"Love the sinner, hate the sin."

Although I appreciate the loving hearts behind those messages, I believe they're wrong to give these ideas blanket application in churches and ministries.

We live in a world in which children are no longer taught boundaries and principles; many adults struggle in their jobs and families because no one ever taught them the basic rules of respect, appropriate speech and dress or reverence for sacred things. If the church does not step up and teach these things, who will?

I was both pleased and frustrated by this story about a Sacramento church that posted sign-age at the door clearly (but politely) delineating what was and was not appropriate attire for church, titled with the statement: ""Give God Your Best, Dress in A Dignified Manner When You Enter His House."

It's fantastic that the Priest supported the parents and parishioners who approached him about other attendees' skimpy and distracting club-style clothing on Sunday mornings, and that he was able to provide the instruction these people should have gotten from their own fathers. Plenty of church families struggle with their teens over what they can and cannot wear, and it's awfully hard to hold the line on modesty when other "church kids" are freely running around half-dressed like their favorite rock stars.

It appalls me that the other pastor sought out for quotes by the journalist writing the article above was dismissive and un-supportive:
"[Pastor] Ray Johnston... said he is just glad to see people in church. He has not worn a tie to worship in 10 years. He prefers golf shirts.

"I think God cares about what's in our heart, not what we are wearing," said Johnston.

He added that he does not want to be critical of churches that have dress codes. "There are all kinds of churches for all kinds of people," he said. "But I don't want to put up barriers to church. After all, from everything I know, Jesus wore sandals."

This is a straw-man argument and shameful. Golf shirts and sandals have nothing to do with the topic at hand which was not dressing like a floozy in church. Everyone owns something more appropriate than skimpy club wear that they can wear to church - asking them to so is not "putting up a barrier". Asking them to do so is not judging them or devaluing what's "in their heart". Stating that "there are all kinds of churches for all kinds of people" clearly suggests that Christians can pick and choose which Biblical principles they consider worth abiding by. Don't want to practice modesty, reverence or humility? No problem - there's a church for that!

I'll stop ranting here, as this has gotten much longer than I anticipated. If you go to church that's holding the line on dress code and modesty, though, will you do me a favor? Give you Pastor a pat on the back and thank him for having the guts to honor his Father and ask others to do the same. Some of us out here still notice and appreciate courage like that.

1 comment:

  1. I have never understood people who feel that it's perfectly fine to attend church in jeans and flip flops. I was taught that you wear nice clothes, preferably a dress, and you look your best. That's why it was called your Sunday Best. It makes me sad to see people who don't understand the basic act of dressing respectfully for certain venues.