Thoughts: Does God care what we wear?
Editor’s note: This is an opinion column.
By Michael J. Brooks, Special for The Tribune
A student applied for the position of musician in our church. She was a good musician and had a pleasant personality. One Sunday, she was dressing very casual. The following week, I discussed it with her, explaining that the pastor and the congregation thought worship leaders should dress more formally on Sundays. She took this as a personal affront and started criticizing me to others. The deacon chair met with her, basically telling her that she should follow the lead of the pastor. She refused and decided to quit the job.
At another place, a member of the staff committee mentioned in a meeting that our minister of music wore “moccasins” on Sundays, and he was embarrassed. I think the Minister did indeed have tasselled moccasins, but anyway he asked me to encourage him to dress more formally on Sundays.
I recalled those experiences from 30 years ago when I visited a contemporary church in another state last month. The Minister of Music wore a cap. One of the worship team members had a beautiful spirit and voice, but she wore very short shorts and tennis shoes on the worship platform. The pastor wore a T-shirt. It occurred to me how much our culture of worship has changed.
We baby boomers remember that as children we “dressed in our Sunday best” to honor God. I had school shoes (tennis shoes) and I had Sunday shoes. The difference was significant. And I looked forward to wearing a jacket and tie to church like dad did.
In recent years, contemporary church leaders have challenged us to change our way of thinking. They felt that one of the excuses many had was that they didn’t have nice clothes to wear to church and therefore didn’t go. These leaders then encouraged everyone to “dress up” to break down this barrier. So we live in a new era.
Does God Care What We Wear?
The Apostle James imagined two men worshiping, one dressed in expensive clothes and the other in shabby clothes. He rebuked the Christians for judging the poor man. Fairly true. Additionally, the scriptures admonish Christians, especially women, to dress modestly, not sensually (1 Timothy 2:9). Christ is our authority, not musicians or movie stars.
Other than adhering to these principles, I don’t think many of us want to be dress-polices these days.
However, I still have the idea that worship leaders should be different.
Will Willimon spoke about it at a conference when he asked why a judge wears a robe. The short answer is that judges represent something bigger than themselves: the rule of law. Thus, they dress to show dignity and professionalism. It spoke to me, even though I cannot and will not be the arbiter of the other chairists.
“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.