I know it’s a silly issue, but a real issue that many churches are dealing with. I heard of one preacher who a couple of weeks ago challenged his church members to dress up for church. He wanted his members to show reverence to God by men wearing suits and women wearing dresses. He challenged them with the example of meeting the President of the country. He said, “What would you wear if you were meeting the President of the United States? You should dress the same way to come to church because God is more important than the President.” The logic seems simple; God is honored by me wearing “professional” clothing. The only problem is the logic is wrong.
I have no problem with wanting to be modest and reverent before the Lord, but judging a person’s reverence by the way they dress instead of by their heart is wrong. Let’s use the illustration above for example. Should I dress at church like I was meeting the President? Let me ask you a question. “Do you think that the President’s wife, parents, and children dress differently and treat him differently than you or I would?” Of course they do. The reason they do isn’t because they are disrespectful, but because they have a relationship with him. Hopefully it makes sense now, having a relationship with the Lord changes the way you are to show respect to the Lord. I would imagine that the President’s wife and children would have to do more than change their clothes for George to feel that they respect him. The same is true with God. Its all about your love and obedience to the Lord that shows you respect Him. So dress with some modesty, but show respect by being faithful to the Lord.
I once visited a church that invited members to wear jeans and shorts. Something happened that I didn’t expect. God was worshipped and the Word was preached. I had been taught that if men didn’t wear suits and women didn’t wear dresses then the worship service would be in vain, God would be super mad, and everyone in the church would probably go to hell. Surprisingly the service at that church was warm, exciting, spiritual challenging, and I would say even God honoring. Why? The clothes don’t make the man in God’s eyes. God looks at the heart.
One time while I was in seminary, I went to church with a t-shirt, jeans, and sandals on. A church member and friend of mine came and said to me, “Boy, we are very dressed down today.” I didn’t find it rude because I worked with the person and knew them pretty well. See, we both worked at a place that you have to dress “professionally”. So I told my friend, “No, I just didn’t want to wear my work clothes to church.” My friend was taken back a little and said, “God doesn’t care what you wear.” meaning that it is okay to wear work clothes to church as long as they are a suit. I said, “Exactly, God doesn’t care what I wear.”
One final thought. I hope you realize that dress is such a silly and small issue when compared with our need to evangelize, to disciple, to fellowship, to minister, and to worship that I hope we don’t let someone’s dress distract us. My conclusion is dress with modesty before the Lord and have a respect for the “dress code” at the church you attend, but realize that your heart will tell more about your relationship with God than your dress will ever do.