Dress for Respect
By Irene C. Taylor
The clothes we wear may not "make the man," but they make a definite statement about our attitude toward self and others. Business leaders recognize this and emphasize the importance of dressing for success. The way we present ourselves reflects our attitude toward life in general. We have become so casual in our dress, we think casually about events toward which respect should be shown. A lax dress code shows a lack of respect.
There was a time when Christians knew there was to be a difference in our manner of dress from that of the world. Christians believed the wisdom of 1 Timothy 2:9, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety." Christian women dressed modestly, attractively, and femininely when in public and were treated with respect. Their demeanor, in turn, showed respect for the occasion. This was especially true of such occasions as worship services, weddings, and funerals. Alas, such is not true today.
While on a trip sometime back we attended worship services at two different congregations of the Lord's people. At the morning service I found myself one of three or four ladies in a dress. At the evening service I was the only lady so attired. Imagine being conspicuous in a dress at a worship service! The attire of the women was not a nice pantsuit but rather the ultracasual attire one might wear to the ball park. Some were dressed in the same manner as that formerly worn by women working in the field. This was true of both the older and younger women. The attire was not due to a need for warmth; the season was summer time. The slogans on some of the shirts were not appropriate for home let alone a service designed to pay honor and respect to the Lord. It was not surprising that the conduct during the service fell short of the respect due the God of heaven.
There is a principle portrayed in a beautiful hymn which used to be sung frequently in our services, "Give of the Best to Your Master." This song suggests a standard which needs to be revived today. Our casual attitude toward things sacred has infiltrated more than our dress. The best that we have in dress should display respect for self and others.
Too often we dress more appropriately for weddings and funerals than for our worship to the God of heaven. The former is to honor a human; the latter is to pay homage to Deity. Who among us would appear in the presence of a ruler of any nation in the same attire some wear in the worship assembly?
Many businesses have a strict dress code and employees know they must conform or be fired. Elders should not have to instigate a dress code but we obviously need to be reminded that our appearance does matter. Can you visualize the uproar that would be caused if elders announced a dress code for worship? It is odd we would honor regulations set by a business and be offended when asked to dress properly on the street and in worship.
It is said that in some areas the casual dress for worship is downright immodest. Shame on both the wearer and the elders who allow it.
In the beginning, after the entrance of sin, Adam and Eve made for themselves aprons for a covering (Gen. 3:7). God deemed these inadequate and made "coats of skin and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). Some have described the aprons as loin clothes and the coats of skin as a tunic or long coat. Whatever the contrast was, we can know God intended that the clothing be modest. Further, it should be noted that Got clothed both the man and woman! Often the emphasis on modest apparel is directed to woman only, but God saw the need for both to be modestly attired.
Often the sad response is, "No one tells me what to wear. It's no one's business what I wear." But that is not really true. One is governed either by biblical principles or by Society's current fashion designers. We may protest that we should be able to wear what we choose; but the decision is made for us either by often godless designers or by the Bible.
In addition, each of us has a responsibility not to dress in such fashion as to contribute to the temptation of another. Thanks to the feminists, today's mindset of women places an equal responsibility on men to dress with care.
Thomas Eaves does a lot of work with prisoners. In a prison, he observed the following sign in the reception room. "Visitors must be appropriately dressed. Underwear and bras must be worn. No halter tops; no shorts. No revealing clothing."
May the day return when all Christians dress properly on all occasions.