(Note: Disdain for clothing has plagued mankind ever since God declared Adam and Eve’s fig-leaves “insufficient”. Too tight, too short, too revealing, too trashy, full of holes…all of these can be seen on any given Sunday in an American “worship” service. Sometimes I have wondered whether God or the naked human body was being worshiped. The following article is very timely – Michael)
Propriety in Dress
by Mack Lyon
A spirit of awe and reverence should dictate propriety in dress and demeanor when worshipping.
“No shirt, no shoes, no judge” headlines an article in Oklahoma’s largest newspaper, The Daily Oklahoman, June 10, 1994. I could not believe what I was seeing! Garfield County Court officials had agreed something had to be done; some people (even some jurors) were appearing in court “all but undressed.” So they posted a sign that said “Proper dress required for court appearances. No shorts, tank tops, hats, etc, allowed. Shoes required.”
What has happened to the human race? Have we no self-respect at all anymore? People appear in public everywhere un-bathed, unwashed, uncombed, unshaven, untrimmed, unshod, even undressed and generally unkempt with no apparent shame at all! Are there no such words as self respect and propriety in our vocabulary? Is there nothing venerable or sacred in our society? Is nothing inappropriate? Or immodest?
That same week I had three requests from our TV audiences to have a program about how to dress for worship. More recently a judge in Florida told a plaintiff he could not appear in his court wearing shorts. The man left and returned wearing nothing! The judge sentenced him to the maximum jail term for contempt.
Exhortations to propriety in dress for worship have appeared in many church bulletins this summer. It is not uncommon to see a sign in a restaurant that says, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Hospitals have been forced to post similar signs. How long will it be until the church will be forced to do likewise?
Oh! But we’re reminded, “The Lord seeth not as a man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (Sam. 16:7). No passage in the Bible is more badly misused and abused than that verse in 1 Sam. 16. It is taken out of context and used as a proof-text for something God never said and to endorse a state of decadence God must abhor.
Shorts, tank tops and T-shirts advertising beer and beer taverns are as inappropriate in the worship of the most high God as a tuxedo would be at the beach or on the tennis courts or at worship. We are not talking about the dress of the poor or the unconverted. Some of the worst violators are professional and business people who know how to dress for success, and gladly do it, but not to show respect and reverence for God!
No, God does not have a dress code for worship! Of course, He does not. He assumes the humble, worshipping heart will dictate proper attire and behavior. A true spirit of awe, reverence and worship dictates dignity and propriety in dress and demeanor. God does not command us to kneel or stand or bow our heads n prayer, either, but doing so manifests a humbleness of heart that honors and respects the sovereign God Whom we praise and petition. So does proper dress.
“Holy and reverend is His name” (Psa. 111:9), and we must treat Him so. It is an attitude! It is a despicable irreverent, glib and flippant attitude we have developed toward God an sacred things that border on contempt, Oh! We must have more teaching and preaching on some things! No, not about “dress code” but about the spirit of true worship that will change the slovenly ways we worship. What a loss! What a terrible and tragic loss of human dignity and reverence of deity we have experienced.
But then, when we reduced our worship to the level of mere entertainment, what else could we expect? May God forgive us and help us! “let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well pleasing to God with reverence and awe: for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).