Shocked by dress codes in our local churches

I remember pretty well when together with my ex-girlfriend, we had just moved to a new church. We found a church that we viewed as of the right doctrine, but noticed that several young people dressed in an improper manner during the church service. I asked myself, whether that was not indecent in a church?

I remember pretty well when together with my ex-girlfriend, we had just moved to a new church. We found a church that we viewed as of the right doctrine, but noticed that several young people dressed in an improper manner during the church service. I asked myself, whether that was not indecent in a church?

My previous church never had anyone wear such outfits. I was tempted to say something which I can’t put in this space but my best friend at the time, told me to mind my own business. Some of the prominent questions which lingered on my mind were; don’t you think that it’s disrespectful to dress in that manner? Isn’t there a church dress code?

As I was profoundly shocked, she started preaching to me that these days, what is more important is that young people attend church service without dwelling much on worries about what they wear.

They have this belief that God will change them with time. One youthful pastor in town said that changing the youth was a matter of time.

When I got home I concluded that if the pastor of that church, which I don’t want to mention by name, thinks that it’s disrespectful to question indecent dressing, then he should be the one to say something.

Christians of the 21st century are trying to go with the flow; relax, and be more open-minded. Remember, it’s not how they look, its how they are.

It’s puzzling with this issue of church discipline. Certainly, I am a born again Christian, member of two local churches. So I understand the issues of church discipline.

I also have a “growing pain” with people who think that they can be called Christians though this isn’t my real problem.

The problem has to do with the dressing code of women and some young boys, and how they need to conduct themselves in the church.

I think that people should at least dress decently, somewhat orderly and respectfully. As far as someone being able to afford nice clothes, it’s been my experience that the people at the church who are dressed the least appropriate are not poor.

The people I know at my new church who are poor have tried to make an effort to be clean and decent.

I recently attended church meetings while visiting another church. Each time, I was hit with the realization that it is possible for the spirit of God to be in a meeting even if some of the ladies are wearing jeans, and the men are wearing casual open collar shirts.

I was at this very church this last Sunday, waiting for my wife to appear so that we enter together for the service and from nowhere, a sister walked out in tight, shabby blue jeans.

It felt inappropriate to enter the church and mingle in the same group with her, but I was bound and determined not to judge her. It may have been all she had.

I feel we should wear our best when ever possible out of respect for the Lord.

I remember one woman asking me “have you seen my husband? He’s tall, handsome and wearing a dark suit, white shirt together with a conservative tie.” It was hard not to laugh at this inquiry as about 90 percent of the men at the church service dressed just like that.

If I’m judged and condemned for it, that’s not my problem. Though my dressing code is also described as poor, this time I am pretty sure I’ll demonstrate my determination to dress decently and still live my life.
 
The church of today has been aligned to the worldly standards by putting much emphasis on outward things and so little focus on the inward things, which are the only things that matter to God. The result is that so many miss the mark.

Can those who like to dress up do so, and not judge those who dress differently? Personally, I believe that yes, God is more interested in our hearts than our dress, but in the extreme some could take that to mean that God wouldn’t care about us chewing gum loudly, or not bathing.

Yet these things would offend other churchgoers, so we shouldn’t do them (I hope). One person I would describe up to date as a Christian friend intimated to me, that the Bible’s rules about dressing code cannot be applied directly to today’s situation.

Attending church in a tunic, sandals or something else which looks indecent, would cause quite a disruption in most churches!

But the general principles of modesty and decency can be applied. I suggest we should dress for public worship in a way that is generally considered right. Standards of dressing change over time and are different from church to church, but we should avoid any style of clothing that is offensive, or which sends a message conflicting the church community’s values.

On this issue, I have got two passages in the New Testament concerning proper dressing. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. (NIV, 1 Timothy 2:9-10).

As a matter of decency, there are Churches here in Rwanda, where I have witnessed conservatism; among them is the ADEPR churches, those operating upcountry and here in Kigali.

Their girls or women are prohibited from styling their hair, wearing makeup, polishing nails or wearing ear rings. The good thing about them is they look natural but they are not liked by many.

I can’t say they are ignorant on how life has changed but my take on this, is that there’s room for flexibility because a lot has changed in the fashion industry and Christians have to adapt too.

In wrapping up I would love to say, for Christians, beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.

Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. (NIV, 1 Peter 3:2-5)

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