“An impeccable appearance can procure interior peace and a feeling of security”

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

“Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.” ~ William James

I am reminded of this quote whenever topics like this come up.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

This article just goes to show that "man looketh on the outward appearance" is the source of this standard. Since the Lord looks on the heart, do we really want to put on a show for our fellow believers, which UBS freely admits is the point of this standard for bank workers?

Dave Barnhart

gdwightlarson's picture

I'll be on the lookout for more secular articles from which we can find "proof" that Christian college dress codes are a good idea. But, egads, suppose I find an article that suggests that dress codes AREN'T such a great idea? What if I find an article that "proves" that facial hair (for men, of course) is?(!) Or ISN'T? Or maybe I'll find an article that proves that dresses are the "best" feminine apparel for women at work. Therefore....?! That should also please some Christian colleges (but not those who don't know how to make these "logical" applications).
I also hope to find some articles on music that'll help Christian colleges--like the ones on polyrhythms being harmful for people with bad hearts. And since what's good for the Christian college is good for the local church, we'll apply these "principles" to them too. Now we're on to somethin'!
All in fun. All in fun.

gdwightlarson

"You can be my brother without being my twin."

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20110117/D9KQ5ADG0.html Swiss bank UBS AG is revising its dress code after getting roundly mocked for suggesting employees wear skin-colored underwear and avoid garlic breath.

I think this quote says it all: "The bank said Monday it is whittling down its 44-page style guide to a more modest booklet that will concentrate on how to impress customers with a polished presence and sense of Swiss precision and decorum."

Even the slimmed-down version shows the concern with impressing one another with our outward appearance. Just the attitude we should be displaying in church, right?

Dave Barnhart

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

We make decisions about people based on how they present themselves. I would not do business with someone who looked slovenly, because my mind is going to translate that into how this person also does business. Fact of life. I'm not going to trust a doctor who weighs 400 lbs and smokes, or a beautician who looks like a train wreck, or a caterer whose hands look like they just planted petunias.

As to how all this applies to churches or Bible college- I think modesty should definitely be taught- it's a Biblical principle and therefore important. But- I don't think we should emphasize outward appearance as an indicator of spirituality. That puts the cart before the horse- but the horse is attached to the cart nonetheless. Dress codes in churches? Only for those who have a staff or teaching position or other appointed church function (usher, singers....) After all, there are a slew of requirements mandated by Scripture for teachers/deacons/older women who instruct other women, and an understanding of modesty and propriety would certainly be one of those.

Personally, I don't mind it a bit when I can't see someone's underwear. Rule of thumb in the Raber house- underwear should never become outerwear, and if it is visible in any way when you are dressed, your clothes don't fit properly. Don't people own mirrors anymore? Must we dispense with common sense and propriety in our attempts to not be judgmental or Phariseeical or whatever it is we are trying not to be? Why wouldn't I, as a Christian woman, want to make sure that my appearance does not detract from my testimony as a representative of Christ? And why shouldn't we expect our brothers and sisters in Christ to at least care about being appropriate and modest and take steps to grow in that area as well? Why should I have to see some guy's hairy navel because his shirt won't button across his stomach, or a boy's Fruit of the Looms because his pants won't stay up? Why should my husband have to look away because a well-endowed woman (or teenage girl, for cryin' out loud) is wearing a thin, scoop neck T-shirt and leans over right smack in front of him, giving him and my two sons a clear view of Nebraska?

Oh- but that's 'judgmental'. Give me an ever lovin' break. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused002.gif[/img ] I'm not saying that the girl is the whore of Babylon or any such thing, but someone needs to tactfully and compassionately teach her that it is wrong to display one's body parts to the world.

The Swiss may have gone too far, but I don't think their intent is surprising or horrifying in the least.

Dress codes at colleges and businesses just make sense- and should reflect the purpose and function of that institution. My husband works at an equipment rental company, and they have uniforms and a dress code. The guy that has obscenities tattooed on his body has to keep them covered. Safety issues require them not to wear too much/certain kinds of jewelry. The guy with long hair has to keep it tied up. Everyone draws the line somewhere.

Maybe I'm missing the point somehow. It wouldn't be the first time.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Susan,

I don't think I really disagree with most of what you have written. The Bible makes it clear that we should be modest and well-ordered. That covers just about all the cases you have written about above (seeing body parts, visible underwear, obscene tattoos, etc.).

I think you make my point for me when you say we make decisions about people based on their appearance. I would probably make the same judgments you mention about overweight doctors, etc. I would add to that that if I call a landscaper and he shows up in a business suit, I would also think he doesn't know much about getting his hands dirty fixing up my yard, so the opposite direction applies as well.

I'm not even opposed to colleges, places of work, homes, etc. having some kind of dress standards. However, at least in the public cases, it's understood that this is specifically for man's sake (i.e. appearances, safety, etc.) and not any spiritual benefit of any kind to the wearer. Even in church, if there are "platform standards" (and our church has those too), it's different from what is required of the man in the pew, because the intent is completely different.

Of course, the Swiss standards are neither surprising nor horrifying. My point was that they are clearly intended to impress other people, and they even admit that and point it out. If we dress-up for church, that should not be the intent (and it is far too often that this is the case).

What I am opposed to is making the "dress for success" look an indicator of what is going on inside spiritually. I would expect that someone truly converted and wanting to please God would (if not right away), come around to what is presented in the Bible (modesty, and being well-ordered). However, if they meet these standards and have a look that U.S. culture considers "casual," that in no way implies that their attitude toward God is casual, and we cannot take that away just from the way they are dressed, even if we are uncomfortable with it.

God is certainly NOT impressed with how we are dressed (James and Isaiah both make that clear), and because of that, all those arguments about dressing up for funerals, weddings, or meeting the president are all about impressing man, and do not apply to how we prepare ourselves to go into God's presence (assuming we do meet the scriptural requirements). Our intent when going before God should be to have a broken spirit and a contrite heart, which are the sacrifices God wants. I would agree with you that those attitudes will result in the outward meeting of God's standards, but they may not result in the level of "dressing up" that we may have as a personal conviction.

Dave Barnhart

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

dcbii wrote:
What I am opposed to is making the "dress for success" look an indicator of what is going on inside spiritually. I would expect that someone truly converted and wanting to please God would (if not right away), come around to what is presented in the Bible (modesty, and being well-ordered). However, if they meet these standards and have a look that U.S. culture considers "casual," that in no way implies that their attitude toward God is casual, and we cannot take that away just from the way they are dressed, even if we are uncomfortable with it.

I agree- we can apply Biblical principles to business models, but things get hinky when we apply business models to the philosophy and functions of a church.

It's safe to say that what I usually wear to church would be considered by most to be casual, simply because I dress rather plain- solid colors, flat shoes, not much makeup... but I am far from casual about serving God, obeying Scripture, and my role in my family and at church.

Some people will give themselves away as to why they adorn themselves as they do, and at that point I think what is most edifying is not to turn up one's nose or berate them, but find a tactful and compassionate way of helping them to consider their motives in the light of Scripture.

Quote:
God is certainly NOT impressed with how we are dressed (James and Isaiah both make that clear), and because of that, all those arguments about dressing up for funerals, weddings, or meeting the president are all about impressing man, and do not apply to how we prepare ourselves to go into God's presence (assuming we do meet the scriptural requirements). Our intent when going before God should be to have a broken spirit and a contrite heart, which are the sacrifices God wants. I would agree with you that those attitudes will result in the outward meeting of God's standards, but they may not result in the level of "dressing up" that we may have as a personal conviction.

I don't think that the arguments for dressing up for formal functions are all about impressing man(or at least not always). Many cultures have their own views of what is suitable for special occasions. And I don't think we can get around the fact that we often do communicate what we think and how we feel with our appearance. The most basic situation that comes to mind is in a marriage- usually when the wife is attempting to communicate her desire for her husband... and I can't think of a way to word that tactfully, but I am sure you get the point. Zipped up to the neck in fuzzy flannel can also send a message. Comprende amigo?

So- we don't care how we look when we mow the yard, but we do care when we attend a wedding- and why? Because we feel the need to impress the wedding party and guests? Or because this is a special occasion for them, we recognize and respect that, and dress as our culture has deemed appropriate for that occasion. Who in their right mind would wear pink polka dotted beachwear and a big floppy hat to a funeral? The occasion is somber, so people choose darker colors and muted prints. I don't see this as an attempt to impress, but to commiserate or celebrate or whatever the occasion calls for.

Church has long been considered a formal occasion- I believe it's possible that we get alot of our ideas about 'dressing up' for church from the Levitical priesthood, and I wouldn't advocate preaching that we all dress "for glory and for beauty" (tempted to make a joke about girdles here... resisting... resisting...). It seems our culture no longer views it that way, and I personally see that as a loss, not a gain. And NOT because I think we should expect folks to spend major bucks so that they can appear in their 'Sunday best'- but something about honor and reverence and worshipping the Creator makes me feel that jeans and flip-flops just don't cut it in the reverence department.

Certainly God is not impressed with our appearance- but the people around us only have so much on which to base their impression of our attitude towards God. I think their first impression at church should at least be that we are taking it seriously. But that's me. Don't anyone blow an artery about it, 'K? But if you do wear flip-flops to church, please get a pedicure- you are grossing me out.

To summarize, I suppose- as long as cultural norms don't violate Scripture, I think part of our Christian testimony (and evidence of common sense) is the observance of those norms.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

AllenS's picture

Clothes can portray an image of seriousness, fun, or sloppiness. To take this into consideration is not to advocate legalism. Responsible, adult Christians should be able to handle this without making it a spirituality issue unless there is a rebelious or proud spirit involved with the clothes.