"These days, anything goes. Shorts and flip-flops are fine for any occasion. And so are pajamas."

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Shaynus's picture

Yes I wore jeans to work today, and that's normal for my type of job in DC. But I rode the metro with 30 high school students about to do a tour of the US capitol in gym shorts and t-shirts. How embarrassing. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

I'm not sure I understand your point. Does popularity make it acceptable practice?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Mark_Smith's picture

Let me get this straight. CCM = Good. Jeans = Shorts = Bad. Got it.

 

Do you feel that slope we're standing on? Nahhh...couldn't be.

WilliamD's picture

The sloppiness of our culture is an expression of what Francis Schaeffer concluded in "How Should We Then Live" about where we are after we've tried all the "isms" and found them wanting - apathy. 

I want to make a prediction... Kent Brandenburg will blog about this soon and crusade for one of his many oft repeated hobby horses that he feels so superior about.  I'm sure he'll mention the munching of potato chips by the tomb of the unknown soldier. 

WilliamD's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

I'm not sure I understand your point. Does popularity make it acceptable practice?

He probably means the nature of the occasion warrants what should be worn. If he is active, moving a lot and prone to get dirty, jeans are the best fit for the job. To tour the capitol building in gym shorts is just a lack of respect for one of the most important buildings in the country.  Unfortunately, that' s normal today. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

See, William, I think he's saying the opposite, that anything goes and nothing matters in dress except modesty. But, I'm not sure and don't want to jump to conclusions and put words in his mouth.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

DavidO's picture

WilliamD wrote:
I want to make a prediction... Kent Brandenburg will blog about this soon and crusade for one of his many oft repeated hobby horses that he feels so superior about.

 

Seems perhaps you have a hobby horse of your own.  I won't speculate about how it makes you feel. 

T Howard's picture

WilliamD wrote:

To tour the capitol building in gym shorts is just a lack of respect for one of the most important buildings in the country.

Why does that demonstrate a lack of respect? And, why is the capitol building "one of the most important buildings in the country"?

JD Miller's picture

I must admit that I am bothered by both extremes on this issue.  I think the sloppiness that is so common in our culture is a worthy topic to address, but I am also frustrated by those who figure their way of dressing up is the only way.   For example, in some places in this country, to put on a collared shirt and a pair of black jeans is really dressing up, yet there are still some who think that wearing jeans to church is taboo.

With that in mind, would it be wrong for a Christian man who is dirty from working on the construction site all day to pick up a gallon of milk on his way home instead of going home to change first before going into the store?

I actually wrote a blog post on this subject for the blog and the newspaper article a few months ago.  You can find it here http://bancroftbaptist.blogspot.com/2013/02/dont-wear-pajamas-to-church.html

That article reminds us that we are not to look down on others for how they dress and shows that there are different ways of dressing up, yet tries to bring some balance to the issue of wearing pajamas to church.

WilliamD's picture

Shorts and T-shirts are for playing ball at the gym or walking on the beach. The gravitas of such activities is pretty low. Inconsequential ball games are won or lost at the gym and suntans are made at the beach. 

The Capitol of the USA is the place (for better or worse) where the laws of the land at the Federal level have been made since the 1700's. Federal laws that impact millions of people are more important than a Jr. High basketball game. 

So, to dress in a way that communicates that such a place is about as important as a Jr. High basketball game is akin to dressing that way for a wedding or graduation which tells the bride and groom how important you think their event is. Of course, I recognize that is an old fashioned way of thinking and people just don't care anymore.....like I said...Francis Schaeffer hit the nail on the head..."apathy"

 

WilliamD's picture

DavidO wrote:

WilliamD wrote:
I want to make a prediction... Kent Brandenburg will blog about this soon and crusade for one of his many oft repeated hobby horses that he feels so superior about.

Seems perhaps you have a hobby horse of your own.  I won't speculate about how it makes you feel. 

I have several hobby horses too I guess. 

How it makes me feel? Annoyed lately. I'm sure I'll get over it soon. 

 

Ron Bean's picture

One stifling hot July Sunday morning I left for church dressed in my suit, tie, and wing tip shoes. knowing that, when I arrived, I'd be surrounded by men who would be in similar  uncomfortable but conforming attire. My son, dressed in a neat polo shirt, khakis, and Chuck Taylor's, was attending another church. He sent me a text that said, "Dad, my pastor is wearing sandals!" I responded, "WWJD?"

 

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Shaynus's picture

WilliamD wrote:

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

I'm not sure I understand your point. Does popularity make it acceptable practice?

He probably means the nature of the occasion warrants what should be worn. If he is active, moving a lot and prone to get dirty, jeans are the best fit for the job. To tour the capitol building in gym shorts is just a lack of respect for one of the most important buildings in the country.  Unfortunately, that' s normal today. 

 

WilliamD is making precisely the point I am. My job is more likely to make me run into an Xbox One than a US Congressman. Context is king, even with dress. I work in an environment where dress doesn't matter and if you're wearing a tie, it is assumed that you might be preparing for a meeting in which you will be fired later on that day. I can say that jeans are great and fine in my workplace while being generally critical of the sloppiness of the culture.

Shaynus's picture

T Howard wrote:

WilliamD wrote:

To tour the capitol building in gym shorts is just a lack of respect for one of the most important buildings in the country.

Why does that demonstrate a lack of respect? And, why is the capitol building "one of the most important buildings in the country"?

 

Because it does and because it is. 

Shaynus's picture

Why is the US Capitol one of the most important buildings in the country? A quick illustration. True story: I walked out of work this evening with the Potomac in view. I noticed a very low plane making the customary approach into Reagan Airport. It was super low and super to the DC side of the Potomac such that if it were any more towards DC it would have likely been shot down with Stinger missiles. I watched it disappear behind some buildings and waited for possible impact and smoke plume. It never came thankfully, but it was on track for the Capitol. I briefly thought of the war it would start if the Capitol were destroyed, the cultural impact ect. The US Capitol is a big deal of the first order in this country. Why? Because common sense, which these high school students on the Metro didn't have. 

dgszweda's picture

And yet the men of Galilee probably only wore a basic tunic, and it was the same whether they were in the field or in the synagogue.  And even today, men are not allowed to enter a mosque without washing (something we don't even prescribe to), yet they attend in their basic daily clothes.  A ritual still held for thousands of years.  This idea of dressing up to go to church is a concept of the Western world, but propagated much more in the US.  My main focus would be on being dressed modestly and neatly.  We still hang onto our suites and ties here, even though the vast majority of the world has since left that behind.  I was in a board meeting the other day between executive teams between two companies as we were working through a $100+ million deal.  There wasn't a single person, in the 20 person room that had a tie or a suit coat.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

dgszweda wrote:
And yet the men of Galilee probably only wore a basic tunic, and it was the same whether they were in the field or in the synagogue.
Total assumption

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I think this is basically a contextualization issue. When we can observe cultural norms without compromising the Gospel or clear Biblical principle, we can and should do so. If in our culture, 'nicer' or more formal clothing communicates respect, then we should do what we can to communicate our respect for the church. If in another culture, washing one's hands or taking one's shoes off before entering a building communicated respect, then we should do that. Why offend over our 'right' to wear flip-flops, or, angels forfend, socks and Birkenstocks?

Michael_C's picture

We live in a time where there has been a resurgence of interest among Christians in things like the value of art and the meaning of secular work. It is ironic, then, to hear some of these same Christians argue that other cultural forms, like dress or music, have absolutely no meaning or significance.

There's certainly an important element of geographic and cultural subjectivity here, but it's not ridiculous to consider the larger cultural context and how it affects our own practice. I've found that some of the people who say dress at church doesn't matter actually seem to give a lot of time and thought to crafting their own image.

I think about culture on two levels. There are some aspects of culture that are morally neutral, but that we must grasp as a part of a comprehensive Christian worldview. (Culture in this sense is a blank canvas onto which we can paint our own message.) There is another sense in which cultures can embody anti-Christian values that we should rebuke.

I can certainly imagine a culture where dress was absolutely meaningless, but I don't think that's the case in the contexts where most of us live and minister. People dress up for dates, work parties, and nights out on the town. Surely what we wear has some significance.

Now that I've written four paragraphs about this, I should disclaim that what people wear to church is not a hot-button issue for me. I do bristle, though, when people argue that cultural forms are completely meaningless and that we should never think about these things. It's a conversation we should have, but without losing a proper sense of proportion.

Greg Linscott's picture

Shaynus wrote:

Yes I wore jeans to work today, and that's normal for my type of job in DC. But I rode the metro with 30 high school students about to do a tour of the US capitol in gym shorts and t-shirts. How embarrassing. 

The US Capitol may be an important building where important things happen. At the same time, the 30 high school students will likely be traipsing around all day, not just through the Capitol, but outdoors on the Mall to the various monuments, in and out of the various Smithsonians... They're not showing up as legislators, staff, or even pages- much less honored guests. They're showing up as tourists. If they were pages coming in gym shorts and t-shirts, or even young people coming at the special invitation of the congressman of their district, maybe you have a point. But we're talking about an environment where you have guided tours on Segways and t-shirt/souvenir vendors on every corner. The Capitol, from that perspective, is just another attraction in a more educational Disney World environment, and the Park Service has done as much as anything to cater to and encourage that kind of attitude and approach. you saw from the students.

In a way, this would be like lamenting that kids don't wear ties and dresses to VBS or church camp, when not many churches I've been in that have those kind of programs encourage that kind of dress for those activities, though they might have a different expectation on a Sunday morning.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Shaynus's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

Shaynus wrote:

Yes I wore jeans to work today, and that's normal for my type of job in DC. But I rode the metro with 30 high school students about to do a tour of the US capitol in gym shorts and t-shirts. How embarrassing. 

The US Capitol may be an important building where important things happen. At the same time, the 30 high school students will likely be traipsing around all day, not just through the Capitol, but outdoors on the Mall to the various monuments, in and out of the various Smithsonians... They're not showing up as legislators, staff, or even pages- much less honored guests. They're showing up as tourists. If they were pages coming in gym shorts and t-shirts, or even young people coming at the special invitation of the congressman of their district, maybe you have a point. But we're talking about an environment where you have guided tours on Segways and t-shirt/souvenir vendors on every corner. The Capitol, from that perspective, is just another attraction in a more educational Disney World environment, and the Park Service has done as much as anything to cater to and encourage that kind of attitude and approach. you saw from the students.

In a way, this would be like lamenting that kids don't wear ties and dresses to VBS or church camp, when not many churches I've been in that have those kind of programs encourage that kind of dress for those activities, though they might have a different expectation on a Sunday morning.

 

The Capitol really isn't a Disney world environment. You need to arrange a tour with your Congressman's office and their staff shows you around. It just isn't like many of the other touristy DC things to see. I don't expect people to wear ties. Jeans and a collared shirt is fine, really. I just wouldn't want to meet my Congressman in gym shorts and flip flops as if you just got out o bed.

 

GregH's picture

When I took the family to DC a few years ago, we wore t-shirts and shorts everywhere including the Capitol. I never thought twice about it.

Seriously, DC is miserably hot. And most politicians make a mockery of that building every day in ways infinitely worse than any shorts in existence. Give those tourists a break! 

Besides, politicians want people dressed comfortably so they won't sweat so much. Who was the politician a few years ago complaining because the tourists stunk so bad?

JD Miller's picture

As I look at scripture, it minimizes the importance of fancy clothes- even condemning those who give preference to those who wear the best clothes, yet look at what so many of us are doing.  I thought we as fundamentalists were supposed to be against conforming to this world- especially in areas that are condemned in scripture.  I am not encouraging sloppiness, but I really believe that it is time that we look to scripture first rather than culture.

 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Are we talking 'fancy' or 'appropriate'? Is being appropriate conforming to this world? Didn't Paul observe some cultural norms in order to reach folks with the Gospel?

JD Miller's picture

Good question Susan, and a valid point.  The big question though is what is the cultural norm.  For some teens, evidently it is wearing shorts to the capital.  They think that that is totally appropriate.  In some settings we can reach more people by dressing up, but if I show up to watch a little league game in a coat and tie, I will probably turn more people off than if I do not wear a tie to church.  The point I am trying to make is that "appropriate" is based on a particular culture, not on what we want that culture to be.

Shaynus's picture

I would just say that if the standard for dress is "it's too hot" and "I'm a tourist" then the complete emphasis is on the individual, not the setting. If the individual is the standard, then there is no way of discussing appropriateness. That said, I'm going to wear jeans to church this Sunday, as always. 

Shaynus's picture

Susan R wrote:

Are we talking 'fancy' or 'appropriate'? Is being appropriate conforming to this world? Didn't Paul observe some cultural norms in order to reach folks with the Gospel?

As I have often complained as a resident of the DC area, the power-suit is the ultimate sign of worldliness here, so why is it the go to outfit for church? It's the equivalent of the rich man's atire in James. So yes there's a sense in which fancy is conforming to the world. But note James doesn't say "don't wear rich clothing." He's more concerned about how one reacts to it in light of the gospel's leveling of social distinction. This is why I think it's a good practice for church members to wear normal clothes to church. That is: what do you wear every day? Then wear that to church. This way we're bound to have a diversity of dress that doesn't make any one group (formal or informal) out of place.