That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another Thought About Dress Standards

Here's a thought I came across on facebook a few weeks ago.  Someone had commented in regards to dressing our best for church.  The comment basically went something like this.

Many give the reason for having dress standards at church is that we should always be giving the Lord our best; therefore, dressing up for church (women in skirts and dresses) is pleasing to God.  So, if we are always to be giving God our best then why is it acceptable to dress "more casually" for a youth activity, Wednesday night service, or even a Sunday evening service?  Are these events not taking place at church as well?  Therefore, wouldn't it be hypocritical to say that we dress our best for the Lord at church and then show up in less than our best for a mid-week service?

There's many Scriptural reasons for dress standards.  I agree with the reason that when we go to church we should dress up to give our best for the Lord.  However, the statement about dressing more casually on a mid-week service really struck me.  I can see how someone could think it would be hypocritical to show up to church mid-week dressed more casually than on a Sunday.  Church is church right?!  Personally, I dress the same on a Wednesday as I would on a Sunday.  Mostly that has to do with the fact that I dress up for my job, and I come to church straight from work, so I'm pretty well always dressed up.  However; I don't think it makes you a bad Christian to dress slightly more casually for a mid-week church service than a Sunday service.  Obviously, this is getting very nit-picky, but the underlying issue here is a heart issue.

If someone views me as hypocritical for dressing more casually for a mid-week church service, then I would do my best to correct that.  If that means not wearing my jean skirt on Wednesday night, then I'm fine with that.  To me, it's more important to keep a good testimony and relationship with my fellow Christians than to wear what I want to wear to church.  However, I think getting so precise on an issue like this is kind of extreme.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for having dress standards.  I have a lot of them myself, but we must be careful.  I hesitate to say that we need to extend grace to our fellow Christians in the area of dress, because in recent years this has been taken to another extreme and people now expect to be able to show up to church in their grungiest (or terribly immodest) clothes and that's fine.  Sorry... that's not fine!


The more I read the Scripture, the more I see how balanced God is.  Sadly, today things like dress standards get taken to such extremes.  It seems like it's either no dress standards, or strictly enforced to the exact colour, length, and style of clothing dress standard.  What we all need is some spiritual maturity, good Scriptural teaching, and balance!  Spiritual maturity encourages us to err on the side of caution (a bit longer and looser and even dressier).  Scriptural teaching helps us understand why this issue is important to God, and how it makes such an impact on our testimony.  Balance allows us to extend grace and live in a way that is not hypocritical or offensive to others.

So, is it wrong to dress more casually for a mid-week service or youth activity?  What do you think?
Do you have Scripture for your opinion?
How would you deal with someone at your church that was offended by how you dressed?  Would you change for them or expect them to change for you?
Thoughts?  Leave a comment.


  1. 1. No I don't think it's wrong to dress down for a more casual service. The fact that there is no Scripture to prove it, shows that this is a matter of preference not doctrine. Modesty is doctrine and that is what matter. Here is a link to a post I did on the doctrine of modesty:

    2. How I dealt with it would depend on who the person was. When the Bible speaks of being a stumbling block it is speaking of immature Christians. In that case, I would first apologize for the offense and then show them from Scripture what the Bible says about dress. If they are still concerned, then maybe it would be best to change my dress until they have had time to mature and come to an understanding. If it is someone who has been saved for a while and is just spouting their preferences and expecting others to hold to their standards, then I would gently admonish them for this and let them know while I respect the fact that this is their standard, I have not been led to share the same. Then I would show them from Scripture what it says about dress and that this is our common ground. Hopefully, the person is mature enough to understand, if not, no sense in arguing. And I would never expect anyone to change for me.

    3. If it is a modesty issue then it would be a slightly different matter. Sometimes, we can falter in this area without realizing it and if a sister in Christ points this out to us and it lines up with Scripture, then yes, I would change how I dressed.

    The main thing here is to discern between what is doctrine (black and white teaching straight from Scripture) from what is personal preference (a standard one is led to have either by tradition, experience, weakness, or the leading of the Holy Spirit.) We should never back down on doctrine. Yet, we need to realize that standards are personal and should not be judged, unless they defy doctrine. And preferences can change. Doctrine does not.

    1. Good points Julie. Discernment is very key on this issue, and of course, proper understanding of the doctrine of modesty. I think you have pointed that out very well. It always gets a bit sticky in areas of dress, because it is such a personal thing. However, I think it's amazing that even in these personal type of issues we can go to the Scriptures and get clear answers. Thanks again for your comment!

  2. So, is it wrong to dress more casually for a mid-week service or youth activity?


    Although I do believe in modesty, I don't believe it's necessary to dress differently better for church than for any thing else. That is merely from an old church tradition probably when we started have our own church buildings this started with Catholic/Orthodox churches or when people stopped meeting in homes for church.

  3. I agree with you that it's about balancing the fact that how you dress says a lot about how seriously you personally take a situation, while on the other hand how you dress also says something to the rest of the community. I usually go with the rule that dressing up a little extra will never hurt.

    But there are always exceptions. I was helping with a youth event at my church, wearing one of my favourite outfits (a navy pleated skirt and light blue blouse) when one of the students came up and asked me if I was a nun... maybe this is a good circumstance to go for the jean skirt instead...

    1. Haha... that's hilarioius! I've never been mistaken for a nun before. But, I do agree with you that it's better to be more dressed up then too dressed down.

      Your first point reminded me of a verse in Proverbs. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..." (Pro. 23:7). What's inside is going to come out on our outside. Many people think it doesn't matter how we look, but the truth is that our appearance WILL reflect our attitudes. This is true even of our attitudes of spiritual things. So yes, how we dress does say a lot about how seriously we take a situation.