Where do you reside on the “holier than thou” versus “holeyer than thou” spectrum?
I make only passing reference to squabbles over “proper” church attire in my 2020 motivational book “Yes, Your Butt Still Belongs in Church” (still available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon), but the subject is indeed divisive.
Between the judgmental churchgoers who second-guess the wardrobe choices of fellow worshippers and the slightly paranoid parishioners who assume they’re under a microscope, unease often permeates the fabric of church life.
Some church leaders do a lot of hemming and hawing about their expectations. (“Harumph, no, we don’t have an official list of specific prohibitions for you. Just like we don’t have an official, specific special corner of hell reserved for you, but ...”)
Good taste and self-respect should reign supreme, but some traditionalists do take it to an extreme. Some of these people should spend more time clinging to the Old Rugged Cross instead of clinging to the 1958 Montgomery Ward catalog clothing section.
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Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in memories when you constantly practice reciting lists such as the 7 Deadly Sins: “Pride, envy, gluttony, denim, flip-flops, spaghetti straps ...”
On the other hand, some daredevils dress in a way that just invites panic attacks. When they’re within proximity of the baptistry, you can’t help but imagine them shouting, “Cannonball!”
Some offenders go the ragamuffin route, but others are more into ostentatious displays of wealth. (“Preacher says you can’t take it with you ... so MY bling is getting a workout every Christmas and Easter! More money than God! More money than God! But less patience. Please look!”)
Perhaps church life would be more harmonious if Bible class teachers clarified principles better. (“No, it’s ‘an eye for an eye,’ not ‘a stink eye for a stink eye’!”)
Better enunciation might eliminate some unfortunate mix-ups. (“It’s Song of Solomon, not Thong of Solomon!”)
Most true Christians will not object to someone being a tad relaxed or laid-back, but laid-back soon degrades into downright gelatinous!
(“Never mind the communion tray. I think I’ve still got some crumbs from last time in my PJ bottoms. Yum.”)
I was a generation too late for the “ubiquitous hat era” and I gradually got away from neckties a decade or so ago; but I do try to shave, pick out a decent shirt and don some non-distressed slacks. I acknowledge that more free-spirited people are focused on “sticking it to the Man.” Of course, if the Man is a kindly old double-amputee veteran, the chip on the shoulder loses some of its appeal. (“Thanks for your service ... and the birthday card ... and the job referral ... but the Cheech & Chong shirt stays, Greatest Generationer!”)
I’m not making excuses for the easily tempted, but some attention-seekers routinely distract from important lessons with their provocative attire. The minister is making a point about Noah and the Flood, while half the menfolk are wondering how to make it Rain Dollar Bills for 40 days and 40 nights.
Ideally, congregations should welcome even the most inappropriately dressed visitors. And visitors should err on the side of caution.
Let’s put our rancor and insecurities in the garbage heap.
Hey, there’s also a 1958 Montgomery Ward catalog in the garbage heap!
“Yeah, that pelvis looked like it was about to get too much action from a Hula Hoop! Can’t be too careful!”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org.