Church Worship

5 Reasons in Support of Wearing a Suit to Church

  • Chad Napier Contributing Writer
  • Updated Jun 23, 2020
5 Reasons in Support of Wearing a Suit to Church

I don’t actually wear a suit (in the sense of a jacket, tie, and pleated pants) every Sunday to church. By “suit,” I’m referring to my choice to wear my best clothing—to show reverence when entering a house of worship.  

I don’t suggest in any way that wearing a “suit” will “dress up” anyone's soul or contribute to our holiness. However, it doesn’t mean that, if we are able, our appearance should be disregarded either.

There has been a trend in my everyday occupation as an attorney throughout the past 20 years. Both male and female attorneys are gradually dressing down for court proceedings.

When I first became an attorney, both sexes dressed up in suits without deviation.

Now, I regularly see male attorneys appear before a judge either without a tie or a jacket. I see female attorneys who dress even further down on occasion wearing casual sweaters and tights. At times, it is difficult to decipher the client from the attorney. 

This perception is not to be judgmental, but only for necessary respect and reverence of the profession. One’s message or position can be compromised by outside appearance. Would we trust the judgment of a disheveled physician? The changes in dress are not isolated to the legal profession. This “dressing down” is a reflection of society as a whole.  

Here are five reasons why I support dressing to show reverence at church:

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  • 1. Appropriate dress generates a certain atmosphere of respect.

    1. Appropriate dress generates a certain atmosphere of respect.

    If you walk down the halls of most of our public schools, it is often difficult to distinguish the teachers from the students. Maybe coincidentally, the respect given to our teachers by students and parents has also diminished.

    The message we give by our outward appearance often reflects the message and the respect we receive.    

    I have a relative who recently attended a funeral for a family member.  As soon as it was over, he called to inform me that the performing minister did not have on a tie and wore old shoes without any socks.  I totally get that some people “don’t own a suit,” but this excuse does not justify adults wearing shorts, work boots, or t-shirts to a church service if they are fully able to dress with appropriate reverence.

    Sure, the new-age preachers in the pulpit with the ripped jeans and t-shirts look comfortable while trying to relate to a new generation. We must ask ourselves whether the elect should desire to relate to the world in this manner.  

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  • 2. A worship service is due its reverence.

    2. A worship service is due its reverence.

    Attending church is a solemn event for the believer. It is a “break” in time from the “work week” as well as a “break” from the secular world.

    A congregation worshipping its Savior, at a set-aside time and appointed place, is a solemn time and due much reverence.   

    I am of the “old school” and feel we should wear our “best” when we congregate to worship our Lord and Savior. Being relatable to today’s society does not necessarily mean we should be conformed to the world.

    Many of the new-age pastors attempt to be relatable to our society by proudly revealing tattoos, piercings, and casual clothing. In Romans 12:2, we are clearly taught to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of [our] mind.” 

    More times than not, a spiritual change also results in a desire to be outwardly reverent. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, it was prayed for “God [to be] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore, Paul contemplated that a spiritual change should warn the believer not to risk any bodily impropriety.

    This isn’t to say the pastor shouldn’t have tattoos or designer blue jeans, but he is called of God and given an authority position. Nothing should be done to jeopardize the seriousness of his message or give suspect to the way he lives his life.

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  • 3. Dressing up for church is not merely an appearance thing.

    3. Dressing up for church is not merely an appearance thing.

    Growing up in a missionary Baptist church, we heard the characterization of “holy rollers” who attended Pentecostal churches. These churches are defined by society and unfortunately other denominations as the place where females have long hair and wear long dresses.

    Others think this habit is merely legalism and has nothing to do with spirituality. As I grew older, I realized these outward “restrictions” served a purpose. In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, we are told to “abstain from all appearance of evil.”

    As holy as a man may be, he still has physical appearance. Our dress sends a message and can be a vehicle to another’s temptation. By not having a standard, I began to see women question whether a certain attire is appropriate. When we don’t have an expected standard, it leaves appropriateness to a subjective or personal decision. As a result, the dress has become less formal and more worldly because of this looseness. 

    By permitting casual dress for the men of the church, the females of the church have followed suit. The dresses are cut lower at the top and higher on the bottom.  

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  • 4. The way we present ourselves is how others receive our message.

    4. The way we present ourselves is how others receive our message.

    A professional athlete would still have the ability to perform at a high level without his uniform, but he is known and more highly regarded when he “dresses the part.” This is not to say, the Holy Spirit is hindered, promoted, or in any way affected by our outward appearance. The hearer, though, develops an opinion as soon as the messenger enters a room before a word is said.

    The believer must be cognizant of the message he or she is sending by outward appearance. In 1 Peter 3-6, we warned not to let our outward “adorning” corrupt what is hidden within our heart.

    Holy women wore a “meek and quiet spirit” which reflected respect. The woman did not want to do anything to bring any subjection to herself or her husband. Likewise, even though it may be legal or permissible to wear whatever we wish to church, we should not risk bringing any kind of subjection to our spiritual husband.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Rattankun Thongbun

  • 5. If you wonder about the appropriateness, you might want to ask these 4 questions.

    5. If you wonder about the appropriateness, you might want to ask these 4 questions.

    Christian comedian Jerry Clower once told about a conversation he had with his daughter about wearing a certain dress to a school function. She asked his opinion and he expanded upon four easy questions to ask ourselves as to whether something is appropriate or not.

    The first question is whether we need to ask other people about its acceptability.

    Secondly, we must consider whether we have to argue with ourselves to make the decision.

    Thirdly, we need to consider whether we will be uneasy about the activity.

    The final question is whether we will able to give thanks or glory unto God for his provision.

    Each of these questions is probative when we consider our outward respectability in the house of the Lord. If we have to ask someone else if our dress is too short, justify our dress decision with worldly vision, feel uneasy wearing it, or cannot give God the glory, the odds are that we probably should reconsider our feelings about its appropriateness.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Melpomenum


    Chad Napier, while an attorney by trade, his passion is filling the pulpits of local churches when needed and engaging a broader audience with his writing. He enjoys running and golf as he completes a master’s degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. Chad lives in Jonesborough, Tennessee with his wife Brandi and one-year-old Welsh Terrier LuLu.