Does God Care What We Wear to Church?
- Emma Danzey Contributing Writer
- 2022 28 Feb
It can feel like a mixed message when we hear, “Give God your best" in one ear and “come as you are” in another. Today, we are going to explore the question, does God care what we wear to church? This is a very broad question, so we are going to study a few different scenarios.
Why Should We Dress Modestly in Church?
When I think about this question, the first thought that comes to mind is modesty. In the case of modesty, yes God cares what we wear to church. What I wear to church may look a lot different from what I wear to the beach, but in both places, I am called to represent Christ and honor the Lord. Why do I need to be modest at church? The Lord never gives us a command just for the sake of giving one, He always has a reason and a greater purpose in His instructions. How we present ourselves can be an act of worship and obedience or an act of sin.
There is a scripture verse that can easily confusion, but it came to life for me when I was overseas visiting a church. 1 Corinthians 11 can be puzzling if one does not look at the cultural context. It shares that women were told to cover their heads in worship services. This might appear demeaning, but when I was in this other country the women covered their heads in church. It seemed unnecessary or even oppressive in my mind, however, to them it was a joy and an honor. These young women covered their heads to take the focus off of themselves. This is the purpose for the modesty of men and women in worship services. Our goal is to humble ourselves and point to Jesus.
If we wear clothing that is sexually tempting or even just overly distracting (Think glow in the dark sequin jumpsuit or if an athlete wore his football jersey in a church setting), then we are missing the point of gathering. We come together to bring glory to the Lord. God is a jealous God, in the purest sense. He is not going to compete for our attention. He is the only one deserving of our praise. His jealousy is perfect, without sin. Penny Noyes from Christianity shares more about this concept of the holy jealousy of the Lord. She quotes, “Jealousy fears to lose what it has; envy is pained at seeing another have.”
The Lord created us to worship Him. When we deprive Him of His worship, it is like a wife living in the house as if her husband were not present. The husband would be jealous for her to see Him and recognize him as her beloved. When we neglect modesty in what we wear, we are saying to the Lord that we want the glory, we want the attention (even if it is negative), and He is not who we are worshiping. We all, men and women alike, need to be aware of our clothing choices when we enter the house of God. We want to dress in a way that shows respect to the Lord and to others.
Bible Study Tools shares some amazing Bible verses on modesty. One in particular that stands out is, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 which says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
God Does Not Care What Brand of Clothes You Wear
God is clear in the Scriptures that we are not to show favoritism to people. When it comes to financial or social standing, the Lord does not care what we wear to church. For example, if a homeless man wants to go to a church and there is a wealthy doctor in the same aisle, both should be able to freely worship the Lord and should be accepted and treated equally. If a teenage boy shows up in a hoody, welcome him. If an elderly woman shows up in a dress, welcome her. If a man wears a suit and tie, welcome him. If a woman is wearing blue jeans and cowgirl boots, welcome her. If a man comes in with tattoos everywhere, welcome him. We are not supposed to push away people from the gospel and the church community based on what they are wearing or their financial status. We are called to welcome them in. This would be an example of when God does not care what people are wearing.
James 2:1-4 says, “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
Not in Legalism
This is an area where if we are not careful in understanding the Bible, we can take verses too literally and misinterpret scriptures. God does not care what we wear regarding mandated attire by church leadership. For example, if the leadership is saying that women must only wear dresses and they have to be down to their ankles with their hair in a bun, it is important to recognize that this is a standard of people, not of God. Or if a church requires men to wear suits and dress shoes, please know that this is not God’s requirement, this is man’s standard. The Bible does not have these kinds of specific requirements. Jesus loved people where they were at. He called them to holiness, but not specific attire.
A church could however legitimately have clothing suggestions for more traditional type services. This is not necessarily wrong, but there should not be judgment if people choose to dress casually. Or let’s take the opposite, let’s say a man wants to wear a suit to a contemporary service where everyone wears blue jeans, the blue jeans are not required from God. We need to be cautious what we say is from the Lord in His Word versus what is really just a manmade rule or attire guideline. In other words, let’s call a spade a spade.
1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
When asking the question, does God care what we wear to church, it is important to know the context of that question. First and foremost, the Lord cares about our hearts. However out of our hearts, come our words and actions. If our hearts are sealed by the Holy Spirit, then we will have the direction of the Spirit to wear modest clothing and honor God with our bodies. We will also be able to discern (with the help of the Bible) if a church guideline is from God or created/interpreted by people. God does not support favoritism or legalism, and neither should we. Next time you attend church ask the question, “Does this honor God and point others to Him?” If not, change into something else. Ask the question, “Am I showing favoritism to others?” If so, how can you be impartial like Jesus? Ask the question, “Am I participating in legalism?” (Manmade rules) If so, consider talking with your leadership about where in Scripture they support this rule and learn more. Always remember that God and His Word have the final authority on any question that may arise.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/ Thomas Barwick
Emma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, inspiring young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew for over two years and mom to baby Graham. Drew and Emma serve with Upstate CRU college ministry in South Carolina. Emma is an avid writer for Salem Web Network and provides articles on the Bible, life questions, and on the Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 viewed article on Crosswalk for the year 2021. All the glory to the Lord! She had the joy of hosting Her Many Hats podcast where she explored the many roles that women play while serving One God. Most recently, Emma has released her first Bible Study Book, Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness.
Emma enjoys singing/songwriting, fitness classes, trying new recipes, home makeover shows, and drinking tea! During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Emma also had the privilege of having been a national spokesperson for Mukti Mission based out of India. Mukti has been working to restore shattered lives in India for over 120 years. You can view her articles through her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com