if my church clothes could talk

Disclaimer: the words you’re about to read were not given to me by God. He neither wrote them in the sky nor in the steam of my shower walls. They’re mine. My words, my opinion, my fault if something doesn’t ring completely true.

I will say this: I’ve prayed a lot about what I’m about to write. And actually I don’t know exactly what I’m about to write. I have some notes I scrawled at a few stoplights and in the bank drive-thru this morning. I even took a notepad with me on a walk around the block this afternoon (not that I’ll be able to read what I wrote).

I know this much. Last night’s facebook/blog discussion on “Does Jesus want me to dress up for church?” got my emotions going. Tight chest, blood bubbling, I even cried myself to sleep. Maybe I’ve just been through a lot lately. Or maybe I just felt really misunderstood.

Maybe I’m stalling.

(If you want to catch up on the conversation, you can read the comments on this post or search for the thread on my facebook wall.)

If it wasn’t pushing 11pm (with a big day behind me and another one on the morrow), I might make a little outline so my points are clear and in order. Oh, who am I kidding? Let’s just jump in the pool fully-clothed.

Used to be I didn’t drink alcohol. (Trust me. This will all come back to church clothes in a sec.) Why not?

I thought it was wrong for Christians to drink.

I didn’t take my first sip (my first SIP) until I was 34 years old (THIRTY-FOUR). Why did I try it then? Because I read through the Bible for the 15th or 23rd time, and somehow, that time I realized that what I’d believed for 34 years–that it was wrong for Christians to drink–WAS NOT IN THE BIBLE. God’s people drank in the OT, they drank in the NT, JESUS DRANK (and even made his own wine one time).

But guess what? If you ask me today, “Do you drink alcohol?” I’ll say “no.” (?!?!) True story. I don’t drink. But guess what? My reasons are different now.

1.) I tried a few different kinds of alcohol, and they mostly made me gag. 2.) Alcohol’s not in my budget. 3.) My heart-attack-survivor husband’s diet is low in sodium, no in alcohol.

If you love Jesus and you want to drink, now I’ll smile and say, “Awesome.” You drink, I don’t. We both love Jesus.

Now, let’s change gears. Here’s what I wear to church on any given Sunday: jeans, t-shirt, and either tennis shoes or flip-flops. Maybe you wear a cute polka-dotted dress, pantyhose, and adorable red open-toed heels.

Do we both love Jesus? Yes, we do. Awesome.

I’ll tell you what bothered me most about last night’s discussion. When people said that we should dress up for church because God wants us to “give Him our best.” Or that “dressing up shows respect for God.” Or, “Sunday is a holy day and should be set apart by how we dress.” Or, “would you dress up for a king? Because God is our King.”

I would love for some of those statements to be re-phrased to say, “This is my personal conviction. For me, dressing up is a sign of respect to God. I want to give Him my best, and for me, that includes my clothing. And I totally get–and respect–that your clothing may be saying something totally different to God.”

Why yes, yes it is. So glad you asked.

If my Sunday morning jeans and t-shirt could talk, this is what they would say:

“God, thank you so much for these $4 jeans from the thrift store that have lasted so wacky long. What a blessing. Thank you for this t-shirt I bought from those crazy kids doing work in Africa. It’s a constant reminder to pray for the people there who are suffering so much.

Thank you for allowing me to go to a church where my simple wardrobe is accepted without question, where my beautiful fashionista friends still manage to find something about me to compliment (did you get your hair cut? so cute!!).

Thank you that it takes me about 20 minutes to get ready in the morning (shower included) so I can spend more time doing what I really want to do: read my Bible, journal, and drink coffee. Thank you for all the money I’ve saved by not buying a Sunday-go-to-meetin’ wardrobe. I love being able to give.

Thank you that the boys who walk to church without their parents always shake my hand and smile when I greet them at the door. Thank you that they don’t stick out like sore thumbs just because they don’t own any ‘real’ church clothes.

Thank you that there’s nothing flashy about me to distract people while they’re worshiping. Thank you that I can raise my hands in praise without worrying about my clothes doing inappropriate things without my consent.”

OKAY, WE GET THE POINT.

Friends, the bottom line is this: God never, ever tells us we have to dress up for church. He does say things like, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.”

IT IS OKAY IF YOU DRESS UP FOR CHURCH. Some of my most favorite people dress SO CUTE at church (I’m looking at you, Mandie! Shalla! Jolie!) If what you wear is an act of worship for you, if your heart is in the right place, I am 100% for you dressing up.

I’m just asking you to accept that my choice of clothing is an act of worship too. In a different way.

Drinking may be wrong for you, but the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong. Playing cards/going to the movies/listening to rock music/fill-in-the-extra-biblical-blank may be wrong for you, but the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong. Jeans to church may be wrong for you, but the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong.

I love the diversity of our church. Not just the racial/ethnic diversity, but all the different ways we dress on Sunday. Because you know what I think it says to the seeker who shows up for the first time, a whole lot nervous about what he’ll find? YOU BELONG HERE.

Is your hair all slicked back and your suit all spiffy? You belong here. Are you struggling to feed your family, let alone buy them clothes that fit? You belong here. Is fashion your creative outlet, your special gift? You belong here. Are you clueless when it comes to what matches what? You belong here.

Perhaps I should stay on my side of the Mason-Dixon Line, and I’m definitely not going to name any denominations here, but can you tell me, those of you who go to a church where every single person is dressed to the nines on Sunday morning, do poor people ever come through your doors? And do they come back again? Is this okay with Jesus?

Oh, goodness. I have so much more to say. Haven’t even made a dent in my scribbled notes, but I’m already 200 words over my self-imposed 1000-word limit, so I’ll wrap it up with this:

God looks at the heart. Do we? Really and truly? And are we more concerned with aligning our hearts with God’s or looking a certain way?

And where do we get our ideas about what church should look like/what we should look like at church? From the Bible or somewhere else?

Whatever you wear to church, are you willing to accept those who have different ideas/values/convictions about their choice of Sunday dress?

And I didn’t even address the whole have-we-gotten-too-casual-and-buddy-buddy-with-God question.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. (and if you already addressed this on fb or Tuesday’s post, feel free to copy and paste your comment over here)

Come back tomorrow where we’ll answer this question: Is spending hundreds of dollars on coordinating Easter outfits for your family (complete with new purses, shoes, and hair bows) the most appropriate way to celebrate Christ’s humble death and resurrection? (Kidding! Sort of. Like 76%.)

165 thoughts on “if my church clothes could talk

  1. angela

    This post brings out something in me that I can’t explain!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PEOPLE, let me tell you something: If my 30 year old would go to church in his BATHING SUIT I would shout hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And if someone said something to him I would be FURIOUS! You people who do not agree with Marla need to check your hearts! It is a *HEART ATTITUDE*….and I”ll admit, mine is NOT GOOD when I read that it MATTERS what we wear! I am a NONNY, old enough to *judge* and get by with it. Come to church sweet grandbabies. Come to church neighbor friend who was judged as a teen. Come to church little old man who doesn’t own a sport coat. Come to church teenager with sagging pants. Come to church mommy who did good to get out the door with three children. I welcome you in my church. And Jesus does too.

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  4. Karen

    Even if one is struggling financially, I think it is more appropriate to at least wear dress pants or a skirt with a collared shirt, blouse, or sweater. A dress can be cheaper than matching pants/shirt at a thrift shop. Jeans can be a distraction to others, too, especially torn ones. Sunday is set apart–we are celebrating Easter each and every Sunday. It is not the same as Bible Study, Women’s Group, Youth Group, or a service day at a soup kitchen.
    I appreciate where your heart is on this–God does look at the heart. But, dressing for church is not solely about your humility before God. Church is a gathering of other people. I think it is in the best interest of the entire congregation to at least wear something slightly better than jeans during a celebration of the Resurrection.

    1. angela

      Karen,
      WHY? Why do you think that? We should give God our best EVERY day. Our best meaning a *heart attitude.* What is something *slightly better than jeans?* WHO is the determiner of what is slightly better?

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  6. Kim Grant

    I have been dealing with the “snob” churches my entire life. I can remember as a child in Northeast Ohio: My sisters and I attended a Nazarene church one Sunday. The following Monday there were church members at our door with a bag of clothing asking my mother to please use those clothes to dress us more appropriately for the following Sunday. Really!!!! If they wanted to help out a family of 8 on welfare (my father had fallen ill unable to work) they didn’t have to be rude about it. We NEVER went back to that church.
    As an adult I took my children to a Southern Baptist church in Florida. My children were dressed in the standard “Sunday Best”. I had on slacks and a dress shirt. I was called out in front of the entire church about my attire. Once again, I never attended that church again. I have given up on finding a church that is not full of judgmental people. I am a firm believer you do not need a church to worship or believe in Christ. Jesus never had a church per say.
    I see God everyday at work in my life and in the world. I take the time to notice the new blossoms on the trees or the rainbows that appear, the butterflies that have just hatched. God is everywhere, all you have to do is slow down long enough to see him and enjoy the beauty he give you every day….even in a nasty rain storm there is the workings of God.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Where do you live, Kim? I would love to help you find a loving church if you’re up to giving it one more try. There really are a lot of them (not perfect, but really following the heart of Jesus). I am so, so sorry for all the pain church has caused you. That breaks my heart.

    2. Kaira

      I am so disturbed by your experiences. I’m sorry the church has treated you so poorly. It’s definitely man – and not God – who has judged your attire! I hope you find a great community top worship in – they do exist!

      Marla, This is a great post.

  7. Charity

    Well, I’m from TX and grew up Southern Baptist…and we dressed up as a kid. I’m now serving with my family in the UK and we belong to the most missional church we’ve ever been in that meets in an old building and we have everyone from 3 piece suites to shorts/flip flops. I love it. And I wear jeans some weeks. Dresses other weeks. I even chew gum sometimes in church. Shh, don’t tell my mom. πŸ˜‰ Hugs Marla. I agree with the post above- there are more important issues.

  8. Amy

    This is good stuff! I have never really thought about this, but I guess I’ve mostly gone to churches that are slightly more casual than some of the other ones here in the Bible Belt. I like to dress a little nicer on a Sunday than a weekday, but it’s really just because I never have a reason to wear my slacks & button-up shirts (or the occasional dress). My pastor says that anything north of a Speedo is fine! πŸ˜€

  9. Rachelle Keppler

    I could just hug you! lol I don’t know you a friend of mine shared your post. The way I look at it is Jesus loves me 6 1/2 other days of the week in my normal everyday clothes he’s not going to stop loving me if I remain the same Sunday mornings.

  10. Mary

    LOVED THIS. A lot of good things to think about, Marla. I am having trouble with a lot of these things lately (not necessarily clothes, but values, etc I’ve been taught growing up and what the Bible REALLY says about them). I have to admit, I was taught that you dress for a King, etc but now I wear jeans to church mostly (GASP) and it makes me feel guilty for some reason. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to see what else you have to say. I will also close the internet window where I am looking at Easter clothes – ha!!! πŸ™‚

  11. Kelly

    This is my question: who says jeans and flip flops aren’t “dressing up”? It doesn’t make sense to me to argue the differences between people who “dress up” for church or don’t, because there are virtually none. Do you shower before church? Even when you don’t, do you put on deodorant? Put makeup over a zit? Pull your hair back? Carry chap stick? Brush your teeth? Or just grab a stick of gum? Are your jeans relatively clean? Do your flip flops have mud caked on them? I mean, we ALL are doing ourselves “up” when we go to church and trying to adhere to certain standards of “up.” We put ourselves together as best we can, and whether you wear jeans or skirts, cotton or cashmere, you likely base your clothing choice on most of the same things: budget, culturally appropriate, comfortable, modest (hopefully), flattering (consider what style jeans you wear and the color, no matter what price you paid). I’m not sure a person struggles or worships the Lord in any significantly different ways with his/her appearance no matter what the clothing choice. We are all vain. We all want to look good/nice. We all need to be modest. We all try to fit in. I believe all people dress “up” to attend church. There’s just nothing to argue here . . . πŸ˜‰

  12. Laurie

    I haven’t read all the comments.

    I don’t know you, but I could just hug you!

    Clothing and “church meeting appearance” is an old discussion that doesn’t seem to lose steam!
    Just the mention of Easter in the same sentence with “clothes” stirred up some ungodly anxiety! I don’t know what clothing is most appropriate to wear when the church meets, but my prayer is that first and foremost we’d adore the mystery of being clothed in Christ’s righteousness!

  13. Kirk Downing

    Marla,

    This is the best piece you have ever written. I love all of your writing, but this hit me. I’m reminded of a story I was once told (which I may butcher):

    A 17-year-old girl shows up at Sunday School and cigarettes fall out of her pocket. Someone notes “the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree” (refering to the girl’s mother). The girl was asked to leave. She never went back to church.

    If more churches were an oasis of acceptance (not accepting what people do, but accepting people in general) then the feeling of love, mercy, and forgiveness would resonate and they would come back again. And again.

    When someone hides to drink a beer for fear of being seen, that pushes them even further away from God.

    GREAT STUFF, MARLA!

  14. HopefulLeigh

    Great thoughts, Marla. I love hearing your heart. I grew up going to church where we were a little more dressy and have gone to more casual t-shirt/jeans and everything in between churches throughout adulthood. I get really twitchy when anyone says “real Christians” do such and such. Perhaps there are a few things “real” Christians do but such pronouncements smack of legalism. So many things, from our actions to our attitudes, come down to God and us. We should be open to others’ input and study, sure, but at the end of the day, God’s opinion is the only one that matters. And on this matter, there’s no mandate for how to dress for church, especially if you put a worldview spin on things. Christians in America likely dress differently from Christians in Africa or Christians in Europe. There’s no correct way to dress. Going to a more casual church frees me to be more contemplative in the service. I like to look nice and there are other people at my church that get more dressed up than I do but it’s simply how we are. It’s not a requirement and it’s not a distraction. We come as we are before Christ. Love to you, friend.

    1. Danielle

      I thought about a lot of things today too. I was reminded of going to “church” in India. I say “church” because it was in the main room of a family home. The same room the family slept, ate, and spent life together in. There were people huddled up on the family beds, women dressed in glorious saris, and kids in almost no clothes, singing Amazing Grace in Hindi, clapping to every song we sang, and loving Jesus. It was beautiful, and I think God smiled at that simple assembly just as much as he smiles at Christians in gatherings large and small around the world praising his name!

  15. Andrea

    I have a hard time reading comments on each side of the spectrum because I don’t think that is the issue we should consider nor what God looks at. I could wear sequined dresses or pants with patches and still wear a haughty or hardened heart. People who dress up can judge themselves better than those who dress down for church just as some who dress down can view themselves better for not caring about the clothes or for their “knowing” that it isn’t what is on the outside. My heart could be victim to not having my food intake in control…or in overly controlling it. It could be susceptible to my high value for structure and schedules and productivity…or to my very low value of that and my high value for rest and fun and spontaneity. Also, in the conversation on Gabe’s fb page, there was a bit about whether we should drink or if it’s drunkenness that matters and whether we’re playing with fire or whether we can live in freedom to a certain point. All of these matters are subject to personal conviction. Whatever it is that we prize so dearly, we should question and hold onto lightly. Clearly those things have a hold on our heart that only Christ should. So while I think God wants us to treat our bodies as temples and put on the amazement at ourselves that He has, I don’t think he wants us to get caught up in that either and wants us to be relaxed and focusing on Him only when we commune with Him, which is all of our lives and not just Sunday mornings (or evening or Sat night or whenever your service may be). I especially like 1 Cor 10:23-33 and 1 Cor 13:1-3. If we get too caught up on all of these “should’s” and “should not’s,” we completely miss the point. My prayer is to keep focusing less on the trees so I can see the forest.

  16. Danielle

    Marla, I love you. I love my sisters and brothers who dress up for Jesus. I love my sisters and brothers who wear the same stuff they wear every day to commune with Jesus. I love that people are willing to think about what the Lord requires of us. I love that God tells us what he requires of us: do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God. I love that that gives us a whole lot of restriction, and a whole lot of freedom. I love that Christians are set free IN CHRIST because the law was weakened by the flesh but God conquered the law by sending his own Son so that the requirements of the law would be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit of Christ. I love our amazing Father who welcomes all kinds of crazy people into his family, and not one of us looks alike on the outside, but all of us look like Christ to him!

  17. beth lehman

    so interesting – i would imagine some of this is cultural and ingrained. we choose to go to a church where appearances are not at all important (sometimes, painfully so!). but we are all comfortable with ourselves and each other. if we hadn’t physically moved to another town, i don’t know how we could have stayed at the lovely church we were attending before having children. the contingency there is high-brow, college professional-type and retired well-to-do mennonites. there is no way our kids would fit in without making some changes. but, again, it is age-specific (those who would care) and cultural for that specific church.

    at the very least i have thought a lot more about how i judge others based on their dress. it’s a nasty habit – i’m praying i see beyond and through all that.

  18. Rachel

    When I was growing up my mum always made me dress up for church in dresses and skirts. I remember one row we had when I was a teenager because I wanted to wear my new ripped jeans to church, but she said that it was too scruffy!
    To be honest I’ve never really discussed the whys and wherefores with her and she mellowed about it as I got older.

    For the last few years I worked for the church I attended so I’d be there for six or seven days a week. I had to dress fairly smartly during the week (I worked in the office) so it was actually a treat to be able to dress down on a Sunday and be in church for personal time with God rather than having to present a professional face!

    To be honest I think if someone is worried about it they just need to pray and ask what God wants for them. The most important thing is that they’re themselves, and as long as they have things sorted with God in their heart (how much they spend on their clothes allowance included!) it doesn’t really make any difference what they wear.
    It’s easy to get into thinking that you have to dress a certain way to impress or even welcome people in church (smart for middle/upper class areas or even sloppy to make homeless people feel welcome for example) but I think people notice whether you’re being real and honest a lot more than what you’re wearing.

    The only time I would say that Christian clothing matters is if it is inappropriate – very short skirts or low tops which might distract/tempt others – but that should be relevant for every day and not just church!

    1. Amy

      Rachel, I had the same situation a while back. I worked at a church (and had to dress business casual during the week). Then, I got to wear my jeans and t-shirt on Sunday. That’s just weird, if you ask me. πŸ™‚

  19. Denise

    I love this post so much. I am very much a jeans at church kinda gal…I just don’t see the need to dress up and be all fancy when all i wanna do is go and worship my God! Now on EAster (purely for the fact it’s Easter) I do tend to dress up…feels “right” to me…but wait, where was I going with that…oh yah…

    but I agree, I think what’s more important is being there, not what we wear.

    Personally, I am just thankful people come dressed πŸ™‚

    P.S. I love you for your honesty…
    p.p.s: Should I not invite you out for mango margarita’s???

    Ok im done love you!

  20. DG

    Marla,
    Guess I’m the only dude in the “pool” but I love your thoughts about not being a distraction to others trying to worship. I think the bottom line as you said is that if your heart is in the right place then that’s all that matters because that is what God is looking at. Great post. I will pass it along

    1. Ben

      Hey DG πŸ™‚

      We kinda do get lost among everyone else… but let’s admit it, we’re not really Marla’s target audience! πŸ™‚ AND, because there’s not many of us, we probably don’t feel like commenting much for fear of β€˜not belonging’.

      Ok, back on topic. I’ve been the kind of person who likes to dress for church, but I guess that’s because I’ve grown up going to churches where that’s normal. As I don’t dress up during the week, the thought of setting a day aside as β€˜God’s special day’, and treating it as such is appealing.

      Obviously the converse is true, if I dressed up during the week, I’d want to dress down a bit to keep that day unique (not that it isn’t already) πŸ™‚

  21. Rebekah Lyon

    Love the comment you made about dressing as an act of worship! So true! Thanks for the fun debate. Overall, I think you need to dress comfortably so that whatever you’re wearing doesn’t distract you from spending time with God. Just last Sunday I was wearing a new pair of rock’n high heeled patent shoes and kicked ’em off the second I sat down ’cause they were killing me! πŸ™‚ So, the pain and discomfort of new shoes didn’t steel my joy of worshipping and spending time with Jesus! πŸ˜‰ Blessings!

    1. Rebekah Lyon

      P.S. What if your church clothes aren’t about you but about how they will impact, effect or encourage the other peeps in church? If we’re going to a homeless shelter for a church service, I will not wear the nicest clothes I have ’cause that would be insulting/discouraging to most.

      What if what we say, do, wear is all bathed in grace and prayer and for the encouragement of the others? Maybe this would then be a non-issue? πŸ™‚ Still fun to discuss, though πŸ˜‰

  22. jess

    i sense and overall theme/attitude of : “if someone dresses up they are being offensive because they aren’t able to love/be available to/understand those who don’t/can’t. and if someone dresses up they are focused on all the wrong things. and if someone dresses up, they’re looking down upon those who can’t/don’t.

    and as a dresser-upper…i want to say that I am not like that at all, and most dresser-uppers I know aren’t either.

    it seems like dresser-uppers are being looked down upon by non-dresser-uppers simply because they dress-up (say that 3 times fast)

    I just want to point out that we ALL need to be careful, It’s all about the heart & there are lost souls out there that need our Jesus regardless of what we’re wearing when we introduce them to Him.

    1. Shelly

      Right. What Jess said. I’ve been pondering this since I read the blog post in the middle of the night, and have been avoiding commenting because I was sort of (OK, very) irritated by the tone of the post. But you said what I wanted to say, only nicer.

      1. Marla Taviano

        You’re more than welcome to share what you really think, nice or not. And if you don’t want backlash from posting it publicly, you have access to my e-mail and fb inbox.

    2. Marla Taviano

      What about the part where I talked about my favorite people who dress up? And the part where I said that if we didn’t have ALL kinds of dressers, then the people who show up looking spiffy and/or cute wouldn’t feel like they belonged?

      This post was a personal response to those who have said, “You have to dress up to show respect to God. End of discussion.”

      I happen to think it’s not the end of the discussion.

      1. jess

        I should have been more clear…i was all caught up in the comments when i commented that. i actually meant, the overall tone of the COMMENTS. I read through all 8 million of them and got that sense.

        I didn’t have any reaction to the tone of your original post…I thought it was well-stated (in spite of that fact that we don’t see eye-to-eye on the specifics…but that you arleady knew.) πŸ™‚

        aaaand, shoot. i had one more thing…but i forget. gah. (i really need to clean, lady. i have 2 extra kids tonight & i need to get ahead of the game before i get more behin!)

  23. Sandi Faulk

    I’m so glad you ladies are having these discussions at your ages! My head spins with all the thoughts on these topics!

    The church that I attend is VERY formal – “Easter” dresses every Sunday for most ladies, very few in slacks, and Jim can’t, as a deacon, serve Lord’s Supper in the sanctuary unless he’s in a coat and tie – really. And I do understand that for all of them, that’s just fine. But, in a way that seemed to exercise Jim’s and my subtle rebellion, I quit wearing dresses and Jim started attending church in golf-style shirts only a very long time ago. Recently, as we’ve been part of a church-plant-in-an-existing-old-church new service, we’ve been intentional about being less threatening to people who aren’t Jesus followers – so we’re now jeans-only most every Sunday, by intent. Is that causal in my addressing the Lord too casually? I think not. (I had a friend from BSF days who wouldn’t have her quiet time until she’d showered, done makeup and hair, and dressed for the day – she didn’t want want the Lord to see her looking just dragged out of bed. A lot of us judged her, wrongly, for being a little nutty. Looking back, I admire her attitude, as odd as that sounds.)

    We spend a lot of time around REALLY wealthy people, and the Lord spoke to me specifically about the spending thing from the Scripture when I read Matt. 20:15 like I’d never seen it before; that resenting or criticizing such things is being jealous because the Lord is generous. And Jim and I remind ourselves often that we’re truly CRAZY wealthy by so many standards – and so blessed.

    Drinking? I’m so okay with anybody’s decision, with some reservations. I do think that my teenage girls would be very confused if they saw Jim and I at a restaurant having margaritas, Jim’s parents were both alcoholics (as were/are all his cousins and brother but one), and we’d rather spend the money on other things. So we don’t drink. Other people get to decide for themselves.

    I’ve spent so much time, too much, being judgmental and Pharisaical about a LOT of things, and not enough loving and being aware of what grace I’ve been extended. You know? Take up my cross daily and follow Him; love the Lord with all my heart,soul,mind,strength and my neighbor as myself; do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. I’m working on paring down my list of rules to closer to those.

    sf

    1. brooke

      “I’ve spent so much time, too much, being judgmental and Pharisaical about a LOT of things, and not enough loving and being aware of what grace I’ve been extended. ”

      you and me both! so thankful that God doesn’t give up on us – so glad that the “daily” part was included in taking up our crosses, otherwise i’d feel like a miserable failure.

  24. Mary

    This is an awesome discussion… I am so on board with this .Dress has absalutly nothing to with loving Jesus! Although there is that modesty issue we tend to have in our church on occation… That can be brought to the persons attention in a loving and kind way in private, and I have done this and they dress more modest, Men are men and when women dress scantly can be a distraction! So absalutly nothing in the Bible thats says drinking,dancing.dressing up/down is wrong.Only in access it it a sin as in all things..I wear jeans and Tshirts and sneakers all the time on occation I dress up…All These things are people issues, not God issues… Our Pastor told a couple in our church that is in a leadership position, that if he ever caught them drinking even a glass of wine he would remove them from their leadership position..Mr. self rightiouness…How wrong is that! It is about our relationship with Jesus our heart not outer appearences.. or having a glass of wine..

  25. Shannon

    Marla,
    I get where you’re coming from. I think it’s ridiculous to spend a ton of money on clothes for ANY occasion, not just church. I LOVE to shop, but the older I’ve gotten, the more guilt I feel if I spend what I consider to be “too much” on clothes for myself. Unfortunately, I’m in a workplace that requires a certain level of professional dress that doesn’t allow for jeans or casual shirts. As far as my church attire, it all depends on the week. Sometimes it’s jeans with a sweater, sometimes it’s one of my work outfits.
    I lead a group of high school girls at my church. I appreciate the truth behind “God doesn’t care what you wear”, but I think some people can take that statement too far. I think God does care if a 16-year-old girl is wearing skintight jeans that show her thong when she bends over, or if she’s wearing shorts that are soooo short that she is constantly having to “rearrange”. I think God cares because she is drawing attention to herself from teenage boys and/or grown men who can’t help but see what is hanging out there for everyone to take a look at. I’ve tried to have these conversations with some of the girls in my group, but “God doesn’t care what I wear” is their go-to response. Hopefully, maturity will come with age and they will eventually see the issue.
    It all boils down to a heart issue. I feel like in some of your statements above, especially the ones regarding what your Sunday clothes could say if they talked, that there are broad, sweeping statements being made. Just because someone is dressed in a t-shirt and jeans on Sunday morning doesn’t automatically make them more approachable, nor is someone dressed in a suit and tie always a snob. I’ve been in churches in my life on both sides of the spectrum, and I’ve found the exact opposite to be the case PLENTY of times. In our current church, a lot of our older members (65+) still wear “church clothes” while the younger crowd is very casual. The “Sunday-go-to-meetin” crowd will bend over backwards to make people feel welcome, while a lot of the “jeans and t-shirt” crowd will look at people like they just took their favorite seat at Starbucks. My point being – if your HEART is clothed inappropriately, it won’t matter if you’re wearing an outfit from Goodwill or from a designer boutique.

    1. Marla Taviano

      You’re not the first person to tell me that what my jeans “say” sounded really self-righteous. I truly didn’t mean it like that. I was just trying to show that you really CAN respect and love God while wearing jeans. Not that all people do. And certainly not that you HAVE to wear jeans to do that. Make sense?

      1. Shannon

        Yes, it made sense to me when I first read it. And I know that I can respect and love God while wearing jeans, because that’s what I’m wearing 75% of the time that I’m at church. πŸ™‚
        The point that I wanted to make is that if my heart and attitude are clothed inappropriately on Sunday mornings (or any other day of the week)it doesn’t matter if I wear jeans or a prom dress to church. None of us should judge anyone else on the basis of how formally or informally they dress for church. What I DO have an issue with is someone who is dressing to bring attention to their body, whether they are in a $5.00 pair of jeans that are too tight and showing me their underwear or whether they’re in a $500 fancy dress with their boobs hanging out. To me, that is a HEART issue that says, “Hey everybody, look at me, pay attention to me”. I think that is the bigger issue that we as Christians should be addressing when it comes to our wardrobe choices. I see too many “church people” allowing their 10-year-old daughters to walk around in strapless tops and booty shorts or t-shirts with their stomachs exposed. Not expensive clothing, but incredibly inappropriate. If they’re allowed to dress like that at 10, what are they going to wear when they’re 16 or 21?

        1. Ben

          The whole blog needs β€˜like’ buttons… if nothing else for us guys who want to say things without saying anything πŸ™‚

    2. valerie (in TX)

      Shannon, I think your comment is the best one I’ve read so far.

      “Just because someone is dressed in a t-shirt and jeans on Sunday morning doesn’t automatically make them more approachable, nor is someone dressed in a suit and tie always a snob.” Yes and amen!

      My mom was raised in a VERY strict home where women NEVER wore pants to church. Before she gave her life to Jesus (not until after I was married), she didn’t feel comfortable attending a church where the dress was casual and people wore jeans. So….it’s not always a jeans and t-shirt that will make people feel comfortable.

      And we don’t know that the person who’s “dressed to the 9’s” didn’t spend $7 on their nice church dress at goodwill and $5 on their high heels at Payless on clearance, when the person next to them might be wearing $100 Lucky jeans, $70 Yellowbox flip flops, and a $50 Abercrombie t-shirt.

      Heart, heart, heart – it’s all about our heart, no matter if we dress up or not. I love the person who suggested we start each day asking God what we should wear to bring Him glory that day. Maybe it’s jeans or maybe it’s a nice dress that will attract someone to Him.

  26. Kelly @ Love Well

    Marla, this is SO GOOD. So good. And I think you are spot on. Jesus says it’s not what a man eats that makes him unclean; it’s what comes from his heart. That applies to so many things in life. Our clothes don’t matter; WHY we are wearing the clothes we are wearing matters.

    To take it to the next level (can I do that?), here’s something I’ve been thinking about the last few weeks: Easter and the cultural dressing up that goes with it. I could make a case that Easter is a CELEBRATION (which it is) and that justifies beautiful new party clothes, so to speak. But then I wonder how much that distracts us from the real meaning of the day – sort of like the focus on presents at Christmas instead of Jesus being the gift.

    I’m thinking of wearing jeans and a nice shirt to church on Easter this year because I don’t want that morning to be about ME and what I’m wearing. I just want to worship at Jesus’ feet, with my hair wiping up my tears of gratitude.

    1. Ben

      Living in a different culture, I didn’t even know about the cultural dressing up that goes with Easter until I started reading these comments. [so take this as a grain of salt]

      Not knowing the church you go to, when I hear you say β€œI’m thinking of wearing jeans and a nice shirt to church on Easter this year because I don’t want that morning to be about ME and what I’m wearing.” I wonder if such an activity would stand out MORE, drawing more attention to oneself and actually have the opposite effect to what is trying to be achieved.

      Is one trying to make a statement, or is one trying to blend in… the answer to that question is, I think, surprisingly relevant (on so many more levels than simply clothing…), and correct answer is not always the same.

      1. Kelly @ Love Well

        Is one trying to make a statement or is one trying to blend in…

        That is the heart of the matter, Ben. I totally agree. Our church is largely a jeans-and-nice-shirt type of church. But I think Easter in the West has a cultural connotation of dressing up. Even people who don’t celebrate the Resurrection buy “Easter” dresses and put hats on the girls. That’s why I was thinking of backing away from that, a little.

        For what it’s worth, in California, we went to a church near the beach where people commonly came straight from surfing. They would pull down their wetsuit, but on a t-shirt and walk in. It wasn’t unusual there, so it didn’t stand out.

        The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.

  27. Unlikely Christian

    Perfectly said! Looking down on somebody because of their Sunday clothing choice sounds like something a pharisee would’ve done. It saddens me that this is even a debate and that a church goer actually has to worry about things like, “Well if I wear these flip flops with these jeans that are fraying at the bottom I might get some sideways looks today from the congregation…..” when getting dressed on Sunday morning. Come on Christians! I’m sorry but if you are a Christian that looks down on others based on Sunday clothing choices – You need to check yourself!

  28. Rachelle

    Oh Marla, I am ALL over this! I think these words ARE absolutely from God. I got chills reading this post.

    Our culture dictates so much of what we believe. That is why it is pertinent that we, as Christians, look to scripture, in context, and own it. Otherwise the waters get muddy!

    Simply put, clothing, as with most things involving humans involves work(or works) and I’m surely not relying on my works, or my “dress” to save me from anything. Indeed, we are warned about appearances and spurned toward relying on other evidences of faith.

    We are not to rely on clothing as an indicator of faith in Christ.
    Matthew 7:15-23 ESV:
    15 β€œBeware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

    Rather, we are to rely on evidence of good fruit, as defined by God:
    Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

      1. Rachelle

        You’re welcome, Marla. My mind is going a million to nothing. I was just thinking about the clothes we adorn ourselves in that are made by God’s precious children in the grip slavery. Too much for my heart right now. Okay time to quit!

        Love you, friend and praying for you.

  29. Valerie Henry

    Yeesh, I kind of feel responsible! I think I was the first one to cross the Bob Jones/Liberty line on the blog discussion yesterday. I don’t know if I got it across well, but Marla, I totally agree with you, sweetie!

    I think Jen Hatmaker said it best:

    “I hope one day clothes and appearance and everyone else’s assessment doesn’t even occur to me. I would like to be so focused on the valuable that what I am wearing doesn’t even warrant mental space. Not the fussy concerned, indulgent obsession with clothes; not the conspicuous, public distracting reduction where I am now…but the zero balance of priority is where I hope to land.”

    In my church, at least for everyone under the age of about 70, nobody cares what you wear. Seriously. We had one awesome guy wear shorts even when it was 15 degrees outside, and no, he wasn’t a teenager. I told him once I felt like that was a ministry in itself (he is a good friend with a good sense of humor, he took it in the spirit it was intended). I could say to people, “It doesn’t matter what you wear.” Our pastor’s wife has been known to wear pajama pants to church.

    It’s all about the heart. And that’s not just my personal opinion!

    (And don’t be hating on me because I mentioned BJU and Liberty…..my darling daughter goes to LU! Go Flames!)

    1. Marla Taviano

      If I counted all my relatives who’ve gone to Liberty/Bob Jones, I’d be in double digits (or close to it). And no worries. I honestly don’t remember how this all got started. πŸ™‚

  30. missy

    Is your husband saying, “Honey, why do you ask for people’s opinions and then get pissed off when they give them to you?”

    I’m just asking because if I had a nickle for every time my husband has said that to me, I could build an orphanage in Cambodia. And buy church clothes for all the kids in it πŸ˜‰

    1. Marla Taviano

      Actually, if Gabe had his way, I would write posts like this EVERY SINGLE DAY. But then he sees how much it drains me, and he’s fine with me blogging about this stuff (politics, Dave Ramsey, smocked dresses and hair bows) just occasionally.

  31. Jennifer

    When I was a kid, I attended church with my grandparents. It was a given that I had to dress up nicely. I never felt comfortable enough to truly worship!
    Now we attend a church that is very casual. Our pastor wears a polo or dress shirt and jeans so everyone who walks in the door will feel welcome.
    I don’t believe God cares what we wear. He cares about what’s in our hearts and how we show His love to others. I also agree that as Christians, we are called to not judge people. It’s not our job.

  32. Cindy Terry

    Love this subject! I’ll give you an “older”, long time church going (Southern Baptists) take… I was taught to honor God by giving your best which includes how you dress. I know studies are done on the dress nice subject that proved (with school children) that their behavior and productiveness was better when they dressed nice or wore uniforms-so there was no competition-) It is a complicated subject in many ways, but most here have addressed it well. I have even dressed down compared to how I used to dress. We should not judge and we should understand cultural and age and upbringing differences. Still, with the moral decline of our society has also come a “dressing decline” as one might term it. People are too casual and uncaring about their appearance! ..and often dress lewd. It says to me: slob, uncaring, attitude. I have nothing against not dressing up or being somewhat casual, but we still should dress to honor our God and have pride in the fact that we are His wonderful creation. I also lived in Germany for 9 years and was active in the European Baptist Convention and churches there do not think of drinking as some here do..I agree that Jesus drank and it was truly wine that he turned the water into! I enjoy an occasional wine with a nice meal. But if I think that fact will make a bro or sis in Christ “stumble”, then I will keep it to myself. Strong opinions about dress are the same way. Jesus does look at the heart, but we live in a world that looks at how we are dressed and so to a certain degree it does and should matter because of the message and testimony that it might be sending to others. -JMO Thanks for the thought provoking post!!

  33. Kellen Freeman

    The reason I don’t usually dress up for church is that I don’t see that one hour a week as a special time where God watches me. If our whole life is to be an act of worship that God is witness to 24/7, why does it matter what I dress like for church when God sees that I switch to gym shorts and a t-shirt as soon as I get home anyway? It just makes the dressing up feel like a fake effort of spirituality to me.

  34. Tracy

    Love this! Before I was saved, and while in college, I got a babysitting gig on a Sunday evening for a co-worker’s kids. I was supposed to pick them up from Sunday evening service. I showed up in sweats and a t-shirt…..and was promptly greeted by a women looking down her nose at me questioning what I needed. First time to ever set foot at that church. Probably would have been the last if it wasn’t for every other co-worker I had that went to this church and when I told them the story, were mortified and begged me to give it another shot.

  35. Lynn

    My personal feelings and why I dress up (not in super fancy clothes, but definitely no jeans and no shorts): Going to Church is, for me, akin to going to the Lord’s House for dinner. It’s not a BBQ. It’s a holy dinner. So I dress as I would if I were going someplace nice for dinner. I would not wear jeans and flip flops to the fancy steak place in town, why would I wear that to the Lord’s house?

    That is my OWN perspective. I have learned over the years not to judge others on what they choose to wear b/c one day, it struck me… maybe they are wearing those jeans and flip flops because that IS the nicest thing they own? Maybe the airline lost their luggage, maybe they had a fire and lost everything, maybe they had to run from an abusive relationship and had to leave behind everything but the clothes on their backs. Which happen to be an Old Navy tee and yoga pants.

    Well, I say I learned not to judge, but I guess it would be more accurate to say, I REMIND myself not to judge. Because my first instinct is usually not the holiest one. I’m working on it. πŸ™‚

    One exception to this is people who quite obviously have the means to dress well, but choose to dress inappropriately. I’m fairly confident that God doesn’t want you flaunting your breasts. He also probably wouldn’t want you wearing see-through or micro-mini attire. And yet, I see that allll too often, generally on teenagers and young women. One Godmother, during a baptism service, was wearing a dress that just barely hung past her underwear, had spaghetti straps, and looked like a camisole. Trendy, sure. But approaching the altar of God like that? Made me cringe. Is that possibly the only thing they own? I guess it’s a possibility, but judging by the Coach handbag and gold dripping from her wrists, I doubt it.

    As I said, working on that whole judging thing. πŸ™‚

    In short, I think you should attempt to dress the best you can when you are going to worship the Lord, whatever that “best” may be. And everyone’s “best” will be something different.

    1. John McCollum

      Lynn, I find this line of reasoning interesting — but not persuasive.

      I suppose we can use lots of metaphors for what going to church is “like.” I love the metaphor of a feast, but I don’t see it as a state dinner or black tie affair, nor do I see evidence that Jesus ever threw those types of parties.

      In fact, the entire scriptural narrative of Jesus skipping the palaces and choosing to be born in a barn, giving the ambassadors of Rome the slip to be greeted by stinking shepherds, hanging out on fishing boats rather than yachts and schmoozing with prostitutes rather than princesses seems to indicate that Jesus would prefer that I come to him in my normal, everyday attire, throw my arms around him and lounge around his table.

      The idea that going to church is more akin to meeting a dignitary at Versailles than visiting my father for a family dinner with friends strikes me as wrong.

      1. jess

        for me, personally, that’s the whole thing!! He humbled himself for me. Where he could have demanded royal treatment, he didn’t. Where he could have wined and dined with the “important” people, he didn’t. Where he could have turned his back on all of humanity and said, NO! I will not do that for them. HE DIDN’T.

        Because he humbled himself and was born in a barn, and because he hung out with the prostitutes, and because he spent time on fishing boats and not yachts, and because he gave up his entire life and spilled his blood for me, I want to honor and respect him and do the best I can to have a reverent attiude in His house on his day…which for me includes presenting myself like I’m meeting someone special, not going to a ball park. He did something extraordinary and special for MY SOUL. I see no reason why I SHOULDN’T treat him as a dignitary. {the attitude i have that day, the way i present myself that day, the way i choose rest instead of work on that day}

        Does he love me with holey jeans? ABSOLUTELY. But, do I want to come to him with hoely jeans on the holy day? I don’t feel comfortable doing so. {that said, this does not mean that i can only worship him on sunday when i’m dressed up. I worship all the time when i have dirt under my nails and grease dripping off my face. And I worship right after I swore in my head at a bad driver on the road. I know that worship is constant. But God made Sunday different & I like to see it that way too.}

        1. John McCollum

          Well, hey. That’s where the whole “for me” thing comes in, I guess.

          I’ll commit to working on not judging people who come to my church wearing dress pants and ties, and you commit to not looking down on people who come to yours wearing old jeans and t-shirts. Perhaps we’ll both be ready to worship together by the time we get to heaven!

          1. jess

            it’s definitely a personal thing, i agree with that 100%. I don’t think it’s a sin to wear jeans to church (my husband does). and i don’t, nor have i ever looked down upon anyone who wears jeans or shorts or came nekkid (okay, never had that experience) to church, so that’s not even an issue. There are jeans-wearers, althetic shorts wearers, tattered rags wearers and dressy wearers at our church and the thing is that we LOVE and receive everyone with warmth regardless of how any of us are dressed. (I alternate between the same pair of dress pants and the same jean skirt week after week.)

            People will come to a church & decide to stay or go based on how they are received. ANd a person wearing dress pants and LOVINGLY receive a stranger into the congregation as much as a person wearing shorts can.

            It’s a heart issue and that’s the bottom line. Does God want us to dress up for church? Not necessarily. Does God want us to dress down for church? Not necessarily.

          2. jess

            make that, “a person wearing dress pants CAN lovingingly receive a stranger into the congregation as much as a person wearing shorts can.” πŸ™‚

      2. Lynn

        I wasn’t trying to persuade. Marla asked for our opinions, I simply gave mine and explained why I see it that way. It’s fine that you don’t. *shrug*

    2. Marla Taviano

      I’m totally with you on the modesty issue, Lynn. I will say, though, that so many women don’t even realize what they’re doing. I never believed that until I really started talking to some of them with an open mind, arms, and heart.

      But the holy dinner? I can’t agree with you there. When Jesus did dinner in the Bible, he ate with sinners and poor people and specifically told us to invite outcasts to our parties. He and his disciples did a lot of feasting, but I don’t see any place where they got all gussied up beforehand. They even got in trouble for not washing their hands. πŸ˜‰

  36. Jennifer

    Girl, you don’t wear pantyhose with open toed shoes. Or, at least, you shouldn’t. πŸ˜‰ And I should know since I’m from the South AND that denomination you won’t name! πŸ˜‰

    But other than that, I agree with you. πŸ™‚ We should dress in the way that will best help us to honor God. There’s a line there somewhere (God would probably not be honored if Wes wanted to preach in a Speedo), but I’m pretty sure that jeans and T shirts don’t cross that line.

    However, I do think we need to be careful, whichever direction we lean in our Sunday clothes philosophy to refrain from making assumptions about others. You can’t know the heart of the person who dresses up extravagantly on Sunday, just as he/she can’t know yours. The disciples rebuked the woman who anointed Christ with the expensive perfume because she should have given the money to the poor, but Christ rebuked them for saying so. Even though the disciple who spoke up had other motives for doing so, what he said made sense. But Jesus told them that what they said was extravagance was a beautiful thing that she done to honor Him. Christ rejoiced in what they called extravagance and was honored by it!

    All that said, I agree with you. And I agree with you that spending loads of cash on fancier duds, even for Sunday worship, doesn’t seem to jive with Christ’s own example. But I’m taking His rebuke here to heart, knowing that I can’t know someone’s heart and that I certainly can’t know what Christ has called them specifically to. So I probably just need to leave them alone in their worship and kindly butt out. LOL!

    Great discussion, by the way!

    1. Jennifer

      Oh, and the alcohol thing. I was the world’s BIGGEST Pharisee on this (and lots of other things, too) but came to the same conclusions you did on the subject. Makes me wonder how I’m being a Pharisee now. Praying that God will open my eyes and thanking Him for His grace in advance!

      1. Marla Taviano

        Praying the same for myself. Love you, friend! You’ve been such a huge blessing to me. Would love to go to the Houston Zoo with you sometime. Like it so much better than the one in OKC. πŸ˜‰

    2. Marla Taviano

      Shoot!! Even I know the pantyhose/open-toed shoes rule! The open-toed thing was an afterthought and I totally forgot I’d already written pantyhose. πŸ™‚

      YES. You are so right that people could be dressing extravagantly as a gift to Jesus.

      And you’ll have to scroll down and read another Jennifer’s comment. I TOTALLY thought she was you and almost commented to her like she was. πŸ™‚

  37. Jess Carpenter

    I love that you wrote this & are constantly stepping into blog world challenges. I also love that you keep going even when you are admittedly stressed or tired. I am watching & praying for my own bavery to follow into the blog world.

    That aside. You know that you & I grew up in the same area. I don’t know if you felt the same way, but to me: “You wear a skirt to your knees. You do not dance. You do not drink. You go to church. You do not swear. Now you are a Christian.” – was a very big cultural phenom. (Side bar: I am not slamming my/our hometown. I do not believe that this is still the predominate culture of the church community there. But, it was in the primary school of my attendance and the community that I was most associated with outside of your MIL & others who have always been keeping it real!) What I have learned from different communities and areas is that there is always a culture to the church (meaning the building). And asking who you are trying to reach is important.

    There is definitely a Southern style even where I live. It’s so stinkin hot here that most the women in our area are in flip flops or sandals 9 months out of the year. I wear my croc flip flops to church all the time with sundresses or jeans. I also am right down the street from the AME church, I LOVE that I see people outside in their fancy hats & white shoes. I can’t say I see panty hose here. Not very common in the deep South. Anyhow, I also have seen different Christian cultures of very strong believers. Our church is in connection w/ a ministry that originated from England. Having wine/crackers and/or a beer in community is way more common. No one is acting the fool, etc. It is part of their culture. It is like sweet tea to the Southerner.

    So, I do believe that outside of the biblical heart issues, that a lot of time dress and do’s/don’ts really can be viewed through the culture lense of a sunday/saturday gathering.

    Now, I will tell you that for years, I would not order a glass of wine when I visited my hometown when my parents still lived there. I knew it was an issue to many there and I did not want to be disrespectful.

    I also believe if I am going somewhere with someone who really cares about dressing up, I will try to dress up as much as I can as to not make them uncomfortable. We attended an adoption conference in NC last year. It had “Baptist” in the title. Well, my Baptist up-bringing was “no jeans”. I was in a sheer panic b/c I had not brought other clothes & could not exhale until I saw someone else in the church in jeans.

    My husband only knows a church where he can wear his shorts and flip flops and we only see our pastors in suits at Easter & Christmas. He has no idea about all the dressing up. He has to dress up all week and he gets to “let his hair down” and just come together with believers!

    I love what you say about the fact that what we wear & drink CAN NOT be deciding factors on if we love Jesus.

    The only time my blood boils is over modesty in the church. However, there are some women that I know have NO idea that they are being a bit off the chart b/c they do not know Jesus. They are just showing up like they always do. And if we shun them for that, oh, buddy, we have already missed the boat…..(I do agree that long time believers need to get it in check and be gently confronted in private!) If we expect people to “act like Jesus” before they even know him, we are flat out wrong.

    1. brooke

      i’ve discussed the modest thing with a friend before. its certainly something we should be self-aware of, but when to speak up and when to keep quiet regarding someone else? that’s a whole other can of worms. we *will* be held accountable if we cause someone else to stumble, however we don’t want to scare people away from church and miss eternity with Jesus because they are showing a bit of leg.

      1. Jess Carpenter

        Brooke, yep it is a fine line. And it translates to everything: drink, style of music, etc. I think it comes back to relationship. Our Pastors try to hit on it from the pulpit time to time. Our Pastor has a very casual humor style. So, he can say things really well. But, he doesn’t say it every week. I personally have reached out to a few of my closest friends and helped pull up their shirt or let them know if they are “accidentally” flashing someone. I sort of assume it’s an accident on friends. I also think that as you are close, bringing it up in conversation helps. I think that again, getting to really dig into someone’s life takes time and commitment.

  38. Jeff Ford

    Good stuff Marla!

    Here’s my opinion on ALL differences of opinion on wealth, dress, etc…

    “If the Gospel is true… it is true for ALL people, at ALL times, in ALL places, in ALL circumstances and should be applicable thereto.”

    If we were meant only to be dressed to the nines to worship God, then what of the itinerant farmer in Honduras? What of the single mother of three in the Horn of Africa? What of the ten-year-old Vietnamese orphan? Is their worship somehow diminished because of their circumstances?

    Dress how YOU want to dress. Period. God simply does not care how you look… only how you love.

  39. Angela

    I think the one thing to remember in this discussion is that it’s not closer to Jesus to wear jeans as opposed to dressing up and vice versa. Some of the comments seem to lean towards “it’s wrong to get dressed up because it’s not humble.” Maybe that’s just my biased reading. I like getting dressed up for church, although dressed up to me is tan pants and a nice shirt/sweater (and I totally wear flip flops when it’s warm! – I wore flip flops to my own wedding!) Neither wardrobe choice is closer to Jesus. If it is truly our hearts that matter, let’s be sure not to judge either way.

      1. Amanda

        I agree with Angela in the fact that we’re straying away from the “heart” and looking at why dressing casual is best. No one said dressing up is wrong, but we’ve come awful close to judging churches as a whole when they are dressed up in the majority. Because they might turn away the poor or make someone uncomfortable. Honestly? We need to work on our hearts. I could go on but it would rambling too much.

        1. Tami

          I agree with you Amanda and Angela. As someone who responded honestly (and humbly) to the FB question about dress, I suddenly feel that I am being judged because I choose to dress up (a bit…it’s not over the top!). I really couldn’t care less what the congregation is wearing, as what draws me to my church is the beautiful souls I meet and how accepting they are. Period. To say that dress will turn people off *despite* attitude and kindness is simplifying the issue at hand…which is how is our church showing Christ’s love to everyone who walks in the doors?

          1. jess

            amen & amen. i’d love to know how many people leave/stay at a church because of WHAT the people are wearing vs. HOW they were treated/received. I’d venture to guess a LOT more people leave because they aren’t loved than because of the overall dress of the congregation.

          2. Marla Taviano

            I’m not judging you, Tami, and I tried to say that in my post. I’ll copy what I just said to Amanda:

            I think if every single person truly wore what they felt God calling them to wear, then every church would have a HUGE variety of dressers. From very simple/casual to very dressy. God created us all different (and goes so far as to say we are all different parts of the body–arm, leg, foot, nose). When every person dresses in suits OR every person dresses in jeans/t-shirts, you have the potential to exclude people who β€œdon’t know the rules” or don’t own the β€œright attire.” Does that make sense? Believe me, if I pulled together my 10 closest friends on any given Sunday, you’d see anything from t-shirt/jeans to black dresses/heels and everything in between. A huge variety. I think that’s a pretty cool picture of what heaven will look like.

            And you’re so right. Attitude and kindness is the MOST important thing, no matter what we’ve got on.

          3. Tami

            Marla, I’d say ultimately, all semantics aside, we are on the same page. πŸ™‚ I guess when you said you were bothered or saddened by people who said that they felt it important to dress up (for valid reasons…and not at all selfishly), you were basically questioning motives (or so it seemed…it’s really tough to interpret tone on paper sometimes). And when I did respond yesterday, it was indeed my *personal conviction*, and reflective of where I am right now in my walk with God. And I also completely agree that church should looks like a mish-mash of people and not an “exclusive club”. It’s what makes church approachable in the first place. Just a side note, I heard a lot about “comfort” in church. Are we supposed to be comfortable in church…or should we go to be convicted and held accountable? Food for thought. πŸ˜‰

          4. Marla Taviano

            I am in no way bothered or saddened by people who feel led to dress up. I was bothered and saddened by people who said if I don’t dress like them, then I’m not showing proper love and respect to my God.

            And I think the comfort thing is two different issues. I’ve been convicted MANY a time (and to the point of tears) while wearing my so-comfortable-I’m-not-even-thinking-about-them clothes. πŸ™‚

            I appreciate you responding again. And it IS hard to interpret tone on paper for sure!

        2. Marla Taviano

          I think if every single person truly wore what they felt God calling them to wear, then every church would have a HUGE variety of dressers. From very simple/casual to very dressy. God created us all different (and goes so far as to say we are all different parts of the body–arm, leg, foot, nose). When every person dresses in suits OR every person dresses in jeans/t-shirts, you have the potential to exclude people who “don’t know the rules” or don’t own the “right attire.” Does that make sense? Believe me, if I pulled together my 10 closest friends on any given Sunday, you’d see anything from t-shirt/jeans to black dresses/heels and everything in between. A huge variety. I think that’s a pretty cool picture of what heaven will look like.

          1. Amanda

            This is totally 100% understand and agree with. I don’t think that’s where the discussion went, which made your post a little unclear to me. That’s how my church is. Such a variety and I love it.

  40. Joel McLaughlin

    Good stuff Marla!

    I will say about 99 percent of the time, I don’t dress up for church. Usually It’s similar to what you wear Marla. However, sometimes that’s what my heart is telling me so I do it. πŸ™‚

    On the other side, I don’t care what the person next to me wears. It’s NOT about me. It’s about Jesus and my relationship with him and if I want to gussy up in my Sunday best, I will. If I want to wear a swimsuit and tshirt, I will (and I did 2 weeks ago….when I got baptized!) It’s to the point that if the pastor wore an OSU jersey to preach it wouldn’t phase me and that has actually happened in my church.

    The beauty of our church is we’re very much the same as your church Marla. We have those who dress up, those who don’t and we all love each other and Jesus anyway.

  41. Sarah M.

    Interesting topic. I agree with you. I remember one Sunday growing up where my brother ( on the fence about walking with God) wore shorts to church and as we left church and shook the pastors hand he made a snotty comment to my bro about his wardrobe choice. Justin has NEVER forgotten that and honestly I think he hasnt attended church since. Sad.

  42. brooke

    my grandparents were poor farmers – Papaw never got more than an 8th grade education while Mamaw eventually went back for her GED. They sold cattle or pigs twice a year – in the fall to buy their daughters a pair of church shoes and a pair of school shoes, and in the summer to buy church shoes. my mom & aunts went barefoot all summer (save Sunday mornings) because my grandparents felt the pressure of “Sunday best”

    as a middle schooler – I worried that my sister’s old dress would get me made fun of when we started attending the large church in the “city”

    as an adult, i purposefully dress down out of respect for the ministry in which I serve twice a month. (and because no one wants to see my neon pink compression sleeves under a skirt the day after my long runs :P)

    I don’t care what anyone wears to church – with one major exception: make sure your boobs are covered and your hemline is an appropriate length. and if you’re in the choir, do us all a favor sit in front of a mirror before leaving the house.

  43. Denise

    I didn’t read the discussion yesterday I probably will now. But my first response was to think.. you have church clothes? LOL Just as I am baby..

    I usually put on whatever is clean.. and available and decent-ish and since this is one time I am out of the house and among adults I tend to make that my nicer clothes, but I also feel that if we are all dressed to the nines, that people who ‘have not’ will come, and go, and not feel welcome. I do wonder if in other churches like the one I grew up in, how many people this happens to. There are other reasons people would shy away from those churches..(I’m not there) but dress can be a big barrier for someone either direction.

  44. Tanya

    and Amen!
    I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, Marla!

    My hubby and I have dealt with this issue, especially when/since we are in leadership positions in the church. There are those that take issue with him wearing a t-shirt, jeans and cowboy boots to church. When we pastored, someone from the older set went and told another church congregation that he preached in “overalls”(old-people speak for jeans) and hubby was looked down upon.

    There are those that say if you wear nice clothes, you will be more approachable and people will like you. I say, that is not true and we’re not supposed to be pleasing people in our dress, we’re supposed to be dressing to please the Lord (no matter how that may look for each individual).

    I like what Francis Chan says about dress: He’s the same person before God on Sunday as he is every other day of the week….focus on preparing on the heart, not on outward appearance. (not to say I don’t struggle on many Sundays on “what to wear”–those voices from the past have a bad way of not dying down, huh?
    )
    Here’s the video w/the sermon excerpt of Francis Chan’s, in case you haven’t seen it yet. πŸ™‚
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yq8elC_kYs

    1. Denise

      I still remember the time when I was like.. 6/7 and I had stayed over and my granmother’s house and it was COLD, she thought it was no weather for a skirt and put me in pants and I was the one who got yelled at for wearing PANTS to church.. yeah those voices DON’T die down!

      1. Rachelle

        I just gained a new appreciation for my Grandmother, she’s in heaven now. She always wore dresses, if it was really cold and she was working outside she would wear pants…under her dress. But never, not once did she say anything about us girls wearing jeans/shorts, etc. daily or to church. It just never occured to me until now-thanks for the memory trigger.

        I am praying that “those voices” leave your mind, Denise. That you will come into a full realization of God’s bountiful love for YOU and not for what you wear!

  45. Laura

    AMEN, Marla. Such good stuff.

    The “For me” thing is sooooo important, and I’m going to make sure to add it in to my thoughts here.

    I’ve honestly found that for me, the more I think through my Sunday clothes and which top could look nicer with which pants and if the new necklace would work, etc. – the more my thoughts drift away from a Jesus-focus and toward a me-focus. And for me – on the subject of being too casual with Jesus – I find that I can most truly lay myself bare before the majesty of who He is if I’m completely unconcerned with my attire. I think about the biblical images of putting on sackcloth as an expression of repentance and humility. I think about the times I’ve felt most overwhelmed by the holiness of God, and remember that many of those times found me up at night in my pajamas. Our attitudes can certainly be faulty in this area, but I don’t think our clothing choices are always a reflection of this.

    Also, having grown up with a mother who tended to choose a “look nice for other people” mindset, I have trouble shaking that off. But again, that’s my personal struggle and these thoughts represent just my own perspective. I know many people who truly dress up out of reverence for worship, and that’s fantastic! Like you said – it’s a heart thing.

    I guess I’ve just developed an opinion over the years that church should be the ultimate come-as-you-are. In every sense. He meets us where we are and helps us to grow. And regardless of our personal convictions about dressing for worship, I don’t think we’d find “nicer footwear” on His agenda for our sanctification. πŸ˜‰

  46. Melissa Irwin

    Hi beautiful Marla. My favorite part about this post is the message on convictions. God sends His spirit in part to counsel us, and we do not all need the same counseling. The convictions we receive will be individualized to our growth and His will for us, and they will have very much to do with where He has situated us in this world.

    A Christian friend of mine recently took a harsh position against my choice to allow my children to watch The Polar Express (the movie). She may have been convicted that her children should only ever watch programming that is strictly “Christian”. I haven’t been convicted in that way. We each are in a position to judge the choices of one another, but as Christians we truly need to seek the wisdom to understand faith isn’t a checklist of modified behaviors. Authentic faith, no matter what you wear, bears fruit. Modified behaviors to please a crowd are just modified behaviors that please a crowd.

    1. Melissa Irwin

      I just wanted to come back, Marla, to say that WOW how things can change after meeting face to face. Before I met you, you were a blogger with a precious heart (to me). Now that I’ve seen you in your jeans and t-shirt, have watched your daugthers run to hug their momma after only being away for 2 hours (man they are crazy nuts about you)… and that I have seen your smile come straight out of your eyes… reading your blog now is like reading a personal letter from a faraway friend. It makes me weepy. Lol. His light really shines through you.

      1. Marla Taviano

        Your kind words made me weepy. Thank you soooo much, Melissa. It was an honor to meet you and have you in my home, and I looooooove that we’re soul sisters in the flesh now and not just through the computer.

  47. Sharon

    I honestly can’t remember very well, but I think the church I grew up in was one where everyone dressed up. But, several churches later (and now that I’m a SAHM and don’t have many dressy outfits that fit) I usually wear jeans and a nice top on Sunday’s. And my tennis shoes. When I sang in the choir, I used to wear a skirt or a dress on the days we sang. My husband is on the worship team and was in the choir and he always, always, always wears jeans and a nice shirt. I don’t know what would happen to his church attendance (or his job) if it were required or expected that you dress up. We have a gift certificate to eat at a fancy restaurant and were told nobody wears jeans there, but my husband still insists that he will!

  48. Lori

    As usual, I am right there with you Marla, thinking very similar thoughts.

    The “for me” is such a great habit for us all to build.

    “the whole have-we-gotten-too-casual-and-buddy-buddy-with-God question” needs serious reflection and is possibly tied to our clothing. But one thought I had is that our posture is more important here than our clothing. I know I do not do nearly enough face down, carpet sucking prayer time. (Capet sucking is not my phrase but I heard it yesterday and thought it was perfect!)

    And I gently critique only one point which Jennifer mentioned about the knock on certain denominations. I’d like to think that not everyone in those churches feels that way. And if that’s how they grew up, they may know no other way and may be led astray in their thinking.

    But AMEN! I say it again, AMEN! And GLORY to the God who takes us no matter how we show up!!!

  49. Dee

    After living 60+ years in the “north” we moved to the south, and most of my preconceived and pushed by the media ideas are shattered…..In my new church…most likely the one you were thinking of….we are much more casual, much more open to anyone. Feeling ok to come to worship and I love it!!!! We have celebrate recovery and It has enriched our church immeasurably …that too I had preconceived ideas about! we have CEO’s whoses addictions were broken and some ex cons as well!! I praise God for Chet’s Creek Church in Jacksonville…I too am thankful for David Platt and his ministry..another southerner!!

  50. Jolie

    I have to be honest in saying that even though I got the shout out for dressing cute (Totally made me smile!) I don’t really have a clothing “agenda” or “plan” for church either way.

    Growing up I went to a Baptist school and a conservative church. I wasn’t allowed to dress casually until I started going to college and realized that the ONLY people in my mind when I was getting dressed on Sunday were the people I wondered about when I pondered an outfit. “Will people think this is dressy enough?” Was what I was asking myself. I immediately decided, F this! My wardrobe is completely for the church, and that is not ok. I started just wearing what I would normally wear – nice jeans and a nice top. No frill, just clothes.

    At this point in my life it’s not even a thought anymore, ie “Is this ‘nice’ enough or is this not ‘nice’ enough.” If I feel like wearing a t-shirt, I do. If I feel like wearing tights and a cute cardigan, I do. Perhaps I should go back to evaluating my heart again in either scenario. Am I dressing up so someone will tell me how cute my outfit is? Am I dressing down because I’m simply being too lazy to care how I look?

    Ultimately Jesus has shown us by his example in Scripture that he does not care. He cares about our heart, which I think we have ALL agreed upon. I love your heart, Marla!

  51. jess the mess

    what a loaded question you asked on FB. πŸ™‚ and, um, were you talkin’ to me? about my magic polka dot dress and my red shoes (actually, i WANTED the red shoes, but i didn’t buy them) and i don’t wear panty hose. so i guess you werent’ talking about me !! Just joking…i know you weren’t.

    this is definitely one of those topics that I’m very glad has nothing to do with salvation!

      1. jess

        Sometimes Miss C reminds me of Cameron Diaz.

        and unfortunately for me, i almost busted the seams out of my magic dress last time i wore it. i gotta shake off a few lbs and quick!

        good conversation goin’ here. lots of food for thought!

  52. ellen

    i like your ‘for me’ concept — Christians are way to quick to judge one another — I have a couple of thoughts —
    Many women hide behind clothes – fancy or other wise – we should never do that -we only do it when we don’t know who we are in Christ
    How many of us say — Lord, what should I wear today – so I can reach whoever you want me to reach – It might be jeans or it could be a shirt — right or wrong, clothes can speak and we need to be ready to speak what ever the situation –

  53. Shannon Wheeler

    Your words put tears in my eyes. I grew up in church in Louisiana, where we all dressed up, and I spent my adulthood in Maine where half the men attend church dressed like lumberjacks (um, they may be lumberjacks). I’ve seen Jesus in both places. What I’m thankful for is a place to go to church where a homeless refugee can wear something we probably would advise against, and her heart – not her clothes – can be a focus of ministry and conversation. More than that, I’m thankful for a Savior who left the splendor of heaven to put on the humblest of all things, human flesh.

    (Wiping tears, because your words today cut right to the heart of things, and thank you for your boldness. Preach it, sister.)

  54. Jennifer

    I love this post and agree wholeheartedly. One thing I would say, though, is that the slight swipe/denominational reference gave me pause as someone who is a part of the denomination you had in mind (guessing because of the caricature we often have to counter from those who aren’t in our churches). I wear jeans to church every Sunday and have at all of the churches of which I’ve been a part. Yes, we have some churches where form is a bigger deal, but that’s everywhere and all denominations and I’m not sure implying it’s a denominational issue is helpful to your point. Promise not critical in general here because agree with your point but as a very active very connected southern baptist south of the mason dixon I grieve when those outside our churches who make comments that paint us with a broad brush on the basis of limited or previous experience when so very many of our churches are working hard to shake that perception. Please know I don’t mean that harshly- its because of your ability to see through stereotypes and prejudice that I feel like I can communicate that and hope you get it. πŸ™‚

    1. Marla Taviano

      Hi, Jennifer. So thankful for your comment! And I’m glad I checked, because I totally assumed you were my sweet friend Jennifer in Houston, TX (Baptist pastor’s wife), and I was going to comment to HER. πŸ™‚

      You are SO right about me stereotyping, and I’m sorry. I’m not sorry I made the reference (I just should have included a “not all are like this” disclaimer.)

      Here’s the thing I’ve realized about stereotypes. There’s truth to them. People think all Christians are hypocrites because there ARE some who are. People think all rappers are thugs because there ARE some who are. People think Baptists…

      And I love, love, LOVE that there are so many who are doing their best to overcome the legalism, etc. that led to those stereotypes. Some of my friends have given up and just changed the name of their churches. πŸ˜‰

      I think there are still SO many though in certain denominations that need to be challenged to re-think some issues.

      Shoot. I have to run, and I’m in a hurry and not even sure if I finished my thoughts. More later! Thanks so much for chiming in! Seriously.

  55. Gail

    I don’t know what (or if) this will add to the conversation, but I think it applies, so I will throw it out here.

    My husband just returned from a mission trip to Honduras where he was working alongside believers in some of the poorest parts of that country. They attended worship with them several times. These poor believers who can’t afford to buy anywhere near what we spoiled Americans would consider an acceptable wardrobe, these poor folks showed up at worship (even special week-night revival services) scrubbed and dressed for a special occasion. They were wearing 2nd-hand clothes. Many of them were wearing items that Americans had owned and worn, then donated. The fit was not always right. The season was not always right. The spirit was. They found and kept a set of “church clothes” for every member of the family, and they dressed for church with a reverence that some of our American churches (casual or dressy) lack.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that, at least in my small world of experience, this is not an issue of economics. We have ministered in an area of Kentucky that is far from wealthy. Yet, some Sundays, the barely-making-it family came in dressed better than the family with solid, steady income. Maybe not name brands, but they had on typical “Sunday best” fare: men in collared shirts and slacks, women in a dress or skirt.

    They weren’t wearing this because they “had” to. That congregation had a wide-range of dress (including a very faithful man who was known to wear his slippers and mechanic’s uniform). They were wearing it because it seemed right to them.

    I worry that it’s overly simplified to say, “Many people can’t afford to dress up.” Last I checked, thrift stores sell a wide range of clothing for comparable prices. πŸ˜‰ I’m not saying anyone should feel obligated to dress up. I don’t see that in the Bible, either. But I think this whole discussion is more about attitudes, perceptions, and acceptance than economics.

    1. Gail

      And here’s what I had to say yesterday in the facebook comments yesterday.

      “I wear a skirt and heels to almost all worship services. I sit with people who have on slacks, jeans, shorts, whatever. I have never in our church heard anyone mention how people are dressed (as in running off people for not being dressed… up enough). My decision is personal.

      “However, at the summer camp we direct, we have a dress code for worship services. We ask the campers to “dress up” each evening for worship. We define that as no shorts, nice jeans or khakis for the boys with a collared or cleaned up t-shirt; skirts, capris, or nice jeans for the girls. We have found great spiritual value in the act of preparing ourselves outside for worship — because it helps us simple people connect with the idea that we are more importantly preparing our insides.

      “It’s not about judging others. It’s not about setting up rules to make people wear what they don’t have. It’s not about highlighting the difference in our economic status. It’s about setting that time aside as holy. We don’t wear our play clothes to worship because the worship isn’t about us. It’s about God.”

    2. Gail

      One more thing: isn’t much of this evidence of our general cultural shift? I was watching Lawrence Welk on PBS the other day (don’t judge me), and I commented on how dressed up the audience was. All the men had on suits and ties, the ladies had on nice skirted suits and jackets. Think about what the average audience wears today. We’re just more casual in general. A generation or two ago, there was no such thing as “business casual.” People used to dress up to go to the theater and to fly on a plane. Not today. I think much of the tension about this topic is really related to our comfort (or discomfort) with the direction of society as a whole, not just church.

    3. brooke

      just because most of us are so far removed from the poverty that wouldn’t allow us to purchase a $3 pair of shoes at the thrift store, doesn’t mean its not a real issue for others in our community.

      i’ll admit to having a strong (and bias) opinion on that because 40 years later, my mother still doesn’t like to talk about what happened when she lost her Sunday shoes – because her family couldn’t afford to replace them.

    4. Marla Taviano

      Good points, Gail. We have some poor friends in Cambodia who dress beautifully for church.

      And yes, the thrift store has affordable dress clothes. πŸ™‚ That’s something I left out of my post (and hope to address tomorrow)–my own un-girlyness and how that also affects what I wear. Dresses just don’t appeal to me on any level.

      1. Mandy

        I hate dresses, too, Marla.

        Gail, I love what you wrote about not having to have a lot of money to dress for church. I was thinking about India and how the Indian women often dress so beautifully there even when they live in the poverty-stricken slums. I don’t know a lot about this, but I was thinking about dressing with dignity, what it means to wear your best clothes, etc. I just love this conversation – it’s really got me to thinking.

        I hate dresses, but I like to wear comfortable, modest, well-fitting clothes, in colors and styles I like to church and elsewhere (including at home). Here’s what I wrote on my blog yesterday:
        “I don’t want to get to the point that what I wear doesn’t warrant mental space. Actually, I’ve almost been there, and it wasn’t good (see below for more details). My goal is balance. I don’t want to obsess about clothes/looks. That is definitely unhealthy. However, I think God does call us to dress with dignity. I’m not into making other people uncomfortable because of what I’m wearing. That could mean dressing immodestly, or it could mean over-dressing for style/fashion, or it could mean sloppy dressing. My goal is modesty, decency, dignity, beauty, and maybe a splash of color for joy (there’s a reason God created colors and the beauty of nature). I have a friend who shared with me about a gift her mom had given her: the ability to dress with style and modest beauty on a very tight budget with thrift store clothing. I admire that. I aspire to that.”

        My husband shared with me yesterday that one of the best-dressed women at the school where he works buys all her clothing at thrift stores. Pretty cool.

        Also, I was brought up with the attitude that you have to wear different clothes every day or people would think you were weird. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter whether or not I wear the same outfit to church week after week. I don’t need a lots of different outfits, just a few basic ones that fit me, keep me warm and modest, etc. I totally admire people who have one “church” outfit that they wear every week to church. I think I might become one of them. Then I could give away more clothes!

        And I love all the talk of not judging others based on what they wear, while still putting some thought into what God is directing me in the area of clothes. We all have our own convictions in this area and God gives us freedom here within the modesty boundary. “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godlinessβ€”with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 ESV

  56. Keri

    Wow girl!! Preach it! Thank you for reminding us that it’s not the “what do you wear to church” argument or the drinking argument or the rock music argument that we need to be battling. It’s 100% the “are you being obedient to what God is asking of you” argument that matters.

    I have gone to super casual churches and more formal churches and tend to morph my wardrobe accordingly. I have no big theological reason for doing so…..I just go with the flow I guess.

    Great, great job on this post. I loved it and you!

  57. amber

    So proud of you.
    Poignant. Beautiful. And honest.
    And I cheered and cried and nodded my head.

    God does deserve our best. But just like the Bible doesn’t say anything about my fondness for a margarita with my salsa at the Mexican place, neither does He say that my jeans and Old Navy teeshirt from 38 clearance racks ago aren’t my best… But my best is my heart blessing His heart with worship and praise for being such a precious God that just desires friendship and fellowship with His children… I get sad that people think our God is so shallow to look at the clothes we’re wearing as whether we’re worthy of worshiping Him or not. Seems like we’re putting Him in a very small people-sized box when we do that.

    Again…love you.
    Even more than teeshirts and flip flops. Whoa.

  58. Jen Hanson

    The mindset that it is “right/respectful/giving God your best” to dress up on Sunday just makes me so sad when I think about the poor here and across the globe. This preference/tradition that is being presented as God’s opinion is so discriminatory against those who can’t afford dressy clothes (or sometimes even a comb and shower) because they are trying to keep food on the table and the lights on (heck – what about those without either a table or lights??)

    Well-articulated post Marla – thank you.

  59. Mel

    Just happened upon your blog and I am so happy to read your words. I am a Pastor’s wife and I have to remind myself of that all the time! My mouth seems to be faster than my brain! πŸ™‚ I wish ppl would spend less time on the “fashion show” on Sunday mornings and realize that all God wants is for us to bring ppl to him no matter what they look like, smell like, or dress like! I often wonder how many more ppl would feel safe to come into a church if they didn’t have to worry about what to wear.
    Thanks for your words!
    From a Jean wearing Pastor’s Wife πŸ™‚

  60. Wendy

    I didn’t read the other discussions about this, and rarely comment, but just wanted to say this. My husband wears jeans to church, has since the day I met him, and I used to be a little put off by it, because I grew up dressing up going to church, so I continued this tradition. But over the years I’ve started dressing up less and less, mostly because I don’t work outside the home anymore, so my wardrobe is now mostly jeans! (my girls dress up, but mostly because my oldest LOOOOOOVES it, and my youngest has inherited all of her dresses, and church is the only place for them to wear them), and on occasion I do too, but I’ve realized over the years that it doesn’t matter to God, so why does it matter to me. Since I’ve started dressing up less, nothing has changed in my relationship with Him, and in fact, I’ve enjoyed not worrying so much on Sunday mornings about what to wear. It’s brought freedom to me in a way I never really realized until I read your post and started thinking about it. Thanks for your words. I’m sorry to know that you were hurt by things others said on the other posts. That makes me sad.

  61. Janelle

    This past weekend….I stayed another night to go to ” Sanctuary Church – Columbus…( Gabe & Marla’s Church ) ….I hadn’t planned on it. I had my completely freyed jeans (sp)….a guy that works with Rock’s – garage sale bought sweatshirt….and my ” slipper moccasins” that I just slip on…to get the mail or what ever ~ seriously. That is all I had….no earrings…”slop clothes, comfy – go to Gabe’s house clothes….take a walk clothes. ” Go to God’s house, comfy clothes ” ” Worship and forget about yourself clothes” I have to admit….I thot, seroiusly, Janelle are you really going to their church for the first time, dressed like you would feed the horses ? But the need to go…out weighed….the clothes. The Worship of GOD, outweighed the clothes… GOD SPOKE…through Pastor RICH…outweighed the clothes…
    When we got home, Marla said, ” did anyone say anything?” …If I would of been quick enough …I would of said..” YES – GOD DID “. Their church is just that….dressed to the nines….dressed by 9…just everyone ” covered themselves….and God covered the rest. Thanx Sanctuary for bringing your A game – for letting a 1st timer…..one in a suit….one not suited….worship JESUS CHRIST alone.

  62. Kathi Denfeld

    I am thankful to attend a come-as-you-are church as well. If I am late (which I always am) it is because I am trying to find that one child shoe that was there ten minutes ago, not because I am trying to find the perfect accessory.

    On the other hand, I have to confess that God has been whispering to me about the way that I present myself lately and I am trying to do better in caring for myself with clothes that actually fit me and hair that looks groomed. I do it because God does not frown down upon pretty things, because it pleases my husband, and because I am trying to send a balanced message to my almost teen-age girls. Thank God that He sees our heart.

  63. Susan

    Well-said, Marla! If I had to worry about what to wear and get suits, ties, dresses, & tights for everybody to go to church, we’d probably stay home! God doesn’t want that temporal stuff getting in the way of worshiping HIM! (On the other hand, I have been terribly distracted when worship team members look like they rolled out of a cardboard box before taking stage. Ahh!) πŸ˜‰

  64. Heather in AL

    I love your heart. LOVE. IT. I attend a Southern Baptist church south of the Mason-Dixon line and am so thankful that our pastor, David Platt, models this principle. Wear what you want, invest in others, according to your own conscience. It’s a blessing and a relief not to be trapped by someone else’s expectations.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’m so thankful for your pastor!! He’s one of my heroes of the faith. Thanks so much, Heather.

      p.s. Don’t tell anybody, but I have NO idea where the Mason-Dixon line is. Somewhere north of B-ham, I take it. πŸ˜‰

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