A sign in front of a church building invited: “Come As You Are. God Has No Dress Code.” We assume the intended meaning was that casual attire would be welcomed at their services. But is it true that “God has no dress code”?
James made it clear that there must be no discrimination in our assemblies over whether one wears the fashionable clothing of the rich or the shabby raiment of the poor (James 2:1-4). We know that “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). In the world it may sometimes be true that “clothes make the man,” but this should never be the viewpoint of spiritually minded people.
On the other hand, in some respects God does have a dress code. When I saw the sign, I wondered how that congregation would react if someone shows up in the near naked outfits seen in many public places. There may be some churches where shorts are acceptable attire, but the Lord’s dress code is “modest apparel” (1 Tim. 2:9).
There is also a dress code for the heart. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man (person, D.P.) of the heart...For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God adorned themselves…” (1 Pet. 3:3, 4). The text speaks especially to women, but the principle of “adorning” the inner self applies to all. In Heaven’s sight, men and women are measured by character, not by clothing.
We are sometimes asked to define exactly what is modest clothing. It is expected that measurements and styles should be listed. Frankly, such efforts are never absolutely satisfactory and the Bible does not specifically say what to wear. The key to deciding what is modest is within. In the text above, Peter shows that one must get his heart right before selecting what is modest and appropriate for the body. One who has a heart adorned with purity, humility, honor, goodness and virtue will not choose clothing that is provocative, suggestive, ostentatious or lewd.
- David Pharr; Seeking Things Above; - via The Central Message, the weekly bulletin of the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY. Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the congregation. He may be contacted through the church’s website: h ttp://www.centralchurchofchrist.org