Sunday, November 4, 2012

Church Clothes

As the weather's been slowly turning to cold in central Pennsylvania, I've been pondering a few things about clothing.  Most of my clothing are bagged up in a storage unit in Utah, so I've been rotating the same 3 pairs of pants each day.  Realizing that this is more pants than many people in the world even own, I've tried reflecting on gratitude, and enjoying this more simple wardrobe.  (Thankfully, I have about 20 shirts to rotate through, but they're mostly solid colors.  I have to wonder if people get sick of seeing me in another crew-neck, bright colored shirt with the same cardigan over it.)

Last week I talked with my friend, who shared an experience of a little boy in church who couldn't afford anything but his play clothes to wear to church.  He typically showed up in jeans, until the Sunday when his Primary President pointed out in her lesson how it's important to not wear play clothes to church.  Of course, she didn't single him out by name.  But this was the last Sunday my friend has seen him at church.  Do you think he felt a little unwelcome?  Or maybe he went home and told his parents, "I'm not allowed to go to church unless I have dress pants."  I wonder if any of the other kids felt inclined to tease him or laugh at his jeans.

(photo source - what a great dress code website!) 
When I hear stories of this, I'm tempted to wear pants to church.  That, and the fact that the guys in suits get to control the thermostat, while I'm culturally expected to show up in a skirt.  No one prohibits me from wearing a suit like them, but surely I know I'd get the looks, and most certainly a joke from the members who think I should know better... like my mom.  

Beyond me wearing pants, however, I understand we're expected to wear our "Sunday Best".  But who determines that?  Would Jesus show up to church in a suit and tie?  Or would he make sure his hair were parted on the side, and slicked with hair gel?  Would it be trimmed above the ear and the collar?  Just curious.

(Another great pic from Ben Lippen Dress Code's blog. Don't know where they got the pics, but thank you!) 
Alma warns us of becoming lifted up by our "costly apparel" and our cultural expectations.  We hear about this in Alma 4: 6-15.  I'll share verse 6 and 8.

And it came to pass in the eighth year of the reign of the judges, that the people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes, for they began to wear very costly apparel. (vs. 6)
For they (meaning Alma and other leaders) saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure. (vs. 8, words in italics added by me) 
These people had been a humble people, and because of their humility, they began to be industrious and prosper.  Because they became so prosperous, they then became lifted up in their own eyes, and changing their priorities, such that being scornful to one another did not cause them to realize their growing lack of charity – or pure love of Christ – toward one another.

So dare I wear pants to church?  Will I get persecuted?  I'm not really one to care to perform social experiments, just to see if I can get people riled up.  But I'm almost tempted to wear pants, just because it really doesn't matter, and it might just help some future investigator feel a little more comfortable being in our houses of worship.

And to push the issue farther, I'd wager a guess that no where in the scriptures does it say that women need to wear a skirt to church, little boys need to wear polyester pants and not jeans with holes, and that men must wear a tailored suit with tie to be appropriately dressed.  I can guarantee that little boy in my friend's church didn't care that his pants didn't fit the bill, until sister Primary President ridiculed him, albeit not by name.

This issue grieves me.  I know it's not that big of a deal, but it was big enough for Alma to give up the judgment seat when this kind of pettiness happened in his day.  He gave it up to Nephihah,
And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.  (Alma 4:19

What do you think?  Has this post impacted you in any way?  Please share your thoughts, if so.  

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