Flip-Flops, Short Shorts and Worship


          Our dress in worship is not a "fashion show." But, is it possible to become too casual, too indiscreet or too revealing in our manner of dress when we gather for worship? Recently we were visiting a Wednesday night church service and near us sat a girl wearing flip-flops and short shorts. She was not a little girl. She was a grown up mama girl. She, her husband and a little boy, about 11 or 12 years of age were there for the Bible study time. They might have been visitors too for all I know. I saw some real positive things from this family. They were where they needed to be on a Wednesday night. They were there as a family. They were sitting together, singing, praying and studying God's word. It is not my belief that a person must somehow wear fine and expensive cloths to worship God. However, our manner of dress does seem to reflect our attitude concerning the occasion for which we are gathered.


           The way we dress should be in keeping with or fitting with the occasion. I have never observed a person wearing flip-flops and short shorts or other like clothing at a funeral. In fact, at a funeral, you see an old boy with a suit and tie on and it is obvious that he has not been dressed this way in a long time, if ever. He just wanted to be dressed proper for the occasion, or at least his wife wanted him dressed that way! Some say, "It does not matter how you dress when you go to church." Of course, we understand the terminology, even though it is incorrect. We do not "go to church." "Church" is something that you were added to if you are saved. (Acts 2:47) We attend the assemblies of the church. (Hebrews 10:25) There is one sense in which how you dress does not matter. If you are poor be in the assembly with the clothing you have and you can honor God. If you are rich be in the assembly with the clothing you have and you can honor God. One of the things that I so love about the Walnut Street Church of Christ is that everyone is welcomed and there is no respect of persons caused by social or financial standings. (Acts 10:34-35) This is a church were everybody is somebody. There is another sense in that how we dress does matter. Our dress says something about our attitude, it shows something about who you are, about what you think about yourself and it says something about how we want to influence those around us. 


          The place of reverence in the assemblies: Reverence is a word that expresses our attitude toward God Himself. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him." (Psalms 89:7) Observe that God is greatly to be feared and to be had in reverence in the assembly. Reverence is an attitude that one would have toward another that they feel to be superior. "Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever." (1 Kings 1:31) Our dress says much about our reverence or respect for God. Observe what Joseph did when he was called to appear before Pharaoh the king. "Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh." (Genesis 41:14) What do we do when we go in to appear before the "King of kings and Lord of lords?" Do we just put on our flip-flops and short shorts and go right on in? When we come before God in worship and we serve Him daily our attitude must be that of awe, respect and reverence. Let us ever keep before us God's majesty and His holiness. "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." (Hebrews 12:28) When we come before God we must have a deep and an abiding respect for Him. "But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him." (Habakkuk 2:20)


             The attitude of respect for God: Is your attitude toward God what it should be? Our actions are a direct reflection of our attitudes. How we dress and conduct ourselves either shows reverence, awe love, faith and trust toward God or a lack thereof. We demonstrate our reverence by our actions. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22) Godly, Christian attitudes are absolutely necessary if we are to go to heaven. David wrote, "Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." (Psalms 100:2-4) Our actions, which include the way we dress, must be controlled by the great respect that we have for God and the respect that we have for His revealed will. Modest clothing is the way women who are "professing godliness" dress. Certainly a woman or man whose clothing is not modest is not professing godliness or reverenced by the way they dress. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." (1 Timothy 2:9-10) The wearing of lewd and revealing clothing to worship God is unthinkable, but some do it anyway.


          We live in an age that treats everything as common. We live in a day and age that treats everything as common, even worship. The attitude of Christians must far exceed that of the world when it comes to our dress. Our dress in the assemblies must be pure, proper and reverent. Our dress should not be showy, neither should it be sloppy. When we worship we must come into God's presence with reverence and respect. Though there are no specific Biblical instructions about what to wear in the worship service, the dress of both men and women should show respect for the Creator of the universe. Dress with respect is a good rule for every occasion. Dress with respect for yourself, respect for others and especially respect for God. It should be the goal of every Christian to be careful, thoughtful, and appropriate in our dress. Let us, (1) Recognize the need for modesty and reverence (Genesis 3:6-11), (2) Understand that we are in a battle against worldliness (Romans 12:2), (3) Live as unattached from the world (1 John 2:15-17), and (4) Dress with a God-centered hope in mind.    


          The purpose of this article is not at all designed to bash women concerning the way they dress. Dressing proper for the occasion should be the desire of both men and women. Remember, modesty is first and foremost a matter of reverence and respect for God. Each Christian should dress for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) To become a Christian hear God's word (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24, repent of sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27) After baptism you should show by your manner of life that you are a child of God. A person should ask himself, "What does my dress tell others about me? Does it bring glory to God?"

By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551 Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA