It’s What’s Inside That Counts

Do people get dressed up for church anymore? I think the answer is yes, though it would appear that the more difficult question would be defining what dressed up means. Certainly it is not the case if dressing up implies a suit and tie. For it seems the polo shirt has trumped the more formal shirt and cravat. Personally, I don’t think I have a problem with the switch for, who knows, perhaps I’d be donning the same clothes myself were I in other shoes. Suffice it to say that our tastes have changed. One doesn’t have to show up in a three piece suit to appear respectful. Moreover, the overwhelmingly strong argument has been made that appearances aren’t everything: it’s inside that counts.

In a 1998 newspaper article I randomly found in a google search (here) we are given many examples of how lax things have come: from altar boys wearing tennis shoes to a woman who attended church wearing a sports bra. The Rev. Bruce Benson, quoted in the article, has seen it all and concludes, “… I think we have figured out it really is the heart that matters. If they don’t know it’s disrespectful, then it’s not disrespectful…”.

First of all, I think the average person knows to differentiate between what is and what is not respectful. Whether we are dressing a little more leisurely nowadays than our parents might have is one thing but a line has to be drawn somewhere. Just because we’ve deemed formal wear not necessary for the average Sunday church service (maybe only when the Patriarch comes to town) doesn’t necessarily mean that anything goes. It is ironic, though, that when we look at old, old pictures of church services people were dressed in such a way you’d think their churches were air conditioned and nice and cool inside. One would think the opposite seeing the polo shirts of today.

Perchance we’ve gotten a little too comfortable; maybe a little too familiar with our inner selves. Or, maybe it can be that those who are guided by the presumption that it’s what’s in the heart that counts after all are in the end too concerned in defending their unorthodox appearances that they’ve failed to see that, like their outer appearance, maybe there is something lacking inside as well.


4 thoughts on “It’s What’s Inside That Counts

  1. Just see how “it only matters what’s in the heart” flies when teenage girls come to school dressed like prostitutes. Too hard to believe? I’m shocked at what is allowed in school these days. Ah….but it only matters what’s in the hard that counts.

    In that case, I guess I can go to church in my birthday suit then. Hey, it’ll cut the time in half to get ready. 🙂

  2. In my evangelical punk days I would have told you that it didn’t matter what somebody wanted to wear as long as they showed up and wanted to partake in the celebration. Then a friend came to my best friends wedding in cargo shorts and a t-shirt and I couldn’t convey to him just how offensive the gesture was taken by the groom (granted, my t-shirt wearing friend really had no clue and I was amazed he even woke up that day). I don a tie more often than not now, but I still believe that no one should ever be made to feel uncomfortable for their choice of attire, sans the sportsbra incident, especially when visiting a Church for the first time. That being said, I have to agree with SubDn. Lucas and say that clothing, like cleaning your house and breaking out the good and clean dishes for a guest, conveys how important one regards the event. If the average American college student can spend up to two hours to get ready to go clubbing, is it really too much to ask that everyone put in just a little effort for the entrance and praise of the King of Kings?

  3. ‘It’s what’s inside the heart that counts’ cuts both ways. If we show our casual attitude toward worship by carelessness in attire, then perhaps we manifest something ‘in our hearts’ that needs changing. Or, ‘the truth will out’.

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