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Thursday, September 15, 2011

HOW SHOULD WE DRESS FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP?

 

INTRODUCTION:

1.                  Our worship assemblies serve two basic purposes:

A.                To worship and praise God (Heb. 13:15).

B.                 To encourage and exhort one another (Heb. 10:24-25).

2.                  It isn't hard to see the importance of developing proper attitudes toward all aspects of worship.

A.                In this vein questions and concerns arise regarding how one should dress for public worship.

B.                 We should not be indifferent about such things.

3.                  Worship to God should not be approached with an emphasis upon appearances (Matt. 6:5-6).

A.                We should not want to call attention to ourselves in any way.

B.                 Our culture tends toward a relaxed attitude toward life in general.

a.                   Such is often reflected in what we wear.

b.                  The custom of the day is casualness in appearance.  Businesses have "casual Fridays."

4.                  The subject here is our dress on the Lord's Day for worship.

A.                I recognize that we are discussing that which falls within the realm of personal choice.

B.                 I don't have "book, chapter and verse" for a suit and tie, or a dress for women.

C.                 No one can dictate what others should wear to worship services.  We can set the right example and teach on it.

5.                  It used to be a common conviction that Sunday was a special day.

A.                People used to dress like it.

a.                   We had our Sunday clothes and our weekday clothes.

b.                  Old-timers would make sure they had clean overalls for Sunday.

B.                 The Community Church movement has brought with it a "come as you are" attitude.

a.                   Casual is one thing, slovenly is another thing.

b.                  Low hanging/torn jeans, tee shirts with slogans & logos, caps with satanic symbols seem to be stylish Sunday wear.

c.                   The late generation has been reared on going to ball games and concerts.  Can we not see the need for a different approach to worship?

6.                  With these things in mind let us consider some guidelines that may help to shape our thinking in this area.

DISCUSSION:

I.                   PROPERLY APPLY THE SCRIPTURES.

A.                Which passages apply directly to this subject?

1.                  None.

2.                  By that I mean that the Bible [God's word] does not discuss how we should dress when we worship God publicly.

3.                  Certain principles, however, will apply.

B.                 Genesis 41:14.

1.                  Why would Joseph submit to such improvement of his appearance?

2.                  He was to appear before a king.

C.                 Deuteronomy 22:5.

1.                  It would be wrong to base any prohibition to a Christian upon an Old Testament law such as this.

2.                  Old Testament laws are not our laws today (Rom. 15:4; Col. 2:14; Heb. 8:13).

3.                  New Testament principles apply – men should look like men and women should look like women! (1 Cor. 11).

D.                1 Samuel 16:7.

1.                  Someone says, "It's not the outward appearance, but what's in the heart."

2.                  Granted.  However, our dress is a window to our heart – indicative of our thinking.

a.                   "Alternative" styles [tattoos, body piercings, slouchy look] reflect an attitude of rebellion whether or not one holds that attitude.

b.                  I can't judge hearts, but I can inspect fruit.

E.                 Matthew 8:20.

1.                  Common conclusion: "Jesus did not have fine clothes."

2.                  We know nothing of the clothing of Jesus expect what is given in the crucifixion accounts.

3.                  Jesus' appearance was average (Isa. 53:2).

F.                  1 Corinthians 11:1-16.

1.                  Nobody should try to bind personal opinions based upon this passage.

2.                  Paul himself did not bind any customs or opinions:

a.                   He introduced the underlying principle of headship (Vss. 1-3).

b.                  He appeals to matters of female subordination (Vss. 4-9).

c.                   Vs. 10 is difficult.

d.                  He shows the woman is of the Lord just as much as the man (Vss. 11-12).

e.                   He calls for personal judgment based upon propriety (Vss. 13-15).

f.                   He concedes that the head covering custom was neither an apostolic or congregational custom (Vs. 16).

3.                  Brethren hold four different views on the present-day application of this passage:

a.                   The covering of 1 Cor. 11:2ff is merely the natural covering of hair, no artificial covering is involved (B. Coffman).

b.                  There are two coverings: a woman's long hair and a veil – both are bound on all Christian women (D. Lipscomb).

c.                   The requirement is general involving some "sign of authority" on a woman's head the nature of which is determined by contemporary styles [e.g., a napkin, or hat] (W. Jackson).

d.                  The principles of female subjection and modesty are universal, but the head covering was based upon a social custom not binding today (J. W. Roberts).

G.                1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3.

1.                  In these passages the apostles are not prohibiting the wearing of jewelry or braided hair.

2.                  They are using a Greek idiom that means not so much A, but B.  That is, our emphasis should not be so much physical adornment, but spiritual.

H.                James 2:1-4.

1.                  It's wrong to judge a person on outward appearances.

2.                  It's equally wrong to assume an attitude [dress like a gang member] and cry, "Don't judge me!"

II.                AVOID EXTREMES.

A.                One extreme is that everyone ought to wear dress suits to worship services.

1.                  This may be desirable from the standpoint of men participating in a public way.

2.                  Elders are justified in offering suggestions for those who take a leading role in the worship services and are teachers in Bible classes.

a.                   This does fall within the realm of expediency.

b.                  It is not right to force an opinion.  We can teach and set the right example.

3.                  It is not always practical for people to wear dress suits at all times:

a.                   Not everybody can afford nicer outfits.  Whereas sloppy dress years ago indicated poverty, today it may reflect an attitude [rebellion/anarchy].

b.                  Visitors traveling through, of course, are more casual.

c.                   Sometimes people must leave directly from work to attend services dressed in their work clothes.

B.                 Other extremes:

1.                  Few people are aware that at one time Ellen G. White [founder of Seventh-Day Adventists] claimed a vision from God for a "Reform dress."

a.                   The idea was based on Numbers 15:38-41 and the desire to stand out as God's "peculiar people."

b.                  This "revelation" was an embarrassment – discarded and forgotten.

2.                  A brother and his family I once met did a similar thing.

a.                   They came to believe that all traditional American clothing styles for men and women are immodest and ungodly.

b.                  He reasoned that pants are the same us underwear in Bible times (Jn. 21:7).

c.                   He wore a blue tunic [coat] over matching pants.

3.                  The notion that God doesn't care how we present ourselves to him in worship.

a.                   In line with this attitude people can do better, but choose not to do so.

b.                  A "youth minister" comes to church with his shirt hanging out and holes in his jeans.  His justification?  The teens want him to dress this way.  Who is the role model here?

III.             DRESS MODESTLY.

A.                The most important of all is to dress modestly, especially in worship assemblies.

B.                 Worship services ought to be a safe haven from worldly distractions.

C.                 1 Timothy 2:8-10 exhorts both men and women to put on a holy demeanor.

1.      Women especially are instructed not to dress in order to try to impress people.

2.         Men and women should avoid extravagance and skimpiness.

CONCLUSION:

1.                  Jesus Christ is the proper clothing for all Christians.

2.                  Those who are "in Christ," have "put him on" in baptism – He is seen in their lives (Gal. 3:27).

3.                  We are looking for clothing of a different nature altogether (2 Cor. 5:1-2).

 

 

Dennis Gulledge   Mabelvale, AR

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