Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing;
true lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part, and o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
In the words of the great hymn, Come Down, O Love Divine, we sing of the shape of our outward vesture, our clothing. In the hymn we sing the prayer of a people who pray that externally we manifest holy charity or love and inwardly humility that weeps with shame at our shortcomings. Good words. Worth more than an occasional sing to be sure. But do we intend them to be more than words.
We live in an age in which we demand, even flaunt, our personal choice and desires. We expect to dress in ways that showcase our assets (to put it kindly) or for the sake of our comfort. If someone else is offended or it seems inappropriate, that is not our problem. Once in the blue moon I have watched that program in which designers teach someone to dress less like a bum or a harlot and more like a person whose dress expects them to be taken seriously and respected. I must admit that I am less shocked by those who dress in ways too casual than those who dress to shock or offend, often screaming their sexuality or their desire to step outside the mainstream. I have been told that there is a web site with actual people shopping at Wal-Mart and it is, as I have come to understood, a sight to be behold. I would suggest that the same kind of surprise might be found in a typical church on Sunday morning.
BEFORE YOU GET ANGRY, I am not suggesting that a coat and tie, dress and full compliment of accessories is required. What I am talking about is modesty first of all and respect for the place where you are. It is a shame that we must raise the issue of modesty in church but we must. It is not only a gender issue but it is primarily one. The church is not the place to showcase your assets. It may not feel out of place to you, but consider those around you. Consider the setting. Our attention is to be upon the Word and Table of the Lord and not on our own different self-expressions. Women and men, girls and boys, need to reflect more humility and less sensuality in their dress in general and especially in church.
Second here is the extremely casual nature of most church attire. We all want to be comfortable but what is comfortable is not always appropriate. Here again the point is not to impose a dress code but to ask everyone to see if their dress is a fair reflection of the inward shape of their heart -- especially on Sunday morning. What might be appropriate for a BBQ or jogging or trip to the beach is not appropriate to the Lord's House. No, you do not have a dress code but you surely know when your dress is in conflict with the rightful attitude of the heart of a people who come to the Lord's House at His bidding.
Finally, the principle here is love. Love for God and love for neighbor. Love that sacrifices preference and comfort for what outwardly befits the inward heart of a people whom the Lord has suffered, died, and rose again to save.God does care when the outward vesture is in conflict with the rightful attitude of the heart or when our dress treats the things of God as casual and ordinary. Adore the Lord in holy attire (Psalm 96:9; Ps 29:2). Do you recall how Moses was told to remove his shoes for he stood on holy ground?
Again, I am not advocating a dress code but some honest reflection as we stare into the mirror before we head to the house of the Lord. Let our outward vesture be a faithful reflection of our inward hearts. Let humility and charity reign. Amen!