Stop dressing so tacky for church
Remember when people used to dress up for church? Casual Friday has now morphed into Sloppy Sabbath.
April 19th, 2014
08:00 PM ET

Stop dressing so tacky for church

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - If the Rev. John DeBonville could preach a sermon to lift the souls of churchgoers across America, his message would be simple:

Stop dressing so tacky for church.

DeBonville has heard about the “come as you are” approach to dressing down for Sunday service, but he says the Sabbath is getting too sloppy.

When he scans the pews of churches, DeBonville sees rows of people dressed in their Sunday worst. They saunter into church in baggy shorts, flip-flop sandals, tennis shoes and grubby T-shirts. Some even slide into the pews carrying coffee in plastic foam containers as if they’re going to Starbucks.

“It’s like some people decided to stop mowing the lawn and then decided to come to church,” says DeBonville, rector at the Church of the Good Shepard in Massachusetts. “No one dresses up for church anymore.”

Church leaders like DeBonville have harrumphed about declining dress standards for Sunday service for years, while others say God only cares what’s in someone’s heart.

But which side is right? What does the Bible actually say about dressing properly for church? And does Jesus provide fashion advice anywhere? Wasn’t he a homeless, Galilean peasant who wore flip-flops?

The answers to these questions are not as easy as they may seem. The Bible sends mixed messages about the concept of wearing your Sunday best. And when pastors, parishioners and religious scholars were asked the same questions, they couldn’t agree, either.

Wearing ties on first dates

There was one point on which both sides did agree: People are dressing sloppier everywhere, not just church.

Take a trek to the supermarket on Saturday morning and you’re bound to run into a sleepy-eyed woman in slippers and rollers at the checkout counter.

Pajamas in public: The battle of 'appropriate' vs. 'comfy'

Or take a walk outside and you’ll be greeted by teenagers slouching around with their jeans sagging over the butt-cheeks.

Even corporate America isn’t immune. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual every day and even tech tycoons like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wear bland T-shirts during public presentations.

It’s a sharp departure from another era in America before the 1960s, when people wore suits, dresses and white gloves in public.

The Rev. Gerald Durley, a sharp-dressed civil rights activist in Atlanta, recalls taking his future wife, Muriel, on their first date. When he showed up at her house, her father opened the door, looked at him, and took him aside gravely, “Young man can I talk to you for a minute.”

“He told me, 'If you’re going to take my daughter out, you can wear one of my ties,'” says Durley, a retired Baptist pastor.

Jennifer Fulwiler, who wrote an article for the National Catholic Register titled, “Why Don’t We Dress up Anymore,” says her great-grandfather would put on a coat and tie just to go grocery shopping.

The reasons why people stopped dressing up could fill a book. Yet Fulwiler offers one explanation that’s seldom mentioned – lack of gratitude.

Fulwiler’s revelation came one day as she watched scruffily dressed people board a plane. She flashed back to a black-and-white photo she had seen of her grandparents boarding a plane in the 1940s. Most of the passengers were dressed in suits and ties and dresses because air travel was such a privilege at the time.

“We dress up for what we’re grateful for,” she says. “We’re such a wealthy, spoiled culture that we feel like we have a right to fly on airplanes,” says Fulwiler, author of “Something Other than God,” which details her journey from atheism to Christianity.

Church is like air travel now – it’s no longer a big deal because people have lost their sense of awe before God, Fulwiler says.

Yet some of these same people who say it doesn’t matter how you dress for church would change their tune if they were invited to another event, Fulwiler says.

“If you had the opportunity to meet the Queen of England, you wouldn’t show up in at Windsor Castle wearing jeans and a T-shirt,” she says.

The church customer is always king

Shouldn’t people have that same reverential attitude when they show up at church to meet God, some ask? After all, doesn’t your dress reveal the importance you attach to an occasion?

Just what do you mean, 'dress festively'?

That sentiment, however, is seen as hopelessly old school in many popular megachurches across America. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual Sundays.

And many of the popular megachurch pastors are middle-aged men who bound onto the stage each Sunday dressed in skinny jeans, untucked Banana Republic shirts, and backed by in-house Christian rock bands. They’ve perfected a “seeker-friendly” approach to church that gets rid of the old formal worship style with its stuffy dress codes.

But there’s a danger in making people too comfortable in their clothes on Sunday morning, says Constance M. Cherry, an international lecturer on worship and a hymn writer.

Some churches have embraced a business-oriented “the customer is always right” approach to worship that places individual comfort at the center of Sunday service, says Cherry, author of“Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services.”

“Many young people and boomers judge the value of worship service based on personal satisfaction,” Cherry says. “If I get to wear flip-flops to Wal-Mart, then I get to wear flip-flops to church. If I get to carry coffee to work, I get to carry coffee to church. They’re being told that come as you are means that God wants you to be comfortable.”

What the Bible says

The Bible says that’s not true – people had to prepare themselves internally and externally for worship.

In the Old Testament, Jewish people didn’t just “come as they are” to the temple in Jerusalem. They had to undergo purification rituals and bathe in pools before they could enter the temple, says Cherry, who is also a professor of worship at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Both Old and New Testaments suggest that people should not approach God in a casual manner, Cherry says. Psalms 24 urges the faithful to “ascend the hill of the Lord …with clean hands and pure hearts.”

When Jesus taught in the synagogues, he also observed the rules and decorum of being in God’s house, Cherry says.

Cherry isn’t calling for a restoration of first-century cultural norms, such as women covering their hair in worship, or a rigid dress code. She says churches should meet people where they are, and make even the poorest person feel welcome.

She just says that preparation for worship should give less thought to people and more thought to the divine.

“There should be some sort of approach to God that will include certain steps to honor the God that is not our buddy but fully The Other,” she says.

Others back up Cherry’s call to keep the Sabbath special. Dressing up really makes a difference on Sunday, they say.

“It puts you in a different mindset,” says Tiffany Adams, a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who grew up wearing jeans in church. “It actually sets the Sabbath apart from every other day.”

And there are still pockets of church culture where no one has to persuade people to look sharp on Sunday.

The African-American church is one such place. Many of its members still insist on dressing up on Sunday because of the historical struggles of blacks. Sunday morning was often the only time in the week that a black person could assert their dignity, says Durley, the Atlanta civil rights activist who also is a retired Baptist pastor.

“On Sunday morning, when you put on your tie, your shirt and put your palms together and slicked down your hair, you were no longer the hired help, you were a trustee, a deacon or you chaired this board and you dressed accordingly,” Durley says.

What would Jesus wear?

There are others, though, who say God cares more about the person’s soul than their style. No one wears a bracelet today asking, “What would Jesus wear.” Clothes just weren’t important to Jesus or the early church, they claim.

The early church was anti-hierarchical and adopted a “come as you are” approach to worship, welcoming outcasts and the disenfranchised who often couldn’t dress in fine clothes, says Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

Raschke cites Mark 12:38, where Jesus mocks the fine clothes worn by the Pharisees, a group of elite Jewish religious leaders of his day.

Others cite James 2:2-4, where the writer of the New Testament book criticizes early Christians for discriminating against poor people visiting the church in dirty clothes and favoring the man “wearing a gold ring and fine clothes.”

“Adopting a dress code would not only be suicidal for American Christians who are swimming against the stream of casual secularism, it would be antithetical to what Christianity sees increasingly as its abiding mission – to reach those who are marginalized and ‘don’t fit in,’ ‘’ Raschke says.

Some people, though, remain convinced that casual Sundays are getting too sloppy.

“The casualness of Sunday church attire has gone too far,” says DeBonville, the pastor of the Massachusetts church. “It’s about respect and honoring God.”

When DeBonville looks across the scruffy fashion landscape of America, he sees only one profession that’s holding the line against tacky dress.

It’s not the preachers or priests, though. These people belong to another profession whose members aren’t exactly known for respect and honoring God.

“The last ones wearing shirt and ties are the politicians,” DeBonville says.

Easter is supposed to be about the renewal of hope, but when asked if the spread of sloppy Sabbath can get any worse, DeBonville sounds gloomy. Yoga pants in the pews, pajamas near the altar – will everyone soon start showing up at church dressed like “the Dude” in the film, “The Big Lebowski.”

Nothing would surprise DeBonville anymore.

“There’s growing casualness everywhere,” he says. “I don’t know if it can get much worse.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Church • Easter

soundoff (1,006 Responses)
  1. lingjo

    There's a difference between wearing flip-flops because that's all you have and wearing flip-flops because you don't want to make the effort to tie your shoes for church. You don't have to dress THE best for church, but you should make an effort to dress YOUR best.

    April 20, 2014 at 6:41 am |
    • Gerry Ellenson

      As a social services supervisor, I told my workers that how they dressed reflected how much they valued their clients. Under-dressing said "this is all you are worth". (In the case of social services, one could overdress as well, saying "look how much better off I am than you are.") It seems to me that how one dresses going to church says to Jesus "This is what you are worth." If folks could keep that in mind, I think they'd dress better.

      April 20, 2014 at 6:49 am |
      • lean6

        Clearly, you're dressing for the review and approval of others...not God. Don't lie to yourself. Criticizing others and trying to disguise it as anything less is pretty pathetic.

        April 20, 2014 at 6:54 am |
      • flightfromfrostmtn


        The difference is: you dress decently for your profession – im on board with that. Good policy.

        The church on the other hand is trying to pass itself off as something it isn't and is using an appeal to authority to achieve dominance over a person.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:07 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        What if they are unable to afford to dress better?

        April 20, 2014 at 7:09 am |
        • sandyb57

          Thank you.

          April 20, 2014 at 9:51 am |
        • henrystockwell

          That's fine if they can't dress better. The article is about people who can dress better but choose not to out of laziness or because they think it's "OK" to look slovenly. It really says more about them than anything else.

          April 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          henry: Where does it state a damn thing about it being about people who can dress better?? Stop this holier than thou crap, it makes you look like a fool!

          April 21, 2014 at 9:10 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      So the homeless guy attending and wearing rags should make more of an effort?

      April 20, 2014 at 6:53 am |
      • henrystockwell

        This article is about people who CAN – who are ABLE to dress better. If you're wearing flip-flops and a t-shirt because you're poor, that's a different story than people who are just lazy and will wear what they want, regardless of where they are going. That being said, I would have much more patience with someone who is homeless, seeking spiritual guidance versus someone who can dress better but is too lazy to do so. That's an easy thing to fix for most people. Putting on a pair of slacks and a shirt with a collar is much better and takes no more effort than putting on a t-shirt and blue jeans.

        I wear a suit and tie to church because I respect the church. I know God doesn't care what I wear – and I don't dress well for church to please Him. I do it because I respect my house of worship and because I was brought up to dress nicely for church.

        April 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Of course god doesn't care!! There is zero evidence that your god even exists, let alone gives a rats ass about anything.
          The article doesn't specify that it is about people who can dress better...stop speculating an assumming (makes an ass out of you-not that you need help).

          April 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
        • Christine

          No, this is an article about how NOT to get glared at when your clothes aren't custom tailored and all the best designer labels. I wear a modest dress, below my knee, no bare shoulders, it's not all stained and worn, it's pretty and I feel nice wearing it. But the glares I get in churches where people dress to outdo each other makes me sick. They wouldn't be caught dead dirtying their hands w/ ministering to the sick or poor or visiting someone in jail – heavens! They might get a run in their stockings!! That's just simply asking TOO TOO much!

          April 26, 2014 at 3:51 am |
        • ihatetrolls2013

          How can you tell whether or not someone CAN or CANNOT dress better? You don't know what they have in their wardrobe? You don't know how much disposable income they have. You don't know what may be going on in their life that might be a contributing factor to how they are dressed.

          The problem here isn't that people are going to church dressed down. It's that people who are supposed to be at church engaging in worship are instead worrying about what someone else is doing/wearing! These members of the clergy need to focus on what is actually important (assuming you believe religious belief is important). It isn't their business what someone else is wearing. This is a form of judgment which they should not be engaging in. If "God" has a problem with it, then let "God" handle it.

          August 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
    • lucas7041

      The problem with your statement is that what we perceive as "looking your best" is a social construct. God never made any sort of statement that would suggest that he thinks a person looks better in a dress suit than in jeans and a t-shirt. None of the clothes people wear today were even around in Jesus's time, everyone wore robes back then so how can you make a statement that God prefers one style of dress than another.

      April 23, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
  2. freedomnurse

    The author makes the mistake of calling Sunday the "Sabbath." The fourth commandment clearly states that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, the day we call Saturday. And the Seventh-day Sabbath is NOT the Sabbath of the Jews. As the commandment states the seventh day "is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." There is no scripture to justify the practice of keeping Sunday as a holy day. http://www.sabbathtruth.com/free-resources/article-library/id/912/which-day-of-the-week

    April 20, 2014 at 6:40 am |
    • henrystockwell

      It doesn't matter. You're nitpicking. Yes, we see that you're intelligent.

      April 21, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
      • freedomnurse

        Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?" Matthew 15:3

        April 22, 2014 at 4:41 am |
  3. davidlv67

    If you can do your job and dress nice too, more power to you. What is our job? Taking care of our bodies? Taking care of the earth? Does burning fossil fuels to go worship the creator of the earth make sense? Can you ride a bike to worship and still keep track of cuff-links? Has anyone heard of change? Were not talking about Richy and the Fonz anymore.

    April 20, 2014 at 6:37 am |
  4. dthomas1970

    So many people forget that Jesus wore a" dress" and was barefoot. Really makes me wonder if he would be accepted in these church's and today's society.

    April 20, 2014 at 6:17 am |
    • usmc2000

      no people don't forget that. what you are missing is by dressing nicely, you are showing respect. respect not only to God but to everyone else in attendance. sure Jesus dressed in sandals and robes, and if that is the best you have, you should too. otherwise, show some respect.

      April 20, 2014 at 6:27 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        What you seem to be missing is that your imaginary friend doesn't approve of judging and by saying it is disrespectful is doing exactly that! It doesn't matter how a person dresses for your cults meetings...you should be happy anyone attends in this day and age!

        April 20, 2014 at 6:29 am |
        • usmc2000

          now you're just trying to be insulting (re: cult meetings) and are clearly a troll. if you can't understand that some people lack the ability to show respect, than you are likely one of them. i know respect, for God, for others, and even for you. as a Marine it is a part of me. but don't confuse respect with weakness.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:34 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          I call it as I see it. Not trolling, if that were the case I wouldn't be here every day-so perhaps it is you trolling! No respect gets given to that which can't be proven to exist. I know the meaning of respect and give it to those who can be shown to exist, not the vindictive murderous ass of a god you believe in-that thing doesn't merit respect of any form. If it were real, it would be held in prison for its crimes against humanity.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:39 am |
      • crusafontia

        I'm an atheist, and not big on fashion either, but I still tend to agree with you. I do try look my best in any public gathering, at least neat and clean, avoiding tacky t-shirts.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:04 am |
        • G to the T

          Some people like to dress up, some don't.

          My company has a fairly relaxed dress code, but some people still show in shirts and ties. Because they feel it's more respectful? Usually, it's because they enjoy dressing up. I even had a friend switch to Sales (which works directly with the customers) as an excuse to dress up.

          Only people who dress to impress seem to think that not "dressing up" is a sign of disrespect.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:28 am |
      • sam stone

        why do you feel that god cares what you wear?

        April 20, 2014 at 8:13 am |
      • lucas7041

        How is dressing a particular way showing respect to anyone. What clothes look good is a matter of opinion. In my opinion, no man looks good in a suit or tuxedo because I thing suits and tuxedos look absolutely ridiculous. So technically I could make the argument that people showing up to my church dressed "formally" aren't being respectful to me because they are dressing in a way that I believe looks ridiculous. Furthermore, were in the bible did God establish what he sees as "formal".

        April 23, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
    • henrystockwell

      Men did not wear "dresses". They wore a loincloth (and usually that was all if they were doing manual labor), but often also wore a tunic over the loincloth. Due to the ritual purity laws, most had at least one change of clothing available at all times.

      April 21, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
  5. bobc4d

    I always thought religion was about the heart, spirit and paying reverence to God , not what you're wearing. Obviously one should not wear a swimsuit but what is wrong with shorts, t-shirt and flip flops if one is there for the right reason: to serve God and be with others who believe in the same. It seems "modern" church seems more interested in the production than the product.

    April 20, 2014 at 6:13 am |
    • usmc2000

      what is wrong with showing some respect by wearing nicer clothes? it is not about fashion but respect. if flip flops are your best clothes than that is great. but when i see kids (teens) go into church wearing tank tops and dirty shorts hanging low, and i know their family has money, i see that is a lack of respect for God and everyone else in attendance.

      April 20, 2014 at 6:21 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        It is hard to disrespect a god that can't be shown to exist. Furthermore, who cares how they dress? If your imaginary friend so shallow that it judges people based on clothing? Are you so shallow that you judge people like that?

        April 20, 2014 at 6:23 am |
        • usmc2000

          you clearly do not believe in God, which is fine. don't "preach" about how to go to church since it is not your thing. God is not shallow about fashion most likely. i'm not shallow about it either. my point is that you dress nicely to show respect. respect is something lost on most in today's society. whether you believe in God or not, people should know how to show respect to others, and that is my point. not about being elite or shallow or fashionable. just make an effort.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:30 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Sorry but as a recovering Christian and one who is not blinded by the fallacies, I will keep talking until Christians learn respect and keep it in their homes and churches. Stop judging people and learn to mind you own business!

          April 20, 2014 at 6:32 am |
        • usmc2000

          and maybe you should follow your own advice.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:35 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Wow, way to twist things! You started this out judging people and not minding your own business-not that that should surprise anyone, Christians like to have their bibles/opinions in peoples faces in regards to so many issues that have nothing to do with them. I'm sorry you feel so persecuted but this is the 21st century-no need for your god or any god-if you can't get by without it, you are a very weak minded person.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:43 am |
        • henrystockwell

          Why are you here giving an opinion about what people wear to houses of worship when you very clearly don't believe in any deity? Why would you care to comment about what people wear to worship a god of whom you don't approve?


          I'm not saying you shouldn't or can't have an opinion, I'm asking why you care. You care enough as a non-believer to post in the religion blog on CNN. Why? Are you trying to convince yourself that you're right somehow by "preaching" to others?

          April 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          henry: It is a public blog, why are you giving an opinion?

          April 21, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          henry: One thing further...the whole dress better crap is one more thing that shows exactly how divisive your ilk is. You contradicted yourself...be a good troll and go back under your bridge! A REAL man doesn't belittle anyone but as is obvious, you're not much of a man-child with imaginary friends-GROW UP!!

          April 21, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
      • G to the T

        "what is wrong with showing some respect by wearing nicer clothes?"

        I think part of it is we disagree that how you dress means you respect someone/something (though I would allow there's some extremes where it is). I see respect as how I treat others and how I'm treated by others. I don't "show" respect. I give it where it's earned. I don't expect respect based on how I'm dressed, I expect respect because I have earned the trust and confidence of my colleagues.

        April 20, 2014 at 8:33 am |
        • usmc2000

          part of how you give respect is taking the couple extra minutes that it takes to button a shirt or tie shoes or at least find something clean to wear. would you go to meet your girlfriend's family for the first time in clothes that looked like you just finished working on your car? likely not, because you want to make a good impression and show a little respect. i just find it amazing that so many do not see it this way.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:48 am |
        • G to the T

          "part of how you give respect is taking the couple extra minutes that it takes to button a shirt or tie shoes or at least find something clean to wear."

          To a certain extent I agree, though I think our standards may vary. Wearing clean clothes (in my opinion) in a minimum. That's about self respect (and hygiene), not giving it to anyone else. Above and beyond that, I think it's a matter of style/preference. If you feel someone is being disrespectful just because of how they are dressed you are judging them on appearances, not integrity.

          April 20, 2014 at 9:48 am |
        • henrystockwell

          Let's be clear: people don't deserve respect until they earn it. They deserve courtesy. There's a difference.

          The issue, as I see it, is that it's just as easy to put on a shirt with a collar and wear a nice pair of slacks as it is to wear a t-shirt and jeans. So why not try to look nicer? Why make an effort to look sloppy, especially when going into a house of worship. ALL religions (and I mean ALL OF THEM) have some sort of ritual when it comes to appearances at houses of worship. As the article explains, some must be ritually clean through purification. Others must wash their feet before entering. Still others wear certain clothes/jewelry.

          What it really comes down to is this: if you believe in supreme being, whoever/whatever that is, won't you want to look nice if you're entering his/her/it's place of worship? Furthermore, as Christians, we are taught that our bodies are our temples – and it's just as important how we treat the inside as we do the outside. Dressing modestly, but nicely fulfills that teaching.

          April 21, 2014 at 7:12 pm |
      • Christine

        THAT, Sir, if purely and completely judging!!!!! Now you've gone straight off the rails – "a family I know that has money". Why? Because you've seen their checkbook lately? How many ppl go disastrously into DEEP debt to impress others by always "looking good" when they should be saving for their kids' futures, or to keep their houses when things go bad or have to have the latest car when one 5 or 6 years old would do just as well and wouldn't cost them $500/month? Didn't we just DO this whole gig about 2010? Hasn't anyone learned that just what's prettied up on the outside could be rotten to the core? The kids show more truth and honesty than do their hidebound, over-critical parents!! It's a mental illness to ALWAYS have to be "turned out" as they used to call it, when it's taking food (or education) from their children's mouths/lives? Threatening where they live when losing shelter like went on has been shown to be critically handicapping to a child who never trusts that ANYthing in their world is ever stable again? Just to dress up to impress the "church" (by which you mean the top folks in the church, your "superiors, just like in the Marines. Just to get ahead. Jesus Himself said a "church wasn't a building", ergo it MUST be the people, which is exactly what He said it was!! Outed yourself this time buddy.)

        April 26, 2014 at 4:06 am |
        • Christine

          This is to USMC2000 way further up. (April 20, 2014 at 6:23 am)

          April 26, 2014 at 4:09 am |
    • henrystockwell

      One reason could be due to the very obvious fact that revealing clothing is a distraction or could cause a weak mind to have lascivious thoughts in a place where such thoughts are to not be thought.

      April 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
      • Christine

        This is one thing I very much agree with, absolutely! But when I've been hounded and literally run out of a church because I wasn't as ($$$$$) "well turned out" as most of the folks were, is a dam shame! I wore modest clothing, didn't slather on the make up or wear gaudy jewelry, I showed respect in the best way I could – but uh oh...in K MART clothes. I don't have all the $$$$$$$$$$ so many churches demand we put into clothes. To what end? Impress God or each other. I don't think God minds that I got my dress at K Mart. The ladies of so many churches I've been through have (minded that is.) I'd rather go to heaven in a K Mart dress than he11 in a Versace gown!

        My husband, Christian as he is, you couldn't drag him into a church w/ a tow line because he's too big to find a suit that doesn't cost a thousand bucks and ALL he owns is jeans and T Shirts, cuz gee, looked at the "Big and Tall Men" catalog's prices lately? $55 for ONE polo shirt??? God only knows WHAT for slacks? And the rest of the men are in suits and ties! We LOOK like it.

        This is an obvious conversation. Blessed be s/he that comes to church in clean clothes w/ clean hair and listens carefully to the sermon and gets something out of it. They're not too busy comparing themselves to others and miss the whole message, perverted ideas of "respecting their church (people)" beside the point! (Mr. Judgemental Marine, I'm talking to you!) Lewd and lascivious clothing is easily definable and has no place in a building where folks need to be thinking about God – not s e x.

        And while we're at it, can we please address the issue of those overdressed women, sitting in the rear of the church, yapping so loud I can't hear the preacher halfway up the church aisle? Hmmmmm? I've listened to you all when I sat closer, you all were GOSSIPING and that's a SIN!!! So dress up, you're still "hooors" and gossips and where does THAT put you in God's eyes? How's that "saved" thing coming along? Gotten a handle on the full concept yet? And here we're worried that someone is in jeans and a T Shirt...... "Judging" is a sin one must repent of as well, ya know.

        April 26, 2014 at 4:32 am |
  6. ajax06810

    I thought church was about faith not fashion.

    April 20, 2014 at 6:08 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      More like money than anything.

      April 20, 2014 at 6:20 am |
      • sam stone

        more like money for nothing, and the chicks for free

        April 20, 2014 at 8:15 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Yeppers, a true tossing away of good money-greatest, longest running con game ever. I'll give my money to something worthy where they don't sell you a line of bull or make you fear anything.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:18 am |
    • henrystockwell

      No one has argued that it's about fashion. It's about dressing nicer than you might normally. Nobody said you had to wear the latest fashions to church.

      April 21, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        An omnipresent, omniscient god would know what you wore all the time, so why not dress up 24/7?

        April 21, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
        • henrystockwell

          Because for me, it's not about dressing up for God, it's about dressing up to look nice in His house of worship.

          People will put on a suit to go out on a date, to impress their date or their date's parents. Why not dress nicely to go to church?

          Don't get me wrong, wear what you want, but it tells me something about you when you choose to dress like a slob then approach the chalice. To me it shows that you couldn't be bothered to make that extra bit of effort. You made the extra bit of effort to go to church, why not make the extra effort to look just a bit nicer?

          April 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
  7. bmullan

    Wearing Sandals to a gathering of the faithful... what would Jesus think...? I bet he'd go get his brown loafers on ??

    You are going to church to participate in faith with others... its never been about a fashion contest and shame on those that look down on others that may not be able to dress the way they think they should... maybe those people should pray a little harder ...

    April 20, 2014 at 6:03 am |
    • thozden

      I guess they didn't understand what Jesus was talking about when he washed the disciples feet.

      April 20, 2014 at 6:07 am |
    • usmc2000

      you can twist this into making it sound like it is about fashion, but it boils down to respect. you dress nicely out of respect for the occasion. not for a fashion show.

      April 20, 2014 at 6:23 am |
      • flightfromfrostmtn

        Is it respect to God...or the establishment? Your really think a creator would be petty enough to worry about clothes?

        no...its about creating an upscale environment so the moneyed individuals don't get completely repulsed by the untouchables.

        April 20, 2014 at 6:30 am |
        • usmc2000

          nope, dressing nice is just a sign of respect. for God, for a date, for your mom, for whoever. just respect you show voluntarily, not out of demand.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:02 am |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          im with you on the date, Mom etc....yes absolutely.

          A running con job that churches are? no...im not going to grant something I believe should be classed as criminal a drop of respect. In fact I will use all the ammo they hand me against their 'enterprise'.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:18 am |
        • usmc2000

          ok Front, I can respect your view. if you are against religion that is your right. i'm just happy we agree on the respect part and what i was trying to say about appropriate attire for certain occasions that the individual views as a respectful moment.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:42 am |
        • henrystockwell

          TruthPrevails, I really have a problem with you quoting the "Judge not lest ye be judged" in such a context. You're leaving out the rest of the verse, which is important in this context:

          Matthew 7:1-3 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

          3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

          You say that usmc is judgmental – and maybe he is, but he is judging "righteously" in that if he were judged by the same measure he judges, he would come out just fine, because he dresses nicely for church and is willing to be judged thereupon. Judge not lest ye be judged...in a wider sense does not mean you just don't make any judgments at all. It means you don't judge others and expect not to be judged in return. We all judge, no matter who we are. If you go to the store and find two pieces of fruit, one less desireable than the other, you are judging. When you picked teammates for kickball in fourth grade, you chose your team members based on ability.

          Please don't get me wrong. I understand that there are some people who simply don't have nicer clothing. I understand that there are people out there who can only afford a t-shirt, jeans and a pair of flip-flops. The point is, if you can dress better, why wouldn't you? Some of us dress nicely for church because we want to look nice. Others of us dress nicely for church because they feel obligated. No one should feel obligated. How a person looks is a reflection of how they feel about themselves. It's been scientifically proven that a person who dresses nicer feels better.

          There are many in my congregation who wear a polo shirt and a pair of nice jeans. They have their hair nicely coiffed and look as though they took a bit of time to prepare themselves for church. No problem. I'm not saying that everyone should show up in their Sunday best, but if you're going to put the effort into going to church anyway, why not put some effort into how you dress?

          An example: last year, my sister didn't come to Midnight Resurrection Liturgy with me because she had some nasty sores on the top of her feet which precluded her from wearing shoes. She chose not to come because the only foot attire she could wear were sandals which would have exposed the top of her feet. She stayed home, as she didn't want to show her feet like that. I wouldn't have had a problem with it, as there was obviously something that kept her from wearing nicer shoes, but it was her decision to not go based solely (lol) on her footwear.

          April 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Stop judging and learn to mind you own business...how people dress is not your business and if you don't like it perhaps locate a cave and move away from society because you'll see a lot worse in public. Grow up

        April 20, 2014 at 6:31 am |
        • usmc2000

          you are a funny little troll. i can say for a fact without blinking you would not talk to me like that in person. perhaps you should follow your own advice and mind your own business little man.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:36 am |
        • ssq41

          another violent Jarhead for Jesus...I'm sure you'd see the actual Jesus of the 1st century CE as "weak" and be the first along with your Roman cohort and nail him to the cross.

          Good ol' American Christianity

          April 20, 2014 at 6:45 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          ss: Yes, that is exactly what 'usmc2000' is. A weak minded stance demanding respect for its god while forgetting that not all can afford to dress better and that there are homeless people who might wish to attend. This person doesn't like to be told not to judge but seems to figure it has the right to judge-the hypocrisy is sickening and rather immoral.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:52 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          us: You need a dictionary first off and you're damn right I'd say that to you in person. Stop trolling yourself...you cam here and passed judgement, totally ignoring 'judge not, lest ye be judged' and when it was put in your face you cry foul-typical Christian!

          April 20, 2014 at 6:47 am |
        • ssq41

          "little man"? A compensation on the part of this jarhead. The Marines I served with were far more professional, competent, confident and had the strongest measure of integrity....but, there were always a few children playing at being a Marine like this one.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:52 am |
        • ssq41

          You are correct, Truth...it has been and continues to be a fashion show in many churches. I attended some Vineyard churches in Florida that were trying to beat that ridiculous atmosphere by encouraging all to dress however they wanted (and needed...based on personal economics). Hats off to them.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:54 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          ssq: Yes, kudos to them...a group that doesn't judge and knows to respect regardless of clothing. If and when I enter a church, I do so for weddings and funerals (thus completely out of respect for the individuals the service is about) and will dress appropriately, however I do not see how usmc could possibly feel it is disrespectful to his apparent all loving god if this god has demanded that people don't judge. Amazing how so many Christians demand others follow their guidelines but yet fail to do so themselves...such hypocrisy.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:05 am |
        • usmc2000

          no, i just know the meaning of respect. ha! and i guarantee you would not say that to my face. that is not me being violent, just truthful that honest. now, i'm finished with your trolling. Happy Easter to you and your family.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:55 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          usmc: How can you guarantee that? I can guarantee you that I would have no issue saying it to you-you can't possibly scare me, you're not quite that powerful. And I'm sorry judging people based on how they dress is disrespectful...you might wish to pick up a dictionary while you're out celebrating Jewish Zombie Day and look up the meaning of the word.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:02 am |
        • usmc2000

          ssq41, nice to hear you served. not sure why you have anger my way. but if you are suggesting i do not have honor or integrity you could not be more wrong. i'll reserve saying Semper Fi, because I am not convinced you even shared in any of the same experiences that i did. not suggesting you are making it up, but you come across that way.

          April 20, 2014 at 6:59 am |
        • ssq41

          For the sake of the integrity of the Corps, I hope you are no longer on active duty.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:00 am |
        • usmc2000

          ss, for the sake of those who actually served in the corps, stop pretending you were in. go back to your make-believe world where you are the hero.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:04 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          usmc: There you go with the judgements again. If hell (hahahaha) is real, it is people like you who will be there. How pathetically immoral and hypocritical of you!

          April 20, 2014 at 7:11 am |
        • ssq41

          Served alongside 3 MarDets on 3 CVNs and worked with a Force Recon Det in the Med...never said I was a Marine.

          Which lends itself to your inability to read without comprehension of both mine and Truth's posts. The Marines I served with were outstanding men and would not have felt the need to resort to measuring their penis size as a response to another American with an opinion.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:10 am |
        • usmc2000

          ssq, any yet that is exactly what you are doing. go back to bed and let the big kids talk now. i'm done with wasting time on you. Happy Easter to you and your family.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:12 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          usmc: You got your ass handed to you because of being a judgemental person and now you are upset??? I'm sure your imaginary friend would disapprove. Instead of telling people what to do (so typical of Christians), try leading by example and mind your own business-how a person dresses is not your business or the business of your church or your imaginary friend-who I'm sure if it existed has much more important things to focus on. You're a morbid individual to be celebrating a horrible sacrifice so you can get a free pass in this world...suck it up old man, your jesus could not have possibly come back from the dead afthttps://widgets.wp.com/notes/?v=20140321#er 3 days, it is merely a story told to you to bilk you of your money and place fear in to. Time to join us in the 21st century and realize you've been living a lie.
          Happy Zombie Day To you.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:19 am |
        • ssq41

          Oh...and I was proud to pt and swim alongside the Marines in my aircrew class at Pensacola and the Marines who attended SERE with me in California.

          Again...all with the measure of integrity one gets with a genuine Marine. What a shame that they allowed you to serve. Ol' Chesty is rolling in his grave.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:15 am |
        • usmc2000

          sad. you are both so shamefully angry people. one with inferiority complex and a need to pass along judgement (while passing it off as claiming others are doing the same). and the other wishing he had grown up to be a real man and served as a Marine instead of wishing he were one. enjoy your day, regardless.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:31 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          usmc: There you go judging again! Not angry at all. Don't mistake my distaste for your religion as anger, it is simply not that and for you to judge is wrong. As I stated, if hell is real (which we know it isn't)...it is you who will be there.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:36 am |
        • ssq41

          LOL!...can't even keep his word that he's "done..."

          April 20, 2014 at 7:34 am |
        • usmc2000

          but it is right for you to judge? please. oh, and ssq, i think your bra is too tight nancy.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:45 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          usmc: You got back what you served out...you would not have been judged, had you not judged first!

          April 20, 2014 at 7:48 am |
        • usmc2000

          nope, i was responding to all the posts that you had been judging to start with. or can't you remember that far back?

          April 20, 2014 at 7:51 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Wow, you ignorant SOB! You are such a liar!!! You started it and now you refuse to take the fall...how hypocritical and immoral...so happy that your ilk is a dying breed-the world will be a better place when people like you are no longer listened to.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:09 am |
        • ssq41

          And he's still not done despite saying otherwise...

          ...and "bra" and "nancy"? Now I'm wondering if you actually served...I would have expected some good "squid" put downs from you...God knows the Corps is full of them and most are justified.

          but all I got for Easter was a bra and a nancy.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:55 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          ssq: He can't even admit his own guilt. I doubt he served as much more than boy/girl scout...under-educated and ill mannered. (I admit to being ill-mannered with him/her but people like this deserve to be treated the way they treat others.)

          April 20, 2014 at 8:11 am |
        • ssq41

          Yep, Truth. The fact that he resorted to "if we were face-to-face" childishness required a response. Of all the branches of the military, the USMC is the one with the most honor and integrity...a genuine Marine doesn't need to declare his penis size in a verbal debate...

          April 20, 2014 at 8:17 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          ssq: I'm just curious if he is seething with anger right about now, upset that he's been shown to be wrong and a liar. He couldn't handle things coming back to bite him in his sorry ass and so he resorted to being vicious. People like him only help to bury their religion...a true benefit to society.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:21 am |
        • usmc2000

          ssq, now i do believe you are a squid (or at least wanted to be one) based on how much you talk about and seem to be fascinated by the word (and probably taste) penis. and truth (oxymoron) you had posted multiple responses to multiple posts bashing people and their beliefs. and my original posts were not putting people down, simply explaining respect which you still have no grasp of.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:22 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          usmc: Wow, are you feeling slightly persecuted? Maybe FAUX News would be better suited to your craziness?? Extraordinary claims and extraordinary judgement calls merit ridicule. If you don't like what we're saying, don't read it.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:25 am |
        • ssq41

          Probably so, Truth. That he kept coming back tells the story. Keep up the passionate work. I've enjoyed your posts since you've been here.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:25 am |
        • sam stone

          why not, jarhead? are you a big, bad blowhard?

          April 20, 2014 at 8:27 am |
        • usmc2000

          sam, sounds like you are going to join truth and ssq's circle jerk. they needed help with that, so glad you could join them.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:30 am |
        • ssq41

          He's baaaaack!

          Which was it? The "CVNs" or the mention of Pensacola...come on 2000!! That I was a squid should have been obvious. I'm guessing you don't read much.

          Point for me that you felt the need to follow me around after you said you were "done." That measure keeps getting smaller and smaller...

          The "integrity" measure, that is.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:30 am |
        • usmc2000

          seems to me that you are following me around. like you mentioned earlier, you enjoy following Marines around. probably hoping to get a glimpse of your favorite man parts. that is why you joined the navy in the first place, right?

          April 20, 2014 at 8:34 am |
        • ssq41

          LOL! 2000...and you're a Christian as well?!!!

          April 20, 2014 at 8:44 am |
        • usmc2000

          and that is your best come back....the christian thing. you sling mud and start to cry when i sling it back. yep, you're a squid. bet yo miss those close quarter days with the guys, huh?

          April 20, 2014 at 8:52 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          usmc: You wish to call us out for judging you based on your belief but yet the judging you are doing is very shallow-saying it is disrespectful to your god not to dress better. There is a major difference between judging the claims of a person and judging based on outward appearances. Christians judge people constantly-on their sexual orientation; on their use of birth control; on what they believe; on abortion; on on on and so goes the list. The hypocrisy is disgusting and immoral.

          April 20, 2014 at 10:04 am |
        • ssq41

          Priceless! 2000....priceless! Lol.

          April 20, 2014 at 9:01 am |
        • sam stone

          usmc: fvck off, you jesus sucking cvnt

          April 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • henrystockwell

      Let's be fair, wearing sandals to church isn't the same as wearing flip-flops to church.

      Flip-flops make that disgusting noise when they smack against your heel. It's unattractive – and distracting sometimes, when they're worn in church. I have no issue with sandals. Jesus Christ wore sandals sometimes. I have an issue, however, with flip-flops due to their overly casual perception – and that icky sound they make when people walk.

      April 21, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
  8. nemo0037

    What if I went to church dressed as first century Christians dressed? Would THAT be acceptable? If not, why not?

    April 20, 2014 at 5:41 am |
    • flightfromfrostmtn

      No – that would deeply offend Jennifer in the above article im afraid – she would be very cross with you indeed.

      April 20, 2014 at 5:49 am |
  9. kylecsteele

    “It’s like some people decided to stop mowing the lawn and then decided to come to church,”

    Why is this a bad thing? If I feel compelled to come to God in the middle of washing my car, great! Now, should I put my shirt on before walking into church? Yes! Surely I don't want to draw a woman's mind from worshipping God worshipping my wonderfully sculpted body and how she can ravish it. Get it?

    April 20, 2014 at 5:39 am |
  10. jcs6


    April 20, 2014 at 5:28 am |
  11. jcs6


    April 20, 2014 at 5:27 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Merely this fools opinion, not actual proof.

      April 20, 2014 at 6:19 am |
  12. flightfromfrostmtn

    Don't like what they wear? simple – tell them to leave – problem solved.

    April 20, 2014 at 5:27 am |
  13. thozden

    Of course, this is America, so we polarize the issue and set people at odds with each other and do not even take a passing glance at the fact that scripture is abundantly clear in Romans 14 about how to handle issues of conscience which have no clear commands regarding them. Respect each others convictions, do not judge each other, and love and accept one another. It is not worth harming unity to force or pressure your brethren to do things the way you see it when they don't understand or agree the way you do.

    You can gently teach others how you believe gratefulness manifests in an outward show of respect in your dress and demeanor without criticizing people for not doing this up to your standards yet. You can also explain why you feel physical presentation is irrelevant compared to the state of the inner heart without making people out to be stodgy old coots. I'm not even Christian but I know this much.

    April 20, 2014 at 5:23 am |
    • flightfromfrostmtn

      Or they can post excepted attire guidelines in clearly seen places. this along with a slight rebranding to reflect the actual focus of your organization will clear up any misunderstandings and help them avoid those unpleasant conversations – like adding Private Social Club at the bottom of signs.

      April 20, 2014 at 5:38 am |
      • thozden

        Aside from clear commands against this in James, Dietrich Bonhoeffer made an extremely convincing case against this sort of thing in his book Life Together. The idea of Christ's work is that sinners from all over the world, enemies of God and each other in their sin, were united in brotherhood by his Spirit. This establishment of the work of Christ is the sole reason that Christians have any connection to each other at all.

        So when people make their own standards and reasons to claim unity, they are creating a counterfeit. They are in one part claiming that they have made a unity of fellowship superior to the brotherhood of the spirit of Christ, and secondly are holding that man-created basis of unity up in opposition to that which Christ established. They thus make an anti-Christ social club in the image of their personal convictions, rather than accept the gracious work of Christ as a sufficient unifying work to enable them to accept each other. In forsaking this, they not only overlook the grace by which they themselves would be saved, but also do not extend that same grace of Christ unto the world.

        The whole central concept of Christianity is that Christ came to save men while they were yet sinners, having already rejected every teaching and standard of God, and God himself. He reached past their willful enmity and did everything, even gave up his own life, to see them whole. Thus Christianity should be marked by a people who never, ever, ever give up on each other or on the world. Using social standards of behavior or personal conviction as the basis of accepting others to your fellowship rather than the grace he himself demonstrated is anti-Christian.

        April 20, 2014 at 5:52 am |
  14. timbithar1

    Never deter people from coming to God because of what they wear or because they are drinking coffee. Oh, and I thought the sabbath was from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday...not the Christian day of worship...Sunday.

    April 20, 2014 at 5:03 am |
    • freedomnurse

      You are correct. The Sabbath was and still is the seventh day of the week, the day we call Saturday.

      April 22, 2014 at 4:41 am |
  15. Vic

    ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰

    Happy Easter Everyone.

    Matthew 28:6
    "6 He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying." (NASB)

    The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ
    Matthew 28
    Mark 16
    Luke 24
    John 20,21


    April 20, 2014 at 3:34 am |
  16. rogerthat2014

    Easter is a day to celebrate adulthood and the end of mandatory church attendance. It's good to be free.

    April 20, 2014 at 1:16 am |
  17. zxdfrt

    "Fulwiler’s revelation came one day as she watched scruffily dressed people board a plane. She flashed back to a black-and-white photo she had seen of her grandparents boarding a plane in the 1940s. Most of the passengers were dressed in suits and ties and dresses because air travel was such a privilege at the time."

    yes, and in the 40s air travel was only for the wealthy.

    “We dress up for what we’re grateful for,” she says. “We’re such a wealthy, spoiled culture that we feel like we have a right to fly on airplanes,” says Fulwiler, author of “Something Other than God,” which details her journey from atheism to Christianity."

    This lady has been under a rock for a decade or two. Most people are losing ground rapidly.
    Grateful to god and the church? For what? a quick glance back at history would provide evidence of murder, torture, discrimination, theft and deception at the hands of just about every religion based out of the ME. .....

    yes.... thank you so very much.

    This whole article is about Church management lamenting their loss of status in society – they should be grateful it lasted as long as it has....the irony in their complaints is hilarious.

    April 20, 2014 at 1:11 am |
    • G to the T

      I'm pretty sure people in the 40's wore clothes that we would now consider "dressing up". ALL men wore hats. Is it disrespectful that we don't wear hats like we use to so we'd have something to take off as a sign of respect?

      Standards and styles change. I hear beards are coming back, are they disrespectful?

      April 20, 2014 at 8:40 am |
  18. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Happy Easter dear Belief Bloggers.

    May you enjoy the holiday weekend however choose to celebrate, or not, the holiday.

    April 19, 2014 at 11:18 pm |
  19. Keith

    Having a cravat (neck tie) separating our head (thinking) from our body (feeling) is a western mind kind of thing to begin with. Not only does it lead us to consider the world and people in inappropriate ways it is even more inappropriate in a Church where we are trying to join our physical worldly selves with our higher spiritual selves.

    I grew up in the world these men are grieving the loss off. I am quite sure that this world is more honest and more assessable to the average person than the formal phony ways of the past.

    April 19, 2014 at 11:16 pm |
  20. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    So, gloves and a veil for women then?

    April 19, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Is Rev. John DeBonville in the clutches of the hatters, haberdashers and milliners lobby who wants to revitalize the Easter Bonnet market?

      April 19, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This whole article reads like a "get of my lawn" rant.

      This was hilarious:
      "Church is like air travel now – it’s no longer a big deal because people have lost their sense of awe before God"

      It's ridiculous on so many levels.

      So God actually cares about appearances?

      Dressing up for church as a fashion show to see who has the best outfits is hardly the answer I suspect the Jesus of the sermon on the mount would be looking for.

      Perhaps churches can hand out hooded medieval monks robes at the door. No vanity is encouraged and everyone meets the dress code. How's that for a solution.

      April 19, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.