This is a guest post by Paula Mooney. It first appeared in LuckMag and is published here with permission of Paula to whom we are grateful.
The other day I was thinking about the time when I was in the basement of my old church attending some sort of training session for us “leaders,” as churches are apt to call volunteers who are led like sheep to the slaughter into ministry work. I had donned my favorite white sweater, one composed of yarn that was knitted or crocheted into a pattern that allowed small rectangular spacing in between each section. I wasn’t crazy — I knew I’d be spending time around some holier-rolling-than-thou saints — therefore, I probably wore some kind of tank top underneath. (Unlike the time I wore the same sweater to my former job in California with just a bra underneath, and my female boss at the time kept glancing down during our conversation.)
But back to the church basement. All of a sudden, this older geezer of a man sidled up next to me and chimed, “Are you cold? Are you cold?” Before I could even open my mouth to begin to formulate an answer, he responded for me to his own inquiry. “The reasons you’re cold we’ve already discussed,” he said, proudly referring to a discussion the teacher had just had with us members about appropriate church attire. I couldn’t tell if his statement reflected genuine grandfatherly concern for his “sister in Christ” or a kind of Pharisee-like creepiness.
Either way, I probably could’ve found some guidance for dressing in the fashion section for women on Godinterest.com, if the site would’ve existed back then. Years later, at a different church, I’d find myself being admonished a bit more gently and less directly in another ministry meeting, all because my cute white t-shirt with the “blinged-out” bedazzled cross on the front was apparently a little too fitted.
Ah well…church fashions may always be a point of controversy, especially in light of all the hubbub surrounding famous Christians like Erica Campbell and Meagan Good lately, two beautiful women whom I believe dress just fine for the entertainment industry. Besides, I hate it when some places of worship go overboard with talk about women “tempting their brothers to fall.” At least some are progressive enough to ban the men from wearing muscle shirts. At least they realize that some of the men’s Christian fashions we uncover can be just as provocative:
Okay, back from that trip to muscle-land.
My main point is that I’ve learned that dressing for church might have evolved over the years, but no matter what, just because you wear a skirt down to your ankles doesn’t mean you’re not a sinner in need of saving, and simply because a bit of dÃ©colletage shows doesn’t mean you’re in a hand basket heading to hell.
Following the unction of the Holy Spirit guides us into what’s really proper attire for us to wear — whether it’s for a Sunday morning service, a Saturday night contemporary celebration, or any other day of the week. In the same way that God looks upon the heart, it’s more important to start there in gleaning where a person’s coming from, and not sum them up in one judgment based solely on their wardrobe.