Encouraging, Living, Reaching


Do Our Attitudes About Clothes Hinder The Gospel?

Do Our Attitudes About Clothes Hinder The Gospel?

Romans 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The question has been asked, “do we foster an environment where sinners are welcome, or the impression they must come looking like ‘us’.”

Are we making a distinction?

What does looking like “us” mean anyways? And who is “us”? The righteous chosen vs. the unclean masses?

The fact is we are all sinners. Thank God for his grace that removes the guilt of our sin, makes us new and clothes us in Christ’s righteousness.

Until we get new bodies, however, I’m thinking we might not want to make such an outward distinction between us sinners and other sinners when it comes to how we dress.

Not making clothes an issue… at all!

Regardless of your take on this hot topic, lets just drop it, can we? There are as many opinions as there are believers in the church about clothing.

Let’s move from opinion to God’s word which is very strong on dropping this as an issue and can challenge us in surprising ways.

An internal transformation

Back to Romans 12:2. Transformation is internal and profound… literally changing us from the inside out. Conforming is simply working towards an outward appearance that puts on airs of spirituality among believers and perhaps – even worse – the unsaved that dare to venture into our doors.

Emphasis upon outward appearance, and the attachment of external objects to spiritual significance, is confusing and stumbling to those who are genuinely seeking and wanting to be followers of Christ.

Coming as they are

Even in cases where the unsaved are wearing attire with profanity or other kinds of inappropriateness, it is quite likely not an intentional affront and reveals a kind of transparency, that is refreshing, if distasteful.

The attitude of grace and compassion should rule our hearts in response. The mundane issues of choice of dress, style and preference can sometimes become obsessions based on what our own preference is.

How does God see us?

Focusing on the outward inadvertently gives us a sense of superiority if we fit within whatever we define outward spirituality to be. We need to look at the fundamental principle of 1 Samuel 16:7 which illustrates that God looks at things a certain way, and the natural man looks at things differently.

As believers who are drawn to be more like our leader, Jesus Christ, we might want to consider how He looks at things. Clearly, he looks at the heart.

This is the very thing we can sometimes neglect in favor of outward appearance. And the very thing the unsaved are desperately asking, “Can any of you religious people be real and talk to my heart?”

The words of the Lord are important

In Matthew 5:16 the Lord calls believers the ‘light of the world’, and what the believers are to be focused on expressing is our good works and compassion, not how we, or others appear. What kind of light are we shining?

In Matthew 23 the Lord illustrates superficiality at its worst as shown by the Pharisees. In addition to their long list of fake forms of Godliness, He calls them white-washed graves, that are full of dead men’s bones focused on appearing righteous to others.

In so doing, they literally shut the door of heaven in people’s faces. Are we inadvertently shutting the door of heaven in people’s faces by focusing on outward appearance?

James tells it as it is

In James 2:1-4, there is very clear and strong language, that we are not to judge by outward appearance, especially in the context of the local church.

No partiality is to be shown to the person in fine clothing versus the person in shabby clothing. This is equated to making judgments about others, by making distinctions between people by how they dress. This is called out for what it is: “evil thoughts”.

In Colossians 2:23 we have the outward justification by the law as only an appearance of wisdom and religious activity. It is equated to self-made religion and showy extreme acts of self-denial that are useless in resolving the sin that is inside. Are we indicating to the unsaved that we are saved by the law of the flesh?

I could go on and on… We could look at Galatians 6:12, Romans 2:28-29, Hebrews 4, Luke 7:25-28, Isaiah 53:2 and many others.

Becoming relevant in areas that matter

May we simply be culturally relevant in our dress, dropping it as a concern with the saved and the unsaved, so that the gospel of Christ may be unhindered to both.

So that sinners whether saved or not, see our gatherings as safe spaces and are not distracted by something so inconsequential to the kingdom of Heaven, as attire.

Ross Rodgers

Ross Rodgers is in active happy fellowship with the believers at Lampstand Bolton Christian Church. He and his wife, Sarah Lynne have 4 children and serve in the church in various capacities. Ross enjoys writing and has contributed to various Christian topical forums and publications.

2 Responses to Do Our Attitudes About Clothes Hinder The Gospel?

  1. Mark Palmer

    Amen Brother and thank you for the courage to address a potentially thorny issue.

  2. Calvin Fritchey

    i would clarify a few things. Church is NOT for the unbeliever. Paul says 1Cor 14:24-25 ” But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” The “IF” carries on to all the statements. Somehow we have gotten off track as to what a Church is, who are those in it, and therefore we have many “MIXED” congregations where things are done to
    pacify the unbelievers in the mix. To use this thinking to lets just drop it would do well in dropping the headcovering, the Lord’s Supper, and the Word of God for that matter. Now if you are addressing believers
    then I have no problem in dropping the clothing issue to a point. Scripture is clear that things are to be done decently and in order -1Cor14:40  Let all things be done decently and in order.” I am all for “dropping” the coat and tie issue. Unscriptural to make that a requirement as far as I am concerned. However, when dear young and old believers want to dress like bums, wear the modern torn look, wear low hanging necks on dresses so their privates show,, wear short or split high up the thigh stuff, hang their pants off their butts just because they don’t want to wear a belt to make their pants decent, etc then I begin to wonder where their heart and mind is. It shows a total disrespect to others. Same with the Gothic dark clothes, and excessive makeup, unnatural white teeth, and spraggled hair. We’re talking believers. I have no problem with unbelievers wearing any of this as
    Satan has them right where he wants them, putting self on the throne! You see i was raised poor. I wore jeans that had to have patches to cover the tears which were a shame. Sometimes we did not have patches to cover the tears and we went to church shamefaced. BUT WE WENT TO CHURCH! You see no one NOT raised poor could understand that. It’s just a style some say. No we could not afford to keep buying new pants so we recycled old ones as patches for the newer ones getting tears and holes in them. You see, the only times our bellies showed was when we were outgrowing shirts, not buying them too short on purpose. Here’s where we are failing. NO ONE EVER offered to buy me a decent set of clothes for Church, though I was one of the most faithful to attend. Coats and ties were offered, but I could not wear them. In spite of many uncaring saints I would not allow that to hinder me. Those same uncaring saints were also the ones I loved and wanted to be with. They prayed for me, they loved me, they helped me overcome my and their failures! They were far better companions than those in the world in spite of the Coat and tie issues. But be careful we do not judge the coat and tie people as well. Maybe they like wearing that stuff. More power to them
    as they can wear it as long as it is decent and in order and they do not force it on others. I ask, when was the last time you or i help a person with clothes that were indecent? I young man comes in with stinking armpits
    and you take them aside and buy them deodorant, show them how to use it, Show them how to properly wear a shirt whether you tuck it in or not. ddn then spend some time with them in the scriptures? People pay sometimes twice as much for a pair of jeans with all those fake tears in them as if they were decent. They do not know that they are offending some who had to wear those kinds of clothes out of necessity not because it was a fad! How about the gentlemen who wear the baggy shorts and they sit spredaggled with their legs spread apart and their privates broadcasted to the world?? If they wore a decent pair of shorts long enough and narrow enough to hide their privates… not a problem.
    Getting back to the unbeliever coming in… they should feel the LOVE of GOD from the SAINTS, but when they leave they should be fearful in their boots declaring that god really is in this place. Why, God’s word is up held and taught, the people are loving and caring no matter what you look like, how bad you stink, or what you are wearing. If an unbeliever comes in the first time he should feel this way. The second time he comes he will dress decently without even being told because God will speak to him. Actually many unbelievers will dress up better than the believers to go to church. How about this one.95% of the time the guys will dress “DOWN” yet their wives , girlfriends or mothers will dress to the hilt! sometimes it’s really funny! The man comes in with an unwashed t-shirt, scraggly Jeans, and torn shoes, while their wife has an all matching yellow suit and top hat to bot strutting towards the entrance. Neither are decent and in order! The believer dressed like a bum and his girlfriend, wife, daughter come in ALL DECKED OT! Bright Yellow long pants. Bright yellow blouse, wide open showing everything,, bright yellow matching purse, and a bright yellow feathered hat! What a hilarious contrast and what a stern look of I dare you to ask me about my clothes look!
    So yes lets drop the clothes issue for the unbeliever coming in
    So No lets address the issue with scripture, decently and in order (IE you would wear a pajama outfit
    to church!, Ive seen it!)So No to dropping the clothes issues as sometimes it is a measure of the heart adn its turning from God to the world. I conclude perhaps in a judging way! When the stinky , confessing believer drunk bum comes into your church who reaks to high heaven what do y9ou do. Gently touch his shoulder and now your hand stinks and you cant get rid if the smell for a week. Sneak them to a back room , give them some food, and money , and then shoo shoo them out as quick as you can?? Anyone ever took them to their house and gave them a shower and washed their clothes? I’ve been in meeting with the new modern style dress. The majority of them are wearing stuff decent and in order. a coat and or tie scattered thruout. May our Joy be full
    1Jn_1:4  “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” We need to quit running our believers off and handle the unbelievers correctly, as unbelievers and not part of the church!
    in closing, clothes do matter if they are not decent and in order or too fancy then both are wrong and need encourage to both get it right. Just a decent shirt, pants, etc. If tnye don’t have one GIVE THEM YOURS

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