Stop Dressing So Tacky For Church

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.

Church steeple

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

Stop dressnig 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.

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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.

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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.”

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John Blake
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