Why get dressed up for church?

11 Apr

Growing up I hated having to get dressed nice early every Sunday morning for church. I would ask my mom why we had to get so fancy just for church and she would reply with something along the lines of “we have to look nice for god.”

At the time that made sense to me, but now, looking back, it’s not very convincing. Why does it matter to god if we get dressed up all fancy? He already knows how pious or impious we are in our hearts; fancy clothes aren’t going to fool him.

The reason everyone gets all dressed up for church is simple. It’s a display of wealth. For the longest time, church has not only been about religion, but it was the main social gathering. In ye olden days, people would go there to socialize, gossip, and meet potential spouses. Church was where you were most public, where you wanted to show your status in the community.

Religious leaders are no exception. The most obvious example of ridiculous wealth being used as a display of status is the Catholic Church.

Need I say more? (And yeah, that’s the extreme end of the spectrum, but there still is a lot of gold in regular catholic churches)

Now,  a big part of the protestant reformation was aimed against exactly this kind of opulence and shameless display of wealth. While most protestant churches are definitely much simpler and plain than catholic ones, they don’t get off the hook completely.

Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God


5 Responses to “Why get dressed up for church?”

  1. Maggie April 12, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    Er. I was always under the impression that since we go to Church to discuss serious topics, we should dress in a nicer manner to reflect this seriousness. I must note that tanktops and flipflops are pretty common at my church, however, at least among the kids, and part of the reason I dress nicely now is to mark myself as part of the adult church community.

    Peace, Maggie

  2. isnessie April 13, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    I went to an apostolic church, most people wore jeans, board short and tshirts as the norm, but I do clearly remember the lead elder saying how as Christians, we *should* be the most prosperous people in the world. That was very much about showing people that God blesses in abundance those who follow him, though. It was a kind of implication that if we weren’t doing well in those terms then we were somehow to blame.

  3. godlesspaladin April 13, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Hey nessie, that’s really interesting. What’s funny is that god clearly doesn’t bless those that follow him. I think I have a post on here somewhere that shows a map of the most religious parts of the world (and US) right next to a map of the poorest parts of the world (and US), and the two regions are pretty much the same. :-p

  4. Cyndy April 14, 2010 at 5:16 am #

    I grew up “dressing up” for church because it was a sign of respect and reverence. I tried to teach my children that as well. I felt children would tend to behave better if they were in “good clothes” and it would give them the impression that church was a special place.It was never about a show of wealth.

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  1. Why get dressed up for church? « The Godless Paladin - Christian IBD - April 11, 2010

    […] Now, a big part of the protestant reformation was aimed against exactly this kind of opulence and shameless display of wealth. While most protestant churches are definitely much simpler and plain than catholic ones, they don’t get off … View full post on protestant – Google Blog Search […]

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