What would Jesus wear?

Sunday Best 2I really liked this Peggy Fletcher Stack piece in the Salt Lake Tribune. It's not groundbreaking, but it nicely surveys a variety of churches in the Salt Lake region about an issue that's somewhat universal.

It happens every summer. A Catholic priest stands at the pulpit and laments the arrival of tank tops, flip-flops and shorts. Modesty and respect are on the decline, he moans. This is God's house and you are dressing for the golf course or, worse, the beach. Then comes the retort: God doesn't care a fig about suits and skirts. He sees only the heart.

The what-not-to-wear-to-church debate divides old and young, rich and poor, clergy and lay members, black and white, Americans and others. Like all such divisions, it can cause tension even among those who share a common theology.

Where Christians end up reflects cultural biases about what God expects from human worship. Is God a king to be worshipped and revered or an everyday presence who is with us in the ordinariness of our lives?

Fletcher Stack says the question of how to dress in church first arose in the 1960s. Ah, the 1960s.

One Utah Catholic priest in the 1970s posted a sign in his church's vestibule: "Must wear shoes, no shorts, no bare shoulders."

This may seem like a trivial subject to cover, but I learned recently how important it is. At my church, we all dress up and nobody seems to have a problem with it. But when I told some of my friends and family that I have to cover my shoulders at my wedding, many of them flipped out. Apparently the most important thing at a wedding is that the bride be dressed sexily.

Fletcher Stack talks to women who wear hats to church and reports that Mormons have an unwritten rule against women wearing pants.

I thought this was an interesting exchange, too:

Catholic educator Dan John was getting ready for church on a recent Sunday and put on a pair of sandals.

One of his teenage daughters at first queried, "Sandals at church, Dad?" and then answered her own question: "Well, Jesus wore sandals."

Dan John then put his tunic and rope belt on and walked to the local church.

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