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I was brought up in a church that has taught us to be modest and when we come to church we should dress appropriately. I have moved out of state and attend a church where people wear shorts in the congregation and on the platform and I am grieved. Do you think this is alright?


The Bible teaches Christians to be modestly dressed. One of the words used to describe the appropriate attire for Christian women in I Timothy 2:9, kosmios in the Greek, means clothing that is neat and appropriate for the occasion. What constitutes appropriateness will depend on the country and society in which a person finds himself. Here in the United States shorts are considered casual attire. People who wear shorts to services are stating a casual attitude toward serving God. Such a frame of mind does not indicate a person serious about serving God.

Often people might object to such an observation, but ask them this: Would you wear what you have on to a wedding? If not, why? Yet the church is the bride of Christ assembling before the groom (Revelation 21:2, 9). "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 'Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:8-14). This parable is not about physical clothing, but about attitudes; attitudes which are demonstrated by the choice of clothing.

There might be, in the hotter regions of the world, areas where shorts are all that a typical person might own and wear. There might be occasions that a person is forced to come casually attired or else miss services altogether. I'm not talking about such cases. "My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?" (James 2:1-4). What I am referring to are people who deliberating treat attending church as an interruption to their casual day off from work.

Personally, if I found a church that tolerant of a casual attitude, I will wonder that other things they are willing to accept because they have no desire to make a stand. If it is one or two people, then you can put it down to people who still have need of growing in the Christian faith, but if it is wide-spread, then I would begin to wonder -- wonder enough that I would search out a more faithful group of Christians.


See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Modest Dress
Articles on Modest Clothing