When you ask your girlfriend how church was do you receive this response:
"Yeah it was good but when I was leaving this woman said something rude about the way I was dressed!"
Unfortunately all to often I hear something similar each week from a variety of friends or young people who have been at church. Some person thought they have a right to tell someone in the most negative way about what they are wearing and normally in front of others to ensure that there is maximum embarrassment caused. The reasons people give for this are shocking.
"It is my duty as a Christian to tell these young people or women about their clothes because I am my brothers keeper after all."
"Well I say it like this because it's cultural we just say it how it is and since I am my brothers keeper then I should tell them."
These are just a few of the excuses I hear for bad behaviour. I have a number of problems with people who think it is ok to have a go at someone for their wardrobe choice.
Firstly the fact that it is done in a way that is an accusation. I understand the modesty argument and I have been to various churches where I have almost fainted at what some men and women were wearing. However unless they were exposing themselves I have felt no need to approach these people. On one occasion a young lady was sitting with her legs open and did not realise that you could see up her skirt so I politely pointed out to her that she was exposing herself. Another time a friend of mine was in the habit of wearing tight trousers. So one day while we were out during the week I asked him about this to which he replied he was finding it difficult to find trousers that fit his thighs and with money tight that was making it difficult. I don't think it ever bothered me again and when he got some funds his trousers were upgraded. To me there are reasons for the way people dress and to simply accuse them of indecency is not a fair reflection. In addition modesty may stay the same but fashions change. What was fashionable in one generation is not necessarily going to work forever.
Second clothes are subjective. The elusive modesty argument is true we should as Christians be modest not for the sake of others but for God. How would God have us be? That really is the question that each of us must answer, do we honour God with all we do? That is a hard mindset to be in 24/7 but it is what we should all be striving for. Therefore the attitude that you can tell me off for my clothes seems positively outdated instead you should be encouraging me to understand that God is a part of my whole life not just my sabbath morning.
I guess my final grievance with this type of behaviour is that people have to be at war when they go to church. Why should I wake up in the morning in the mood for a nice bright pink summer dress only to realise that when I get to church I better have a matching pink sword and shield. It drives me to distraction that people think they need to say anything on a day of a rest. I come to church to have some fellowship with other Christians and to worship God. I do not go to church to have a confrontation with other people. If you feel that strongly about what I was wearing give me a call on Tuesday, oh you would need my number for that wouldn't you!
I think clothes are an emotive issue and the way we dress reflects not only who we are but also has an affect on those around us. It is naive for us to believe that our clothes, the way we dress and present ourselves does not have an impact on anyone else we are after all visual creatures. But while we should remember our modesty in clothes maybe it's about time we remembered our modesty in speech and instead of having a go at people we should try building relationships with them.