3 March, 2021

The T-shirt Aristocracy

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by | 27 August, 2011 | 29 comments

By Daniel Schantz

I was speaking at a small Missouri church, and I couldn”t help noticing I was the only male wearing a necktie. Services were over, and I was shaking hands with the last person to leave.

“Hmmm, seems like I”m the only male wearing a tie today,” I noted.

The lady laughed. “Oh, don”t worry about that! Our preacher doesn”t wear a tie, and he urges us to dress down too, so that we don”t offend any seekers who might be poor and unable to afford dress clothes.”

I said nothing. I have heard this line many times before. But I was thinking, Oh, please! When did a polyester tie from J.C. Penney become a symbol of decadence? I mean, it”s not like any of our church members are wearing Armani suits, Gucci ties, or Berluti shoes.

 

Consistent

I, too, am concerned about seekers, but when did clothing become the only symbol of opulence?

What about all those $40,000 SUVs in the church parking lot? How do seekers feel parking by those limousines in their used Ford Fiestas?

And what about all the worship luxuries on stage: the baby grand piano, those Yamaha drums, Fender guitars, and the Soundcraft sound system?

And maybe we should order the church staff to move out of their comfortable suburban homes and into mobile homes, so that their swimming pools and large-screen TVs don”t offend the poor.

Deliberately dressing down is patronizing, condescending.

Come on, people, this is America, where the poor and the rich live and work side-by-side every day, and no one thinks a thing about it.

Dress down if you like, but you are not a martyr for it.

And if we dress down for the poor, then what about all the seekers who are NOT poor (i.e., the middle class and the wealthy)? They have much of value to offer the church (like gobs of money). They might actually be put off by our dowdy duds.

 

Charm

Who decided, I wonder, that dressing up for church would make the poor feel shut out? Personally, I think it”s more likely to attract them. After all, it”s our differences from the world that make us attractive, not our similarities. If we look just as grungy as the world, what”s our draw?

Some of the casual dress of the world today is truly dark, bleak, depressing, even scary. Shock dress, begging for love and attention. Skin mutilations, nudity, torn clothing . . . Americans are looking more and more like the savages we sent missionaries to convert a generation ago.

Should not people of hope, whose bodies are temples of God, look a bit different from children of despair? And that difference can be a magnet. Dress is an opportunity to witness to the joy and hope we have inside. “Let your garments always be white, And let your head lack no oil” (Ecclesiastes 9:8, New King James Version).

 

Cost

It”s not about money. Some of the poorest people in the world live in places like Haiti, but the Haitians dress like a million dollars for church, as an expression of their reverence for God.

A needy young man comes to our church in a suit and tie every Sunday. He gets these suits for $10 at The Salvation Army, and the ties for 50 cents.

In this land of discount stores and used clothing outlets, it doesn”t take a bank loan to look nice.

As a matter of fact, some “casual” clothes today cost more than dress clothes. Have you priced designer jeans recently? And you can buy two pairs of leather oxfords for what you pay for one pair of brand-name athletic shoes. Some T-shirts cost more than dress shirts.

It”s just as possible to show off or intimidate with casual clothes as with a three-piece suit.

 

Comfort

What most Americans seem to mean when they say casual is that they want to be comfortable. Fine, but comfortable can mean anything. Some people are quite comfortable being naked. Shall we invite them “come as you are” to church?

I wear a sport jacket to church because, frankly, it is comfortable. It conceals my ripped abs and Popeye forearms, so that other males are not threatened. OK, I wear it because it hides my gut, but it”s the same principle. A sport jacket is also very practical. It has lots of pockets where I can stash my Jolly Rancher candies, toothpicks, index cards, pencils, and almond snacks.

Some assume that all people are more comfortable in casual clothes, but it”s not true. Some of us are miserable in casual attire. After age 40 you have a lot to hide, and you really don”t want to be seen in public looking like Rosie the Riveter or Mack the Mechanic. Even young people have very imperfect bodies that can be “cleaned up” with attention to dress.

Whenever I hear someone say, “Dress comfortably,” I always have to ask, “Whose comfort, yours or ours?” One function of clothes is to conceal things that are somewhat less than “art,” like layers of lard, varicose veins, furry legs, belly buttons, appendectomy scars, bare feet, and skull-and-crossbones tattoos. These things are not as inspiring as you might think. I can go months without seeing varicose veins, and I hardly even miss them.

The term casual is interpreted many different ways, including crummy, crude, or even lewd. I was visiting a country church where everyone was tastefully dressed, except for the Sunday school superintendent. She was a gorgeous young woman wearing nothing but short shorts and a tight T-shirt. The Sunday school statistics she reported were somehow overshadowed by other statistics, but because of the “come-as-you-are” mantra, no one would speak to her about her appearance. Casual is not permission to seduce.

 

Choice

There is plenty of room for diversity in church attire. Differences in fashion, color, style, cultural customs. . . . Church members in Kearney, Nebraska, will look different from members in South Side Chicago or Uptown Manhattan, and that”s fine.

But I am concerned that the “casual movement” is creating its own snobbish culture. Casual is the new “elite,” the new aristocracy. When the minister says, “dress casually,” it comes out “ONLY casual.” Casual rules. Thus, the freedom to be casual becomes the tyranny of the casual. Dress nicely and you risk the censure of the casual police. Wear a tie and someone will say, “Ooo, whom are you trying to impress?” Or, “Hey, are you trying to make the rest of us look bad?”

If we are free to dress down without being called “slobs,” then we are also free to dress up without being labeled “snobs.”

You”re not a saint for dressing down, and you are not a Pharisee for dressing up. We should be free to choose.

 

Conclusion

To my college students, dress is a nonissue. They don”t “get it.” “It just doesn”t matter what you wear,” they argue. “God looks at the heart.”

I love them, but they can be naïve, smug, and self-centered. Eventually they will “get it” when they flunk an important job interview because of their Star Wars T-shirt, or when a door is slammed in their face because a homeowner was frightened by their appearance and called the police.

Maybe God looks on the heart, but few of us have his X-ray vision. Right or wrong, people DO make judgments about the inside by what they see on the outside.

And, after all, dress is a clue to how we see ourselves, others, and life itself.

We have 167 hours a week when we can wear what we like, whether it”s pajamas, riding boots, or camouflage. Is it too much to ask that we put on some decent clothes for one hour on Sunday morning?

 

Daniel Schantz is professor emeritus at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri.

29 Comments

  1. Administrator

    A CHRISTIAN STANDARD print subscriber commented on Daniel Schantz’s article prior to it being posted on our website. We held her comment for a few days so we could post it when Schantz’s article went “live.”
    ____

    I just want to comment on the article “The T-shirt Aristocracy” by Daniel Schantz.. This was well-written and very appropriate in addressing what is going on today. My husband and I lived in California in the 1960s when young people started attending Sunday worship in very, very casual clothing It started first in the evening service. It did not seem objectionable, but then isn’t that how good or bad things happen in the church. This is why we have all of these Epistles (letters) in the New Testament where the apostles addressed problems that were cropping up in the early church. One Bible teacher calls these Epistles “Repair Manuals.” It seems we need to pay more respect to the founder of the church. It is not how we dress but actually “modesty” should be considered. It seems that brother Schantz has addressed this subject very appropriately and it would be wise to encourage our fellow Christians to seriously consider what he has written. This is my feeling on the subject and I’m not alone.
    “”Florence

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    I agree that people should not be “required” to not wear a tie (that’s the first time I’ve heard that one) but I’m not quite sure that the verse you posted suggests we need to wear a sport coat on Sunday mornings.

    I checked a few commentaries and the theme seems to be the same, as noted in Barnes’ – “White garments and perfume are simply an expressive sign of joy.”

    Wearing a tie is not an expression of joy for me. I don’t put oil, perfume or anything like that on my head – should that be something I need to do Sunday mornings as well?

    What makes Sunday morning dress any different from Sunday evening dress? Many churches consider the “Sunday morning” service to be intended for seekers, and use small/home groups to be the true worship time. Should a tie be required for those settings as well?

    I appreciate your intentions, but I don’t think the area you chose to focus on is one worth focusing on.

    – Rob

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    It is obvious you have never been “poor” in your life. These things you speak of; $40,000 cars, beautiful homes, and swimming pools…..all are vanity. They are the wantons of the flesh, mind you. Don’t you know you will have to give account for every penny you spent on these “worldly” things that mean absolutely nothing to our King? He owns everything! What do you think Jesus is going to say? Surely not, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” You have been deceived, sir.

    If our Lord Jesus was talking about keeping our whites white with bleach, in the passage, “Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment” you are even more deceived than I originally thought. What a way to twist the spiritual word of scripture with the deceitfulness of the heart. Do you pour ointment on your head daily. Of course not.

    You have either been called a snob, or deep down you know you are one to attack how others perceive how others (poor) will feel when they walk in for worship and see all this “showy” and “flaunty” designer duds. It”™s called compassion for others who have nothing. No one is telling you to not take a bath for a week or dress in dirty, smudged tees. I am simply asking you the question: How was Paul dressed in Acts 20 and did he covet anything, or from anyone?

    “Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, from house to house. . . . But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course. . . . And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:19, 20, 24, 32-35; King James Version).

    Do you just have the bare necessities to get you through your day? Of course not. Have you been without, only to rely on the Lord to supply your needs? Of course not.

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    I don’t tell people what to wear but I go semi-casual as the pastor. Why? Because the number one excuse I hear from unchurched people of why they don’t attend worship is, “I don’t have any nice clothes.” That may just be an excuse. But when I tell them that we’re laid back and not concerned about dressing super nice, that disarms them. Now that doesn’t mean I necessarily see them on Sunday. But occasionally I do.

    Do you really think Jesus cares about dress?

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    Dressing for Church should be a matter of personal liberty. I never considered preaching without a tie or coat until a few years ago. My choice was not an attempt to influence seekers, because as the author has submitted, some seekers expect a level of polish within the confines of the church building. Instead I consider the idea that God is no more impressed by my dress than he is with my righteousness. Bear in mind that I wear nice slacks and sport and polo shirts and dress shoes; in my own mind I am mutually acceptable to most all who enter our assembly.

    I agree that we should not be too casual when we come together and beckon God’s presence. However, that jacket and tie will never make me more acceptable to God than the blood of his Son Jesus. Only that blood will impute righteousness to allow me to stand before Him.

    I will also agree with Daniel’s point that we as the church should never condescend for those of the world. But most of us today have already acknowledged a degree of condescension with our choice of contemporary music in our worship, but as long as it is “God honoring” it is not wrong. Our choice of clothing is no different; if it is modest and appropriate as opposed to indecent and unsightly, then again we have done no wrong. So I submit that if we dress in modesty and conscience then it makes no difference.

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    One of my favorite exchanges on this topic, not sure where I heard it:

    Dressed-up: “It’s a show of respect and reverence. Would you dress like that if you were having dinner with the president?”

    Casual: “If the president were my father and we had dinner all the time, yes!”

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    Daniel, very well written and the humor was much appreciated. In the tyranny of the casual, however, I see not only its effect on dress but on service to Christ. There are other occasions we dress up for (out of respect to the boss, respect to the bride, respect to the court, respect to the deceased), but Jesus doesn’t seem to rate.

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    I’ve been pleased in several churches I’ve attended (including my current one) to note that folks dressed in a variety of styles. It truly has been a matter of personal expression. It’s that variety which I think has made folks feel comfortable however they came.

    But I gotta tell ya, I think that ties were invented in revenge for pantyhose. I’ll reserve mine for funerals and weddings (and Christmas Eve, when I get outvoted).

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    This comment came to our office through e-mail:

    Kudos to Dan for “The T-shirt Aristocracy”! Been meaning to address that issue myself but as a writing tutor for a community college, by time I get home and think about writing ANYthing, I lie down and wait for the mood to pass!
    Besides, couldn’t have said it any better than Schantz, a writer I’ve long admired.

    I too get tired of the “But-God-looks-on-the-heart” response to my criticism of short shorts on girls, ragged jeans on both genders etc. in church as they pass by me on way to r.r. – invariably during communion! 🙁

    Wish his article could be an insert in every church bulletin!!!

    Thanks for publishing it! He’s “singin’ to the choir” on this one. But…what can you expect? I’m a 74-yr-old female geezer!

    Dot Yeaton,
    Columbus

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    This comment was received in our office via e-mail:

    Amen and mega dittoes to Daniel Schantz for his timely article, THE T-SHIRT ARISTOCRACY, in the August 21 issue of Christian Standard!!!

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    Legalism is legalism, whether it is pushing a preference for T-shirts or ties. Insofar as clothing is within the bounds of modesty, there is no need to judge (silently, vocally, or – as above – in print) someone based on their attire in a community worship setting of the church (even if their jeans have holes in them or even if their shirts are starched and pressed).

    My favorite response to this type of legalism occurred about 30 years ago, when a famous musician came to do a reunion concert of his college band @ CCU. He was dressed in holy jeans during the rehearsal and one of the administrators complained to him about it. So he took them off – on stage – and changed into corduroys. It didn’t embarrass him at all, but like Jesus’ advice in Matthew 5:40, it served to embarrass the one at fault in the matter…

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    Wonderful article by Daniel Schantz — The T-Shirt Aristocracy. Thanks for addressing the subject. It has long bothered me how we treat God with such little respect. Growing up in a small church in North Dakota, we were taught to “never run in the church building” This is God’s house. Wear your best when you attend church — we are to be in awe of who God is. Why do people dress “up” to go to work and dress “down” to go to church? I think we have it backwards. We need more articles like this one! M. Schroeder
    Colorado

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    My wife and I often compare debates like this to the swinging of a pendulum. Almost always, most people fall at one end or the other when the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think this article falls too far to one end of the pendulum swing.

    The two key aspects of faithfulness in this debate (because faithfulness is what we really care about, right?) have already been identified by the author and the previous comments: humility and modesty. We all agree that we have seen instances where modesty is sorely lacking. This ought to be addressed by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15); that is, don’t ignore it, but don’t be prideful or condescending yourself. That said, I hope we all can also agree that not all casual dress displays impropriety.

    Humility applies to both casual and dressed up: don’t look down on others. That’s a basic Christian principle. If there is no sin, what is the problem? This comes from both sides of this debate: some casual look down on the shirt-and-tie, and some shirt-and-tie look down on the casual. Both are sinning. In this article, phrases like “is it too much to ask that we put on some decent clothes,” lean toward the arrogant side of the shirt-and-tie camp. The outright statement that casual clothes (provided they are modest) are not “decent” falsely attributes moral value to dressier clothes.

    At the church where I grew up, we have everything from coat-and-tie to torn jeans and Batman t-shirts- and that’s just in my family! When I was in high school, the combination prompted a visiting friend of mine to remark, “Wow, you guys are just normal people!” In his mind, this was a contrast to other churches he had visited where high dress was the only dress considered appropriate.

    I do understand your point about dressing up to be respectful toward God, but ultimately I agree with those who say they don’t think He cares. I am a Staff Sergeant in the US Army and believe you me, I can put forth the most clean-cut, spit-shined, starched look you’ve ever seen in a twenty-something. The difference is that military regulations require a clean appearance. Christian regulations (the Bible) only require our honest, Spirit-led quest for a clean heart, lest we be like the Pharisees who wash the outside of the cup but are full of greed and wickedness (Luke 11:39-41).

    I have to respond in particular to the reference to Haitians. First, I have to say that it seems intentionally hyperbolic, an artificial argument: “if you can’t respond to this extreme circumstance, your argument must be false.” The fact of the matter is that many poor Americans ARE put off by shirt-and-tie dress and have told me to my face. To say they are not is to call them liars. That said, I have spent several months of my life on short-term mission trips to Haiti over the last 11 years. It is true that most Haitians dress very well to church. Here is the sad reality, though: many Haitian churches will not allow those who don’t (or can’t) in their doors. Poverty is relative and even among the poorest, there are the poorer. When asked, many Haitians have told me and others that the reason they don’t (or can’t) go to church is that they can’t afford the appropriate clothing. This may sound like an excuse, but experience has proved it is usually not: after being provided such clothing, many DO start attending.

    My two cents can be summed up as I stated earlier: be humble and modest, from each side of the debate.

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    One of the problems we have in the church is truly revealed in this article and in some of the responses. We seem to want to rewrite what the Bible says to fit our own preferences. A couple times people have said they are tired of hearing, “God does not look at the appearance he looks at the heart” as passage to dress casually. Really? The so called excuse sounds alot like something I read in the Bible:

    “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the same things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

    This passage is in reference to David being chosen as the next king above Jesse’s other sons. Even Samuel is looking at appearance until God corrected this wrong way of looking at things. God chose David who was known as a man after God’s own heart.

    It should be a non-issue both ways except for people who dress modestly.

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    Just a quick follow-up to Marlys’ comment, and not simply to pick on you – because I hear this often:

    “This is God”™s house.” (referring to the church building)

    Actually, no, it is not.

    The building the church meets in (since the church is the people, not the building) is no more God’s house than any other building – be it a personal residence, a cathedral or an outhouse. We, the church, are the temple – not a building made of bricks and stone. We are living stones in the temple, build by God.

    God has not had a static, personal residence on earth since 33 A.D., and the less we treat church buildings as “holy places”, the more accurate our message to the world around us can be. When we get caught up in buildings and clothes and “what God likes” in these things, we are engaging in adventures in missing the point….

    The church building is not “God’s house”, and teaching kids to not be kids because they’re “in God’s house” is pretty much the opposite of the practice Jesus espoused. (Mark 10, Matthew 18) If we enter the kingdom as a child, we’re not caught up in the appearances and trappings or worried about metaphorically “running in God’s house”…

    [steps down off of the soapbox]

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    Showing respect is a highly cultural phenomenon. Attire is a highly cultural phenomenon. Showing honor or dishonor through attire is a highly cultural phenomenon. And as such what is apporopriate (assuming it does not violate a trans-cultural biblical standard – which nothing we are talking about here does) will vary both by geography and generation.

    Those who equate casual attire with casual respect for God, or the contrary, those who equate “dressing up” with respect and reverence are doing so from a very particular cultural position. Marlys from North Dakota illustrates this well. This is not wrong, it is just culturally limited.

    The danger enters when one culture imposses thier extra-biblical standard (e.g. dress, style of music, etc.) upon other cultures.

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    I do believe that your Ecclesiastes reference is the most out-of-context usage of Scripture I have ever seen in nearly 45 years. Kudos!

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    I couldn’t help but assign the voice of my mother to Mr. Schantz’s words. It was like I as back in Kansas, 45 years ago, riding home from church. Mom was commenting on a person’s clothing choice for attending the worship service.

    It reminded me of a conversation I once had with Roy Lawson. I asked him, “If you were to start ministry over again, what might you do differently.”

    He responded, without missing a beat, “I’d treat my flock more like grandchildren than children.”

    The writer of this article certainly revealed an attitude of parent over child; one I projected for many years, at home and in the ministry.

    What I experience today is the freedom to see the person and less the cultural trappings. Nurturing 11 grandchildren has helped that. It’s actually fun to step back and overlook the “offense” and see a burgeoning life in all it’s splendor and potential.

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    One more cultural reference – over the past several years, I’ve attended several funerals.

    I just attended one here in Maryland, and wore my black suit with a white shirt and conservative tie. I was dressed a little on the conservative side for the crowd at the viewing, but well within the mainstream.

    A few years back I attended a viewing in Tucson. My black suit was the only suit in residence, and my tie was in a distinct minority. There were more string ties than ties, and more open shirts collars than either by a significant margin. Same country, same type of occasion, wildly different “norms.”

    Some things truly are culturally specific, and views of appropriate attire are a prime example.

    All of that being said, what is a more important issue is how we welcome the person who comes into our assembly dressed outside of the norm. Before answering, “Speak the truth in love…”, please re read James.

    I have fond memories of Ora Perdue, an elegant matron from our church in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, whose sweet smile readily welcomed young couples in cut-off shorts.

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    It should be noted that you assume that the lady with whom you spoke properly represented her pastor’s position (and didn’t — even subconsciously — put her own spin on it). How do you know that this is the case? You’re a college professor. Do all of your students make 100s on every test?

    By relying on second-hand information, any argument tied to this church’s policy is little more than a straw-man argument.

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    Dan Schantz comes off here like a grumpy old man, harumphing about “these kids today.” I especially like how he has to appeal to culture instead of Scripture.

    At our church the dress code is simple: Please wear some. Other than that we don’t care. We have folks in jeans and t-shirts worshiping alongside people in cargo shorts and polos worshiping alongside the wingtip and necktie crowd. Scripture doesn’t give us a dress code – we’d be wise not to invent one.

    All that said, it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people – I’m sure that’s true when it comes to how folks are dressed.

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    A few things I find interesting:

    I find it telling that this article was posted in the “Christian Standard” since it displays a standard of judging someone’s spirituality by there dress.

    I find it interesting that the author calls for freedom of choice in dress, but reacts so condescendingly to those who choose different from him.

    I find the comparison to ” the savages we sent missionaries to convert a generation ago” culturally imperialistic and highly condescending. Reminds of the Sioux I spoke with who lamented that missionaries one hundred years ago were more interested in getting the men to cut their hair than they were in making disciples.

    It is a good thing, however, that the article has received so poorly – it gives me hope.

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    hahahahahahahahahahaha

    welcome to another 1990’s debate

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    Wow! Just look at these comments and you can tell there is a huge difference of opinion. People are either saying we need to dress up or essentially that we shouldn’t dress up. I had no idea this was still such a divided issue! Thank you professor Schantz for oppening my eyes to the fact that this is still an issue in the church. Thank you for being willing to accept all of the criticism. This article was obviously written with a little “tongue in cheek”. I thought that was obvious but apperantly not. His whole point is that people’s “come as you are attitude” is not really their attitude. I realize I am guilty of making comments about people being dressed up. Not mean spirited comments but I could have inadvertantly hurt someones feelings. Take the advice of Professor Schantz and may both sides of the issue let, “dress as you like” really be “dress as you like”!

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    Stephen, (speaking for myself) I was not arguing for either position (formal vs. casual). I was addressing the underlying attitude that dress somehow reflects attitude toward God. For me, the “dividing issue” is not dress but that of imposing one”™s own cultural preference onto others and raising these preferences to some universal standard.

    You may believe that the Prof was advocating dress as you like, but his conlcuding plea shows otherwise.

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    Daniel Schantz is one of my favorite writers, so it was no surprise to find this article was so pertinent. I hope people will read “The T-shirt Aristocracy” and realize that the pendulum needs to swing back the other way! I have heard all of the arguments that Mr. Schantz mentioned as to why people say we should “dress down” and I appreciated the way in which he countered each argument. Thanks, Daniel, for saying the things I’ve been thinking for years!

    Brenda Gayer

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    Now that some time has passed, i believe that the article was written tongue-in-cheek. That is the only way to explain the supposed angst over something so petty; the inconsistency of calling for a “live and let live” attitude while also calling for conformity to particular set preferences; as well as the shallowness of judging someone’s relationship with God by their dress.

    The pendulum does not need to swing in either direction. Both extremes (and there certainly are those on both extreme) need to stop imposing their cultural preferences on others as if they were biblical/universal standards.

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    Great topic of discussion. But, imagine a choir of a visually diversified crowd of people; a business man or woman in suit, an elderly grandmother in a dainty dress, a college student in jeans and T-shirt, a young father of two in a polo and dockers, a middle-aged woman in jeans and sweater. Just a few examples of who we really are; ties and T-shirts mixed together. This is who folks should see. Finding the truth matters these days, at least for the skeptical and the seekers. Hence, our culture’s fascination with realtity TV.

    Ideally, everbody should look as different as possible according to who we are . . . jeans, dresses, suits, tees, sweaters, Hawaiian shirts . . . whatever . . . within biblical decency. When brought together in true worship, God can direct us to lift up some serious praise regardless of clothing preferences. The visual (since that’s what seems to be of importance here) could then communicate to any visitors or to the viewers at home, if televised, that they need not be fearful of a shunning and that they won’t be judged, especially based on superficial, traditional church standards. After all, ties are simply a cultural thing (secular during weekdays), and modest blue denim could be a favorite of Jesus! Who knows?

    We are all different, but we belong to HIM and we can join together to give HIM praise instead of purveying the message that we are trying to be perfect. Think about it; we could easily be in the final hours of the last days. Do we really want to consume ourselves with worry about who’s wearing dress shoes and who’s wearing sandals? Trying to look and act different than who we really are needs to be discouraged because it’s a deterrent to the unsaved and the unchurched. As people seek the truth, they are wary of cliches that lack credibility due to pretentiousness and legalistic rituals.

    One final thought. The fact that people are generally dressed more casual on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services than on Sunday morning doesn’t do much to uphold the argument of the neccessity to wear “dress clothes” to church.

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    A true story…About 20 years ago, my wife and I were invited by a coworker to a Saturday evening concert at his church. We were not Christians at the time but the event sounded nice so we decided to give it a try. We arrived a little early so we waited in the car for a while so as not to be the first ones in the door. As we waited, we noticed right away that, as other folks arrived, every man wore a tie and every woman a dress. Since my wife and I were dressed somewhat more casually than the rest, we did what I expect most people do in that situation…we left.

    The message that Saturday evening may have been a ‘life-changer’, but I don’t know because we weren’t there. As was always the case when I would “give church a try”, I immediately felt like there was some secret code that I didn’t have. It wasn’t until 4 years later when I was invited to one of those pesky “come as you are” churches that speaks where the Bible speaks and is silent were the Bible is silent that I felt welcome.

    Soon after, my wife and I surrendered our lives to Christ and were baptized in that church. I baptized my kids in that church. I have even had the privilege of baptizing several friends in that church. That is the fruit I have experienced from a church culture that encourages folks to “come as they are”.

    Additionally, Brother Schantz, according to your own account, nobody in that congregation you were visiting brought up the topic of dress…it was you.

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