I occasionally peruse CNN for my news, and something that I read today gave me pause. The title of the article was, Stop dressing so tacky for church. The author quotes Rev. John DeBonville as saying, “It’s like some people decided to stop mowing the lawn and then decided to come to church[…] No one dresses up for church anymore.” Here’s a link to the full article:
After reading this, all I could think was, ultimately who really cares? And more specifically, why would God care what you wear to church? Is wearing flip flops to church really a deal breaker for the almighty? Seems a little petty and trivial for an omnipotent being to be concerned with what you’re wearing to church or how much you spent on your clothes. No, this seems much more like a human thing to be concerned about. I have no attachment to the idea of whether or not God actually exists, but I do have pretty strong feelings toward the church and organized religion in general, and how they exploit the faith, fears, and insecurities of people to control their behavior and extort money from them.
If one is to believe the bible, God created man naked. You enter this world naked. And now, all of the sudden, God is preoccupied with what you wear to church? The attitude that this reverend has would seem to say that it matters more what you wear on your body when you enter a church than what you carry in your heart. There are two issues here. The first is judgment. If I wear cheap, sloppy clothes because I donate my salary to charity and then I walk into this reverend’s church, he’d judge me as a slovenly heathen. The second issue is change. Another person in the article is quoted as saying about air travel, “Most of the passengers were dressed in suits and ties and dresses because air travel was such a privilege at the time. We dress up for what we’re grateful for[…] We’re such a wealthy, spoiled culture that we feel like we have a right to fly on airplanes.”
I don’t think that this woman understands what a privilege or a right is. Yes, I have every right to fly on a plane because I bought a ticket. That’s how that works. Airlines are businesses. There’s no privilege involved. Everything is transactional. Airlines don’t sit atop some throne and arbitrarily decide who gets “the privilege” to fly. You give them your money and they let you on the damn plane. What this woman and DeBonville are getting at is a longing for some bygone era that no longer exists. Why? Because people are afraid of change, and in the case of religion change can be damaging to belief and faith and ultimately compromise the power of the church.
Rev. DeBonville says at the conclusion of the article, “There’s growing casualness everywhere[…] I don’t know if it can get much worse.”
Why is this a bad thing? Does what you wear really change anything? Is what you wear more important than what you believe or how you act? There’s no correlation between how formal someone dresses and whether or not they’re a good person. Ken Lay, the former CEO of Enron, wore a suit and tie everyday and stole millions of dollars from hardworking employees. Bernie Madoff was a pretty sharp dressed man while he swindled people out of millions of dollars of their investment money. Meanwhile, there are homeless people on the street returning lost engagement rings and backpacks full of money. So please, enlighten me about the relationship between fashion and morality or gratitude.