By Keshia Dawn – Dallas South News Intern
The admission is free. There are no bouncers at the door and there’s plenty of room for those who want in. Hats are welcome (especially crowns sitting atop saintly heads) and three piece suits often lead the entrance through double doors.
But what about those wearing sneakers? How about jeans?
Dress codes are “strictly enforced” on the club scente, but what about at church? The old mantra, ‘come as you are’ is music to the ears of those who seek a change. So they go to the Lord’s house: some in jeans, some in sundresses, and maybe even in shorts. For those lost and trying to find their way in life, an inviting and safe place to worship can bring ease in the midst of transition.
Being accepted by a welcoming church family can make the new lifestyle easier for the weary and confused. But as the newcomer settles into membership, the same clothing worn before their change often become a source of ridicule that ostracizes them. Head shaking, stares, and whispers let the offending party know that something is amiss.
Who is to say exactly what should be worn behind chapel doors? In a society where fashion plays a major role, some of the closed mind rituals held by the “elders of the church” may frighten seekers away.
Drugs, excess drinking, sexual promiscuity, and depression, are just a few issues people in general are dealing with today. What they are wearing is the least of their worries. But the the real culprits -those doing the ostracizing- seem to differ.
A true desire to know the word should be enough to seek the Lord and all the help He brings. Not the correctly hemmed dress or the shiniest of church footwear. Some places of worship still hold on to man made rules that they treat as if they were “The Law.”
A thesaurus filled vocabulary, snag-free Berkshire pantyhose and Brooks Brothers suit (complementing the latest St. John knit) if not careful, could become mascots for the church. Granted, sagging pants which show boxers and blouses which give the eyes more than what they need to see should not be accepted. None-the-less, the person wearing the garments should be handled with care.
There is a proper way to handle dress codes in which churches have set in place. Maybe if older men and women would take the younger babes in Christ under their wing and help guide them in the right direction, a better outcome would suffice.
It’s not about the name brand of the clothes or the churchiest of church wear. Rather, it’s about being presentable and respectful in a place of worship. If jeans are worn, it doesn’t mean you are way down on your maker’s list. If a woman wears pants, it doesn’t mean she does not have a connection with God.
If we as spiritual Christians open our eyes to the person God is speaking to and through, instead of the outer man, just maybe the church would be a place to run to instead of from. When the need comes to talk about problems does arise, the church should be a shelter and safe haven. And the doors should be open to all.
Keshia Dawn is a student at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and author of the novel His Grace, His Mercy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Edited by Shawn Williams