Chapter 6, “Sunday Morning Costumes,” is a short but interesting description of the pagan history of church fashion, including the clerical collar, vestments, and the perfidious history of pantyhose.
With the development of textile manufacturing clothes became more affordable to common people. Dressing up for church is “the result of 19th-century middle-class efforts to become like their wealthy aristocrat contemporaries, showing off their improved status by their clothing.”
In 1843, Horace Bushnell argued that “sophistication and refinement were attributes of God and that Christians should emulate them in order to honor God.” Today, many Christians still believe that it is “irreverent to dress in informal clothing when attending a Sunday morning church service.”
Problems with the practice:
- The belief that God cares what you are wearing.
- Pretense and image management.
- Social class distinctions.
Clergy attire has its origin in the dress of Roman secular officials. Potential problems with the practice of clergy attire are:
- Distinguishes a professional class.
- Symbolizes spiritual authority.
This whole topic was brilliantly addressed in Andrew Jones’ classic post, Sometimes I Dress Like a Pagan.
“Wait a minute . . . where’s my pagan tie?”
You will enjoy reading or revisiting this post by Andrew.
The idea that certain clothing is appropriate or inappropriate for church is still adhered to in many churches today. What do you think?