Growing up I loved the show What Not to Wear on TLC. I loved seeing people get an updated more modern and sophisticated look.
In my own life, I like to dress up. I am not a girly girl by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t go out of the house in sweat pants. I always dress up for Mass.
Although I must confess that I’ve worn jeans to mass before.
I didn’t think what I wore to Mass was such a contentious topic until I saw this tweet.
Dear Catholic men: Why are you wearing cargo shorts and flip-flops for Sunday Mass? You wouldn’t wear anything close to beachwear for a) a job interview, b) a wedding, or c) dinner with the Queen of England, and you know it.
Patrick Coffin’s point is that we should show respect because the king of the universe is present. Does God actually care what we wear? What does the Bible say about our clothing?
Old Testament Clothes
So the first mention of clothes occurs in Genesis chapter 3.
then the eyes of both were open and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. Genesis 3:7
So in the garden, they were naked.
This represents innocence.
Yet when sin entered they wanted to cover up. They felt shame and guilt. This translated into being embarrassed about our bodies.
Yet our bodies are not shameful. Your body was created by God. In fact, God gives us clothes.
and the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skin and clothed them. Genesis 3:21
God clothes Adam and Eve with garments of skin. The plants were not sufficient because their sin required a blood sacrifice. Thus, clothes function to hide our shame and guilt. God already knows what I have done. He knows our bodies. Thus clothes are for us. It is to protect us from being vulnerable.
So how does this affect the New Testament community?
The writings of St. Paul
After the gospels and book of Acts, there are the letters of St. Paul. Letters can be tricky. When I read the letter, I am reading the answer without knowing the context or question. Nevertheless, we know that the letter authors were writing to churches. They were correcting problems.
St. Paul had problems with the church of Corinth. Things were getting out of hand. Here’s what St Paul said about women’s attire in the church.
For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil.
Don’t grab your hair veil just yet!
Paul is recognizing the fact that women are subordinate to men.
Now feminist, hear me out.
Paul absolutely believes that man and women are equal under God.
Yet he recognizes that women have a unique role and purpose. Our job is to be a helpmate to men. In Paul’s time, both men and women wore veils. Yet in the house of God, women should veil to show their unique relationship. Likewise in Paul’s time, having short hair associated you with a less honorable class of women such as prostitutes and lesbians.
Hence women should dress in accordance with their God-given role.
Paul elaborates on this in his letter to Timothy.
Similarly, too, women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds. 1 Timothy 2:9
Paul does advise against braided hairstyles, gold ornaments, and expensive clothes. Yet his main goal is to emphasize modesty. Our reverence to God is shown not by being flashy, but by good works.
So the point is not so we can have an excuse to dress however we want. Our clothes do reflect our hearts. If we are respectful and reverent, we will put more effort into our appearance.
Yet this issue can’t fit in a 280 character tweet.
A person’s holiness is not measured by what they wear, but rather by what they do.
I think I’ll keep wearing my nice dark jeans and a nice modest top.