note: this originally appears on Ministry Matters. Go there to join in the conversation that already has started, or come and start a new one here. As always, thanks for reading and your time.
One of the most read posts on my blog deals with the “dress code” of clergy.
What is the appropriate attire that a pastor should wear on Sunday mornings? And, is it really that important? Apparently, the issue is much, much bigger than I had ever thought it would be.
I, for one, don't wear a robe on Sunday mornings. I don't want to. I don't plan to. I don't think I need to. I don't think it changes who I am on Sundays. People have told me it was about separating (or differentiating) myself from the parishioners. But, I don't want to do differentiate myself from my church members. I don't want to be known as “holier” than the people I'm preaching to. In fact, I don't even like standing behind a pulpit when I preach. I want to be relatable. And I think the robe gets in the way of that for me. And I'm not out there wearing inappropriate things or even blue jeans. I also don't want to be different on Sundays. Sunday is a special day, but so is Monday- Saturday because those are the days that the Lord has made. Not just Sundays.
But at the end of the day, isn't this more about personal preference than about God and what God desires?
On his blog, Jason Micheli wrote about the Sunday where he didn't wear a robe and a parishioner anonymously left a note in the offering plate on an offering envelope (!?!?!!) that said:
Dennis (Jason's senior pastor) —
Have Jason put on his robe in 11:15 service. We deserve that respect.
And isn't that what the dress code boils down to? What we feel is respectful for us. What we feel is right for us. What we feel is holy for us.
On the comments on my blog, people have tried to say that it's what God wants. It's about respecting God (with the tired argument, “If you were to meet the President of the United States, you would wear your best clothes. Doesn't God deserve even more?”). One commenter argued that Jesus wore the best priestly clothes available, which doesn't seem to exist in my Bible.
I get that many people want their pastors in their robes. For them, church isn't church unless everyone who is part of the service is wearing robes and albs and stoles and all that other good stuff. But what gets me is when they use the argument that that's what God would want.
Does God really care over what someone wears to church?
Does God not count worship if people are wearing jeans?
Is it not a sermon if the pastor is wearing business casual clothing? Or God forbid, jeans and an Ed Hardy shirt? (Although, to be fair, Ed Hardy shirts are… well… never mind.)
We're told that when God anointed David as king, he didn't look at the physical aspects of David, but at David's heart. We're told that perhaps God would rather have justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream instead of the noise of our songs and the melody of our harps.
Of course, there's no “right” answer to this (at least I don't think there is.) There are many arguments that support both sides. John the Baptist wore clothes made out of camel hair and he's the one that baptized Jesus. If it makes someone stumble, I shouldn't engage in that behavior, etc.
While this may be a big issue for those of us who are in church, I like to think that it isn't a big deal with God as it is with us.
But I could be wrong.
What do you think? Does it make a difference what pastors wear? Why or why not?