New York Times on Dressing for Success

by Dec 23, 2015ChurchLife, Culture

Only science has the authority to tell us to dress differently than we want:

For anyone who sees people as part of the job or wants to influence the behavior of others, the way we dress does matter. So let’s not kid ourselves. First, people judge us, at least in part, by how we dress. Second, what we wear affects how we feel about ourselves.

Might this have any bearing on how we dress in church?

When we’re getting ready to perform a task, a good deal of the work starts with putting ourselves in the right place mentally. For instance, when I dress up to give a talk, it reminds me that I’m there to perform an important function. People have paid money to see me in person, and I need to “show up,” both physically and mentally, to show respect. Dressing nicely matches their expectations and it makes me feel good. Both things help me perform better as a speaker.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 1.00.17 PM

As my wife and I move into a new culture, we’ve been asking ourselves this question: what is the culturally appropriate way of showing respect—the kind of respect we want to show at church in particular—by our dress at church? We’re prepared for the answer to be different on the West Coast, just as it would be different in Kazakhstan or Botswana.

Lest I fail to mention the Bible, I often think of Malachi:

When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.

There is a degree, then, to which “what other people think” is a relevant metric for judging our outward actions. I’m not saying that you necessarily dress for church the way you’d dress to meet the governor, nor that you poll people in your church to see what you should wear—I am saying that various American subcultures still draws distinctions between respectful dress and loungewear. What does your church outfit mean in your cultural setting? Does it communicate that you’ve “shown up” physically and mentally to show respect? We’ve just moved from subculture (educated urban South) to subculture (rural/military/middle-class Pacific Northwest). We’re asking ourselves these questions.

Read More 

Review: Abigail Favale on the Genesis of Gender

The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory by Abigail Rine Favale My rating: 4 of 5 stars Really excellent. Fascinating personal story: So-called “Christian feminism” is, too often, secular feminism with a light Jesus glaze on top, a cherry-picked biblical garnish....

A Few Quotes from The Genesis of Gender by Abigail Favale

The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory by Abigail Rine Favale My rating: 4 of 5 stars Well written, provocatively helpful—provocative because she was schooled in evangelicalism (which makes her like me) and in feminist theory (which makes her not like me)—and is...

Answering a Question about Political Philosophy

A friend asked me for my thinking—and my reading recommendations—on Christian political philosophy. I was pretty frank and open. I don't hold myself up as a master of the topic. I welcome input from others here. What should I read? What should my friend read? My...

A Little Help for Your Charitableness from Kevin DeYoung

A Little Help for Your Charitableness from Kevin DeYoung

There are few figures on the national evangelical scene that I like and trust more than Kevin DeYoung. I think he nails the balance between, on the one hand, graciousness and fairness and charity and, on the other (can anything be on the other hand from...

Leave a comment.