I had the chance to go to Church this past weekend [name witheld to protect the innocent] and I must say that I had good time. [recognizing of course that Church does not exist so that I can have a good time]. I though the music was worshipful, the message fairly edifying, the people very friendly, and the atmosphere thoroughly joyful. There was only one thing that really bothered me about the whole affair- the fact that many of the teen girls and young adults I saw were dressed in what I would delicately consider “immodest” attire. Plainly said, there was a looooot of skin.
I arrived there and sat back and realized that summer must be in full force, because many people were dressed like they were ready for a day at the beach. At some point, right after the call for the tithes and offerings, I half expected the ushers to bring out beach umbrellas and sunscreen so that these women might enjoy the message while being properly shielded from the sun. Some of these ladies, undoubtedly youth group girls by the way they all sat next to each other and raised their hands during worship, were quite young- probably in their early-to-mid-teens. Other pocketfuls were older, probably in their late teens to early twenties, and unfortunately were dressed no better.
They were wearing bright tank-tops, short skirts, bra straps strewn across shoulders, shorts, and ripped denim short-shorts which were raised up to an impossibly high angle. One girl had on what appeared to be a tube top. When we stood up to greet our neighbors, multiple women had their cleavage was on full display for all to see. I watched some older men who were easily old enough to be their fathers, glance down at these girls and then quickly away, embarrassedly trying to make eye contact only, as they shook their hands and welcomed them to church that day. The Church boys, less tactful, simply stared and opened their arms; awaiting with anticipation their greeting which consisted of side-hugs.
This was not a small church, and while I concede that they may have all been concentrated in one small area [I seemed to be behind the “youth section”] I think my random sampling was probably not atypical of how many of the women were dressing. And not just in this church, but probably in several churches in the Fort McMurray area.
A random sampling from various local Church websites will show that they would have everyone come to church dressed in what makes them comfortable. That seems to be the general rule; though I’m not sure how helpful it is when expectations are lowered. I also think I would not be overstepping when I say that this level of “comfortableness” is probably not what they had in mind. I understand that you’re always going to have guests who may come in wearing clothes that are sketchy. I think this is unavoidable and I don’t think it’s wise or particularly loving to confront them as they come in or as they leave and tell them that what they’re wearing is immodest, and that they need to wear something else next time. I don’t think that’s right. At the same time that is very different than girls who have been attending for years coming to Church wearing what I would consider objectively immodest apparel.
Part of me wants to say that these young girls should know better, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Many of these women don’t know better, because their parents, pastor, elders, pastors wife, youth pastors wife, or deacons have never told them that being scantily clad for Church isn’t legit. They go to school like this, to work like this, they go shopping like this and hang out like this, and so why should church be any different? I think in light of scripture that a disservice is being done, and in fact it would not be out of bounds for these women to be gently taken aside and explained that in light of the biblical commands in scripture that women [and men] should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control. I’m not sure how well they would react to it. I imagine some would be thankful and some would get upset, but I think this would be a gentle aspect of church discipline, for the sake of the strengthening of the church body as a whole.
What do you all think? Have you been in a Church like this? Am I being too critical in my analysis of what might constitute immodesty? What are the girls and young women wearing in your church? Is it unreasonable to approach them and tell them to dress up a little bit? How has this summer-time situation played out in your Church?
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10.