Dluxe's World

Monday, October 30

Fashion - the window to the heart? [1]

It seems that Mark Driscoll has sparked another internet firestorm thanks to a recent post re: dressing up for church. Read his post here. While I hardly think that I've got the answers nailed down, I thought I'd post some thoughts and ask my astute readers what they think.

My first thought is, I suspect, an obvious one: The real issue here isn't actually about clothing... Of primary concern should be heart-attitude of a particular person. People with nice houses and cars can be lonely and miserable. Some people who are just barely making ends meet are as happy as Red Sox fans when the Yankees lose. There are people who come to church every Sunday in a coat and tie who are nothing more than whitewashed tombs. On the other hand, the person in casual dress may be anything but 'casual' in approaching their Creator in worship.

So, the heart is the key. Agreed?

Having said that, we need to obviously recognize that our clothes are often more than simply external coverings of our private parts. Very often our choice of garb speaks volumes about our attitude, state of mind, and what is important to us. Our fashion sense can speak to our vanity or modesty, our lusts or restraint, our rebellion or our submission. So, our clothing matters at least insomuch as it expresses the condition of our heart.

Driscoll asks some interesting questions. I'll respond to a couple in this post and then knock the rest off tomorrow...

If people become overly worried about their appearance instead of their heart, are they like the Pharisees that Jesus chastised for only washing the outside of the proverbial cup?

Absolutely... But we must examine the intersection of appearance and heart. And they do intersect! I think our challenge is to discern when fashion matters (because it expresses an inward reality) and when it doesn't.

Not to pick on moody teenagers, but let's pick on them for a while. What churchgoer hasn't seen this? -- A nicely dressed family walks in, following several steps behind comes the teenager dressed all in a tattered, black sweatsuit and shuffling along sullenly. Throughout worship service, he's listening to his iPod, slouched over, and shifting in the pew impatiently. Don't all these things together (behavior, posture, and dress) give you some window into what that person thinks or feels?

Clothing is not a pure manifestation of what's in the heart, and we absolutely need to be careful about stereotyping... But at the same time, sometimes our outward appearance speaks volumes. The girl at the mall with 'Delicious' plastered on her chest or rear-end is likely (though not assured) to have a different moral position on sexuality than the Muslim girl in a burqa.

Is the church building somehow a magical sacred space like the Old Testament Temple? Or is it simply a place where God's people gather that is no more and no less sacred than the homes they live in, now that the Spirit has been released from the Holy of Holies into the whole earth?

The church is a building. We bring the real temples with us every week (1 Corinthians 6). Still, if our bodies are the temples of God then I think that has implications for our appearance as well as our conduct. If we have been redeemed from sin by Christ, I think there may well be ways in which our fashion-sense needs to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Take the previous example of two girls at the mall - one with her flesh on display, the other with it hidden. In both cases, a vital relationship with Christ should cause some change. In one case, there should be recognition that our body is for God and a spouse, not for the whole world. So, I think you'd rightly expect to see a move towards modesty and a toning down of the sexual overtones. On the side of the aisle, our burqa wearer should be able to ease up a little and put on a pair of slack or a skirt once in a while because her body is not 'dirty'.

Note how both of these hypothetical women's style issues ultimately lie at the heart. In one case an under-realization of the value/privacy of our bodies while the other side over-realizes the same things.

More on all this tomorrow...

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2 Comments:

  • Hey, just a note to let you know I'm reading you. I've been away from blog reading for a while and was flummoxed to find I have almost 600 posts awaiting my perusal! And it's late, so I'm stopping now. But you have some interesting comments here. Todd and I deliberately dress down for church, but more on that later ...

    By Blogger PatL, at 11:23 PM, November 16, 2006  

  • In the words of Homer Simpson, "Welcome [back] to the internet, my friend."

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 8:43 AM, November 17, 2006  

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