What to Wear While in Assembly?
1. Why do We Assemble?
First, we assemble to worship God. However, this worship to God is not limited to the assembly, but throughout the entirety of out lives (Rom. 12; Col. 3; etc.). So whatever we are expected to wear to assembly must also be worn throughout the week, any time we worship God, in order for us to be consistent (praying while one mows the yard, singing in the car, family devotionals right before bed, etc.).
Secondly, we assemble also to love and encourage each other as a family (Hebrews 10; 1 Cor. 5, 11, 14; 1 Jhn 4; Rom. 12; Eph 4-5, etc). It is just as much for us as it is towards God. So we must consider everyone when thinking about what we wear, and we must be consistent about it.
2. What Does Scripture Tell Us NOT to Wear?
Immodest clothing (1 Tim. 2; etc.). This literally means (in the Greek) things that cause someone to lust. This is somewhat relative and subjective; depending on the individual and the culture. In some cultures males and females are both completely covered up or else they may lust. In Bible times, if one was working or bathing they were mostly nude. Even Jesus did this when we read the story of Him washing feet. In the first few centuries, the people being baptized would fully strip down before they were immersed. The point is, use your best judgment and consider what might make others lust. Think reasonably about it. Try your best to help each other.
Fancy clothing was to be rejected (Jam. 2:2-3; 1 Tim. 2; etc). This is also relative. One could buy nice pants at Wal-mart for $10 and then buy ripped pants at American Eagle for $60. And the opposite is also true. Also, in a church with all millionaires, one might come in visiting wearing a suit and be under-dressed. In a church of all farmers one might come in wearing a button-up and be over dressed. It is relative. The point here is to not over dress with formal clothing because it makes the poor feel lower and also (and more importantly) it makes it easier for the church as a whole to miss the point of coming together.
3. What Does Scripture Tell Us TO Wear?
It is silent (No Scripture exist). God looks only on our heart (1 Sam. 16:17). As long as we are not causing someone to have sexual lust, God only judges by our hearts when it comes to our appearance. In fact, Jesus even says to not pay attention to outward appearance, but judge rightly, which means “by the heart” (John 7:24). Someone might misquote 1 Thess. 5:22, but there are 3 reasons this would be illogical. 1) the word appearance actually means form. 2). Clothes aren’t naturally evil. 3) It would be a biblical contradiction.
4. What About When We Disagree With Our Church Family About What to Wear?
Just because one is “free” (as in, God doesn’t care) to wear whatever he wants, doesn’t mean it’s always helpful (1 Cor. 10:23). Some people do not understand that we are free, so we should be considerate of their ignorance on this subject.
In fact, if there are people who are “weak” (which means ignorant to a subject in question) we should wear what makes them comfortable (Rom. 14:15). This, of course, is ONLY true IF the only reason the “stronger” brother (the one who understands his freedom) wears those less formal clothes is because he has the freedom. There could be deeper, spiritual and conscious reasons for wearing less formal clothing.
**However, the “weaker” should not bind their opinion on their brother if He has a deeper conviction as to why he does what he does (Rom. 14:22-23). If the brother has a deep conviction about why he does what he does, we should respect that and have peace as long as he is not going against a direct command from God (which in this case, he is not). We do not have to understand our brothers reasoning, but we do have to respect and love him regardless.
5. So What Should We Do?
–Respect each others separate opinions and not bind ours to them (Rom. 14:1-4; etc.).
–Realize that we work out our own salvation (Rom. 14: 4, 10-12; Phil. 2; etc.).
– Trust each other’s judgment and heart. Love believes all things (1 Cor. 13).
– If we are offended, go to our brother personally and see if we can compromise (Matt. 18).
These principles apply to a variety of traditions! – Jesse