March 02, 2007

No matter how you dress it up... Victoria Weinstein, a Unitarian Universalist minister [obviously outside of the bounds of evangelicalism] who goes by the handle PeaceBang, has launched a fashion blog to encourage the "defrumpification of the American clergy." And in a recent Boston Globe story, Weinstein says that even though fashion isn't the greatest concern for clergy, it still matters. I read the article and I would like to put a spin on this. Though Weinstein's advice is decent, especially to her target group of women ministers, her comments have implications. And I'm sure Weinstein's aim is not to cause any overt controversy, but it raises some interesting I've heard on more than one occasion. "Anyone who is in a position of leadership has to consider what image they're projecting...they will not be willing to hear us in the same way if we look like we walked out of 1972." Absolutely. But the underlying statement here is "there is an accepted way to dress and if you don't dress that way, than you are projecting the wrong image." What is the litmus test? Should there be? To me, the only 'test' is context. Consider your context and dress appropriately. If you minister in an urban area with neo-hippies, you may need to dress like you stepped out of 1972. And what version of 1972 does she mean? Frankly, the business casual look of the 80's & 90's were the polyester suits of the 70's. But I guess by frumpy, she is not talking about that version of the 70's. "...the problem with frumpiness isn't so much aesthetic as it is a problem of looking as though you are not paying attention to the world and that you are not part of today's world." Maybe if you are dressing like a white collar business person for a twenty-something crowd. The word 'frumpy' gets thrown around with the more casual look young people take. And again, in those contexts, they actually are paying attention to the world they live in. Isn't dress a non-essential? And further, isn't a mandate on what dress is appropriate for worship extra-biblical [outside of the need for modesty]? I see dress just like I see worship style. If the Bible does not forbid it, we have freedom to choose the best expression of it in our context as we honor the people in that context. There seems to be an element of elitism related to the idea of one way to dress for worship. And frankly, for those that elevate it as a matter of contention, to me, it masks a deeper problem...they think that God cares about our outer appearance and that that appearance can hinder our worship of Him. My friends, that is not the Gospel. God cares about our hearts not our habiliments... [HT: Church Marketing Sucks]

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