by David Reagan

In an age when shorts, sweatpants, and bare midriff (sometimes all at the same time) are considered acceptable attire for most churches, I stand out like a wooly mammoth. In this day of extreme casual, more and more men are throwing away their ties when they go to church.

1Like some newly awakened Rip Van Winkle, I still wear mine. I thought I would tell you why.

Nothing in the nature of a necktie either compels us to wear it or condemns it—though some have tried to connect it to an evil beginning.  Those who use it practice the tradition of giving honor to our Lord by dressing up a bit when they go to meet with His people to worship Him. So I ask: Is this practice encouraged or discouraged in scripture?

In the parable told by Christ in Matthew 22:11-12, the king expected each of his guests to come with the proper “wedding garment.”  Not to do so was to show disrespect for the king and for the occasion.  In like manner, our forefathers felt it important to come to church with clothing that showed proper respect to the Lord and to the occasion.  In different times and places, that proper respect was shown in different ways.  But it was shown.  Even the Saturday night bath was established for the purpose of being physically clean and properly trim on the Lord’s Day.

Today we swerve boldly in the other direction. We energetically oppose dressing especially for church. Many even consider it hypocritical to do so. We should come as we are and avoid any pretense. But do the dress patterns of today prove that we have a greater sincerity and are more genuine than our predecessors? I think not.

The slouchy dress that we see in worship services directly corresponds to our flippant attitude toward meeting with our Maker and Saviour. We have lost our respect for the spiritual dimension of God meeting with His people. Now, we want to dress like we would at a backyard barbecue. God is everywhere. Why approach His house with any more formality than we would enter the neighborhood grocery store?

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161 COMMENTS

  1. In Western culture especially in the United States of America. When some one says “Formal” or “Business Formal” dress, a tie and jacket are assumed by EVERYONE. I have a job that requires me to wear a tie. When I go to a Wedding or Christmas Party or High School Graduation, I wear a tie. Why wouldn’t I have the same respect for the fellowship of believers. Poverty keeps NO ONE from wearing a tie and jacket. You can buy a suit at a thrift store for $5-$10 (which is what I do). The point here is not to be judgmental of others but to follow a standard for oneself. In NE Tennessee where I grew up, I saw old farmers come to church in brand new bib overalls but they had on a clean white shirt and a tie. People have no respect anymore. No respect for life, so we have abortion. No respect for marriage so we have divorce. No respect for family so anyone can marry anyone male, female…. No respect for the King James Bible so everyone has their own version.

  2. You expressed my thoughts completely on this subject. While I did not read all of the comments from your critics, it appears that most of them want to wear whatever they want to church, regardless of whether it honors or dishonors God. There are times when I come to church directly from work and I am not dressed as nice as I should. God understands that I either dress nicer and don’t make it to church, or come as I am. But when we have time to dress however we want to dress, it is sad that too many people dress worse to appear before God in worship than they do to go to school. While we don’t need to put too much emphasis on dress, too many of your critics want no emphasis on dress, which is wrong. The Bible teaches that there will be a great departure from the faith in the end times, and part of that departure stems from not respecting God as we ought.

  3. I went to my first church service yesterday in 20 years. I had gotten tired of seeing everyone trying to outdo each other in dress and how holy they were and being told I needed to be like everyone else in the church. While I knew their hearts were in the right place their actions were more of what I have seen in so many churches.
    So I was invited to go to this church. I wore shorts, t-shirt, and sandals. I do not own a suit nor do I want to. I was impressed, no comments about my clothing but just big smiles and thanks for being there. Warm and caring is what I got.
    If you judge me by my appearance then I really do not want you around me. If on the other hand you will come up to me and say hi, encourage me, find out who I really am then I want you around as much as you are willing to spend time with me. Its not what you wear that I care about, its who you are, a sinner just like me. I am a sinner and always will be, but by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ my savior I am forgiven. Its nothing I did or could do. In fact I can not do anything to earn my way into heaven, it was done on the cross once and for all. No where in the Bible did Jesus ever tell us to dress in a certain way to follow Him. If you want to know what how He felt about all that read Matthew 23.
    So if you want to wear a tie or tuxedo go for it…but don’t measure someone’s relationship with Jesus based on their outside appearance. Jesus did not die for the tie He died for your soul.

  4. This is trying to impose western culture to the world of what is an appropriate attire for church. How very gringo of you. Every culture is different. In Japan wearing your shoes inside the church building is disrespectful. Are you willing to take of your shoes to worship our master? Or what the US standard is must be the world standard? Did Jesus wear a tie? Not everyone can wear a suit and tie. Which actually represents the elite. Jesus came for the poor and sick and those with a contrite heart. Wearing a suit and tie is not modest attire at all. It is quite the opposite. We should be humble and modest. Leave the suit and tie for the politicians and bankers and tycoons like Mr. Trump.

    • But my question would you come down hard on a Japanease Christian who wrote an article on why he still doesnt wear shoes in church. I mean is his article wrong because you find it legalistic or is it only bad because he is an evil white westerner?

  5. Unfortunately there was a lot of isogesis in the article. I certainly respect any individual who desires to wear formal clothing out of reverence for God, or believes it is a good tradition to practice this, however to try and form a doctrine surrounding neckties (formal wear) on the scripture given in this article is a stretch, and is something that will not be cross cultural. It will fail in other cultures outside the United States. I come from a very conservative evangelical background, and have lived and practiced strict dress codes my entire life, but to try and use passages like Matthew 22 for grounds to wear suits is Hermeneutical gymnastics. This is obviously an emotional issue for a lot of people, so argue the text, what is the proper interpretation of each passage dealing with the way believers should dress, and is there a difference in how we should dress in a church service verses a recreational gathering? It’s all about what scripture says, there is no reason for the aggressive comments on this feed. One of the biggest dangers to the progress of the Gospel is the divisiveness of members of the church.

  6. While I agree that attire that is ‘decent, gender appropriate attire, non-scandalous or nondistracting’ is a reasonable standard to expect a Christ follower to adhere to – outer attire does not necessarily reflect the ‘devotion/honor’ one bestows on God (nor how He sees us)- at any given point in time…. The article itself proves the point- that the practice of ‘Sunday-best’ dress is a *tradition* – adhered to by those that *choose* to show their inwardly devotion in an outward fashion through their attire, when congregating. However, fancy outerware (Sunday-best) is not a *Biblical* requirement nor necessarily an *accurate* indicator of a person’s heart-condition nor of the amount of devotion/honor they have for God (nor of how God sees them). I find that many denominations erroneously focus on outerware and physical appearance as *the* way to show honor and devotion – some to the point of shunning those that do not choose to follow in the same *tradition*. They have confused *dogma* with *doctrine*. Some Christians may find this method useful as a tool to make themselves *feel* ‘righteous and holy’…. I do not know other’s heart’s (only mine) – God knows and judges all though. But, if dressing up helps some to be closer to God, then by all means – I say – go for it. *However*, those that practice this should not hold it as a ‘standard’ for all other Christians (nor hold it as a measure of ‘Christianity’ – as if one can be more Christian than another). Christ’s blood and righteousness is bestowed on *all* that profess Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord of their lives – regardless of how they look. To ‘shun’ those that do not (or cannot) dress in comparable ‘Sunday-best’ garments (i.e. clean jeans and shirt vs. tie/suit) and equate them as ‘unclean’ or ‘backsliden’ or ‘disobedient’ is not only non-Biblical – but hypocritcal. I do not believe this parable is meant to teach Christians that ‘Sunday-best’ outerware pleases God, or as a means by which should we worship or honor Him…. The parable used as the quoted Scripture to enforce the idea of the ‘Sunday-best’ tradition, IMO, *does not* apply to the way we worship or to how we show devotion or to how we honor God. Read on, if interested…. The Parable of the Wedding Feast teaches about God’s righteousness and salvation and how it came to be made available to all… In Jewish society, during Jesus’ time, they practiced arranged marriages…The parents of the betrothed generally drew up the marriage contract. The bride and groom would meet, sometimes for the first time, when this contract was signed. The couple was considered married at this point, but they would separate until the actual time of the ceremony. The bride would remain with her parents, and the groom would leave to prepare their home. This could take quite a while. When the home was all ready, the groom would return for his bride *without notice*. The marriage ceremony would then take place, and the *wedding banquet would follow*…. The parable speaks of a King (i.e. God), who had prepared a wedding banquet for his son (i.e. Christ Jesus). He had invited many of his people to the banquet (Israel/Jews) to the feast. But they all refused to show up when the time came (for one reason or another, Luke 13:34)…Some even mistreated and killed the King’s (i.e. God) messengers (i.e.the Prophets, including John the Baptist). The King avenged his servant’s deaths (i.e. refers to the desolation of Jerusalem AD 70 and more broadly refers to the desolation in the book of Revelations – a just reward to those that rejected the inviation, per Heb 10:29-31, considering the cost of Salvation)…The invitation to the banquet was then extended to everyone – (Jews and Gentiles, good and bad – Acts 13:43)…The clothing referenced in this parable would have been one *provided by the King himself* for all His guests. They were required to wear it to be considered worthy to be in attendance of the banquet. This ‘outter clothing’ speaks of God’s salvation provided to mankind through Jesus’s sacrifice… It is through Him that we are ‘clothed in righteousness’… The clothing is in reference to the covering of the attendant’s ‘filthy rags’ (Isa 64:6)… God did the same for Adam and Eve ( Gen 3:7, 21)… It is God’s righteousness that allows us to come into His presence (Rev 7:9, Phil 3:9) and to enjoy ‘the banquet’- not our own self-righteousness (i.e. our Sunday-best isn’t worth anything and doesn’t substitute God’s clothing/righteousness). Even Pharisees understood the meaning of this parable, because soon after Jesus spoke this, they looked for ways to entrap Him with His own words (Matt: 22:15)…..I find *nowhere*, based on the *New Covenant laid down by Christ*, where God considers those wearing their ‘Sunday-best’ to be more honorable or more pious or more devoted to Him than someone not doing so….Why? Because, all references to honoring and worshiping God relate to doing so with a righteuous, attitude of the heart and demeanor. Because *God* doesn’t concern Himself with the outerparts (looks or titles) of man, but he cares about man’s heart and man’s actions (obedience)… And *yes*, modesty and gender appropriateness is a *reasonable expectation* for Christ-like dressing…And, *yes*, one cannot be clean on the inside and not show it on the outside (i.e by *actions*, behavior and attitude). And *yes*, God *does* deserve our best – *in all* we do.. However, *clothing* has little, to no bearing on how *God* would have us honor him or serve him – so long as it’s *our best* and it shows in obedience (a Godly behavior, action and attitude – towards those around us in our daily living – such that our lives point people to God). In fact, IMO, the ‘Sunday-best’ practice is a peripheral subject to which some denominations give too much creedance – one of *tradition* and *dogma* – not necessarily one of *Biblical* doctrine. I recall the day I first met a future Pastor, from Guatemala, (not a pastor at the time)… He attended our church and stood out like a ‘raisin on white rice’, on his first visit… He was wearing a serape, traditional Guatemala’s garb and chanclas… He sat way in the back and I can tell you that there was not a *shortage* of ‘looks and whispers’ and ‘rubber neckers’ looking back at him. I’m sure that didn’t make him feel comfortable at all – I’m surprised he didn’t get up and leave. But I’m glad he didn’t. He stayed and kept coming back. I’m glad God didn’t look at his outerwear then either and I know He still doesn’t. Though he no longer dresses like this on Sundays- God had plans for that simple, humble man that came on that one Sunday morning. He called him, over time, to His ministry. Many have been touched by God’s hand through this man’s life- I am one of them. May it never be said that someone, who doesn’t know Jesus like some more-steeped in the faith, skipped an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ due to apprehension because of what they were wearing on a particular day.

  7. Ummmm, no…just no. Legalism is a slippery slope which leads to an absence of grace in our gospel. With how you’ve attempted to tie (pun intended) your opinion to a scripture you think is supporting your stance, it appears you have judgment towards those you don’t wear a tie on Sundays. May I offer a suggestion of reading James 2?

    Jesus said come as you are. That’s all we need. But then again, my church invites homeless into the sanctuary and creates a safe place where people who don’t really look like “church-goers” can come and hear the message of love, grace, forgiveness and eternal hope. Hundreds are saved each week. Let’s not get caught up in neckties ladies and gentlemen! There’s real work out there to be done. Do I want to be known as a Christian who spent time and breath with taking stances on silly stuff like this, or do I want to stand before God and say I tried to reach every corner of the earth, every being you breathed life into? I chased and pursued. I loved people just as they were in hopes I’d have the great privilege to tell them about THE saviour. If I wear flip flops and a t-shirt in this pursuit to make a nonbeliever feel more comfortable, then so be it.

    • So when I go to work at Staples I am going to refuse to wear a red shirt or my name badge because their forcing me to do it is legalistic. Those poor souls being abused by Target and Best Buy as well.

  8. You say the people are the church.It is also said that where 3 or more gather there I will be also.So if the people are the church then we would have to dress our best EVERDAY. I talk to the God everyday no matter how I am dressed.God looks at what is in our hearts not our outside.Would you not someone in your church because they didn’t have nothing but rags?I don’t know if you have ever heard this story or not but there was this church that had hired a new preacher (it was kind of a big church) and the congragation had not met him yet.So his first Sunday there he dressed like a homeless person and sat outside where all the people were going into the church and noone spoke or aknowledged that he was there.When he showed up in front of he church and said hello I am the new pastor that yall hired, he said you may all go home now that is the service for the day.So you see it is what you have in your heart that counts.God Bless You

  9. I’m a pastor. I ride a Harley. I listen to rock n roll. I have tattoos. I don’t “dress up” for church. People smoke in my church parking lot. My church sings “contemporary” music…and Jesus loves me. PERIOD. My acceptance before God comes through my RELATIONSHIP with Christ the RULES I keep. I hear Independent Fundamental Baptist heads exploding everywhere.

    • I am so impress, I think I will go buy a Harley and smoke in your parking lot and listen to rock and roll and get a tattoos so JESUS will love me! LOL. THIS IS SO I can make my Independant Fundamental heads explode ! That is your goal !? If so you are just as wrong and guilty of bashing as they are! I a. Sure there is a special place in heaven for Harley Christians LOL

    • 2 Corintihians

      17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

      18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

    • Pastor jackpickel I am a independent Fundamental Baptist and my head didn’t explode. I doubt that there were any heads that exploded by your comments. I read the article and I did not see anywhere where the author said that Jesus loved only men that wore a tie. I see where many that disagreed with this article imply that those who wear ties to church feel that they are better Than those who dress differently. I see also an attitude from those who dress casually that they are better than those who dress more formally. So those who accuse the formal dressing folks of being judgmental are being judgmental themselves. So how can you accuse one group of judging when you yourself are judging also? So Jack I probably believe that if I attended your Church in a suit and tie that you and your Church people would probably judge me of trying to impress people. I guess the question would be, How can you know what is in my heart unless you are God? I await your reply sir.

    • How about the rule that we are to love our fellow believers jackpickel. Or is there a fundamentist head exception clause that I did not see in scripture. Because you do hate one part of the body of Christ dont you.

  10. Stop trying to over think this! For God so loved the world that He gave…. God gave His best for us in the form of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ! Why would a Christian make excuses for not giving their best! Even in their dress! Your coming into the house of God to sit under the preaching of the inspired GOD BREATHED
    WORD OF GOD and we want to make excuses to not wear our best? If the best you have is a pair of worn out jeans then by all means wear them, but truth be told we generally dress for comfort or to impress when it comes to church. IT’S NOT ABOUT US OR HOW WE FEEL! Its about who he is! He sacrificed His Son so that we may have eternal life and yet Christians want to make excuses like its the culture or the environment or I don’t want to be uncomfortable! We dress nicer for weddings, proms, dinner dates etc. but wont wear the best to come into Gods house! SHAME ON YOU!

  11. Question is “what happens if you work with under privileged children in the inner city where a tie is out of order?”

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