Does God Care About How We Dress at Church?

by Dale Partridge

Today’s Christians think that intimacy requires casualness. That is, we believe that intimacy with God can only be attained if I am able to approach Him just as I am. This belief manifests itself in our worship, our prayers, and even our dress.

To this generation, a Sunday assembly that is formal, liturgical, or spiritually reverent can feel distant, impersonal, or lifeless. We prefer an organic, relaxed, and unstructured spiritual experience that prioritizes emotion and warmth over solemnity and reverence. 

But this cavalier approach to worship should concern us for two reasons. First, it does not match the example of worship in the Old Testament (Lev. 16:1-34), in the New Testament (1 Cor. 11:27–30; Heb. 12:28-29), in Heaven (Rev. 4:1-11), or in church history. Second, the irreverent atmosphere can often stumble the brokenhearted and hurting in our congregations who are looking for stability and footing, not exaggerated experiences or pageantry. 

But how have we arrived here? First, I can’t help but think that our casual culture is a byproduct of this generation’s obsession with equality and egalitarianism. Let me explain. The cry of our culture is, “Everyone is the same.” Distinctions, whether by station, rank, gender, sex, age, or race, are offensive to our craze for social symmetry.

I believe we have extended this classlessness to our worship, whereby we approach God, in a sense, as if He’s one of us. The historical traits of honor, respect, awe, and reverence have been lost in our pursuit of sameness and informality. 

Ironically, we often display more respect and decorum in business dinners and weddings than in our worship of Yahweh. While we would never consider wearing casual attire to dine with the King of England, we readily do so when worshiping the King of Kings. 

Secondly, I believe we have overly spiritualized religion, believing that God is solely concerned with the internal condition of our hearts and disregards the external factors of our bodies. This is certainly false as God did not just purchase our souls but also our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20). What we do with them in dress, physical posture, and action are equally important to God.

Now, I am not calling for deadpan customs and Romish religious costumes. I’m not even demanding you wear a tie on Sunday. I am simply pointing out that you can have reverent and orderly worship that is also overflowing with spiritual life. You can wear suits and dresses and still have emotion and passion for Christ.

Ultimately, our decorum should be in step with who we are engaging. When it comes to God—He is holy. That is, He is not like us. Therefore, the external aspects of our worship should not only match the character of God but also the internal disposition of our souls toward Him. Yes, in Christ, God is our Friend, but He is also our Maker. Yes, in Christ, God is our Provider, but He is also our King. May our worship, in both body and spirit, reflect this balance.

Dale Partridge is the President of and holds a Graduate Certificate from Western Seminary. He is the author of several Christian books, including “The Manliness of Christ” and the bestselling children’s book “Jesus and My Gender.” He is also the host of the Real Christianity podcast and the lead pastor at King's Way Bible Church in Prescott, Arizona.

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