I am a pastor of about 250 souls and I have noticed more and more half naked female church members coming to church in an ever increasing number. I was warned by the church board members that I should just leave this alone and it will go away. But I have a number of young teenage boys in the church who are easily distracted and affected by this phenomenon. What do you think I should do?
Thank You Bishop!
—————————————————————Answer (Part 1):
First let me say that I am honored that a pastor would seek advice from me. It is my experience that pastors are the most difficult to advise and don’t often seek advice from non-acquaintances. Thank you for this opportunity to share.
In addition, I would like to say that your church board of advisor may have a point. However, not knowing their motives, I would encourage you to exercise pastoral authority and privilege and operate in the fullness of the office for which you were called and do whatever the Holy Spirit of God advices you to do—always operating in love and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
Answer (Part 2):
As to the heavier part of your question, I too share your concern.
On last Sunday morning as I drove past a church, I could not help but notice a woman attempting to walk toward the church. Her stumbling and unsteady behavior initially drew my attention. Then I noticed why she was stumbling and weaving as she walked. She had about 4 inches of stiletto heels on her feet and a dress that was skin-tight and 6 inches above her knees. She kept pulling at it as if it were going to get any longer.
I began to think to myself that “maybe that is all she had to wear — may God bless her soul for trying to make it to a house of worship.” But then I noticed a few women of varying ages making their way toward the church who were dressed in similar attire—some with elaborate headdresses and hats. I then changed my assessment of the situation. I began to think that their appearance was planned and well thought out, coordinated and purposeful. They knew what they were doing and they knew what they were revealing. They were dressed to attract attention and invoke sensuality. They knew what message that they were sending through their appearance. But what message is the church sending by tolerating this behavior and offering them stares of compliments and admiration?
I know that sinners sin and other sinners will only approve of their sins but the House of the Lord should be a House of Prayer, Decency, Order, Propriety and Holiness.( 1 Corinthians 14:40) Church is not a night club or a pick-up bar and should not be treated as such. However, that is exactly what appears to be happening in many of our churches. It looks as if many are walking right out of the night life into the church without making any distinction between the two.
Parenthetically speaking, this is not speaking to the financially and spiritually impoverished or unchurched individuals who just don’t know any better or cannot do any better. But it is speaking to those who have been exposed to Christian teachings and who have been in the church for a long time, yet purposely buy and dress themselves in apparel that expresses irreverence toward God and His House of Prayer.
I don’t espouse that we come to worship looking our worse. Too little attention to dress apparel is just as bad as too much attention. Worship should not be about worldly fashion trends or who looks the best in what they have own – although I am aware that this is a concern of many parishioners. Our attention should be on God and His Word and not on fashion distractions.
Let’s be honest. The world determines fashion trends and Satan is the god of this world. It is inherent that anything worldly is against God. (James 4:4) Fashion has the potential to be destructive in the church. Folks will continue to wear whatever they want to wear but what a person has on in church can distract from the worship experience. Modesty is the key. (1 Timothy 2:9-10 & Titus 2:3-5) God purposely directed women to dress modestly. I may discuss this further in another lesson. At this time, suffice it to say that God knows what is best for us. “Understanding God is not a prerequisite to obeying God.”
I would like to suggest a non-confrontational and peaceful approach to addressing some of the fashion offences in the church today. Simply ignore them. Totally and completely ignore them. Refuse to acknowledge them in any way. Make no reference to them at all. Do not draw attention to them. Attention and approval is what they want so don’t give it to them. Many folks cannot stand to be ignored. And in contrast, praise the ones who dress appropriately. Show open admiration for the women who dress like ladies and are modest in decorum. Assign positions of honor and responsibility to those who represent Christ well and avoid any private interaction with those who are dressed provocatively. (1 Corinthians 15:33) And hold classes and/or private lessons on how a Christian should represent Christ in every area of his/her life, including dress. (Romans 13:14) This will also work on the men who are wearing sagging pants.
I hope this provides you some useful answers and methods to addresses your concerns.
All Glory, Honor, Praise and Thanksgiving belongs to God through Christ Jesus.
Keep Looking Up!
Bishop O.W. Prince