Sunday, April 04, 2010

Born On The Side Of A Hill?

I brought this up once before, either here at Marshall Art's or on someone else's blog. I don't remember which and after several glasses of wine and a fine repast I'm not up for searching it out (not that I'd be up for it in any case). But the topic here is proper attire for church.

Call it a pet peave, but there's just something about jeans and t-shirts that seems something less than reverent in the setting of a Sunday service. The usual defense of this practice is that God loves us just the way we are, or some such nonsense. First of all, I don't believe that for a second. He loves us, that's for sure, but not necessarily the way we are. I mean, what's so good about any one of us that any one of us should take that attitude? Seems kinda prideful to me and that's not a good thing, either.

A variation of that is that as long as we go to church, that's the main thing. I don't buy that either. The Parable of the Wedding Banquet ends with the king in the story throwing out the guy not wearing wedding garments. Now despite the spiritual moral of the story, all the parables of Christ dealt with real world situations and applications. None of the parables involved things that did not also have practical "real world" value. This parable speaks of the man entering the wedding on his own terms which was insulting to the king. Seems to me that it is insulting to wear less than one's best to attend a worship service.

That is, insulting to God. Imagine actually going to a wedding wearing whatever you pulled out of the hamper. Would that not be insulting? Did not the bride and groom (whichever invited you) simply want you to attend? You went, that's the main thing, right? Of course not. Few would dare attend a wedding dressed in everyday clothes (unless one's everyday required a suit). How does anyone figure a jealous God would be cool with that same person then showing up on Sunday like he's off to clean the stables?

The whole thing here, is not really even a matter of what God might think of dressing down for service. My concern is in the thinking of the person that thinks shorts and sandles is appropriate for attending a worship service for the Supreme Being in Who's hands resides that person's eternity. Is He not important enough that looking one's best is worth the trouble? "Ah, it's only God. He loves me no matter what!" We know that God loves each and every one of us. That love, however, isn't a free pass. How much does one really love and revere the Lord if one can't muster up the effort to put on a tie, or, for women, to wear a dress?

There is one person I know who dresses very casually every Sunday. One Sunday was an exception. This person was dressed more formally than usual and my first impression was that something awaits this person after service that the person felt required the better clothes. Sure enough, I heard someone ask this person about the sartorial upgrade and the answer given was as I anticipated. I wanted to ask this person why this event after service was more deserving than service of such fine attire. I wish I had the courage to ask that question. But I didn't. (Such courage if fodder for another article.)

For my own part, I only recently resumed wearing a suit and tie. During my layoff I was unable to maintain my wardrobe as I preferred it to be. The last interview for which I needed a suit was January of '09 and I wasn't happy with the fit. In addition, that was the last shirt that I could button at the neck and it was quite snug. I hoped that the interviewers weren't scrutinizing my clothes too closely. As I moved into the trucking field, suits for interviews were actually discouraged. I was told to dress like a trucker. But I didn't dress like a trucker for church. I wore slacks, dress shoes and the best shirt I had in the closet. And that's the point. For God I wore the best I had.

Now, I've been able to get my suits re-tailored and I have a few shirts that fit, so I'm back to my preferred Sharp Dressed Man status. A more handsome man would be hard to find. (A quick hint to those whiners who think neckties are uncomfortable: buy a shirt that fits. If the shirt fits around the neck, you shouldn't even notice the tie until you look down or in the mirror, at which point you'll say to yourself, "You look marvelous!")

I am not worthy to be in God's presence. I'm not worthy to be in His house. That I am invited does not change that. The only thing that makes me worthy is me and how I relate to my God. There is nothing I can do (beyond accepting Christ) to win His favor, but that doesn't mean I need do nothing. He is deserving of my best and that includes how I dress. I do it to glorify Him. I do it because He's worth it. I do it because I care about how I present myself to Him for worship.

91 comments:

Stan said...

I actually wrote about this back in 2008. The problem in my mind is not what you wear, but the attitude with which you wear it. I am not concerned about the guy that puts on his nicest shirt even if it is worn through, but the one that enters the presence of the King with indifference. I believe it is a product of two errors. The first is "No Sovereign", that once admirable and now wicked independent spirit of America. The second is the "buddy God" concept (which, if you think about it, is related to the first). God isn't my Lord. He isn't my superior. He is my pal. Ask Uzza. Ask Nadab and Abihu. A cavalier approach to the Holy God is a very bad idea.

Dan Trabue said...

I wonder what makes a suit and tie one's "sunday best?" Who decides what clothes are "best" and "most honoring" to God?

Are you suggesting that we ought to dress according to how OUR CULTURE considers to be "best looking?"

For me, my "best" clothes are ones that aren't expensive, aren't showy or ostentatious, aren't chosen as a way to make ME look "best," that don't make others who couldn't afford "good" clothes embarrassed, are practical and can be worked in, that allow me to walk or bike to church (and, thus, honor God with my transportation, as well). That sort of clothing is MY "best."

What would make you think a suit and tie are "best" and most honoring to God?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

There is so much wrong with your comment that I find it hard to know where to begin. I guess I'll just go line by line.

"I wonder what makes a suit and tie one's "sunday best?"

A few hundred years of tradition, I'd say. Though the present day necktie may only be around one hundred years old, neck wear goes back to at least the 17th century and since has always been a noted part of what constitutes a well dressed man. From there, we can easily see that culture has determined what the "best" is in sartorial display. This goes back to ancient times. There have always been well dressed and poorly dressed people. As to what honors God, that goes back to Cain and Abel as to what is pleasing to God and certainly was spelled out more clearly in Mosaic Law as to what does or does not honor Him. One doesn't sacrifice a lame goat, but instead offers an animal without blemish.

And while ostentatious adornments might be discouraged for the Christian (and one can find supporting verses in the Epistles, such as Timothy), clearly to dress in a shabby manner would not be honoring the Lord at all. Dressing in a sexually provocative manner would also fail to honor Him.

But generally speaking, yes, I would say that what passes for "best" according to our culture would serve as a good guide for what would then be appropriate for Sunday services. Again, what would you wear to a job interview, business meeting, wedding or similar events? If you're looking to get a job sloppin' hogs, OK. A suit and tie would not be appropriate. But for most jobs, dressing well is important.

continued---

Marshall Art said...

For "YOU" would not be a good guide for the vast majority of people. You're a goof. It doesn't surprise me that you take a more self-centered view of such things. You concern yourself with dressing down so as not to embarrass others? How is that not being "of" the world? We're talking Sunday service here, not social work in the 'hood. Have you not the wit to explain the difference to those you clearly revere more than the Lord?

And what of their dress? Why is it so lowly? How did they come by the clothes they DO wear? What kind of community do you exist in that the poor can only find crappy clothes in their Good Will or Salvation Army outlets? Perhaps if they would spend the dough they receive from charity and welfare on at least one suit they might find better jobs.

But really. This crap about the poor is a lame dodge for one who isn't. I clearly expressed that even I went through a period where I couldn't dress as I preferred for church and instead went with the next best option. I still found "best" amongst my humble wardrobe so that I was NOT looking like a slob. For anyone to say that his Che t-shirt and torn jeans are his "best" is adorning himself just as much as is a rich snob with too much bling.

"Practical and can be worked in"? Exactly the wrong clothes for Sunday service. Do what you want but you're not honoring God by wearing the practical garb in which you milk the cows, even if you just got them outa the dryer.

Your hippie "save the earth" nonsense is self-serving, not God honoring.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

I would say that what passes for "best" according to our culture would serve as a good guide for what would then be appropriate for Sunday services.

Then that's the difference between you and me. I don't look to our culture to determine what is "best."

There's nothing at all self-centered in my reasoning. "It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching," said St Francis. Desiring to have a means of getting to church that is humble and wholesome IS done for others, not for myself. Desiring not to embarrass others by my attire IS done for others.

The difference is simply this: I reject worldly standards of what is "best" in favor of what I think are Godly standards. I don't think you can provide any biblical support to suggest a suit and tie are anything near a Godly attire. If that's what you think most honoring to God, go for it, but I'd suggest you would be wise to humbly recognize that it is just your opinion that this is "best," not a biblical injunction.

I fully recognize some people feel like wearing modern "best" clothes honors God and if that's what they feel like, I encourage them to go for it. Stan is right on this point: It's the attitude, not the clothes.

Embrace grace, brother.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall asked...

And what of their dress? Why is it so lowly? How did they come by the clothes they DO wear? What kind of community do you exist in that the poor can only find crappy clothes in their Good Will or Salvation Army outlets?

Some of our attendees are our homeless brothers and sisters. They can't afford Salvation Army/Goodwill clothes and, besides, when you're living in a tent in the mud by the river, it can be difficult to keep your clothes clean. If you are mentally ill enough that sometimes you have accidents in your clothes, it can be hard to keep your clothes clean.

Not everyone lives in an ivory tower. Some of us live where the road gets a bit dirtier and grittier and we dress appropriate for the location. Embrace the grace, brother.

Not everything is so right and wrong as you make it out to be.

Marshall Art said...

I only have a moment, so I'll make one or two quick points and then elaborate later.

"It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching,"

I didn't know you were the preacher at your church. But I'm not talking about preaching. I'm talking about going to worship.

"Desiring to have a means of getting to church that is humble and wholesome IS done for others, not for myself. Desiring not to embarrass others by my attire IS done for others."

Exactly my point. Whether I'm the rich dude in a tux or the poor guy in the best I've got, I'm going with the Lord in mind, not myself or others. And why should any of the have nots be embarrassed anyway? Such a reaction indicates they are not going with the proper attitude, either. Pesonally, if I was so low as to have naught but rags, I'd be insulted to know that you dressed down on my account. Furthermore, if I had naught but rags, soiled from living in a tent in the mud, I would not insult the Lord to attend Sunday service in such clothes. I can worship anywhere. I don't need to go to a church.

Definitely more later.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

On the one hand, part of me agrees with you, Marshall. We are, after all, treading on holy ground. On the other hand, that ground is holy precisely because of the intimacy of the connection between us and our Creator as evidenced in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I have come to the view that what one wears to church is immaterial. It is about the collective body of worshipers opening their hearts and lives to Christ that counts. Jeans and t-shirts are OK; so are suits. So are pretty much any togs one decides to wear - even something most would deem "inappropriate", because at the very least presence indicates a willingness to be open to the possibility of a divine-human encounter that transforms.

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

That all sounds good on the surface, but the "intimacy of the connection between us and our Creator" should not be confused with parity between us and our Creator. He is still the Supreme Being worthy of better than us. To take no pains to present ourselves before Him in the best possible manner is to presume more than we have the right to presume. Are we His equal? Has anything He's ever said or done for us brought us to such a state? I don't think so. So why should we presume to treat Him in such a manner? He is God. He is worthy of better than jeans and t-shirts and flip-flop beach sandles.

Again, who attends a wedding dressed in less than their best? Who seeks employment without regard to their appearance? Who would dare dress contrary to an employer's dress code? All these are mere people. I'm talking about attending a Sunday service where it is assumed we are in the presence of God. A place set aside (as you say, Holy Ground) for the sole purpose of giving Him worship and praise as a community, as if to approach Him face to Holy Face. What has happened to our sense of reverence for the Almighty that anyone would even think twice about doing his best to "dress up" for Him?

Even in the sense of intimacy with the Lord, Jesus teaches us to regard Him as "Father". Do you not treat your father in a more special manner than anyone else? And yet he is still only a man. How much more is God than he?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Getting back to the issue of the poor and homeless. Aren't you the one who speaks of the great work you do for these poor souls? What exactly are you doing for them if they don't even have a decent suit of clothes for job hunting? They can't afford Salvation Army? Aren't they a charitable organization? Do they charge Michigan Avenue prices? Or are they victims of living amongst the psudeo-pious who preach living simply and thus have nothing to give the truly needy? What's with the people of Kentucky that they can't come up with a few sheckles to provide in this manner for those they claim to have such concern?

Once again, you say you reject worldly standards but in the same breath you speak of dressing for the sake of others. Which is it? You doing for the sake of the Lord or for the sake of others?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

Exactly my point. Whether I'm the rich dude in a tux or the poor guy in the best I've got, I'm going with the Lord in mind, not myself or others.

You said that after I wrote that one reason I dressed "down" was out of concern for others. You called that selfish. You said...

Your hippie "save the earth" nonsense is self-serving, not God honoring.

"Self-serving," to dress so as to make others comfortable and to be dressed in such a way as to be prepared to work? Self-serving how?

Dressing out of concern for others, is that not exactly the OPPOSITE of "self-serving?"

What you did for the least of these my children, you have done for me.

I dress as I do at least in part for the least of these God's children, thus, I do so for God, is that not the case?

I don't see how that could be called "self-serving," not by standard English definitions.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

My only thought, after reading through all this is quite simple:

Why does Marshall care so much what other people do?

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

I can only answer that with a question back at you:

How can a Christian not be concerned with the physical, mental, emotional, moral and spiritual well being of his fellow man? Ultimately, each makes their own decisions about their own selves. But to stand back and say or do nothing, to make no attempt to persuade another to what seems (and generally is) a better way is akin to watching someone flounder in the middle of a lake and simply watch them drown. Would you allow you own daughters to go astray without even a word? How about a friend? To do nothing is to not care. I care. It's what Christians are supposed to do.

Dan Trabue said...

I think what Geoffrey is saying, and I know what I'm getting at, is this - on matters of petty consequences, WHY have such a strong opinion?

Sure, we all agree, if your brother is abusive, if your cousin wants to kill or beat someone, if your sister is stealing money from her employer, if your pastor or friend is greedy and materialistic, it would be a good thing to broach that topic with your acquaintance.

But the clothes we wear to church??

The Bible has nothing to say about this. There is nothing at all inherently wrong with shorts or jeans or flannel. You have a pet peeve over a very petty issue. Okay, we all have those. But acknowledge it for what it is: a petty pet peeve, nothing to get excited about, nothing immoral or horrible, just your own pet peeve.

That's what I'm saying.

If you feel "your best" involves a suit and tie, go for it. You won't get a complaint from me. But don't be ridiculous and insist that YOUR answer on this non-issue is The One True Answer from God's mouth to your ear.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

In Philippians, Paul quotes an early Christian hymn concerning the incarnation. This examination of became the basis for the doctrine of the same name, including the understanding of Jesus as fully human and fully divine. The teaching of the hypostatic union underscores this - there was no admixture between Jesus' divinity and humanity, but rather both existed in their fullness in him.

Karl Barth wrote a longish essay toward the end of his life in which he indicated his earlier thoughts on the infinite qualitative distinction between humanity and God did not account for a closer reading and understanding of the consequences of the incarnation. He titled the essay "Humanity in God".

In other words, as a response to your response, Marshall, you might want to acquaint yourself with the teaching of the Church before you start worrying about what other people wear.

Marshall Art said...

What's so petty about recognizing the vast difference between God and His creation? What's so petty about recognizing that He is deserving of better than the dungarees you wore to clean the stables?

Of course, Dan, if fits with your overall interpretation of Scripture and you are free to take your chances with wacky understandings about God, who He is, what constitutes His nature and the whole nine yards. I simply feel He is deserving of far more reverence than you're willing to give Him for a couple measely hours on a Sunday. Your perspective seems to suggest He says, "No, I don't care if you come in your pajamas, because Who am I? I'm just the Supreme Being. Why trouble yourself to dress up on My account?"

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

There are enough typos in your last, which is a bit cryptic as well, to make deciphering it a bit too troublesome for me at this late hour (new stop-gap gig requires I hit the rack very early). But as to the punchline, I'm quite familiar enough with the teachings of Scripture that I feel quite confident that I don't need to rely on Karl Barth's opinion to stand firm on my position. You might want to consider that it isn't the clothes, but what the selection of those clothes suggests about the person wearing them. It's really not much different than for someone to say they believe, but act like a real asshole all the time. It goes to the actions matching the claims of person.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

What's so petty about recognizing the vast difference between God and His creation?

Nothing at all. I'm not suggesting we ought not recognize the difference between God and God's creation. In fact, I'm suggesting the exact opposite: That God does not care about our human fashions. You may think that God cares about our cultural norms and what our society values as "best," I don't think God does.

Marshall...

What's so petty about recognizing that He is deserving of better than the dungarees you wore to clean the stables?

What makes you think God values your suit and tie more than my stable-dirtied dungarees? On what basis do you think there is more value in your suit and tie? Cultural, you seem to admit.

You can dress to please the standards of today's cultural norms, I'm not going to fault you for that. I'm just suggesting that you have no biblical nor moral reason to suggest that your suit and tie are better than my dirty old jeans. Agreed?

Bubba said...

Marshall, I saw your email reply a few days ago but haven't had time to respond. Please stand by...


In the meantime, I'm reminded of the importance of symbolism and the two great errors that must be avoided: interpreting the symbol as altogether irrelevant, or confusing the symbol for the reality which it represents.

The clothes one chooses to wear is *NOT* the reality of one's approach to God -- and I don't think you're suggesting it is -- but it *CAN* be evidence of one's approach.

We are supposed to judge a tree by its fruit, and if a Sunday School teacher was repeatedly unprepared for his class, or if the choir clearly didn't practice its music, one COULD draw conclusions about their priorities regarding God and His church. I'm not sure why similar conclusions couldn't be drawn from what one wears.


Because there are so many confounding factors -- finances, background, etc. -- I'm not sure I would personally draw conclusions about what OTHER church-goers are wearing: since my focus should be on worshiping God and serving them, what they came in wearing shouldn't come up in my mind at all.

But I think it's COMPLETELY legitimate to ask, what should *I* wear to church?

I think the answer of "it doesn't matter AT ALL" leads to a sort of antinomianism.

Of course, I don't earn God's approval with what I wear: I don't earn His approval through anything that I do, but instead I receive His approval through faith in the crucified and risen Christ. But just because I shouldn't wear nice clothes to church out of a misconception that it earns God's approval, does it follow that I shouldn't wear nice clothes out of reverence and gratitude?

Of course, the notion of what sort of clothes are nice and appropriate is culturally determined. But just because what's nice varies by place and by time, does it follow that there is no concept of what's nice in our particular time and place?

God is holy. Because of His revealed word, and most especially because of His Incarnate Word, He has come to dwell among us, accepting us just like we are so that we will become just like His Son. But He is still holy, and His holiness required His Son's death for our reconciliation: is it really appropriate to be flippant about an intimacy with God purchased at such a high price?

Indeed, people can be so overwhelmed with God's holiness that they never approach Him as Abba Father, but people can also be blase about what God did to receive us into His holiness.


Suppose you were imprisoned by an enemy of the King, and the King's Son died rescuing you from the cold, dark dungeon. The King has invited you to a Welcome Home party: what should you wear? That you should wear nice attire seems to go without saying.

Dan Trabue said...

The Bible - and Jesus - on clothes...

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

...And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

~Jesus, Matt 6

John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist.

~Matt 3

As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces...

~Matt 11

[Do you get the contrast that those who wear fine clothes are in the palace, as opposed to in God's service?]

Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

~Jesus, Luke 6

...so he [Jesus] got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

~John 13

[That is, during the ceremony of foot washing, Jesus stripped down to his civvies... Do that often in YOUR church?]

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes

~1 Tim 2

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

~James 2


Note that those who judged the poorly dressed ones harshly are said by James to have "become judges with EVIL thoughts," - does that not give you pause to cast aspersions about anyone's shabby clothes?

Note that there is nothing in any of these passages about clothing to suggest that wearing a suit and tie or what society deems "the best" is what we ought to do. No, in fact, quite the opposite. Those who judge the shabbily dressed are condemned. "Fine clothes" are for the palace, not for God's people.

Now, I don't think the Bible clearly condemns "fine clothes," and if you want to wear a suit and tie, go for it, I'm not judging that harshly at all. I'm just saying that you have no basis (other than cultural biases) for suggesting the shabbily dressed are in the wrong in God's eyes. Yes, we may offend the cultural elite for not dressing fine enough, but that's not part of the God Kingdom way of thinking.

Consider the words of the Bible OVER and above cultural norms, that's all I'm saying.

You know, Marshall, as much as you think I'm often mistaken, it IS possible that I'm correct on this point and you judge too harshly in error, don't you think?

Even a broken watch is right twice a day, right?

Dan Trabue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Thanks for the irrelevant verses. I question your understanding of them as well.

Your quote from Matt 6 does nothing more than teach us that we will be provided for if we first seek after His Kingdom and His Righteousness. It isn't suggesting that one needn't worry about cleanin' up before worship service. Nice try, though.

Your quote from Matt 3 has even less relevance since it only describes what the Baptist wore & what he ate, all of which would be expected from a guy who lives in the desert with no job or income. Are you suggesting that such is something to which all Christians should aspire? I'll bet that John gave millions to charity!

Your Matt 11 quote is not relevant either. But it does suggest your obvious socialist tendencies as you once again assume there is some distinction between a poor man like John the Baptist and those who live in palaces. That was not the point of Christ's words here, as only in your mind does He ever put one above the other. One needn't be penniless in order to be humble. One can be worth millions and still be a servant to God and His people. You make the same mistake about clothes that you assume I am making, but in the other direction.

The Luke 6 quote---irrelevant.

The John 13 quote---irrelevant, though I have no doubt you think you'd feel more holy performing a ritual foot washing than I would. I'm not about to wash anyone's feet for the sake of ritual. This is no different than dressing up for the sake of those who can see you. That's not why I dress up for church and I wouldn't wash anyone's feet just to be seen doing it in church.

Your 1 Tim quote does not suggest that dressing modestly would equate to jeans and a t-shirt. "...not with...expensive clothes" does not mean dressing like crap. I believe you'll also find that Paul teaches that women should cover their heads. How often do you see this nowadays?

Your James 2 quote suggests that I am judging people by their appearance or that I feel they should be put out for their appearance. I don't need to judge people who dress one way for church and then dress better for other occasions. Their own actions have told me all I need to know about their true reverence for God. It is on them. In the same way, I have never suggested that dressing well for church puts me in better stead with the Almighty. I don't do it for Holy Brownie Points. I do it because He's worth it. Sure, I could wake up from the floor, wipe the chunks of puke from my face and shirt and haul my butt off to church, because hey, I showed up, right? That's the main thing, right? God loves me just as I am, right?

I think not. It's laziness, Dan. Dressing down to humble yourself is empty ritual. One is either humble or one is not. Cost of clothes don't change that. If one lives in a tent in the mud, here's a tip: move the tent back a few yards out of the mud. In addition, clean the muddy clothes, separate the best of it from the worst and see if the good folks at Jeff St can scrape together a few coins to afford a Hefty bag to store the better clothes in so that they won't get muddy.

I would also advise you that you rethink the notion that God just can't make it without your sorry ass in the pews in any shape in which you choose to arrive. That's assuming just a bit too much even for youl

Dan Trabue said...

We could do this all day, but just to make a few comments...

Dressing down to humble yourself is empty ritual. One is either humble or one is not.

And what if I dress the way I dress because I am humble and these clothes are practical, sensible and serve the purpose? Would it not be an extremely empty ritual for me to put on "fancy clothes" just for the sake of ritual?

Again, WHO decides that a suit and tie are "best"? Culture, you answer. And I say, if you want to dress to please culture, go ahead. I dress to please God and, in my estimation, dressing humbly with simple, practical clothes is what is "best," NOT from a cultural point of view (I'll give you that if one wants to dress "best" according to culture, a suit and tie are the typical uniform) but from a Christian point of view.

If, for you, dressing as today's culture tells you is best IS the best you can do, go for it. I'm not condemning you. I'm just asking for the same respect for we mennonites, amish, hippies and freaks that we afford you.

ESPECIALLY since there is not a SINGLE verse in the Bible that supports your hunch that dressing in a suit and tie is "best," and most pleasing to God, nor is there anything AT ALL to suggest that dressing according to what society thinks is "best" is best or most pleasing to God.

Since this is all just your hunch based on today's norms, not universal values, I just ask for some respect and humility when it comes to your expectations for others. Fair enough?

As to this...

Thanks for the irrelevant verses.

We're discussing the clothes we wear. I looked into the Bible to see what it had to say about clothes and I quoted those verses that seemed appropriate. I don't see them as being irrelevant at all.

I think that when Jesus said, "Don't worry about the clothes you wear," that he meant just that. Clothes are not something to worry about.

I think when James warned against the evils of judging people harshly because they dress in shabby clothes he meant just that - don't devalue people because they don't dress in what you perceive to be "best clothes."

Bubba is right (you heard it here first), this is a matter for you to take up for yourself. You have no biblical grounds for judging others harshly because their notion of "best" is different than yours. So, don't do that. You wouldn't want to engage in what the Bible calls "EVIL."

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Oh, Lord, Marshall, there is nothing "cryptic" about it. I was talking about God's gracious condescension in the incarnation, and how the gulf between humanity and God, while certainly real, is erased. We are not deified; rather, God has become fully human, embracing to the last full measure what it is to be human. Worrying about petty things like dress in church . . . Compared to the suffering we are called not only to alleviate, but to end; the hatred we are struggle to overcome with love; the oppression we are to overcome through the freedom we have in Christ - whether or not you or I or anyone else wears a tie or not to church is meaningless. I have worn shorts and sandals in church; I have also worn a suit. God doesn't care, so I don't either. People, such as you, who do really aren't my problem. I cannot and will not live my life to accommodate the prejudices of others.

Dan Trabue said...

Returning to an earlier comment, Marshall had said...

neck wear goes back to at least the 17th century and since has always been a noted part of what constitutes a well dressed man.

And you're accurate, to an extent. Neck wear has, for a century or so, been a noted part of a well-dressed man in some circles and in some cultures. In fact, in the US, you could say that it was the norm for well-dressed men in the DOMINANT culture in the US.

What I was trying to get at earlier (just to clarify) is, What standard are you advocating for what constitutes "best?" Dominant culture?

Dominant culture today might suggest that men ought to wear suit and tie - or a tuxedo, even, for "truly best," fine attire, right? So, why do you not advocate wearing of tuxedos? That IS "the best" amongst what our dominant culture advocates for the finest clothing for men, right, so if you think we truly ought to wear "our best" based upon the dominant culture, why not tuxedos for men on Sundays?

And why not evening gowns for women? Something glittery and expensive and FINE? Isn't that what our culture deems the "best" of best-dressed women?

I don't think you truly think that dominant western culture is a good measure of what is "the best" for anything - clothes included - and that's why I'm returning to this point.

It sure seems to me that you're standing by your tradition simply because it's your tradition, and that's fine, I'm not criticizing you for that.

I'm just trying to help point out that cultural norms are no substitute for Godly norms and biblical principles and the ONLY biblical principles we get from Jesus on sartorial standards is "Don't worry about your clothes."

I'm just trying to point out that this is your standard for what feels best to you, not biblical standards that call for a suit and tie or even "our best clothing" as culturally-defined by the masses of a given society.

Bubba said...

Geoffrey, you write, "I have worn shorts and sandals in church; I have also worn a suit. God doesn't care, so I don't either."

You say you don't care about what you wear, and yet you remember what you wore. I doubt that your choice of attire was random, that you wore the first thing you saw that morning.

The fact that you chose different attire for different occasions tells us that you actually do care about what you wear; the fact that you have different attire beyond the essentials for protection from the elements tells us that as well.

The doctrine of the Incarnation does not prove what you think it does. Indeed, "God has become fully human, embracing to the last full measure what it is to be human," but our humanity includes artistic self-expression through the world around us.

That includes what people choose to wear: people say quite a bit about themselves -- either sincerely or admittedly hypocritically -- through what they decide to wear, and so it's a fair question to ask whether our entire lives INCLUDING our choice of attire reflects a devotion and reverence to God.


You write:

"Worrying about petty things like dress in church . . . Compared to the suffering we are called not only to alleviate, but to end; the hatred we are struggle to overcome with love; the oppression we are to overcome through the freedom we have in Christ - whether or not you or I or anyone else wears a tie or not to church is meaningless."

1) I don't think anyone here would argue that church attire is more important than the command to love.

2) Everything you list here -- alleviating suffering and overcoming hatred & oppression -- is concerned solely with one's fellow man and not with God.

The greatest commandment is to love God, and so even those things that aren't directly connected to love for one's neighbor may still be important, insofar as they reflect a right relationship with God, or they don't.

(The idea that we are called to *END* suffering is frankly extra-biblical, utopian nonsense: the poor we will always have with us, there will be wars and rumors of wars, and suffering will be ended by Christ's return, not by our own petty schemes.)

We are taught in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that all that we do, ought to be done to God's glory: one can be TOO preoccupied with attire, but this command applies to attire as it does every aspect of our lives.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba wrote...


I doubt that your choice of attire was random, that you wore the first thing you saw that morning.

I can't speak for Geoffrey, but I can just about guarantee that this is the case for me. I pretty much pick out the first clothes I find in the morning. I DO recall wearing special clothes to church - a tie dye shirt on Easter Sunday, a bright vest on another day - but on any given day, I'm pretty much wearing whatever presents itself.

Why?

Because, I strive to follow Jesus' teachings fairly literally. I "don't worry about the clothes I wear." Why would I? What possible difference does it make in the grand scheme of things.

Bubba also said...

Everything you list here -- alleviating suffering and overcoming hatred & oppression -- is concerned solely with one's fellow man and not with God.

Of course, everyone here recognizes, I'm sure, that this is one and the same. What you did for the least of these, you have done for me, Jesus tells us. It's not as if we Christians can work in Jesus' name to end/alleviate suffering, hatred and oppression of our fellow humans and not do it for God, right?

Bubba said...

Dan, I was under the distinct impression that, if I steer clear of you, you would return the favor.

("...if you'd like to not see me respond to you here, you have that power: Leave my name and my church out of your hunches and guesses and misrepresentations.")

Nothing I've written here even alludes to any of your ridiculous comments.


Since you're addressing me directly, I will say that you're still full of shit.

You say, "I strive to follow Jesus' teachings fairly literally."

Jesus affirmed Scripture to the smallest penstroke, but you dismiss even Scripture's account of THE PASSOVER as ahistorical. Jesus deduced the reality of the Resurrection from a single verb tense, but you believe that Old Testament history isn't trustworthy on the details.

Jesus taught that His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin, but you reduce the atonement to only a way of understanding what Christ's death accomplished, and you HAVE finally made clear that you do not believe that His death caused our forgiveness.

After the Resurrection, Jesus instructed Thomas to examine His wounds, and yet you believe that the bodily Resurrection is not an essential doctrine, that the doctrine could be the result of some misinterpretation of Scripture, and that one could deny the doctrine and remain in the faith.

Jesus is also quite clear about why we were created male and female, and yet, in defiance of the INEVITABLE consequence of that teaching, you proclaim that God condones behavior that the Bible repeatedly and consistently condemns.

"I strive to follow Jesus' teachings fairly literally"?

That's obvious nonsense that doesn't actually make any substantive point and only serves to stroke your ego.


And on the subject of self-aggrandizement, it's laughable for you to ask Marshall to consider your arguments when, so far as I can tell, you have **NEVER** reconsidered your position on the basis of any of the arguments given by him, Neil, Stan, or myself.

The only proof you've ever offered that you're open to correction is that you *WERE* open to correction, before your conversion from theological conservatism to your present-day progressive faith. Since then, your apparent beliefs seem quite immune to correction.

The most obvious and most damning example is your unwillingness to be corrected about ripping out of even their IMMEDIATE context, passages of the Bible that you claim to revere so highly.

- In arguing for pacifism, you invoke Romans 12:21 and "overcome evil with good," even though Paul teaches FOUR VERSES LATER that the government is an agent of God's wrath and that it does not "bear the sword in vain."

- In arguing against the notion that God would command ancient Israel to annihilate His enemies, you've cited Psalm 106:38 and its condemnation of shedding innocent blood, even though verse 34 condemns Israel because it did not destroy the nations as God commanded.

- In arguing that the substitutionary atonement is mere imagery, you've suggested that that Christ's death was described in many ways, and you've pointed to I Peter 2:21, in which we are taught that Christ died as our example: THREE VERSES LATER, Peter affirms that Christ bore our sins on the cross.

So far as I can tell, you've never accepted my correcting you on any of these quite serious points: I've noticed that you STILL quite glibly invoke "overcome evil with good" in discussions about pacifism, for instance.

[cont]

Bubba said...

[cont]

About the substance of your comment, Dan, if a "fairly literal" interpretation of Matthew 6 requires absolute apathy about one's attire, then you should repent for wearing "special clothes" on Easter: is it not especially egregious to defy His orders on the day celebrating His Resurrection?

No, Matthew 6 doesn't command carelessness about what we eat and what we wear. We shouldn't FRET OR WORRY about these things because God will provide, but that doesn't preclude us from putting a little bit of thought into our decisions about such matters, as a reflection of our devotion or gratitude.

You ask, "What possible difference does it make in the grand scheme of things."

As I said earlier, while one shouldn't mistake the symbol for the reality, one also shouldn't disregard the symbol as wholly unimportant.

Again, our humanity includes artistic self-expression through the world around us.

That includes what people choose to wear: people say quite a bit about themselves through what they decide to wear, and so it's a fair question to ask whether our entire lives INCLUDING our choice of attire reflects a devotion and reverence to God.


Finally, while it is true that our concern for our neighbor IS part of our duty to God, the two aren't "one and the same."

All cats are mammals, but not all mammals are cats.

All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.

Likewise, every act of love toward a neighbor is an act of obedience toward God, but not every act of obedience toward God is an act of love toward a neighbor.

Hence, the commandment that we have no other gods before Yaweh, and the commandment that we make no idols; hence, Christ's teachings that take AS A GIVEN a life of prayer and fasting.

I misspoke when I wrote to Geoffrey, "Everything you list here... is concerned solely with one's fellow man and not with God."

I should have written that what he listed ignores devotion to God apart from one's duties to one's fellow man.

In writing that they're "one and the same," you betray yet another deviation from biblical orthodoxy.


If there's nothing else, Dan, I'd appreciate it if you would live a life consistent with your "guess" that God will chide you from having anything more to do with me.

Bubba said...

What Jesus Christ wore during His earthly ministry doesn't often come up in the canon of Scripture, but what's there doesn't suggest that God Incarnate was wholly apathetic regarding attire.

"Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him...

"After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.'
" - Jn 13:1-5, 12-14, emphasis mine

If attire was utterly unimportant to Christ...

1) Why did He remove His outer robe to was the disciples' feet?

2) Why was He even wearing a robe to begin with?

3) Why did He put His robe back on afterwards?

One can read too much into these sorts of details -- and the fact that this detail was recorded, apparently by the eyewitness apostle John -- but the detail is there.

I don't think it's too much to conclude that Jesus had a sense of decorum: it was right for Him to remove His outer robe before washing His servants' feet, and it was right for Him to put the robe back on in returning the table.

Regardless, I don't think these actions are evidence of complete apathy about attire: "God doesn't care, so I don't either."

Dan Trabue said...

I apologize Bubba, for addressing your comments. I thought, since I was largely agreeing with you, it'd be okay. I was mistaken and I'm sorry for agreeing with you and clarifying one statement.

I figured we'd all agree that what we do for the least of these we do for Jesus, since that's what he said, so I clarified that statement. Otherwise, I was agreeing with you.

I apologize for doing so. I shall strive to leave your comments alone henceforth, even when I agree, since you can't seem to accept agreement without being a jerk about it. I'm sorry for that, too.

Mark said...

On Easter Sunday, in the afternoon, after church, I was in WalMart.

I saw a man there who was dressed in a bright pink suit, black shirt, matching pink tie, and black and pink patent leather shoes. His suit coat was over long, reminiscent of the old zoot suits of the 40's. The only thing missing was the wide brimmed hat and the knee length watch chain. He looked like a clown.

And, he was strutting around like a rooster, making sure anyone within sight noticed him. Obviously, when this man goes to church, it's to show off, and has nothing to do with reverence or respect for God.

I think I'm somewhere in the middle on this discussion. Certainly, I wear nicer clothes to church than I wear to work, but I rarely wear a suit and tie except on special church days such as Easter. I think God appreciates my choice of clothing as a sign of respect for Him, but at the same time care must be taken that we aren't dressing for the edification others beside God.

Be that as it may, I had a friend who once told me, "When Jesus comes back to get us, He won't wait for us to change clothes." I think he made a good point.

Regardless, if I knew exactly when Jesus was coming back, I believe I'd dress as nicely as I could. Wouldn't anyone?

Bubba said...

Dan, your comment didn't seem to be based on a whole lot of common ground.

I wrote that I doubted Geoffrey's choice of attire was completely random, and you wrote that your choice of attire *IS* random, even when attending church.

(More on that subject, in a moment.)

Everything I wrote up to your comment was in support of the position that one probably SHOULD put some thought into the clothes one wears to a worship service; clearly your position is in disagreement with mine, as you wrote (absurdly, on multiple levels) that your choice of attire is random because you "strive to follow Jesus' teachings fairly literally."

Yes, we agree that, by loving one's neighbor, we also love God, but I disagree STRONGLY with the point you were trying to make with that -- namely, that the two duties are "one and the same."

That disagreement is clear from the comment I made forty minutes prior:

"The greatest commandment is to love God, and so even those things that aren't directly connected to love for one's neighbor may still be important, insofar as they reflect a right relationship with God, or they don't."

The clear implication is that the duty to God entails more than the duty to one's neighbor.


So, most of your comment was clearly in dispute of what I've written. To give your explanation the absolute greatest benefit of the doubt, you erroneously inflated the small area where we actually agree by either not reading or not comprehending what I wrote immediately prior.

But since I can no longer extend to you the benefit of the doubt, it seems to me that you're trying to reframe a comment of obvious dispute into an atta-boy, all because you think that's the best way to portray me as a jerk.

One reason I want nothing more to do with you, Dan, isn't because I can't accept agreement, but because I'm tired of your offering such obvious lies about public comments you make less than 24 hours prior, comments that are easily accessible in the public record.

If you can't be honest about what I can quickly check for myself, then you simply cannot be trusted about anything of any importance.

Bubba said...

Dan, about your indifference to your choice of attire and the "fairly literal" reading of Scripture that requires that indifference, I note that you didn't address the substance of my criticism.

Again, if you're being honest that you believe that the Lord forbids us from being thoughtful about what we wear to church, it seems especially egregious to wear "special clothes" to a service celebrating His Resurrection.


Again you say that your choice of attire is quite random when it comes to worship, and you present your doing so as obedience to Christ.

" 'I doubt that your choice of attire was random, that you wore the first thing you saw that morning.'

"I can't speak for Geoffrey, but I can just about guarantee that this is the case for me. I pretty much pick out the first clothes I find in the morning. I DO recall wearing special clothes to church - a tie dye shirt on Easter Sunday, a bright vest on another day - but on any given day, I'm pretty much wearing whatever presents itself.

"Why?

"Because, I strive to follow Jesus' teachings fairly literally. I 'don't worry about the clothes I wear.' Why would I? What possible difference does it make in the grand scheme of things.
"

Nevertheless, you have recently posted on your own blog photographic evidence of your being quite deliberate in your choice of attire on your wedding day.

I doubt even you are stupid enough or dishonest enough to suggest that that tuxedo was the first piece of clothing you found that morning.

So, tell me, Dan, were you being disobedient to Christ when you clearly put some thought into what you wore to your own wedding?

And why did you wear a tuxedo if one's clothing is completely irrelevant "in the grand scheme of things"?


I'm certainly not suggesting that a church service is a black-tie affair: there are clothes that are appropriate for every situation.

Dan, if you really want to argue that some amount of thoughtfulness about one's attire is forbidden by Christ's explicit commands, you should explain what you were doing being so picky about your clothes on your big day -- and you should explain why you STILL admit to wearing "special" attire to celebrate Christ's Resurrection: disobedience is a funny way to show reverence to the Lord.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm confused, Bubba, you asked that I leave your comments alone and now you're asking me questions.

To answer the wedding day question - I wore a tuxedo because it mattered to my wife. Not to God.

She cared. I don't see any - ANY WHATSOEVER - passages in the Bible to suggest otherwise. In fact, Jesus is quite clear: Don't worry about the clothes you wear.

I believe Jesus was quite clear.

Also, James was quite clear that those who judged others harshly because of the clothes they wore were engaging in EVIL.

If you want to wear something "nice" by the culture's standards, go for it. I don't mind. I don't mind that my wife wanted me to wear a tuxedo.

Just don't claim that God expects it if you have no evidence to support such a silly suggestion.

And now, I've answered that specific question to me, I shall go back to leaving you alone per your request.

Bubba said...

I'll reiterate what I wrote to close my first reply here, Dan.

"If there's nothing else, Dan, I'd appreciate it if you would live a life consistent with your 'guess' that God will chide you from having anything more to do with me."

Again: "If there's nothing else."

Clearly, you had more to say, so I'm choosing to address the additional idiocy.


You don't seem to grasp my point about your wedding attire.

You've written that your church attire is pretty much random OUT OF OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST'S COMMAND ABOUT NOT WORRYING ABOUT WHAT YOU WEAR.

" 'I doubt that your choice of attire was random, that you wore the first thing you saw that morning.'

"I can't speak for Geoffrey, but I can just about guarantee that this is the case for me. I pretty much pick out the first clothes I find in the morning. I DO recall wearing special clothes to church - a tie dye shirt on Easter Sunday, a bright vest on another day - but on any given day, I'm pretty much wearing whatever presents itself.

"Why?

"Because, I strive to follow Jesus' teachings fairly literally. I 'don't worry about the clothes I wear.' Why would I? What possible difference does it make in the grand scheme of things.
"

If thoughtfulness about what you wear to a worship service is disobedience to Christ's prohibition of worrying, SO TOO IS THOUGHTFULNESS ABOUT WHAT YOU WEAR IN ANY OTHER OCCASION.

You write, "I wore a tuxedo because it mattered to my wife. Not to God."

Your position has gone further than that: you're not only arguing that attire doesn't matter to God, you're arguing that Christ forbade *ANY* sort of real forethought about attire... and yet, when it came to your wedding, you did exactly what you say Christ forbade.

Going by your own ridiculous claims, you disobeyed the supposedly clear teachings of Christ out of deference to your fiancee.

And by wearing "special clothes" on Easter Sunday, you're still disobeying Christ to celebrate His Resurrection.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why Jeff St. does not purchase some nice Sunday going clothes for the homeless who attend, plus they could take them to the laundromat once in a while to wash up what little they have. If the church has a bathroom with a lavatory, give them a towel, wash cloth and some soap for a wash up. mom2

Dan Trabue said...

[rolls eyes]

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, I've quit addressing your comments, I'll thank you to quit guessing at what I think. You are still getting it wrong. Pretty much every time.

You just can't grasp what I mean by my words. I'd suggest we just write off trying to communicate with one another, it's probably for the best.

Mom2, you speak in utter ignorance, as well and you'd be wiser to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're a fool, rather than opening your mouth and confirming it.

Anonymous said...

Dan, You talk a good talk but you evidently don't walk the walk. All your talk about obeying Jesus and then I really do wonder why your church that you like to brag about is not helping those homeless that attend. Your comment does not show forth any love of Jesus. mom2

Dan Trabue said...

Sigh...

Mom2, our church (of around 80 people) has fed and clothed thousands of Louisville's homeless and poor for over 100 years. We offer a place for them daily to clean their clothes, receive their mail, have a safe and friendly place to sit and be human.

We offer a coffee house where they come and enjoy free cups of coffee and snacks and where they get the chance to share their own talents of song, poetry, storytelling and/or music.

We have taken homeless men, women, families, children and orphans into our own homes to live with us.

We have worked to ensure that the city treats them with the dignity that they deserve as God's beloved children.

We have established two homes for women and children to re-establish themselves and get back on their own two feet, supporting themselves, sometimes after abuse or years of mental illness.

We work with the homeless who are mentally ill, who have addictions, with families who are homeless. We work to ensure that they receive decent health care.

I am willing to wager that our small church of about 80 men, women and children has done more than Marshall's, Bubba's, Mom2's, Stan's and five of your favorite churches combined. Not anything against your churches, just that most churches don't do as much as we do, simply because of who we are and our location (in Louisville's harshest streets).

What we do for the least of these, God's children, we do FOR and TO and WITH Jesus himself.

Yes, Mom2, we do help our homeless friends with clothes, among other things.

And you? What have you done for the homeless? How many homeless have you had in your home? How many homeless do you know by name and count amongst your friends?

THIS is why I suggested you remain silent rather than prove yourself to be a fool. You opted for the latter.

Will an apology be forthcoming for your shrill pharisaism? I have my doubts.

Dan Trabue said...

Lest anyone think I've been too harsh on "mom2," I will let any newcomers know that she has this history of coming in a blog, making attacking comments - with NO support, then leaving. If she is corrected and shown how she was mistaken, she never apologizes (maybe once), she just goes away.

This is actually related to Marshall's harsh opinions about cultural dressing norms. Mom2 has no reason to make her initial comment ("I am wondering why Jeff St. does not purchase some nice Sunday going clothes for the homeless who attend") since she doesn't know if we do or don't do this, nor does she know how much we do or don't do for/with the homeless/poor. She just makes the unfounded accusations and then, when corrected, moves on to the next attack.

I will say that, in truth, we DON'T make purchasing ties and jackets for our homeless friends to wear to church a high priority. WHY would we? Since there is STILL not the first bit of biblical or logical reason to suggest that a scrap of expensive cloth around a man's neck that is culturally popular is in any way pleasing to God.

Bubba said...

Thoughtfulness about one's attire is simply no substitute for a right relationship with God -- but a right relationship with God may very well lead to thoughtfulness about one's attire, along with every other aspect of one's life.

After all, God has revealed Himself to be supremely holy, and while He offers the incredible opportunity of an intimate relationship, that intimacy isn't a license for flippancy.

Mark said...
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Mark said...
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Mark said...

Dang it! Copied and pasted without correcting the typo. One last time.

Sorry about that. There was a typo.

Here is what I meant to say:

Dressing up for church is a sign of respect and reverence to God.

Dan says, "Since there is STILL not the first bit of biblical or logical reason to suggest that a scrap of expensive cloth around a man's neck that is culturally popular is in any way pleasing to God."

I would like to assume he doesn't mean dressing up in respect and reverence for God isn't pleasing to God.

Yes, I would like to assume thus, but given Dan's history of disrespect and irreverence for God, I just can't bring myself to do so.

Dan Trabue said...

I would like to assume he doesn't mean dressing up in respect and reverence for God isn't pleasing to God.

I don't know how much clearer I can be.

1. WHO SAYS "dressing up" is pleasing to God?

2. WHO SAYS "our best" is what the culture decides is "best"

3. WHY should I bow to cultural guesses about what "my best" clothes are?

4. Is there EVEN ONE passage in the Bible that suggests that a suit and tie (for men) is "best?" No, of course not.

5. Is there EVEN ONE passage in the Bible that suggests we ought to dress "best" according to society's standards? No, of course not. That's ridiculous on its face.

6. If you don't have EVEN ONE verse from the Bible, WHY should I bow to society's demands to dress "my best?"

7. And if I were going to do that, then I'd be wearing a tuxedo, which is the "best" according to society. You all aren't advocating that. You're advocating an entirely whimsical and random dress code based upon your cultural preferences. If that works for you, go for it.

MY personal best, though, tends to be jeans and a plain shirt. That IS my best, by what I think come closer to Godly standards, rather than merely cultural ones.

Dan Trabue said...

In short, I'm fine with "thoughtfulness" in attire - I've already pointed out that I do such.

I'm just thinking that it's ridiculous to randomly and whimsically assign "best" to what the culture says is sort of best, casual best, or whatever a suit and an expensive scrap of cloth around one's neck is called.

And who in the world would think that wearing a pair of jeans and t-shirt is "flippant?" By what standard? Says who? Culture?

Culture is not my god, I don't bow to culture.

Mark said...

OK, so I assumed wrong.

Dan IS saying God is displeased when we dress up out of reverence and respect for Him.

Honestly, Dan sometimes even surprises me.

Dan Trabue said...

Mark, you, along with Bubba, appear not to understand my words at all. You read the words that I have written and find hidden meaning therein that was not part of my intent.

Perhaps you'd be better off just skipping my posts and not trying to interpret them, as you are invariably 100% wrong.

In this case, I DID NOT SAY "God is displeased when we dress up out of reverence and respect for Him." The way you can tell is that that thought is not there in my writing anywhere. Not those words or anything suggesting it. THAT would be the first hint that I don't think it - that I did not say it.

What I HAVE said is that we ought not worry about our clothes, as Jesus clearly taught. What I HAVE said is that the Bible NO WHERE suggests that God gives a flip whether or not I wear a tie. That idea is NOT IN THE BIBLE.

What I HAVE said is that we ought to let the dominant culture determine what is "best" as regards to clothes, or at least that there's no biblical reason to think that.

THESE are the things I HAVE said. NOT what you THINK I have said, but haven't actually.

Does it help when I point it out line by line like that?

Mark, do you have ANY AT ALL biblical reasons for thinking that God wants me to wear a tie, a tuxedo, or an evening gown? Do have ANY AT ALL biblical reasons for thinking that I ought to let the dominant culture decide what clothes are "best" in God's eyes?

Marshall Art said...

Modem down for two days. What a hassle knowing that my email accounts are filling up with both the important and the trivial.

Dan Trabue said...

Hopefully, you count this amongst the trivial...

Marshall Art said...

I would first like to chastise Dan for his very unChristian response to Mom2. She asked a simple question and it mirrored one I asked myself. It was YOU, Dan, who suggested that the poor in your area just cannot find a way to clean up for church, what with living in a tent in the mud by the river and all. NOW you list all the wonderful things you and Jeff St do for the poor and homeless. So apparently that crap about living in the mud was just to incite, wasn't it? It wasn't quite a truthful statement to make here if indeed you are doing so very much to accomodate their impoverished situation. Apparently it was a set up just to entrap readers who might then comment based on your own words.

So which is it, Dan? Are the humble poor simply refusing the many gracious offerings of Jeff St and showing up to Sunday service soiled and muddy, or are they cleaning up?

If you are going to throw out crap such as you did regarding the conditions of the poor in your area, see that you give the full story at the same time so as not to mislead others in order to then give yourself opportunity to disparage them later. So that you can then brag of the accomplishments of the vaunted Jeff St. It's not a matter of whether or not any of our churches do as much, do less or do more than Jeff St. It's that you took it upon yourself to describe a situation that suggests something that apparently isn't an accurate representation of the truth. YOU lead us to believe the poor in your area have no options for addressing their appearance. Now we find that is not the truth. Which is it? If there is any apologies to be made, it's plain to me that you owe one to Mom2.

continued---

Dan Trabue said...

While waiting the rest of your comment, about your concern for Mom2, I repeat...

Lest anyone think I've been too harsh on "mom2," I will let any newcomers know that she has this history of coming in a blog, making attacking comments - with NO support, then leaving. If she is corrected and shown how she was mistaken, she never apologizes...

IF she did not have a history of snipe attacks - swooping in, sniping at people like me - with NO facts to back the sniping, then leaving - THEN perhaps I could realistically accused of over-reacting. However, she does have a history of snipe attacks. This was just another one. Note that she has not apologized for the misrepresentation which is abundantly clear.

Beyond that, you all have been apparently reading my blog and my notes about my church with interest for years now. Did you really miss that we are a church that does much for the homeless, the mentally ill, the down and out?

I would think that, if nothing else, you all would know by now that Jeff St is a church that works with and amongst the least of these.

Marshall Art said...

There's a number of misunderstandings happening here. First, Geoffrey says that God doesn't care what we wear. Funny. I thought that we aren't to suggest that we know what is on God's mind, or that we shouldn't speak for God.

But then, it isn't about what God thinks regarding our sartorial selections. It's about what our sartorial selections say about us and our true reverence toward and belief in God. You guys want to keep the focus on what God desires, but that isn't in question here and isn't a focus of this discussion. The focus is on the reverence each of us has for Him.

Dan will wear whatever presents itself (so glad there's no bunny costume hanging on the hook). Dan demonstrates that to him God isn't worth the effort of even imagining that there might be clothes that are or are not appropriate for the purpose of worshipping at a Sunday service.

To say that Jesus says we shouldn't worry about what we wear isn't the same as saying that among the clothes we own we cannot or should not judge some as being better than the rest and thus more suitable for being in the presence of God at a community worship such as Sunday service.

Tuxedos and evening gowns? What a crock of an argument! Those would indeed constitute the very type of adorning that is discouraged. You confuse "humble" clothes with crappy clothes. One can wear a suit and still be both humble and displaying the reverence for Whom it is we go to worship. The tuxedo argument is the same BS as is the bazooka argument used against those who favor concealed carry.

Practical and ready to work? On a Sunday, the day God sets aside for rest and thoughts of Him? Should that be a true argument, why not take a change of clothes for after service when the work is to be done? We have a annual picnic at the close of the year when Sunday school ends. I bring a second set of clothes for the purpose.

Dan says he doesn't bow to culture. Not so. He bows to the culture of the progressive Christian culture which says that clothes don't matter and so one needn't concern one's self with putting in the effort to dress well for Sunday service. Obviously I reject that culture's self-serving attitude.

Dan Trabue said...

...aaaannd STILL not a SINGLE bible passage supporting Marshall's wild hunch that EVERY FELLA ought to wear a suit and tie to church, in a bow to our cultural traditions.

I guess that's where it ends. It appears you REALLY think that everyone in our culture should dress in what SOME in our culture thinks is "best," (but not a tuxedo, for reasons unclear).

It comes down to this: Marshall thinks that cultural demands are the best guide to knowing what is "best" when it comes to clothes. I don't bow to culture and see NO biblical reason to do so and many reasons not to bow to culture.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Cut the crap. Mom2's history is not relevant to every comment she makes, and like mine, it was directly related to a specific comment you made. As I said, why make the comment with all that Jeff St does for the poor if not to provoke? Do those people show up muddy or don't they? If they do, then our questions (Mom2's and mine) were quite apropriate. If they don't, then your suggesting otherwise is dishonest. But then, your history is that you choose to see harm being done where none is happening. This is just another example of it.

Marshall Art said...

"...aaaannd STILL not a SINGLE bible passage supporting Marshall's wild hunch that EVERY FELLA ought to wear a suit and tie to church, in a bow to our cultural traditions."

....aaaaaand STILL none is required since I never made any assertion that the Bible requires it.

Mark said...

It's pretty obvious that Jeff St. has a place for the mentally ill, because apparently Dan is one of their success stories.

Mark said...

OK, guys, all kidding aside.

In fairness to everyone (even Dan), I believe what one chooses to wear to church is a matter of personal choice.

This is not an issue over which Christians should be divided.

I dress up out of respect and reverence to God, Who demands respect. Dan doesn't. So what? He isn't going to Hell because he doesn't have as much respect for God as he did for his wife on their wedding day.

He might go to Hell for many of the apostate crazy theories he has decided to believe in spite of everything God says to the contrary (such as "God blesses Homosexual marriage"), but he won't go to Hell because he decides to wear a pink bunny suit to church to celebrate Easter.

Dan Trabue said...

And a bit of reason from Mark. How 'bout that?

Marshall...

Mom2's history is not relevant to every comment she makes, and like mine, it was directly related to a specific comment you made. As I said, why make the comment with all that Jeff St does for the poor if not to provoke?

The question was WHY would we expect anyone to wear a tie (ie, to bow to cultural norms) at church? Mom2 responded to my reasoned thoughts suggesting that there is NO biblical reason to think that a tie is a good thing (or a bad thing) by questioning why we didn't provide ties to the homeless guys at Jeff St.

Mom2 has, in just about all of her comments to me in the past year, blindly criticized with no support for her position. This question she asked, 1. Was irrelevant to the question: WHY would we impose cultural norms? 2. Appeared to be leading to just another chance to criticize.

I warned her if she chose to go down that road she would only make a fool of herself.

She went down that road.

She made a fool of herself.

Jeff St has almost certainly done more (in terms of feeding, housing, befriending, clothing, etc) the homeless, the poor, the orphaned, the marginalized than all your churches put together (just a guess, but I think a safe one). She chose to criticize us because, of ALL the important meeting of needs we DO, she thought we ALSO ought to provide jackets and ties.

That is 1. Ridiculous in the extreme and, 2. Presuming that we have ANY REASON AT ALL why we SHOULD do that.

It's begging the question. The question is WHY bow to cultural norms? If these guys (and gals) are worried about their next meal, being beat senseless and robbed of their few belongings, about being raped or otherwise abused, about life and death medical and psychiatric issues, etc, etc, and we say, "Here, here's a jacket and tie, NOW you can come to church in a way that's pleasing to God!, Go in peace, be warm and stylish...," well, that just shows an ignorance of what real needs are.

We have limited resources. Getting shirts and ties for people to wear to church falls way down the list somewhere after "keeping them alive and safe."

If you all want to go down the route that Marshall seems to want to go down for yourselves, go for it. Wear ties. Wear jackets. Wear the finest fur with a pink tutu, I don't care. Just don't suggest that God expects that from anyone else or that wearing "our best" is something that YOU are able to decide based upon a scrap of cloth around the neck.

In truth, it just does not matter. There are life and death issues to concern ourselves with and Marshall and Mom2 are busy saying "Let them eat cake. In Jackets and Ties."

We've got better things to do with our time than jump through cultural hoops to please folk like Marshall for no reason beyond his cultural whims.

Dan Trabue said...

In the sentence above that begins...

Jeff St has almost certainly done more (in terms of feeding..., I meant to include "preaching and living the gospel, the good news to the poor..." but left that out. I think it's obvious to anyone who sees or reads about Jeff St at work, but too often too many have a hard time seeing the obvious, so I'll state it.

Marshall Art said...

"The question was WHY would we expect anyone to wear a tie (ie, to bow to cultural norms) at church?"

The question is why anyone would choose to wear anything but their best to Sunday service, considering I see so many people who definitely have better than what they have been wearing, wear less than their best. THAT is the real question of this post, thank you very much.

Mom2 has, as I said, merely asked a question that your own provocative comment elicited. YOU are the one who spoke of the sorry condition of those in your area. Once again, if those words were true and sincere, our questions regarding why you do not provide for them are legitimate. Now that you've been put on the spot, you make nasty comments about Mom2.

(Know that not everyone is concerned with anything Jeff St does at all, but only what YOU say about the place---I, for one, have not taken any time to peruse Jeff St's website, nor do I care to. I don't concern myself with them, but only what YOU say about them.)

Now, of course, you say you have limited resources. Your 80 member church has saved the world, but you have limited resources. It would seem to me that with your limited resources, something should be put aside to provide something that will lead to self-sufficiency, such as decent clothes that would help with job hunting while doubling for Sunday-going-to-meeting clothes. Frankly, I think you'll say anything to pump yourself up and put down those who disagree with your less than Christian understanding of Scripture and life in general.

And I will say this once more, so please read it slowly and try to understand it:

My post is not about what God expects regarding proper attire for Sunday service. The post is about the attitude of those who attend Sunday services and their true reverence for God being so plainly contradicted by the what they wear. To say that God does not care what we wear has no bearing on what we choose to wear. Dress like a slob, Dan. Go ahead. Do YOU live in a tent in the mud by the river? Have YOU no means by which you can put aside clothes that show how YOU feel about the Lord? YOU are the one who says you give no thought to what others think, and at the same time state that you dress so as not to embarrass the less fortunate. You're a fraud. You are every bit as culturally driven as anyone. The difference is in what culture drives you. Yours is the one that devises all sorts of justifications for your own laziness. THAT, I will admit, is my own hunch and opinion and your dance here leads me to believe I'm on the right track.

Mark said...

Dan says, "And a bit of reason from Mark. How 'bout that?"

If Dan thinks I'm reasonable, I must be wrong. I take back everything I said.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

The question is why anyone would choose to wear anything but their best to Sunday service

And the follow up question is, What is "our best?" What random bit of whimsy says a suit and tie is our best? Why not a tuxedo? Why not jeans? WHO SAYS a suit and tie are "our best?"

Your answer remains the entirely random "culture," by which you mean, "that part of culture which agrees with me that a suit and tie are 'best.'"

I don't disagree with the notion of giving of "our best" to the Lord. What I'm rejecting is your random peeve that people need to dress in a certain way to demonstrate their "best."

It doesn't matter to you if, for ME, my "best" is a pair of jeans and a plain shirt. Or, in the summer time, my "best" is a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. "Best," why? Because they are the most practical, reasonable clothes to wear. Hence, my very BEST.

But no, that's not good enough for you. You want to define "best" for everyone else based on an entirely random and whimsical appeal to some portion of society.

No thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

You are every bit as culturally driven as anyone. The difference is in what culture drives you. Yours is the one that devises all sorts of justifications for your own laziness. THAT, I will admit, is my own hunch

At least you're honest in that this is all entirely just a hunch. NO biblical reason or support for these whimsical guesses of yours.

Marshall, what you don't seem to get - and what too many of us don't seem to get - is the judgmentalism and legalism of your/our positions. That is what is so objectionable.

No one cares if YOU want to wear a suit and tutu to church, what we object to is YOU being ugly and judgmental about what OTHERS wear to church. Why do you care? Why do you get to decide what is best for everyone else and why would you base it upon a culture that you tend to otherwise despise?

This ugly, random, graceless judgmentalism is the undoing of too many of us Christians.

Once again, I'd ask you to embrace the grace. Life is too short and beautiful to bicker about such petty matters, and I've already contributed to that too much here myself. For that, I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

Dan likes to characterize me as one who snipes and runs. Not true! I also was replying to a comment that I think he deleted and it was as Marshall said, he told the story about all the unfortunates attending his church. I have read and replied to Dan's posts for several years now and since I share my computer with other family members, I am not on the computer all day long, thus Dan thinks I have run away. He has such a wild imagination! I wanted to help Dan see error, but I have long ago decided that one of his best friends is the author of lies and have given up on him. I do hope someone can help him! mom2

Dan Trabue said...

And yet, in this case, you were in error, for presuming that we were doing nothing for the poor and homeless and for presuming to tell us that we "ought" to be providing suits and ties for them to "look nice" for no particular reason but your own cultural prejudices.

You ridiculously say, "You talk a good talk but you evidently don't walk the walk." and when I point out that we walk the walk a helluva lot further than you likely do, sister, you have nothing but more sniping. It's what you do. You don't make constructive criticisms, you snipe.

Perhaps you don't recognize this about your own comments, I don't know, but go back and read what you've written. Snipe, snipe, snipe. Over and over you offer unsupported criticism, just like your implication that we weren't doing enough for the homeless based on NOT EVEN KNOWING what we do or don't do. What you knew is that our homeless friends may not always be well-dressed (by your prissy worldly standards) and thus, you assume that we're not doing enough.

Give it up. Live in Grace sister, the same grace by which we are saved. It ought to be an identifying feature of your life, let it be. Life's too precious and the community of God too dear to spend our time sniping at each other.

Dan Trabue said...

Mom2 said...

I wanted to help Dan see error, but I have long ago decided that one of his best friends is the author of lies and have given up on him.

Okay, here's your chance to not snipe, but teach, to help a brother see his "error."

WHAT is my error? WHAT is the error of Jeff St? Not providing suits and ties for our homeless friends? Is that really what you want to criticize me and us for?

Here's your chance, sister. Help me out. Teach me. What is my error.

Anonymous said...

Dan, You waste so much time. Get a life and WORK! Stop your pious preaching kid! I am not going to stay on a computer all day with someone so mixed up and so happy in it. Have a good day! mom2

Dan Trabue said...

Tell you what, Mom2: I'm a reasonable guy. I WANT to know God. I WANT to walk in God's ways. I WANT to know God's salvation and grace.

That being the case, I am open to being taught. I happen to believe that I am ENTIRELY fallible and able to be mistaken.

Come by my blog or send me an email and tell me what exact "my error" is in any regards, not just on my sartorial tastes. This is your chance to, graciously and kindly, show me the error of my ways.

A suggestion: Begin by saying, "Dan, when you say..." and quote me and explain why what I've actually SAID is mistaken or in error.

Help me. Teach me. I'll wipe out our history and listen with a fresh and open mind.

Here's your chance.

Bubba said...

Dan, my last comment Saturday was a general restatement of my position, not a comment directly pointed your way: after all, I didn't mention you by name as I usually do (and as I do now) and I neither quoted nor alluded to any of your specific points.

I'll reiterate that, while one should probably ask whether his own attire reflects a proper relationship with God, one can probably draw undue conclusions about what OTHERS wear. I didn't intend to suggest that your choice of church attire is convincing proof of flippancy toward God.

That's not to say that nothing points to flippancy on your part: there are your myriad beliefs that appear to be in direct defiance of Christ's clear teachings (see above) and your earlier comment in another thread that Jeff Street's observance of the Lord's Supper (which you believe is merely a church tradition and not a command from Christ Himself) is a "sometimes silly" affair.


Since we're apparently not quite done, Dan, I will say that your fixation on cultural mores seems beside the point.

While reverent dress and behavior is culturally determined, at least partially, that doesn't absolve us of the obligation of showing respect to God and to our neighbors, and the bottom line is that our behavior SHOULD be within those cultural mores most of the time.

For instance, in the Wild West it was proper to tip one's hat to a lady in public, but I can imagine a culture where it's rude to uncover one's head: when in Rome, do as the Romans do -- EXCEPT when it's worshiping Jupiter or Caesar -- so a time-traveling anthropologist ought to show respect to the people he visits in ways that they find comfortable.

That's not terribly controversial stuff.


Aside from that, Dan, you're simply all over the map.

You write to me, "I'm fine with 'thoughtfulness' in attire - I've already pointed out that I do such."

But in your very next comment, you tell Mark, "What I HAVE said is that we ought not worry about our clothes, as Jesus clearly taught."

I'm not sure how to reconcile the former and the latter, because you seem to think that Matthew 6 forbids more than worrying about clothes' provision: you invoke the teaching as if it forbids that thoughtfulness that you now say is fine.

(If that's not why you're repeatedly bringing up Matthew 6, then just what is the point you're trying to make?)

And, on the one hand, you suggest that God doesn't care about what we wear...

"I'm not suggesting we ought not recognize the difference between God and God's creation. In fact, I'm suggesting the exact opposite: That God does not care about our human fashions."

...but then you refer to "godly" attire.

You refer to your jeans and a tee-shirt as "my best, by what I think come closer to Godly standards, rather than merely cultural ones."

Your criticism can be that we ought not to have any standards in this one area, or that we have the wrong standards, but not both: your position seems inconsistent and is therefore incomprehensible.

Bubba said...

Entirely apart from the issue of attire, Dan, you make a comment that ought not to be ignored.

"Jeff St has almost certainly done more (in terms of feeding, housing, befriending, clothing, etc) the homeless, the poor, the orphaned, the marginalized than all your churches put together (just a guess, but I think a safe one)."

1) This supposedly "safe" guess is grossly hypocritical. You were outraged when we dared to suggest that Jeff Street might emphasize politics and the environment to the detriment of proclaiming Christ's bodily Resurrection, and you groused that we know nothing about your church.

Well, because we do not blog about our congregations the way you blog about yours, you know even less about our churches than we know about yours. By your own standards, you should apologize for this comment rather than pile on:

"In the sentence above that begins...

"Jeff St has almost certainly done more (in terms of feeding..., I meant to include 'preaching and living the gospel, the good news to the poor...' but left that out. I think it's obvious to anyone who sees or reads about Jeff St at work, but too often too many have a hard time seeing the obvious, so I'll state it.
"

2) This sort of guess is hardly safe for the soul who makes it: anyone who tells others that his church does more for the poor than all their churches combined, especially SIGHT UNSEEN, seems guilty of literally diabolical pride. He is an arrogant, boastful, preening asshole who may well already have his reward for his good deeds.

3) Your comment about your congregation's work for the "marginalized" begs a rather obvious question about what Jeff Street does for the unborn, truly "the least of these" our brothers.

Literally fifty million children have been killed under the legal sanction of Roe v. Wade, and it's doubtful that you and yours even recognize their right to live, to say nothing about your lifting a finger in their defense.

4) About preaching the good news, it's not clear that you even fully understand the content of the gospel: you believe that the forgiveness of sin was not secured by Christ's death, that (contra Christ's prayers in Gethsemane) we could have been forgiven even if Jesus had lived to old age and died of natural causes.

If its own loud-mouthed congregants don't understand the good news, it seems unlikely that Jeff Street is oh-so-very effective in preaching the good news.


I do think it's safe to say that Jeff Street does more in advancing a radical leftist political program than all our congregations combined, but I cannot offer any sincere praise for your efforts to subvert Christ's church to your own agenda.

Marshall Art said...

"Help me. Teach me. I'll wipe out our history and listen with a fresh and open mind.

Here's your chance."


I think a suggestion has been given already. Divert some of that world famous Jeff St. charity towards the purchase of decent clothes that will provide a better chance at securing employment as well as allowing the wearer to honor God by way of good grooming. Since their troubles revolve around a lack of income, why would anyone NOT make an effort to help in that area? That damned culture in which we live might not see the "wisdom" in your Scriptural interpretation and instead prefer job applicants to look like they care about getting the job. (Of course, a suit and tie is not appropriate for every job sought. But clean and presentable clothes appropriate to the job sought are always required if one really wants to make the best impression.)

"At least you're honest in that this is all entirely just a hunch. NO biblical reason or support for these whimsical guesses of yours."

Read the piece you reprinted more closely, Ace. You'll find that my admission of a hunch was quite specific. It was not about "this is all", but in regards to your justification for why YOU don't dress better for Him. I certainly don't need Biblical support for that.

And aside from my opinion of YOU, Dan, based on your own words over all these years, there is no judgementalism in my opinion of what constitutes appropriate apparel for Sunay services. If I pointed out one individual, I would need to know the extent of their wardrobe and the usual destination of their discretionary funds. I spoke of one person only from my congregation who had shown up in clothes of better quality than in what that person routinely dresses for church. All else was a general comment as I see a great lack of concern for how the general church going population adorns itself. As a child, suits and ties were worn by men almost unamimously (as I can't say for certain there existed anyone who didn't) and women wore dresses with some manner of head covering.

Were there poor areas where this was less common? Likely so, but not for lack of trying. Not because there existed some progressive schmucks who proclaimed that such things don't matter, with the excuse that God doesn't care, that showing up is the main thing. No. The generally held attitude was that one goes out of one's way in presenting one's self in the best possible manner as an expression of honor for the Most High.

But somewhere along the line, some hippie progressive worked to diminish the proper attitude toward God. The fool couldn't resolve the disparity between approaching God in prayer as if He is one's "daddy" and respecting the fact that the gulf between mortal man and Supreme Being is vast.

Is how we dress for Sunday service a petty concern? Well, it's not a major concern even for me. But it's not a major effort to go the extra mile for His sake as far as my choice of clothes. He's worth better than "practical" clothes (what a crock of a rationalization!). I choose to express my reverence and honor for Him in every manner I possibly can for that single hour of the week. He is my God. To Him I owe everything. How sad that so many don't think Him more worthy than shorts and sandles, jeans and t-shirts, "practical" clothes!

Craig said...

OK, I've followed this for a while, and can't stay out any more.

1. I'm with Mark and Bubba. This is a best a secondary issue. It is quite possible to show proper reverence for God without wearing a suit and tie.

2. I don't think that just grabbing the first thing in the closet quite cuts it, but if you aren't willing to put forth the effort that's not my problem.

3. As with many things I am completely humbled by what I find when worshiping with my Haitian brothers and sisters. Although I can't post the photographic evidence here, lets just say that if the people in the poorest district of the poorest country in this hemisphere can come to church clean and dressed up in clean nice cloths, surely it's not too much to expect that folks here in the good old USA can put forth a little effort to dress well for church.

But this, just shocked me.

"Jeff St has almost certainly done more (in terms of feeding, housing, befriending, clothing, etc) the homeless, the poor, the orphaned, the marginalized than all your churches put together"

There are two conclusions that can be drawn from this statement.

1. Dan is unfamiliar with what the Bible has to say about pride.

2. Dan is comfortable offering statements for which he has absolutely no evidence. One could argue that this is an attempt to slander the various churches that he refers to.

I find this kind of thing ridiculous. I attend a church that supports the poor and marginalized in both the US and abroad. However, to try to belittle what other churches do would be wrong.

So Dan, just keep braggin' it doesn't really surprise anyone that much.

Dan Trabue said...

Regarding the "arrogant" proclamation I've made about my church and its assistance to the poor...

1. I have said that it's "just a guess, but I think a safe one..."

2. I think it is a safe best that we do more than your congregations because, as I noted, of our location - we live amongst the least of these and we don't have much choice but to minister with and to and for the least of these on a very regular basis IF we are going to be ministers of the gospel.

3. Additionally, I am quite familiar with churches. I have attended many, many churches in my nearly 40 years of being a Christian. I have read about even more churches. I am well aware that in the US, MOST churches...

a. don't have ANY homeless members (again, just a guess, but a fairly safe one, I believe);

b. probably have very little contact on a regular basis with the homeless;

c. and as a result, just don't spend much time working with the homeless as closely as churches like the Salvation Army (all over), Church of our Savior (in DC), JPUSA (in Chicago) or Jeff St in Louisville, to name a few examples;

4. Doug (I believe), the conservative writer over at the Stones Cry Out blog, grew up in a Salvation Army family. I wouldn't make this claim (that Jeff St probably does more than any ten "normal" churches does for the poor) about his Salvation Army church - in fact, I would make the claim that HIS church ALSO probably does more for the homeless than your churches and any five others.

5. I don't think stating facts is bragging. Although there may have been an element of arrogance in the way I spoke, I was mostly just trying to chastise (righteously, I say) "Mom2" for her attempt at suggesting that we're not doing enough for the homeless/poor. I was not attempting to "brag," but just state the facts.

6. The facts are Jeff St has...

a. a homeless minister - a position that VERY few churches would even consider, much less expend resources on;

b. a drop in program five days a week for the homeless, the mentally ill and just anyone who needs a free cup of coffee and a safe place to visit, get advice from our homeless minister, get assistance (such as socks, jackets, clothes, underwear and, yes, suits - for job interviews and the such);

c. a Sunday lunch we provide for those in need;

d. a coffee house where all are welcome, especially our homeless and mentally ill friends, where they can showcase their talents, enjoy singing and music and poetry, and have free coffee, snacks in a safe, relaxing, welcoming environment;

e. Jeff St members have lived with the homeless, have invited the homeless to live with them, have adopted homeless families and children (both legally and unofficially);

f. Jeff St members include many social workers, teachers, ministers, mental health workers, health care providers, etc who work daily to house the homeless, to find employment for the jobless, to provide training for those needing training, to provide childcare for those needing childcare, etc, etc...

g. Jeff St has helped start two housing units for women in transition from being homeless to being stable;

...just for starters. Am I proud of all the work we do for the homeless, children and those in need? Well, sure. But that's a good thing to be proud of, don't you think? People hear about churches like Jeff St, like the Salvation Army, like JPUSA and Church of the Savior and it restores a bit of confidence in the Church that has been undone by harshly judgmental and less helpful churches/Christians.

I'm always glad when I hear of churches doing good work, sharing quite literally the good news with the poor, as Jesus came to do, and don't think it a bad thing at all to talk of such. Brother Neil, for example, speaks of his visits to prisons and God bless him! What a genuinely good and Godly thing to do, to honor Jesus' words who said, "I was a prisoner and you came to visit me!"

Dan Trabue said...

Now, could I be mistaken? Could it be that your churches all together do more for the homeless and poor than we do? Sure, it's possible. But it's just not likely, I'm guessing.

Is it possible that ONE of your churches may even do more than we do? Well sure, it's possible, but it's just not likely, not if you're an average church.

Do you disagree? Do you think that "most" churches or the average church has a homeless minister and ministers to the homeless on a daily, regular basis? Do you think that most Christians have taken in the homeless to live with them?

At Jeff St, probably one third to a half of our families have done so, do you think that most churches can say the same?

Again, I don't say this to brag, just to point out a glorious and wonderful fact? Wouldn't you join me in rejoicing in such a cool fact?

I would not have even have brought it up, since it's off topic, except that mom2 chose to try to chastise us for not doing enough, suggesting we don't "walk the walk...," and so I showed her why she was wrong to jump to that conclusion.

And so, if I have jumped to a bad conclusion and one of you DOES belong to a church that ministers to the homeless significantly, I will be man enough, Christian enough to say, "I am very sorry. Your church actually DOES do a good bit for the homeless. Good for you, God bless you and forgive me for jumping to that bad conclusion. I was wrong and I admit it. I'm genuinely sorry."

But all the same, I don't think that's likely and I don't think it's arrogant at all to point it out. I AM proud of our little church and our Gospel work.

Christian Gospel writer Luke had no problems pointing out the reality of sharing with those in need. He writes in Acts 4...

“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them . . . and distribution was made to each as any had need”

And...

“ No one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own”

Was Luke "boasting" in an arrogant way? I don't think so.

Paul chastised some of the early churches for not giving as other churches had given to those in need, was he "boasting" in an arrogant way in doing so? Or just pointing out a reality, in an effort to encourage the notion of economic sharing, especially and specifically with the "least of these?"

I think the latter.

Marshall Art said...

"And so, if I have jumped to a bad conclusion and one of you DOES belong to a church that ministers to the homeless significantly..."

"Significantly"??? According to whom? So here, where I am given grief for your perception that I'm mandating what signifies a significant level of appearance, you're going to judge what constitutes a significant level of charity. Imagine that!

First of all, at this juncture, I wouldn't even begin to list what my humble congregation does for anyone. I'm not about to play "match this" on such a subject and be as boastful as you are.

And no, Luke was not bragging, but only recording history. You're bragging. And Paul has authority to suggest what is or isn't sufficient charitable giving. You don't have any authority. You passed the point of manning up when you took Mom2's statements as an attack rather and then began to pridefully list the accomplishments of Jeff St., a place that does much in the way of charity, but in the realm of spreading the Word, not much so well (based once again on your own words).

Mom2's comments, as were mine, only wondered at the expenditures toward practical ends, or the lack of them. NOW you say you buy suits for seeking employment. Why didn't you just say to Mom2, "We DO buy suits for the poor so they can wear them to interviews." You could have saved a whole lot of keystrokes. But no, you had to boast and chastise (as if you have that right).

Dan Trabue said...

First of all, at this juncture, I wouldn't even begin to list what my humble congregation does for anyone.

And I don't blame you. So, perhaps you should back off your suggestion that WE'RE somehow not doing enough to help the least of these.

Perhaps Mom2 should apologize for suggesting we don't "walk the walk."

Perhaps you should have just stuck with the point that we ought to give of our best to God and leave it at that.

And if some view "their best" as a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, you should gladly rejoice in that, rather than grouse that they're not meeting some random, whimsical cultural standard that is your own personal pet peeve, not a biblical ideal to which to aspire.

Craig said...

"I have said that it's "just a guess, but I think a safe one..."

Based on your hunches, prejudices, preconceptions and nothing more.

"I think it is a safe best that we do more than your congregations because, as I noted, of our location - we live amongst the least of these and we don't have much choice but to minister with and to and for the least of these on a very regular basis IF we are going to be ministers of the gospel."

This is purely hubris. While we do not live among (I really doubt you all do either) the poor and homeless, we are not strangers to those areas of our cities. For you to presume so, is simply prideful hubris. It's a safe bet that the 'Gospel" you all share has little to do with salvation.

"Additionally, I am quite familiar with churches. I have attended many, many churches in my nearly 40 years of being a Christian. I have read about even more churches. I am well aware that in the US, MOST churches...

a. don't have ANY homeless members (again, just a guess, but a fairly safe one, I believe);

b. probably have very little contact on a regular basis with the homeless;

c. and as a result, just don't spend much time working with the homeless as closely as churches like the Salvation Army (all over), Church of our Savior (in DC), JPUSA (in Chicago) or Jeff St in Louisville, to name a few examples;"

So what, for your to assume that these paltry examples describe the churches represented here, just shows your pride and condescension. Dan, you must familiarize yourself with the concept of using facts. If you have facts the my church does less than yours, then bring it. If not shut up and apologize. Of course then you'd have to define "more", which would be defined in such a way as to make your church look "better". Not to mention defining "better".

"Doug (I believe), the conservative writer over at the Stones Cry Out blog, grew up in a Salvation Army family. I wouldn't make this claim (that Jeff St probably does more than any ten "normal" churches does for the poor) about his Salvation Army church - in fact, I would make the claim that HIS church ALSO probably does more for the homeless than your churches and any five others."

Craig said...

"Now, could I be mistaken?"

Yes you are.

"Could it be that your churches all together do more for the homeless and poor than we do? Sure, it's possible. But it's just not likely, I'm guessing."

Wouldn't want the facts to get in the way of our preconceptions there would we. Again, facts would be preferable to your prideful "guesses".


Since when is doing Gods work a competition anyway? Are those in need more needy if they live in the urban core rather than first ring suburbs?

"I don't think stating facts is bragging. Although there may have been an element of arrogance in the way I spoke, I was mostly just trying to chastise (righteously, I say) "Mom2" for her attempt at suggesting that we're not doing enough for the homeless/poor. I was not attempting to "brag," but just state the facts."

And yet your pride wins this one. Are you seriously contending that the statement; "Jeff St has almost certainly done more (in terms of feeding, housing, befriending, clothing, etc) the homeless, the poor, the orphaned, the marginalized than all your churches put together", is a "fact". If so then provide some evidence. If not put away your arrogant pride and apologize.


"Is it possible that ONE of your churches may even do more than we do? Well sure, it's possible, but it's just not likely, not if you're an average church."

Well yes it is possible, maybe even likely. Especially if one restricts comments to actual facts.

"Do you disagree? Do you think that "most" churches or the average church has a homeless minister and ministers to the homeless on a daily, regular basis? Do you think that most Christians have taken in the homeless to live with them?

At Jeff St, probably one third to a half of our families have done so, do you think that most churches can say the same?"

Really don't care what "most" churches do. Really don't have any reason to suspect you even know what "most" churches do. Really don't want to get into a pissing match with your prideful arrogant attitude.

"And so, if I have jumped to a bad conclusion and one of you DOES belong to a church that ministers to the homeless significantly, I will be man enough, Christian enough to say, "I am very sorry. Your church actually DOES do a good bit for the homeless. Good for you, God bless you and forgive me for jumping to that bad conclusion. I was wrong and I admit it. I'm genuinely sorry."

I'll believe it when I read it.

"But all the same, I don't think that's likely and I don't think it's arrogant at all to point it out. I AM proud of our little church and our Gospel work."

Not arrogant, just prideful.

The Bible also addresses pride, and suggests that good deeds should be done in secret, not bragged about. With that in mind, I apologize of my recitation of some of what we do crossed that line.

So, what is the "gospel" you share with the folks you encounter anyway?

Marshall Art said...

"So, perhaps you should back off your suggestion that WE'RE somehow not doing enough to help the least of these."

I don't know that I actually made such a suggestion, but perhaps if what you do is ongoing, it means that what you do ISN'T enough or isn't adequate in really helping. But I'm not concerned with any of that in this post. YOU'RE the one who keeps bringing up things that provoke legitimate responses, responses you don't like so you add to the original later as if done purposely to entrap us. YOU'RE the one who spoke only of muddy homeless people who have nothing better to wear, didn't you? You wanna pretend to be a man, then man up and admit you set the tone with your initial comments.

And it seems to me that you confuse "favorite" with "best". My favorite pair of pants are jeans. I don't wear jeans to church even though I like these jeans and I like the way they look on me. They're comfortable and fit well. They're durable and likely to last longer under stressful conditions than would my "best" clothes would. I wear my best and don't suppose that my favorite ranks in that category for the purpose of honoring God at Sunday services. You do God no honor by wearing your favorite mustard-stained Che t-shirt to Sunday service. But you do honor yourself by supposing you're lookin' good doing so.

Craig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bubba said...

Dan, I'm disappointed but not the least bit surprised that you don't do a whole lot of apologizing for comments that are accurately described as inducing a pissing contest -- comments that are way too presumptuous given YOUR OWN standards that require us to draw no conclusions about your church from anything less than complete knowledge of every relevant fact, and comments that **ARE** evidence of the sin of pride insofar as your desire to compare Jeff Street to others.

Even if Mom2 had been suggesting that y'all don't do enough for the needy, it would have sufficed for you to say that y'all do a lot: you plow right into the unseemly by repeatedly insisting that you do more than all our congregations combined.


The fact is, Mom2 wasn't suggesting any such thing: she was asking whether Jeff Street helps the homeless by providing them with attire that would help them find sufficient employment to rise above their present circumstances. You could have answered that question without becoming outraged about a non-existent suggestion that Jeff Street does nothing for the poor.

But, then, that wouldn't have fed your apparently insatiable need for moral preening, so you pretend that Jeff Street's honor was insulted. In the same way, you pretended that your first comment to me here was intended to show agreement with me, so you could say how sorry you are that I'm a jerk; and in the same way, you pretended that I attacked your church's children by suggesting that THEIR ADULT TEACHERS might not have their priorities straight.


It's still not clear whether your position is that there are no real standards for proper attire, or whether your supposedly practical and reasonable clothes are closer attuned to "Godly standards."

And it's not clear why you keep bringing up Matthew 6 if you have no problem with thoughtfulness about one's attire.

I'll be clear that I neither expect nor really desire any real clarification. I don't think you're an honest man, and I think you rarely hold worthwhile opinions.

But it's still worth noting, at least once, just how opaque you're being, about what problems you actually have with Marshall's original post and what beliefs you personally hold about whether one's devotion to God can or should manifest itself in one's choice of clothing, even accounting for supposedly "random and whimsical" cultural mores.


Marshall, I do hope to get to emailing you sooner rather than later; sorry for the continued delays. :)

In the meantime, I think I've said all I need to in this particular thread.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks, Craig, for your voice. You are right, I was wrong.

I AM proud of all that Jeff St (and you) do for the least of these. However, I was overly arrogant in how I expressed that pride. I'm sorry, I hope you can forgive this sinner.

In Jesus' words (Matt 11), when John the Baptist asked if he was "the One"...

“Go tell John what you hear and see: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me”

God bless you and may you all forgive my arrogant defense of myself.

Dan Trabue said...

(I will note, Craig, that I DID leave you out of my initial list...

"Marshall's, Bubba's, Mom2's, Stan's and five of your favorite churches combined."

Knowing you were involved with building homes for the poor and with working in Haiti, I am not surprised to see your Gospel work holding true. Still, that does not justify my arrogant defense of my church. Apologies, again.

Marshall Art said...

Thanks for that, Dan.

Like Bubba, I'm tapped out on this issue. I stand by what I've said regarding the outward display of honor demonstrated in the choice of clothes for Sunday services. I stand by what I've said regarding the obvious fact that so many don't make the effort, as small and petty an effort as it is, which makes it all the more sad that it isn't done by everyone who claims to believe in and honor the Almighty.

Craig said...

Dan,

Thanks for that. Even though I came late I don't think there is much left here either.

Craig said...

I felt compelled to post on what my church does in order to make a point to Dan. I also felt compelled to delete said comment because to leave it felt too much like bragging.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "Marshall's, Bubba's, Mom2's, Stan's and five of your favorite churches combined."

And why on earth would you want to include me in that? You know nothing about my church. I haven't attacked you. The only comment I made in this entire series was the first comment, and that one you generally agreed with.

Never mind. Rhetorical question. If your best understanding of "don't worry about clothing" is "don't care what you wear" (if you look at the entire context, the dialog there was about God's provision, not our wardrobes), then discussing attitudes for being in the presence of God is pointless. Leave me out of this.

Dan Trabue said...

Apologies, Stan. My intent was only to suggest that most churches don't do that much for the poor or homeless, and the assumption was that any of your churches would probably fit, as would most churches that I have attended would fit.

Still, it was unfair and presumptuous of me to name names. I am sorry.