or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Religious Studies › Modesty At Religious Services
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Modesty At Religious Services - Page 2

post #21 of 104
I'll preface this by saying that I'm now an atheist. But, my family is Roman Catholic. So, on Christmas Eve we all go to midnight mass together.

Now, I have no issues with what people wear normally. I spent a lot of time in nudist communities growing up. So, I have no issues with skin.

But, in my view, Church is a house of worship. And, in recent years, I must admit that midnight mass has been shocking to me. I have seen women wear (and I'm not trying to be mean) what I've seen streetwalkers in Las Vegas wear. I mean, REALLY low cut tops, breasts falling out, very short/tight skirts. Which is double ironic because my family lives in a place where it snows for winter. So, if only to be warm, they should cover themselves up.

When I was a little girl, I seem to remember midnight mass as a very holy occasion, where people dressed in a way that was appropriate to greeting/celebrating the birth of God's son. You put on your best clothes, but modest ones.

Now ... even as an atheist, I'm shocked by what people wear. It just doesn't seem appropriate to the occasion for me. Especially since it's midnight mass on Christmas Eve and not your "average" Sunday.

I haven't been to any Sunday masses in a while ... so I can't really make an opinion on that. It seems like casual clothes would bother me a lot less than ... skin tight lycra (not kidding, I saw it).
post #22 of 104
Jewish here. I tend to notice the MEN not having a clue. Jewish women, by and large, (in my congregation) wear skirts below the knee or baggy slacks when coming up to the bima. Not a lot of cleavage, never belly showing. Most wear dresses that are lovely and though not tznius, are modest by 21st century standards. Never no-sleeved without a sweater, never miniskirts.

The men and boys, however. Ugh. I've seen boys on the bima wearing jeans, cargo shorts, sneakers, t-shirts with things like "I"m out of bed and dressed - what more do you want?" written on them. I've seen men (who are coming up for an aliyah) in a polo shirt and jeans (albeit nice jeans). Totally unacceptable. If you hate ties, at least wear slacks and a jacket if you're having the honor of an aliyah. Sheesh. Our rabbi goes purple when that happens and they get a serious talking-to, but most men just don't see the point. The rabbi is always in a suit and tie, and I (I do the music) am always in a long skirt and blouse or a tznius dress.

It's a respect/maturity thing - I totally agree. I think also, if women are spoken to about it, they tend to get the importance of clothing. They may not like it, but women know what clothing says about the body. Many men just wear whatever they wear - so they can't imagine why anyone would care what they were wearing. Terrible generalization, but I have this fight with my DH every time he comes to services with me.
post #23 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
, but I have this fight with my DH every time he comes to services with me.
heh I have that problem with my DH too. He has an entire closet full of nice clothes ready to go and he wants to know if he can wear a polo and jeans! Absolutely not, my dear. We actually visited friends at another Parish this weekend and somehow the men were discussing dress codes. The friend said "most of the men wear ties. You can come in jeans and a polo but I don't know you" lol So hopefully we have that resolved for a while at least.

From my experience, I think you should dress modestly first, and then to the best of your ability. People now take it backwards - first they decided what they have that looks nice, and then if possible, they go with something modest. Unfortunately, most fashions are not particularly modest and so that part gets left out.
post #24 of 104
We're Unitarians, so we don't have a dress code. People are free to wear whatever they want. In our congregation, the most "dressed up" folks wear khaki pants and polo shirts. Everybody else wears jeans. I sometimes wear a long skirt or dress but usually wear jeans.

I've never been big on dress codes. Even as a child, I didn't understand them. I grew up evangelical, and while we didn't have an official dress code (as in they wouldn't refuse you entrance to the service), you'd definitely get the vibe if you weren't attired appropriately. Women and girls were not allowed to wear pants, and to this day, if I go into a Protestant church, it's one of the big indicators for me of the temperament of the church (whether any women have on pants).

I refused to go to church camp one year because you had to wear a one-piece swimsuit (which I understood), and you had to wear a t-shirt and shorts over it. How utterly ridiculous. As a senior in high school, I was in the finals in a mock judicial competition held in the state capitol. The program was through the YMCA, and we were told after we got there to wear skirts because God didn't want women to wear pants (their words). So I showed up at the last minute in pants so there wouldn't be time to make me change. They agreed to let me speak after *lengthy* debate. (I'd prepared my arguments with Biblical back-up beforehand.) Still my advisor was really ticked off at me. So, I guess you could say I've really rebelled against forced attire for a long time. If I'm in a house of worship for another denomination or religion, then I will wear what they require out of respect. I just won't be a member of a religious community requiring a certain type of dress.

My husband is the same way. You go in nice clothes, as in clean/ironed/good shape, but he has a real problem with what he sees as a falsehood of many mainline churches. There's so much focus on outward issues, such as clothing, that the real message is lost.
post #25 of 104
I'm trying to understand why God would care about what clothes you wear anywhere?

The term 'modesty' is up to so much personal interpretation, way too broad of a term. And, it's used in many many circles to mean 'proof that I'm better than" others who are 'less modest'. Kind of like a club, you can tell who 'fits' by who wears the 'right' things to church.

And, for that matter, modesty is strictly a worldly and cultural/social 'setting' anyways, and (for Christians at least) you are called to be 'not of this world'.

As for someone's clothing being a distraction to other church members, why isn't it the responsibility of the one 'being distracted' to maintain their focus on worshiping?

Just some random thoughts.
post #26 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
I'm trying to understand why God would care about what clothes you wear anywhere?

The term 'modesty' is up to so much personal interpretation, way too broad of a term. And, it's used in many many circles to mean 'proof that I'm better than" others who are 'less modest'. Kind of like a club, you can tell who 'fits' by who wears the 'right' things to church.

And, for that matter, modesty is strictly a worldly and cultural/social 'setting' anyways, and (for Christians at least) you are called to be 'not of this world'.

As for someone's clothing being a distraction to other church members, why isn't it the responsibility of the one 'being distracted' to maintain their focus on worshiping?

Just some random thoughts.
Yes, I think that modesty is culturally relative. However, it is pretty much impossible to escape it in any culture. Or another way to put it is that every culture, even those where people are naked most of the time, has standards or customs as to what practices are appropriate. So in that sense, the IDEA of modestly is universal.

And what, really, is the idea of modestly about? Specifically, it's related to sexuality, and what that culture thinks are appropriate attitudes, clothing, and actions in relation to sexuality. To be immodest is to purposfully display, use, or try to excite someone elses sexuality in an innappropriate way. That could be trying to do it at the family picnic, outside of marriage, or whatever.

In some places, foe example, a woman's hair is a powerful symbol of sexuality, so in public it is covered. In other places, here in NA for example, women don't cover hair but they normally cover breasts, even at the beach. In other places they cover nothing - the body is not a sexual symbol that way. But those cultures do have other ways of displaying sexuality that could be used immodestly. And of course it is perfectly possible to have an immodest attitude wile obeying all the "rules" of modestly, so it isn't cut and dried.

There are other reasons people break the rules of modesty in a culture, that don't actually reflect an inappropriate use of sexuality, but in some cases they may reflect other poor actions. They might not understand the rule, this is especially true of visitors, or in pluralistic cultures like the West. They might not care about the rules, which is probably unkind or thoughtless of other people. They might do it to shock and cause a sensation, which is rude and prideful.

Also, sometimes people have nefarious reasons for maintaining so-called rules of modesty. Maintaining power over a certain class or gender would be a good example. And of course all these reasons are not mutually exclusive, which makes it more difficult to tease them out at times.

The West can be particularly confusing because of pluralism, and because there have been changes in standards of modestly over the last two generations, so there are many people living together who have different ideas. I think it is best to be understanding about those kind of differences and realize that they don't actually reflect an immodest spirit - it's just a cultural change. (On the other hand, I think this is not always the case - clothes deliberatly worn to be provocative at a club are pretty obviously meant to be sexually titillating - people are not being very aware if they wear them to grandma's birthday party.)

That being said - even here, among people who claim not to understand modesty, they actually do follow the rules in almost all cases, as far as I can see. I doubt that you dh would head to church in a thong and do a stripper dance, or that you would go topless. The difference is more about what you think the limits of modesty are.

Formality is another issue really - but similar in that ideas have changed, and there are noticeable differences both by location within North America and by generation.
post #27 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
I'm trying to understand why God would care about what clothes you wear anywhere?

The term 'modesty' is up to so much personal interpretation, way too broad of a term. And, it's used in many many circles to mean 'proof that I'm better than" others who are 'less modest'. Kind of like a club, you can tell who 'fits' by who wears the 'right' things to church.

And, for that matter, modesty is strictly a worldly and cultural/social 'setting' anyways, and (for Christians at least) you are called to be 'not of this world'.

As for someone's clothing being a distraction to other church members, why isn't it the responsibility of the one 'being distracted' to maintain their focus on worshiping?

Just some random thoughts.
It's a matter of respect for others, which a good deal of folks nowadays seems to have totally forgotten about. Also a matter of respect for God. I've nothing with someone coming to church wearing khakis and a polo/decent shirt. Or even clean jeans. If you like skirts, a clean khaki or denin skirt that's at least knee-length. You're clean and everything (chest, belly) is generally covered up. That shows you have some respect for others AND yourself. If you habitually roll out of bed 5 minutes before you have to leave, come to church in low-slung yoga pants with your underwear peaking out, a shirt that shows both your chest AND your belly, and ratty hair - well, you're not showing respect for ANYONE.

Contrary to what some folks nowadays think (and practice), you can't really wear whatever you want wherever you want. You generally have to dress differently for work than what you would wear to play on the weekend. To put it simply, unless you're a stripper, a hooker, a Playboy bunny, work for Hooters, or have to wear a uniform/employer-issued clothes, what you wear to work is generally acceptable for church.

I don't get why there seems to be a mentality of "letting it all hang out at church." You wouldn't be able to get away with that in most offices, why should church be any different? Or it thinking of "God better accept me as I am!" and the concept of actually "stretching" yourself, encouraged to act better is verboten?

A basic practical description of modesty for mainstream America would probably go something like this: skirts knee-length or longer and not tight/form-fitting; tops not see-through, lingerie showing as little as possibe (aka don't wear a black bra under a white shirt if you're caucasian), not tight, no cleavage, short sleeves, no halter tops; pants, cropped or longer, no visible panty lines, not tight. When you lean over, tops must not ride up and show underwear and back/belly. No bare shoulders, bellies, or backs.

I guess this whole thinking is just another sign of the "me, me, me" thinking that wants to do whatever it wants, regardless of the effect on other people.

And as for others being distracted by scanty clothes in church - it's distracting for both men AND women. Even if you are paying attention to what's going on up front, if there is someone in the pew in front of you who has on pants so low, you're seeing her butt crack, yeah, it can be distracting.

And the Apostle Paul writes something along the lines about bearing each other's burdens and supporting those weaker. So, cover up for that hour each Sunday. However, if someone has to expose her chest and dress provocatively ALL THE TIME, even in church, makes you wonder about HER, hmm?

Church/synagogue/mosque is for worshipping God - taking the focus off US. However, that seems to be a totally alien concept for a great many folks I run into, both IRL and online. People are just too danged self-focused. What ever happened to thinking more of others?
post #28 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tradd View Post
It's a matter of respect for others, which a good deal of folks nowadays seems to have totally forgotten about. Also a matter of respect for God. I've nothing with someone coming to church wearing khakis and a polo/decent shirt. Or even clean jeans. If you like skirts, a clean khaki or denin skirt that's at least knee-length. You're clean and everything (chest, belly) is generally covered up. That shows you have some respect for others AND yourself. If you habitually roll out of bed 5 minutes before you have to leave, come to church in low-slung yoga pants with your underwear peaking out, a shirt that shows both your chest AND your belly, and ratty hair - well, you're not showing respect for ANYONE.

Contrary to what some folks nowadays think (and practice), you can't really wear whatever you want wherever you want. You generally have to dress differently for work than what you would wear to play on the weekend. To put it simply, unless you're a stripper, a hooker, a Playboy bunny, work for Hooters, or have to wear a uniform/employer-issued clothes, what you wear to work is generally acceptable for church.

I don't get why there seems to be a mentality of "letting it all hang out at church." You wouldn't be able to get away with that in most offices, why should church be any different? Or it thinking of "God better accept me as I am!" and the concept of actually "stretching" yourself, encouraged to act better is verboten?

A basic practical description of modesty for mainstream America would probably go something like this: skirts knee-length or longer and not tight/form-fitting; tops not see-through, lingerie showing as little as possibe (aka don't wear a black bra under a white shirt if you're caucasian), not tight, no cleavage, short sleeves, no halter tops; pants, cropped or longer, no visible panty lines, not tight. When you lean over, tops must not ride up and show underwear and back/belly. No bare shoulders, bellies, or backs.

I guess this whole thinking is just another sign of the "me, me, me" thinking that wants to do whatever it wants, regardless of the effect on other people.

And as for others being distracted by scanty clothes in church - it's distracting for both men AND women. Even if you are paying attention to what's going on up front, if there is someone in the pew in front of you who has on pants so low, you're seeing her butt crack, yeah, it can be distracting.

And the Apostle Paul writes something along the lines about bearing each other's burdens and supporting those weaker. So, cover up for that hour each Sunday. However, if someone has to expose her chest and dress provocatively ALL THE TIME, even in church, makes you wonder about HER, hmm?

Church/synagogue/mosque is for worshipping God - taking the focus off US. However, that seems to be a totally alien concept for a great many folks I run into, both IRL and online. People are just too danged self-focused. What ever happened to thinking more of others?
If that's truly the case I don't understand the focus and concern about what other people are wearing. Aren't you focusing on yourself and your version/judegement of modesty or appropriateness when you focus on what others are wearing? If the idea is truly to worship your god in those spaces, shouldn't your thoughts be on that act?

I'm UU. Last Sunday I sat beside one of our members who is a cross dresser. He came in a yellow sarong (with bike shorts underneath because the slits can be a tricky thing), a white blouse and tevia type sandals. He's a great guy, interesting, articulate, caring and kind. He'd be an asset to any congregation. Knowing him has absolutely made a positve affect on my spiritual journey. I'm glad his clothing choices presents no barrier in our group.
post #29 of 104
Disclaimer: Not coming from a Christian perspective here, so maybe your post was only referring to Christians - if so, I'm sorry for misunderstanding, but I felt the need to address some of these points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
I'm trying to understand why God would care about what clothes you wear anywhere?
My culture believes that we were made "b'tzelem elohim," in the image of G-d, so G-d would absolutely care what I wear. I am a reflection of G-d.

Quote:
The term 'modesty' is up to so much personal interpretation, way too broad of a term. And, it's used in many many circles to mean 'proof that I'm better than" others who are 'less modest'. Kind of like a club, you can tell who 'fits' by who wears the 'right' things to church.
I don't see this in my community. I'm sure it happens, but modest dressing doesn't mean that you're better. I'm no better a person or more G-d-fearing than any woman who wears pants. I just have a different relationship with G-d than she does - just like I have a different relationship with G-d than the next woman who DOES choose to dress modestly. It's a very personal thing, and though it's human to judge, it doesn't mean it's right.

Quote:
As for someone's clothing being a distraction to other church members, why isn't it the responsibility of the one 'being distracted' to maintain their focus on worshiping?
I agree with you on this - it's my responsibility to create a worship experience free of distractions. While I don't like when men have an aliyah while wearing jeans, it's not because it's distracting to me. It's because we have a cultural norm that they are (many times deliberately) flouting, and that's disrespectful. It's disrespectful to our culture and (IMO and in my culture's opinion) disrespectful to G-d. It's not like we're asking for the moon - just look nice when you're being honored.
post #30 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karenwith4 View Post
If that's truly the case I don't understand the focus and concern about what other people are wearing. Aren't you focusing on yourself and your version/judegement of modesty or appropriateness when you focus on what others are wearing? If the idea is truly to worship your god in those spaces, shouldn't your thoughts be on that act?

I'm UU. Last Sunday I sat beside one of our members who is a cross dresser. He came in a yellow sarong (with bike shorts underneath because the slits can be a tricky thing), a white blouse and tevia type sandals. He's a great guy, interesting, articulate, caring and kind. He'd be an asset to any congregation. Knowing him has absolutely made a positve affect on my spiritual journey. I'm glad his clothing choices presents no barrier in our group.
Having standards of right and wrong and community expectations of how people should conduct themselves in accordance to those standards doesn't make someone "mean" or "judgemental". It means we don't believe in moral relativism.

Disapproval of someones clothing or conduct doesn't mean disapproval of the person himself, but.. just the clothing or conduct in question.

There are several issues getting mixed here and so it's impossible to discuss them. I personally think Tradd's post broke them out pretty clearly. Sloppiness/respect is one. Clothing that represents immodesty of heart and mind is another. The third that I see is your obligation to minimize your distraction to your fellow worshipers. In this case, someone who came fully clothed from wrist to ankle but wearing a 3ft. chiquita banana hat would still be culpable.

Of all 3, I care about #1 the least - we all have bad days, we may not have better clothes. It happens and I don't think anyone was saying you should be hanged for it, but that there are better ways to show your respect in a house of worship than looking like you rolled out of bed week after week.
#2 is considered gravely sinful in the Catholic Church because you are enticing other to sin. You don't know what a person's internal struggles are, male or female, and, to put it bluntly, leading someone else to hell is seriously frowned upon. That is why *I* care when a woman in scantily clad.
#3 Is more a sign of maturity than anything else. Feeling confident in your place in the community that you don't have to say "me me me" all the time. I only care about this if that 3ft hat blocks my view, but it can represent a person's pride and vanity
post #31 of 104
I am trying to understand this, I really am. I'm REALLY struggling here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tradd View Post
It's a matter of respect for others, which a good deal of folks nowadays seems to have totally forgotten about. Also a matter of respect for God. I've nothing with someone coming to church wearing khakis and a polo/decent shirt. Or even clean jeans. If you like skirts, a clean khaki or denin skirt that's at least knee-length. You're clean and everything (chest, belly) is generally covered up. That shows you have some respect for others AND yourself. If you habitually roll out of bed 5 minutes before you have to leave, come to church in low-slung yoga pants with your underwear peaking out, a shirt that shows both your chest AND your belly, and ratty hair - well, you're not showing respect for ANYONE.
I guess I don't understand why respecting others excludes respecting other's rights to dress how they deem is appropriate or acceptable. It sounds like you want your standards respected, but you don't respect theirs.
Quote:

Contrary to what some folks nowadays think (and practice), you can't really wear whatever you want wherever you want. You generally have to dress differently for work than what you would wear to play on the weekend. To put it simply, unless you're a stripper, a hooker, a Playboy bunny, work for Hooters, or have to wear a uniform/employer-issued clothes, what you wear to work is generally acceptable for church.
Well, um, people actually *can* wear whatever they want, because clearly they do, even to church. And there's lots of jobs that aren't sex related where you can dress however you want as well.
Quote:

I don't get why there seems to be a mentality of "letting it all hang out at church." You wouldn't be able to get away with that in most offices, why should church be any different? Or it thinking of "God better accept me as I am!" and the concept of actually "stretching" yourself, encouraged to act better is verboten?
See though, here's the thing. You see dressing modestly as 'stretching yourself' and 'acting better'. That's the 'holier than thou' mentality I'm talking about. I have friends who are head covering Christians, and they don't give a rats rear end what I wear. Clothing and it's various forms thereof is all a manifestation of human's need for warmth, protection, and ultimately (in the modern age) a way to hide sexuality. Sexuality that, if you believe in a god, would have been created BY god.
Quote:

A basic practical description of modesty for mainstream America would probably go something like this: skirts knee-length or longer and not tight/form-fitting; tops not see-through, lingerie showing as little as possibe (aka don't wear a black bra under a white shirt if you're caucasian), not tight, no cleavage, short sleeves, no halter tops; pants, cropped or longer, no visible panty lines, not tight. When you lean over, tops must not ride up and show underwear and back/belly. No bare shoulders, bellies, or backs.
Well that's your definition. Not necessarily a 'mainstream American' definition. There's plenty of places in America where that wouldn't be accurate at ALL. In fact, most 'decency' laws in each state are specific to exposed genitalia.
Quote:

I guess this whole thinking is just another sign of the "me, me, me" thinking that wants to do whatever it wants, regardless of the effect on other people.
Ok but gently I would like for you to consider that the same applies to you. It's all about YOUR definition of modesty, YOUR definition of 'appropriate'. If I saw someone come to MY church in a trashy outfit, raggedy hair, whatever...I'd be glad we're such a welcoming church that she's comfortable being there. Then I'd probably see if she needs any help, and if not...I'd back off and let her exist peacefully. Just because *I* wouldn't wear something doesn't make it ok for me to decide someone else can't. ITA w/the pp about the transsexual, it wouldn't phase me a bit. Who am I to judge them?
Quote:

And as for others being distracted by scanty clothes in church - it's distracting for both men AND women. Even if you are paying attention to what's going on up front, if there is someone in the pew in front of you who has on pants so low, you're seeing her butt crack, yeah, it can be distracting.
So....sit somewhere else.
Quote:

And the Apostle Paul writes something along the lines about bearing each other's burdens and supporting those weaker. So, cover up for that hour each Sunday. However, if someone has to expose her chest and dress provocatively ALL THE TIME, even in church, makes you wonder about HER, hmm?
How on earth do you get 'cover up' out of Paul's admonition to bear each other's burdens??? And I can just FEEL the finger wagging 'tsk tsk' of your last sentence here. Please tell me what exactly it 'makes you wonder'???
Quote:

Church/synagogue/mosque is for worshipping God - taking the focus off US. However, that seems to be a totally alien concept for a great many folks I run into, both IRL and online. People are just too danged self-focused. What ever happened to thinking more of others?
Exactly. So take the focus off of you or anyone else, and focus on what you are there to do. If you MUST think of others, please consider thinking MORE of them.
post #32 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
I. Ok but gently I would like for you to consider that the same applies to you. It's all about YOUR definition of modesty, YOUR definition of 'appropriate'. If I saw someone come to MY church in a trashy outfit, raggedy hair, whatever...I'd be glad we're such a welcoming church that she's comfortable being there. Then I'd probably see if she needs any help, and if not...I'd back off and let her exist peacefully. Just because *I* wouldn't wear something doesn't make it ok for me to decide someone else can't. ITA w/the pp about the transsexual, it wouldn't phase me a bit. Who am I to judge them?
"Just because its wrong for me doesn't mean its wrong for someone else" is moral relativism. Most religions reject this so it's really not a valid argument. And, Just because you have a law or a standard, doesn't make you also the judge.

If you leave out the morally relativistic part, I think what you're doing is equating a person's taste in clothing with their identity, right?

Many of these customs developed out of a duty to protect the person dressing immodestly as well as the onlookers. People are thinking VERY highly of the person's soul, not just their whims and fancies of the current year/season/fashion
post #33 of 104
Of course people *can* wear what they want, where they want. "Can" isn't the issue so much as "should." I've never really knowingly met anyone who didn't have some kind of public standard, some kind of situational public standards, or some sense that certain apparel can symbolize something inappropriate to a context, myself. Topless on the beach ... meh. Topless at a formal funeral ... oh dear. Devil costume on Halloween, or heck, on every third Tuesday out mowing the lawn ... meh. Devil costume at the local interfaith counsel's reception for the regional archbishop ... oh dear again. It's not really possible to reasonably argue against the existence of socially provacative or inappropriate attire. It's just a question of where an individual and/or a community falls on the scale of standards surrounding it.
post #34 of 104
While i can see how the argument could be made that we can wear whatever we want whenever we want, aren't we responsible for not leading those around us to sin? Aren't we responsible for helping safeguard those around us from scandal and sin?
Now should we all have to cover from head to toe? No. Should we help those around us learn why what they wear is important and how what they wear impacts those around them? Yes. Immodest dress is a chance for love and education. And prayer. When we see someone dressed immodestly or inappropriately, the first thought we should have is to pray for them. Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit
post #35 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
I guess I don't understand why respecting others excludes respecting other's rights to dress how they deem is appropriate or acceptable. It sounds like you want your standards respected, but you don't respect theirs.
It depends where you are and what people are there to do. Iif you go to a concert where others are trying to listen, it is unacceptable and rude to talk in a loud voice throughout. That does not mean you are having your right to free speech threatened.
Quote:
Well that's your definition. Not necessarily a 'mainstream American' definition. There's plenty of places in America where that wouldn't be accurate at ALL.
Definitely. Many religions have standards (not just of modesty) which are very different from those of "mainstream America." Nobody is required to wear a hat in public, but if you go into a conservative synagogue, it will be expected. Should the synagogue, church, or temple have to accept whatever standards exist outside? Surely, their building is a haven for their beliefs and manner of living, which may be at odds with mainstream society. Isn't it only right that visitors respect those standards for the duration of their visit?
Quote:
How on earth do you get 'cover up' out of Paul's admonition to bear each other's burdens???
If some people in your church are trying to fast, it is cruel to sit and eat a steak dinner in front of them. If some (or all, ideally) are trying to follow the Christian precepts on chastity, it is equally cruel to appear in clothes designed to enhance sexual attractiveness. Especially during a worship service, when members are trying to set aside worldly concerns for a time. Part of bearing each other's burden is avoiding anything which would add to it.
Quote:
Exactly. So take the focus off of you or anyone else, and focus on what you are there to do. If you MUST think of others, please consider thinking MORE of them.
One of the things we are "there to do" is practice a way of life which includes, among many other things, modesty. An indecently-dressed visitor might be overlooked for a time, but if he wanted to return and become part of the congregation, eventually he would have to learn about that concept.
Maybe you do not see the point because you believe, at the outset, that modesty is of no real spiritual value. Try imagining, instead, a visitor to a church who bragged about beating his wife, made racist jokes, or passed around a petition to have illegitimate children banned from public schools. Would you be as reluctant to impose your values on him?
post #36 of 104
Mamabadger, right on. Couldn't have said it better myself.
post #37 of 104
This discussion reminds me about when I became an altar server, and what we were told about appropriate dress. It's not quite the same as for those in the pews, but I think it relates.

The altar servers wore a cassock and an alb, so for the most part, you couldn't see their street clothes. But we were told to be neat, not have intentionally extreme hairstyles, lots of distracting jewelry, or odd shoes. Also, we were not to make faces, we had to stand quietly with our hands together as in prayer, and move quietly in the sanctuary.

Sounds a bit uptight - and even false. After all, sometimes we weren't in prayer, or even that focused. And why not be ourselves, if we were funky-shoe kind of people?

Well, at the Eucharist service, the main point is for the congregation to partake of the sacrifice of the altar, and live in Christ,, and in becoming unified with Christ, become unified with one another. (In that order, I might add, in defiance of the new liturgy.) Most of the service is directed to helping the congregation understand the meaning of that, and to intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally be in the right place to participate.

The servers, apart from a few practical duties, are meant to act as icons, or a kind of visual cue, to the congregation - a symbol of prayer or spiritual attention. They are not meant to be seen as themselves, but as a kind of abstraction. It's rather like the soldiers who surround a cenotaph on remembrance day. We are not meant to see Cpl Bloggins, but rather a symbol of sacrifice. If the person's individual characteristics shine out too much, that image is no longer useful, because what is seen is George the snotty kid who stole the alter wine once.

Now, the congregation is not in such a spotlight. But they are involved, in what is a kind of an exercise to overcome the ego. So to some extent, they conform to the norms of the group, whether that be covering hair or long skirts or no bare feet. (I'm not sure, mind you, what I'd do in a naked jungle church service.) As people who are members of a congregation learn this, it tends to happen naturally, especially if there is good and appropriate teaching.

I think what really bothers people about this is 1) there is a real tendency, even within Christianity, to reinterpret the purpose of religion as a strengthening of ego, which is a pretty radical change theologically. 2) In many cases, it seems to spring from not caring about the community and thinking one's own ideas/feelings are all that matters. And perhaps 3) the teaching on the topic seems to be rather poor in many cases.


I would disagree though with the idea that there are no standards outside of religious congratulations. Many, maybe most, workplaces also have expectations, as do any other social situations I can think of. We do not wear bathing suits to funerals, even when it is very hot.
post #38 of 104
Personally, I subscribe to this line of thought -

The LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

So I have a hard time with too much worrying about what people wear when I don't believe that God cares too much. What does bother me is when the woman dressed in her t-shirt and denim skirt and flip-flops looks at me in my nice pants and blouse and criticizes me for my attire. This in a church that emphasizes "Sunday best", but really as long as it is a skirt, it seems that anything goes. Not that I think people really need to be dressed up, but I truly don't understand why my nice pants are so much more inappropriate than a super-casual skirt in a church that teaches you should wear your best to worship.

Personally, *I* feel more appropriate at church in my nicer clothes, which are generally the same things that I wear to work. And I wear pants in my daily life, so if I get called ASAP to go to a birth (like just this afternoon), I at least have my legs covered since sometimes the baby comes too fast to change. Happened to me twice just this week. And the other one was on Sunday even
post #39 of 104
Ok, I think I'm getting why we're talking in circles.

On one side there's people who want the right to look nice and not wear skirts and feel judged for it by people who do. These people need to know that most of us ladies in skirts AREN'T judging you, and those who are are wrong and will have to answer to G-d, so why do you care what they think?

On the other side are those of us who are talking about cultural norms to which a person subscribes when they enter certain houses of worship or certain cultures. These people need to understand that sometimes those cultural norms are difficult for others to swallow, as they may seem unnecessary or infringing upon a person's rights or individuality.
post #40 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
On the other side are those of us who are talking about cultural norms to which a person subscribes when they enter certain houses of worship or certain cultures. These people need to understand that sometimes those cultural norms are difficult for others to swallow, as they may seem unnecessary or infringing upon a person's rights or individuality.
For me, there's a difference between a required dress because of clear text from a religious document. I understand that if I go to a mosque, I must have my head covered. I don't normally cover my head, but I respect the religion enough to do that.

What I really see in this thread (and IRL in many Protestant churches) is that some church-goers feel they should impose *their* definition of modesty on others. There's no Scriptural basis for some of the rules I've read in this thread. It's only the preference of the person complaining about what others wear, and that's where I have a problem. "Modesty" is such a vague, subjective term that it can - and often is - used to look down on those who dress a certain way.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Religious Studies
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Religious Studies › Modesty At Religious Services