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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Non-Member Not Dressed Right For Church! » Non-Member Not Dressed Right For Church!

Non-Member Not Dressed Right For Church!

Don - November 28, 2006

My wife and I were running late as usual, so we quickly slipped into the last open pew on the side of the chapel. Shortly after we sat down the lady in front of us reached over the next pew up to grab a baby. When she did we noticed her very casual skirt and the tatoo on her lower back.

When she sat back down, she leaned over to the guy next to her and whispered in his ear. He was wearing clean blue jeans and what appeared to be a nice athletic jersey T-shirt.

They refused the sacrament.

After sacrament was over I introduced myself and my wife and asked if they were visiting the friends in the row in front of them. The lady said no, they were new in the ward and that family had given them a ride. Fortunately a few others also came up and introduced themselves.

I looked for them in S.S. and priesthood but didn’t see them. After priesthood I asked the ride giver who they were. He explained she was expecting, was living with the guy – her boyfriend and she was a member who wants to come back and her boyfriend is a non-member.

Our ward is one of those where women have been able to lower “The Standard” to jean skirts and flip flops, but men are white shirt and ties only!!! How out of place did this guy feel? What could I or someone said to make him feel more at ease? Is it better just to let him look around and figure it out?

Sometimes I wish we were more laid back in our “dress code”.

It reminds me of a Bishop who said, “The best smell at church is smoke”.


  1. Did this guy happen to have a beard? In our ward you might come to church one Sunday and find some of the men wearing polo shirts or other “secular” shirts, it seems like the general rule of thumb is as long as it has a collar, unless of course its a sweater. On the flip side you might show up for church and half the ward might be wearing military uniforms, depends on what’s going on at the local military installation.

    Comment by Jared — November 28, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

  2. Sometimes I wish we were more laid back in our “dress code”.

    I remember hearing a story about a less active member who refused to dress up at the beginning of his reactivation. Over time, however, on his own volition, he cleaned up until gradually he proudly dressed like “a good mormon oughta”.

    Just as I dress up for weddings, for important meetings with important people, for funerals, for baptisms, for dinner parties, etc.. I think there is something to be said for allowing your dress to show the level of respect you have for the institution.

    Comment by Ryan — November 28, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

  3. As far as making him more at ease, the fact you are welcoming and talk to him and and make no particular notice of his clothes was a good strategy

    Comment by Johnna — November 28, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

  4. Sometimes I wish we were more laid back in our “dress code”. Then I challenge you to do it. Once a month wear a blue shirt. You can start a revolution, man!

    Comment by Ronan — November 29, 2006 @ 3:22 am

  5. My current bishop is adamant about not making the gospel more or less than in it. He sets a good example by (1) wearing white shirts to church when he is presiding–either conducting interviews or on Sundays and also (2) when he is attending a stake meeting or youth activity run by the YM/YW, he goes out of his way to wear some other color shirt.

    We had a ward temple night last month, and some of us were in a restaurant afterward. A group from another ward came by said hi, and a younger guy asked this bishop, “How could you wear a blue plaid shirt to the temple?”

    His thought is that white shirts are asked for those administering the sacrament, conducting the meeting, etc.. because it is a priesthood thing. But there is no reason a rank-and-file member not speaking needs to wear a white shirt.

    But then, we also have women who wear nice pants, so maybe we are just a heathen ward.

    Comment by Naismith — November 29, 2006 @ 5:10 am

  6. Someone recently said that when we “get it” on unity (i.e. atonement see John 17) . We make every effort to emulate the Brethren in every way we can.

    Comment by GeorgeD — November 29, 2006 @ 10:20 am

  7. Okay, GeorgeD, you’re killing me with suspense…who was the “someone” that said this?

    Comment by Rusty — November 29, 2006 @ 10:52 am

  8. Ronan,

    watch out for the slippery slope. Sure, it starts off with a few slackers wearing blue shirts every now and again, but before you know it, bam, you got people showing up in tribal costumes. How are the rest of us supposed to worship with all those distracting sparkly sequins?

    Comment by Peter — November 29, 2006 @ 10:54 am

  9. GeorgeD: All kinds of nonsense has been said by someone at some time or another.

    Comment by Gary — November 29, 2006 @ 11:40 am

  10. All kinds of nonsense has been said by someone at some time or another.

    A valid and logical refutation if ever I’ve heard one.


    Comment by Ryan — November 29, 2006 @ 1:06 pm

  11. GeorgeD,
    You better start using your middle initial.

    Comment by cj douglass — November 29, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

  12. Who said logic had anything to do with this blog?

    Comment by Seth R. — November 29, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

  13. I didn’t offer the author of the quote because it was a relative who I respect and admire very much who none of you know and would probably not care to have his name posted here anyway. Does it matter who it was? I suggested that there may be a doctrinal reason to emulate the brethren. I hope we start from the inside but the inside usually makes it to the outside. The scriptures do talk about His image on our countenances. I think the the brethren may be a step along the path. (That is if I read John 17 correctly)

    Comment by GeorgeD — November 29, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  14. GeorgeD,
    Nope, I don’t think you’re reading John 17 correctly then if you think “His image on our countenances” means “make every effort to emulate the Brethren in every way we can.”

    Comment by Rusty — November 29, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

  15. Yeah, wouldn’t we be kinda in line with all the other Christian sects by saying we needed to be “one with God” by phsyically LOOKING like Him?

    1 Samuel 16:7 “…the Lord looketh upon the heart.”

    Comment by Bret — November 30, 2006 @ 2:17 am

  16. GeorgeD: I admire the spirit reflected by your friend’s comment, but I think that it is not only wrong, but dangerously wrong. First of all, I don’t know even know what it would be mean to emulate the brethren in every way we can. Should all aspire to be heart surgeons are car salesmen? Which is it? Should we emulate their political leanings? Which brethren’s political beliefs should we choose? I could go on, you get the point. There is much diversity there, and that is a good thing.

    More importantly, they are not our exemplar. They are messengers just like we are messengers. They are just people trying to do what God has asked them do, just like you and me. Of course they try be good examples, but it is a serious mistake to look to them as the model we should follow. We have Christ, we have his teachings, and we aspire to unity with him. Emulating anybody else, whether in matters of dress style, politics, career aspirations, child rearing philosophies, or other personality traits has nothing whatsoever to do with John 17. Your friend’s suggestion moves us much too far along the path to becoming a personality cult rather than the Church of Christ.

    Comment by Gary — November 30, 2006 @ 8:05 am

  17. They are not our examplars? Hmmm… Sounds kind of catholic to me. Remember when a priest was always a priest even if he molested children? Remember when bishops and cardinals had nieces and nephews but no children (wink wink)? Don’t follow their example just submit to their authority.

    Yes I do think that unity with the brethren means modelig our lives after the same person they model their lives on. I did say we start with the heart but people who have hearts aligned with the brethren are not so dismissive of what I said earlier.

    John 17 for those that have not opened it up yet is the great intercessory prayer. The Savior prays that the Apostles will be one with He and the Father and then prays that all who the Apostles bring to him will enjoy the same unity.

    Most modern “progessives” see this as hopelessly barbaric concept. Subduing and offering God our own egos is the worst of the modern sins.

    Prediction: next x posts will be about how our egos are all very important etc. Guess what? I agree. The better developed the ego the better the offering of it to God. Wearing a white shirt and tie to church on Sunday is a pretty trivial issue especially of it is heart motivated.

    My apologies for trying to find a doctrinal basis for a white shirt.

    Comment by GeorgeD — November 30, 2006 @ 1:01 pm

  18. GeorgeD,
    I sincerely appreciate the attempt at finding a doctrinal basis for wearing a white shirt, I just don’t think you’ve found it, that’s all. Being one with the Brethren by wearing the same clothes just doesn’t ring true (to me). If it works for you that’s fantastic. No matter what, you’re going to have a difficult time finding a doctrinal basis for white shirts when the Handbook specifically says they aren’t mandatory (same with beards). Knowing we can worthily enter the temple with colored shirts (even without a tie!!) even further distances white shirts from “doctrine”.

    And I just barely posted a new post and I hope it isn’t about how our egos are all very important.

    Comment by Rusty — November 30, 2006 @ 1:18 pm

  19. Well, that might explain why women in my ward are starting to wear pants to church.

    Comment by Naismith — November 30, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

  20. Rusty dear boy, You can do anything you want.

    Naismith, undoubtedly you are correct. But emulating the brethren has been a big deal with feminists for a long time.

    Comment by GeorgeD — November 30, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

  21. I have to say, that, to others, we should be welcoming and accepting no matter what their appearance (or smell) is. I also say, that personally, we should make every attempt to look as good as we can for the occassion. We’re going there in an attitude of respect and worship and our appearance should reflect that.

    I know it’s sometimes difficult not to look at someone and be critical of how they’re dressed, but if we truly love them, we’ll be compassionate and patient with them.

    Our area leaders have encouraged all men to be clean shaven and to wear white shirts to church. Women and young women have also been encouraged not to wear flip-flops (I would say thongs, but nowadays that word no longer means flip-flops). Some people struggle with the flip-flop standard, but it seems to go well enough.

    I’ve always believed that if we just wear our best, we’ll be fine.

    we also need to remember that our nonmember friends will appreciate being coached. My wife brought her friend to church and didn’t give a whole lot of advice on what to wear. When she came, she wore a nice pant-suit and she looked appropriate to us, but she was uncomfortable because everyone else was wearing dresses. She said she would have worn a dress if she’d known, but we didn’t think it was a big enough deal to mention it to her… we were just happy she came.

    I’m sure that if we’re patient with others who don’t dress up, they’ll either not care and be fine, or they’ll decide that they’re under-dressing and will change on their own.

    Comment by Dennis West — November 30, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

  22. I’ve seen members dress like that. No problem.

    Comment by annegb — November 30, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

  23. Rusty,

    You have a current handbook of instructions, right? Does it really say specifically that white shirts and facial hair are not mandatory? I asked my ward clerk about that and he said it doesn’t really say anything either way about it.

    Comment by Bret — November 30, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

  24. The Handbook states the following with respect to blessing and passing of the sacrament:

    “Those who bless and pass the sacrament should dress modestly and be well groomed and clean. Clothing or jewelry should not call attention to itself or distract members during the sacrament. White shirts and ties are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate.”

    Comment by Gary — November 30, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

  25. Sounds kind of catholic to me.


    You say that like it’s a bad thing. I’d be disingenious if I assumed you meant anything else by it than the Roman Catholic church, but look it up sometime, it’s actually a positive, inclusive descriptor and one I would hope applies to my views on what people wear to church.

    And while I’m on the topic of meaning, you do realize that “emulate” doesn’t just mean to copy or equal, but to excel or surpass as well? To be, in effect, more catholic than the Pope, if I may borrow a phrase in keeping with your chosen metaphor? So if the Brethren wear white shirts, should we not wear see-through shirts?

    Obviously that’s ridiculous, but so is the claim that an extremely general admonition to “emulate the Brethren” requires a particular narrow application to Sunday dress.

    As you mentioned before, start with the heart and leave the outer appearance near the bottom of the list of things to accomplish in this life where it belongs.

    Comment by Peter — December 1, 2006 @ 5:33 am

  26. Peter, brilliant, brilliant indeed. Touche’

    Comment by GeorgeD — December 1, 2006 @ 8:48 am

  27. I haven’t been to church in a long time, at least not actively anyway but I do remember wearing a different coloured shirt when I wasn’t feeling particularly spiritual as a young man.

    My old ward was a small one with a not particularly large priesthood, so as a priest I’d be blessing the sarcrament pretty much every week.

    Without wanting to have to actually talk to anyone about little transgressions (anyone other than god) I’d go to church wearing a blue shirt on the weeks I didn’t feel I could bless the sacrament.

    Nearly ten years on from that I’m married with two young children. My wife and children are very active but to be honest I’m not sure about any of it.

    When I do go (because my eldest is doing something in sacrament with the primary) I tend to dress casual as it makes it easier for me.

    I find wearing a suit when I don’t know if I actually believe any of it is a bit of a no-no.

    Sorry it took so long to get to the point and if you’re here – thanks for reading through.

    Comment by Ryan — December 4, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

  28. I read on another blog http://www.onecosmos.blogspot.com a comment in a recent post that suggested that wearing non-uniform clothing was a way to hide our heart and character. Something to the effec t that when we dress alike it is actually easier to see our real differences.

    Comment by GeorgeD — December 4, 2006 @ 7:49 pm

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