Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
Dress codes, every job seems to have them. Some are better than others. Sadly, some dress codes seem to fail to differentiate between what is appropriate for an office and what is appropriate for a warehouse. What do I mean? Simply put, jeans and t-shirt, especially t-shirts with the company logo, are appropriate for a warehouse environment. The same type of outfit, on the other hand, would be almost inappropriate in an office setting, even if it were for the same company.
The fact is that warehouse workers have different needs when it comes to clothing than office workers do. Part of this is due to the fact that warehouse workers are not generally afforded the opportunity to work in an air conditioned environment. Such being the case, clothing must be appropriate for the weather at hand. If it is cold and wet, or even snowing, the outfit in the warehouse should be something reasonably warm. If it is hot out, the outfit should be something that helps the employees remain cool. In an office environment, this is not an issue, thus it would be perfectly reasonable to require office staff to wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, and flat soled shoes at work. Two different environments, two different dress codes.
What about God’s kingdom? Is there a dress code? Maybe.
The Bible is a bit vague on this issue. Perhaps that is a good thing. However, there are references to how God expected his people to dress, yet these are understood in terms of the ceremonial law, not the moral law. However, there is some limitations regarding how we should dress. Note that this is not some sort of legalistic demand, rather it is the appeal for a clear conscience, which is within the moral law, that is of issue here. In 2 Timothy 2, the Apostle Paul speaks about how he desires the church, men holding up hands in prayer and women be dressed in respectable apparel. This is also where we find Paul’s statement regarding not permitting women to exercise authority over men (this is understood as being the pastoral office), but that is not of issue here. Rather, it is interesting that women are called to dress modestly. However, if this is true of women, would not the same be said of men? Certainly it must. However, it doesn’t mean that we throw out somebody who arrives and is not dressed modestly. Indeed, they are as in need of the Gospel message as we all are.
I am not one to argue against an appropriate dress code. Doesn’t matter if it is in a warehouse environment or in church. Clothing that is distracting or otherwise disruptive has no real place in either environment. It matters little what the dress code says, providing that is both modest and appropriate to the work environment for which it is intended. To that end, making somebody wear a long pants and collared shirt while slinging chains and straps in a flat yard would be inappropriate, especially if the temperature in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Likewise, shorts and a t-shirt would be inappropriate in an office environment, save perhaps such clothing could be shown as tasteful and not disrespectful of the company (such as would be the case if wearing a t-shirt for a competitor).
Do dress codes have a place in society or the church? I’d say “yes” to both. However, I’d also say that such things should be tempered with an understanding of the environment in play. It would be a fool’s gambit to expect warehouse employees to dress like they worked in an office. Likewise, it is folly to expect people to attend church wearing tuxedos and ballroom gowns, it really would be overkill. Modestly and appropriateness are key here.
Sometimes I wear amateur radio t-shirts to either church or work. Of themselves, that are not inappropriate. However, I would not wear such for a job interview. Likewise, if the company as a proscribed policy regarding what is appropriate to wear for a given job, that is what must be followed. In this regards, even Heaven seems to require something specific, namely robes washed white in the blood of the lamb (Revelation 7:14).
Certainly we are free to dress as we choose when not at work. However, if we profess Christ as Lord and Savior, we may want to consider carefully how we dress for church. We shouldn’t dress so to appear “stuffy” nor should we dress as if we don’t care what we wear. The church is called to be a light to the world. In that regard, modesty is crucial. We don’t want people to judge us as being either “stuffy” or else as slobs. We want them to see us as fellow sinners in need of Christ’s free gift of salvation.
Wisdom dictates we should dress appropriately for the environment we intend to find ourselves. In the warehouse, this might be cargo shorts and t-shirts. In an office, it is likely slacks and a long sleeve collared shirt. In church, it should be what is modest and does not give offence to those who come seeking the truth of Christ’s gift of salvation. Even outside of both the church and workplace, our dress should reflect a level of modesty. To do otherwise would be to concede defeat and surrender our faith and integrity. That is something we can’t do.