Clothing, Dancing, Dating
How Should We Dress for Worship? by Bryan Gibson
Going to the Dance? Answer these Questions First by Bryan Gibson
Where is the Line? How Far is Too Far? Author unknown
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How Should We Dress for Worship?
by Bryan Gibson
To the best of my knowledge, only one New Testament passage deals with this subject in any kind of direct fashion—James 2:1-13. Read carefully the first four verses of that passage: “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” It is clear from this passage that we cannot make fine clothing a requirement for our worship assemblies. Some may not be able to afford such clothing. But is that really the case with the majority of us? Most of us have nicer clothes we could wear to the assemblies, if we chose to do so. Some have decided, based on this passage, that it just doesn’t matter what we wear for worship. While there is definitely no established dress code for worship, I still believe this is a dangerous conclusion, for several reasons.
First, would we say the same the same thing about other occasions? For example, would we say it doesn’t matter what you wear to a funeral? What about some formal banquet, to which we were invited? Would we say it just doesn’t matter, and then wear the first thing we came across in the closet? Most of us would agree that certain types of clothing fit certain occasions.
Secondly, doesn’t our clothing often indicate the attitude we have toward a particular occasion? It would seem that dress for worship is becoming increasingly casual. Maybe we need to ask why that has become the case. Does it perhaps indicate that attitudes toward worship are becoming increasingly casual? When Joseph was called to appear before Pharaoh, he certainly did not take a casual attitude toward this meeting. “He shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh” (Genesis 41:14). Certainly, we should not take a casual attitude when we appear before God to worship Him (Psalms 89:7). So what we are saying is that the casual clothes may not be the problem as much as the casual attitude that prompted the wearing of those clothes.
Thirdly, even though the attitude of certain individuals may be fine, when enough people dress casually, the whole “atmosphere” can become very casual. In other words, when you look around and most everyone is dressed in casual and comfortable attire, it can create the feeling of being at a “get-together” rather than a place where fear and reverence should be the prevailing attitudes.
So while we are not interested in establishing a rigid dress code for worship, we do urge everyone to thoughtfully consider the principles mentioned above.
Going to the Dance? Answer These Questions First
by Bryan Gibson
- God says: “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). Can you go to this dance and still obey this commandment? Will you be able to keep your words, thoughts and actions pure?
- Will going to this dance increase or decrease your influence? Remember, you are supposed to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). (Hint: I know quite a few people who will think less of you).
- God says: “Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Can you go to this dance and still be this kind of example?
- Is it possible that your actions on the dance floor could become a stumbling block to someone else? In other words, is it possible that you could cause someone to lust? Keep in mind what Jesus said about one who causes others to sin: “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6-7).
- Is it possible that you, yourself could lust, and if you do, would that be wrong? (Matthew 5:28).
- God says: “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14). Does dancing provide an opportunity for the flesh?
- “Lasciviousness” (KJV) or “licentiousness” (NKJV) is listed in Galatians 5:19 as “a work of the flesh.” You may not be real familiar with this word, so here are some phrases included in the definition of this word: “absence of restraint, indecency, wanton acts or manners, such as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females” (Vine and Thayer). Now, think about the dance—the environment, the language, the clothing, the actual dancing—will all of this promote or reduce the opportunities for lasciviousness?
- God says: “Flee…youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). Are you really running away from youthful lusts when you go to a dance?
- God says: “Resist the devil” (James 4:7). Is this your idea of resisting the devil—going to a dance?
- God says, “Do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:27). Will going to this dance give or deprive the devil an opportunity?
- Do you remember the story about Joseph and Potiphar’s wife? When she tried to get him to have sexual relations with him, he adamantly refused, going so far as to run away from her (Genesis 39:7-12). Would it have been okay for him to say, “I can’t do that, but why don’t we dance together?”
- Would it have helped David to maintain his purity if he had danced with Bathsheba instead of going right to bed with her? (2 Samuel 11:1-4).
- How does this sound to you? “Put on your homecoming (or prom) dress, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, reworded).
- God says: “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Will going to this dance keep these desires buried or bring them back to life?
- Are you absolutely convinced that this is the right thing to do? Do you have any doubts at all? (Please read Romans 14:23).
- If you were motivated solely by a desire to please God (2 Cor. 5:9)—not yourself or others—would you still go to this dance?
- If Jesus comes again while you’re at this dance, will you face Him with confidence, or with shame (1 John 2:28)?
Where Is the Line? Or, How Far Is Too Far?
Purity in this sex-crazed society? Is it even possible? One of the biggest questions asked—by those comfortable enough to voice it—is “how far is too far?” Many teenagers have pondered this question, but have never asked it. Others don’t think about the question until they’re in that situation. All of a sudden, you’re in this great relationship with this guy/girl that you really care about and you find yourself in hot moments when your conscience is eating at you, but you’ve never taken the time to decide what you “will or won’t do” in a physical relationship outside of marriage.
Having someone tell you what lines you can cross and which ones you can’t may seem like the best and easiest answer, but it’s sure not going to mean much to you. You may have even been told that the Bible doesn’t really give straight answers in this area, but let’s go straight to the text and see what the Lord says.
Look up these scriptures yourself, as this article will only be able to quote key phrases. Proverbs 6 deals with many sins, particularly adultery. It says in verse 32 that an adulterer lacks judgment and destroys himself. Pretty harsh, yet we all admit that sex outside of the marital relationship is wrong.
What about the “gray” areas? Ephesians 5:3 tells us that there must not be “even a hint of sexual immorality” among us. What about 1 Corinthians 6:18, which tells us to “flee from sexual immorality”? Does looking for a time to be alone with a guy/girl so you can “be together” on the couch or in the bedroom sound like “fleeing”?
Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:2 to treat “younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” If a guy has his hand underneath a girl’s clothes, is he treating her as a sister with absolute purity? “Finally, brothers, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 hits the nail on the head. Are the physical actions that you take with your guy/girl excellent or praiseworthy? Do they honor God?
If you go down the list of all the things you do, from holding hands to sex itself, and evaluate them against these and similar passages, and if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably find that there are a lot more things that don’t hold up as Christ-like conduct than you might have first thought. Many of you have already crossed these “lines” of physical relationships. If it seems that there are too many rules and regulations, go talk to someone who’s been there. They’ll tell you stories of hurt, shame and regret for many different levels of physical relationships outside of marriage. It’s not about keeping you from fun; it’s about keeping you from pain. Sin ruins everything.
But, perhaps we’re missing the point. Why do we so often find ourselves asking the question of “how far is too far” in physical relationships, drinking and other “gray” areas? It’s almost as if we’re saying, “Show me the line where sin begins so that I can go right up to it without crossing over.” Is that really the kind of life God calls us to live?
What would happen if we approached life with the Spirit as our guide? 1 Peter 1:16 says “Be holy as I am holy.” When we are truly seeking the face of God, all other things fall into place and the question of lines we aren’t to cross never comes up. Do we sin? Of course! But there is a different heart there—a right heart desiring to please God.
Forget drawing lines. Flee from every appearance of evil and run toward the Lord. Desire holy living and an intimate relationship with God. As you humble yourself before God in prayer, he will bless you and guide you as you strive to live a holy and joyful life.
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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