Friday, January 7, 2011

Sunday Best

After an off-hand remark caused an astounding flurry of debate on facebook this week, I've been thinking about why I feel that everyone in our family should dress up for church. I took the transcript of the argument and put it into an xtranormal video, which you can watch if you'd like. The rest of this post only takes that debate as a jumping-off point and doesn't actually refer to it anymore.

Our rule for our kids for Sunday church clothes are: nothing printed on the shirt, no jeans or sweatpants, and they wear dress shoes. That typically ends up being a polo or button down with khakis or dress shorts in the warm weather. They do get to wear sandals, but we specifically shop for sandals that work as summer church shoes. In the winter, they most often wear a sweater with khakis. They do have some wedding and funeral clothes that are a notch dressier - blue blazers, shirts and ties, dressier trousers.

I like to dress up for church. It makes me feel more prepared for worship. I think it's important to signal to the kids, too, that Sunday is different. It's difficult to implement concrete actions that differentiate the sabbath. Wearing clothes that you don't normally wear not only reminds you constantly throughout the day; it also starts right at the beginning of the day.

Also, though, I need to be able to say to my kids on various occasions for various reasons "that outfit is not appropriate for where we're going or what we're doing". Church clothes set the tone for that. With the weekly basis of church clothes, I find it easier to demand jeans and a nice shirt for certain events or khakis and a nice shirt for other events. I find it a little wacky, but in our house, jeans are one step up into dressy because our boys - Teddy especially - would wear sweat pants every day if he had the chance. As Jerry said to George, though, in the pilot episode of Seinfeld: "You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, 'I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'"

Did I just say that people who don't dress up for church have declared themselves unable to compete in normal society? Possibly. I've been believed to have said similar things before.

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