My 11-year-old daughter commented on a Christian singer with tiny plain gold earrings in both his ears: “He’s a boy. He can’t have earrings. And he can’t be Christian.”
My four- and five-year-old daughters chimed in, “Yeah, and boys can’t have long hair!” (The singer had a shaved head, praise God, so I guess he’s half saved?).
After resuscitation from my husband and a crying jag on both our parts, I barely recovered enough to query, “Wha-?! Why can’t he be a Christian?” She could offer no explanation other than boys shouldn’t have earrings or long hair. I think she couldn’t really refute the irrational logic behind the earring/Christian analogy.
This conversation scares me.
And also sorta made me want to go out and get a punk makeover…What are my kids learning (and where are they learning it?) – about image and etiquette and society and Christianity?
I’m sure I’m failing as a mom and as a Christian.
Lord, help me counter this bigotry that my children have been taught by ignorant people. Help me to not judge others by their appearances and not to raise my eyebrows when I see that dude at Target who has real horns growing out of his head and an actual metal zipper in his tongue (we smile at him, but he may try to eat us).
Oh, and what about club clothes in church? If you feel the need to purchase stripper shoes and miniskirts, that’s between you and God. Maybe you’ve been out all night and came direct to church. If you wear your red patent leather platform stilettos with your black pleather silver studded halter mini dress to church so my kids can stare, it makes me uncomfortable. It’s inappropriate in a teenager and I wonder what your mother would say, unless of course, she’s sitting beside you in a matching ensemble. And when my four year old tells me she thinks your shoes are pretty and she wants a pair just like them, I just threw up a little in my mouth.
But I can see why she thinks they’re pretty.
Some churches stare at newcomers who aren’t dressed “right.” And other churches claim, “come as you are.” It shouldn’t be about numbers or a secret handshake to get in. We’re teaching church and not Christ.
Do we want people to follow rules or show love?
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. ~Maya Angelou
Our society has gotten so casual. While appearances shouldn’t matter, they do matter. Perhaps too much. Or perhaps, people are just concerned about the wrong things.
Casual Fridays, casual relationships, casual dining, casual décor, casual church…
I think we’ve missed the mark. This whole casual attitude has distorted what’s really important.
It’s all about respect. There just ain’t no respect no more.
Is Jesus casual?
I don’t think so.
I know the Bible says that appearances shouldn’t matter as much as the heart, and I agree, but surely there must be a line drawn somewhere. (And I desperately search for that line when my 4-year-old wants stripper shoes and my 11-year-old thinks all earring-wearing boys aren’t Christian.)
Do we imagine Jesus, wearing surfer shorts and a ball cap, sitting in a teal and orange restaurant playing raucous rock and roll music through its speakers, eating his cheesy garlic biscuit while discussing how we should pray to Daddy God or explaining the parable of the sowers to the Hot Topic-clad apostles?
Can we imagine Jesus wearing distressed jeans and biker boots and a silk shirt unbuttoned to there with a blinged-out cross necklace (bigger than the medallion the French maî·tre d’ wears at that trendy bistro downtown), preaching to the thousands in a church café stadium with laser lights with a chai vanilla skinny double shot no foam latte in one hand and a PowerPoint clicker in the other, and a pricey mike headset on his perfectly styled hair?
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
And what about Paul? I wonder if he wasn’t so casual. I’ll bet he was so uptight. He probably wore conservative clothes and all that. He was respected (except when that one dude fell asleep and out the window from boredom…and all that persecution he dealt and received…) And he and Peter didn’t get along at all.
But we live in a society where image is everything.
Did you want Madagascar cinnamon or organic molasses syrup on that latte?
John the Baptist wouldn’t fit in so well, I don’t think, as far as images go.
I think the whole image thing may even be worse in Utah (perhaps it’s a certain subculture here). And often, I just don’t have the energy to braid up three girls’ hair with flowers and ribbons while dressing my 18 month old boy like a Gap ad. Is it really worth it just to go to the grocery store or library? I’m always the last one to get ready and it’s haphazard, at best. I’ve gone out with my hair unwashed in a ponytail and different socks on and no jewelry (gasp! seriously, without the wedding ring, what will people think?!) while my 4 kiddos look like little Land’s End angels…for about 5 minutes. And my husband has on his 5 year old jorts and torn up tennis shoes with a holey T shirt he’s had since before we were married. And he still manages to look ok. I always feel judged whenever we go anywhere. No one cares what guys look like. At least my husband can’t wear earrings or long hair. He’s in the Air Force. whew! Should we just wear family uniforms like that weird family over there (khakis and matching polos)? It’d be SO much easier, and cheaper!
Jesus called the Pharisees vipers and hypocrites. What would he call the girl at church in the stripper shoes? What would he call the Pottery Barn indebted people or the moms who stress over their daughter’s braids being ruler perfect? What would he call the preacher in his trendy clothes with his latte? Of course, their hearts may be in the right place, but if they’re so concerned about their image, then I wonder.
And what are they portraying to my kids or anyone else? I’m working to learn myself and how best to teach my kids about love and respect.
And why does the Christian singer have to look like every other emo rock star? Why do the lyrics have to be so suggestive? Is Jesus supposed to be my boyfriend or my Savior?
What would we think if we saw Jesus or Paul or John, right now? How would we judge them by their appearances?
I think we should dress for success and be respectful. Church is a place of respect because it is the house of God. As Christians, we should honor Jesus however we can. As Christians, we are called to be separate from the world. If all you own are T shirts and jeans, or stripper shoes, then wear your best T shirt and shoes to church to show respect to God.
And who cares what others think?