Confessions of a Church Girl: What Should Matter In Church, The Heart or The Hemline Of Your Skirt?

August 8, 2012  |

I was born and raised in the grand ole Church of God in Christ, where they preach “holiness is right.” In my particular place of worship, “Thou shalt not wear red lipstick” should be the 11th commandment. On top of that, women are expected to wear hot pantyhose all year long, and rocking a skirt higher than a quarter inch above your knee is highly frowned upon. While this may not be the case for every denomination, there has always been a general code of conduct when it comes to women and the clothing that they choose to wear to church. For decades, women have obliged to this code; however, this more recent generation of young women, my generation, seem to be challenging the rules a bit. The attire being worn to church seems to be getting more and more risque as the years go by. “The skirts seem to be getting higher and the blouses seem to be getting lower,” I’ll hear one church mother grunt to another as some long-legged beauty struts by in her baby doll dress and 6-inch pumps to place her money on the offering table. “I hate this, it’s like they want to drag us back to the 1960s. Times have changed,” is what I’ll hear some of my other sisters complain. I’ll overhear this convo as I’m in the bathroom performing my own dreadful task of slipping on pantyhose in 80-degree weather.

I have a friend at church who seems to be going through the same thing right now. Sometime between this year and last, her “holiness is right” ankle length skirts have morphed into rising bandage skirts and those chic and sheer little asymmetrical get ups. More than a few people have approached her on the matter. One afternoon on the phone she vented her frustrations: “Why does it even matter? When I was living like hell and my skirts were down to my ankles that was okay, but now that I’m actually living right and my skirts are a little shorter than before I’m going to hell with gasoline draws on? What is more important, my heart or my hemline?” she groaned. This of course got the wheels in my head turning. Do we as Christians place more emphasis on the outward appearance as opposed to the heart of a man or woman? Should clothing actually be a debate at all?

Popular Christian rapper and recording artist, Lecrae, tackles this same exact subject in his most recent mixtape release with a song entitled “Church Clothes.” In it, he navigates through this debate from the point of view of someone who isn’t an avid churchgoer and wants to go, even if they don’t have the button down and Easter suit. It is a very thought-provoking track. One of the most profound lyrics from the song, however, is the following:

If God accepts me as I am I guess I already got on my church clothes…

While this is all true and of much importance, it still leaves one to question whether this gives us all a get-out-of-jail-free card to dress however we want because it is about the inner man? I mean there are scriptures upon scriptures that discuss men who appear one way outwardly and are another way internally. And then, if that is the case, does that mean that church should be a free for all where women can wear micro mini skirts and halter tops as long as they came to praise the Lord and hear the word? Where can the line be drawn?

The Bible may not say “Thou mustn’t wear hoochie skirts to church,” but what it does say in Galatians 6:2 is that we are to carry one another’s burdens and it is in this way that we will fulfill the law of Christ. With that in mind, what about our brothers in Christ? There are tons of scriptures on men and the shielding of their eyes of lustful images as well as the heaviness of merely lusting after a woman with your eyes. Do we not then have a responsibility to protect men from what scripture has made clear is a weakness for them? If the Bible instructs us all to flee youthful lust, then are we doing our brothers an injustice by flaunting the bait at the one place that should serve as their place of refuge, the church?

For years, I’ve worn my dresses a decent length merely because it was what I was told to do. There was also a point in time where I didn’t pay much attention to the lengths of my dresses or how tight my blouses were. I wasn’t fully made aware of the struggle that men have to cope with until I was sent this video by an older sister and mentor on the subject. This didn’t become personal to me until one day when I was shooting the breeze on webcam with one of my very close brothers in Christ, and as I’m yapping away I noticed that he kept looking away. After taking a closer look at my own image in the camera and him bringing it to my attention, I realized that some of my lady curves (aka, cleavage) had somehow creeped into view of my camera. You can imagine my embarrassment. Me, having dealt with my own personal struggles before, would never want to be a participant in leading someone else astray. So yes, the heart of a person is undeniably the most important thing when it comes to church, but is the way we present ourselves not of importance as well? Think about it…

Sound off, ladies: Do you believe that the church places too much emphasis on the outward appearance? Should we hold ourselves semi-responsible for protecting the eyes of the brethren in our local churches?

Jazmine Denise is a New York City based Lifestyle & Relationship writer. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise

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  • johnteetsarchitect

    Our church has no dress code and there is no problem. I have seen little relationship between dress and behavior. My wife says the sexiest walk she ever say was by a “holiness: woman with a floor length skirt who worked it. A lot of women have poor self image and being dowdy hardly helps it. Being sensible is the key. Most BIble passages on modesty focus on the COST of what you are wearing. My parents tool me to a holiness meeting and I noticed the cars had all blackwall tires (whitewalls were in style then) and many had black bumpers. But there were Chrysler New Yorkers, Deuce and a Quarters, etc. True modesty would have been a Chevy BelAir with Whitewalls. And o it is with women as well…

  • Latosha

    Ppl respect the world more than God. If ur employer asks you, no tells you to dress accordingly you wont kick against the brick. You’ll follow policy to keep your job. Y is it so different when it comes to God’s word? Its alot of scripture n ppl find the one to justify their actions. Seek the holy spirit for guidance. Be decent. We’re not to tempt one anothers. There are men looking at women n men. N women looking at women n men. If you’re coming for deliverance n u walking into what is church but it has a club like scene, y bother going to church when ure possibly being tempted away from God? Plus, i shout in church. I danced for the devil so i have a new dance for my father. Therefore my hem needs to be decent enough for my leaps n i still hold my dress/skirt down n we have sheets to cover folk up. Sum ppl don’t have the decent attire in the beginning n right there its ok. Come as u r but dont keep using that as an excuse. For when u want that job, u gone hit them stores for the proper interview attire, if u know better. Sum dont know better. Once u know, do better. The heart does matter but don’t give God anything. U don’t want him to give u anything. U may be coming for yourself n u dont have a lustful spirit but u not in there alone. Dont get so mad when googly eyes on u n then u wanna leave the church. U can be decent n they may be infatuated with ur eyes. What can u do then right…but again, seek the holy spirit. When you have him in your heart, you’ll begin to do things differently anyway. The Lord knows. We must stay encouraged n stedfast no matter what.

  • Mystique

    Some younger women get “come as you are” mixed up with dressed like you are going to the club. I’ve seen some young ladies come into my church with clothes on like short skirts up to the black ring around their rumps, along with tight, short tops showing their midriff, halter tops, halter top dresses with their boobs showing and they will sit in the middle section of the sanctuary, up front, on the very first pew facing the preacher. So i guess some younger women and some older women, wear what they want to wear to church this day and time because some say they are the new generation of church going women and the other says, the Lord says to come as you are. Do we really know what that means? A few years ago our married pastor at the time, was dismissed for what was said to be inappropriate conduct. I wander why!

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  • kierah

    Rule of thumb: If you wear it to the club, don’t wear it to church!

  • Pingback: Confessions of a Church Girl: Is It A Matter of the Heart or The Hemline? « Pretty With Purpose | Purpose-Driven & Powerful()

  • Resheart

    Actually Timothy 2:9 says to dress modestly. There are actually a couple scripture telling women not to be so concerned with keeping up with the newest makeup, hairstyles & so forth but to rather yet adorn your inner beauty (1 peter 3:1-6).My thing is search the word yourself, pray – and then make your decision. Anything that you do- you should know why you are doing it, so read the word for your self and use wise discernment. You can dress modestly and still be “fly” ladies! A real women knows how to look beautiful without showing off her body!

    • Pivyque

      Enough said!

    • Mystique

      Being an adult member in the missionary society in my church, i went to a 15 year old young lady who was wearing a top with all her breast hanging out. After church, I pulled her to the side and thought i could talk to her about just covering up more that she could look good and be confident at the same time and she cursed me out. I will never do that again.

      • ResHeart

        I believe it. I work with young kids and unfortunately many do not have respect for authority , adults or any one else. If you telling them something they dont want to hear you can expect for them to DO or SAY something you dont want to hear nor see ( not all of course)

      • ResHeart

        I believe it. I work with young kids and unfortunately many do not have respect for authority , adults or any one else. If you telling them something they dont want to hear you can expect for them to DO or SAY something you dont want to hear nor see ( not all of course)

      • 13Godlovesyou

        That shows the kind of person she is but i believe that you shouldn’t judge but help your sister. That is what the bible says. You can look cute without showing your body and to me, i think that’s a real woman! Many women do this because of the style but we are not of this world as the bible says but you can look beautiful without showing.

  • Rah Truth

    Is it that hard to wear a skirt you can safely bend over in? Be modest. Yes, it is important. “Come as you are” is taken way out of context- doesn’t mean anything goes. Be respectful of yourself and the other members. It’s not that hard.

  • Flyygirl02

    I feel like the determinate of how you dress will be and should be based on your relationship with God. He is the one who should convict us, not man. If you are a young believer than, you may not dress in the most modest attire, however that is when the Holy Spirit comes in to help you. As you grow and mature in your relationship with Christ you will not only change your dress but you will know and understand the reason why you are doing it. Holiness is not defined by what you wear, but how you carry yourself. Also, you can dress very cute, or fine and still represent the Body of Christ. Honestly, that is one of the reasons that I changed Denominations I wanted the freedom that God desires for us to have versus living by some man made rules.

  • Lisa

    So, People will follow the dress code
    at work but not at church?? Smh, lets be real, yeah I understand its,
    not about US but it’s about God and the fact that you’re ACTUALLY
    coming to church instead of sleeping in and watching Bobby Jones,
    etc. I’ll put it this way, if you’re wearing something too short that
    you have to keep pulling it down, you probably shouldn’t wear it to
    church. If your dress, blouse, shirt, etc is too tight and you have
    to keep adjusting it to your liking because your breast is about to
    pop out, you probably shouldn’t wear it to church. We’re talking
    about going to the Church and going to the Club.

  • MLS2698

    You don’t want to EVER be called a ” church girl ” at all. A church girl is someone who abides by those silly rules of skirt lengths and white gloves because the actual rules to abide by concerning your heart, and walk with Christ is much harder to produce for them. They are known for using tactile rules to prove they are ” doing right” by Christ, but really, have no real relationship in Christ. Basically, it’s for show. I knew a woman who only wore dresses because she was ” saved ” , and she had a boat load of men she regularly fornicated with, so, I can’t see how wearing a dress helped her, unless it helped the men get to her ” unmentionables ” quicker.

  • Two things. I’m Catholic, and once a year our priest BEGS us to dress nicely for Mass. A common complaint is that people tends to come in wearing “street clothes”. Blue jeans, and T-shirts. Second, with respect to “hoochie” clothes, the rule is “Don’t wear anything that would tempt another parishioner to sin”. I’ve seen dresses that barely fall below the “bootie” at Easter and Christmas. Surprising.

  • Erika

    I grew up in a COGIC church too; so I can defintely relate to what the article is talking about. As I grew older, I realized that God cares more about your soul and spreading His word than the clothes you have on. This is why most people don’t even go to church because they feel like their being judged. Why is this so when the church is supposed to be a place of refuge? Like I always say ***Relationship over Religion***

    • 13Godlovesyou

      I believe that but you have to know (if you read the bible, i hope you do before you say anything) what the bible says. it has rules as well and if you have the holy spirit in you He is the one that stops you from doing bad.

  • Kim Morris

    I personally think that God looks at our hearts, but we should be mindful of how revealing we dress and the image we project because others are always looking and you don’t know who maybe secretly looking up to you. However, there are plenty of ankle skirt wearing, fully buttoned, suit wearing, bible toting people who proclaim to be living right that have gasoline undies on and are going to leave a blazing trail as they knock the bottom out of hell. #hypocrites

  • Any church that’s worried more about the way I look instead of the condition of my soul is NOT a church where I want to worship.

  • lalatarea

    Just don’t dress like a heaux and you’re straight. i shouldn’t be able to see your IUD because ur skirt or dress is sooo tight. And if you have to constantly pull ur skirt down so that ur behind isn’t showing then clearly that’s a no_go. Church is NOT the place to show off ur long legs or fat a$$, why is it a debate to dress respectfully for like 2hrs out of ut day?

    • Ms. Blue

      LMBO@ i shouldn’t be able to see your IUD because ur skirt or dress is sooo tight.

      • Ash

        HAHA! I hope you get on the list of funniest comments this week!

  • We all know that church is a more conservative place, so keep it respectful. Not saying you should dress like you are on a compound in Utah, but be respectful. Those sanctions should be directed at all church goers, not just women. I don’t want to see saggy or tight jean wearing dudes either. Most churches do that with women cuz everyone knows church men can’t control their urges.

    • raymk

      This dressing right goes for males and females as well.

  • NaturalJem

    I totally agree that it is the heart of a person that really matters. When it comes to church it should be considered like a “hospital” a place where you come to receive healing, comfort, peace for the difficulties or pain you’re dealing with. And yes you should come as you are because the Lord doesn’t exclude any of us from knowing him. However, when you come to know Christ a change must take place (the old habits/sins must die and you become a new person through him, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and you obtain his characteristics such as holiness). In additon to those characteristics we should seek to be more modest in our apparel (not revealing, not trying to show off or be materialistic, and something less likely to tempt others). Also, look at society today, everyone is leaning towards being “sexier” and with that it has caused more issues (self esteem issues, fake body parts etc.)

  • Guest360

    To me, I think you should dress modest enough to where you aren’t making a spectacle of yourself but there’s no shame in wearing something cute to church either. It’s all about balance. A pencil skirt and cute blouse is perfectly fine. Your dress doesn’t have to come to your knee for it to be appropriate. So long as it isn’t a few centimeters from the bottom of your butt lol. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with showing a little cleavage. Sometimes you can’t help that. As long as you’re not showing the whole “she-bang” I don’t see the problem. But then again, I’ve never gone to a church where dresscode was that big of a deal. At the one I currently go to, you can wear jeans, slacks, dresses with pantyhose or no pantyhose, it doesn’t matter. So long as you’re praising HIM and trying to get on the right path, nothing else matters.

  • Ms. Blue

    As long as you get up and go to church, I don’t see a problem in what a person wears to service. It is stuff like clothing that kept people out of the church for years. As long as you are neat, clean and don’t have body parts hanging out it is all good!

  • Son of god

    the problem is , must church’s are fake… especially in Atlanta…if you rocking club fits to church just know people are going to talk about you… no need to get on your soap box and start crying… if you are praising the Lord why are you concerned about who is not praising you? People will talk about you no matter what you have on.. you can either wear what you want and ignore the haters or tone it down so they won’t hurt your feelings…it doesn’t matter what other people think, it matters what God thinks and we have God in us so rely on your heart to guide you to the right decision