Club Church: When Did Shorts, Tight Skirts And Revealing Clothing Become Appropriate In The House Of God?

December 27, 2012  |  



I remember when going to church meant listening to great music, a moving sermon that you could take something away from, and contributing tithes when you had them to give. Those were the simple days. Nowadays, or at least at some of the churches I’ve attended, I’ve noticed that for some people (young and some older), going to church means wearing attire more appropriate for going to the club rather than going to the altar.  People are also spending a lot of time in the pews checking out fellow congregants, chattering about insignificant things (like who is wearing and doing what) and doing the absolute most. So what’s happening?

A few years ago, I joined a relatively small church.  It was a different denomination than what I grew up in, but the format was similar enough to what I was used to. But I quickly noticed that the girls collecting offerings and serving us for Communion were wearing shorts that looked like they weren’t finished being made, and I even noticed a few wearing halter tops from time to time. They were teenagers, so I tried to chalk their attire up to typical adolescent clothing and the typical way of doing things in this day and age. Even though I had a feeling their clothing choices were inappropriate for church, I assumed that I had caught them on an atypical day and that those revealing clothes were not going to be seen again.  I was wrong–it kept happening.

Week after week, the number of young ladies wearing skank-a-fied clothing increased. I was used to seeing non-church clothing on churchgoers as the time of Easter suits and wearing stockings with everything has come and gone for most, but when the skimpy outfits crossed over to those serving in the church more and more, the word inappropriate took on a whole new meaning. Their lack of clothing left me no choice but to consult with one of the elders of the church. I outlined my concerns with the way the girls were dressed, hoping our discussion would spark a change in their outfits. I informed her that their clothes were distracting in service and that they were wrong to wear in the House of the Lord. I could tell that she was uncomfortable with our conversation and offered little insight into curtailing the teenagers’ revealing attire. Once I realized that nothing was going to change, I decided that it was time to switch churches since I didn’t want to continue to feel like I was in a nightclub every Sunday morning.

I loved the next church I visited.  The sermons were awesome, the people were friendly, and their choir was one of the best in the city.  I think I loved the church so much that it hadn’t dawned on me immediately that the place seemed to resemble the last church in many aspects. Short and too tight clothing were a constant presence at this church as well as people doing the Bankhead Bounce and also some of the new dance crazes.  I saw one man moonwalk across the floor, a woman jump so high I wondered if she was listening to Kris Kross’ “Jump” in her head and not “I Will Bless The Lord,” and a man performing a mix of the Cabbage Patch and Tootsie Roll.  Their rhythm was so coordinated yet all over the place that I started thinking that folks were high off of more than just the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t just the previous church I had been to after all. It seemed that many congregations were getting a little to relaxed in their attire and behavior.

I used to find these type of antics harmless and somewhat entertaining, but now it’s just sad.  Church is one of the only places I go to find peace.  I go to church to learn more about and praise God, not to learn about the latest outfit or the latest dance craze.  I find it disturbing when people look me up and down to check out my outfit, my hair, or other accessories I may or may not have going on and do that when they should be paying attention to the Word.  I expect that type of behavior out in the streets, but not at church.  I also find it disheartening to see young women in church dressed similar to something out of a music video.  Since elders are supposed to serve in a teaching capacity, it would be nice to see more try to teach others about what’s appropriate vs. what’s inappropriate in a polite manner instead of trying to avoid sticky situations as much as possible and letting people run around and do whatever. Maybe then more people would revert back to appropriate behavior so that church can go back to what it used to be and the focus can stick to God and not the length of somebody’s skirt.

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  • conformtoHISword

    I agree 100% with your comment. And though my post is years after the article was written, I felt compelled to write. I am absolutely astonished with the number of persons who condone the conduct touched upon in this article with the excuses of ‘judge ye not’ and ‘come as you are’ that are taken out of context.

    I never grew up in a home where we attended church services regularly, yet we were taught Christian principles, but I knew even as a child if I was entering God’s house I had to wear appropriate clothing (If I had) NOT expensive or even necessarily formal clothing. .but respectable attire that was modest and would not cause persons grappling with sexual sin to stumble.

    Why are people so politically correct and afraid to offend?! I would counter that this politically correct spirit is not of God since he desires to see us grow in his word and the fruit of this spirit is just the opposite.

    Once that rebuke is given in love and not meant to ridicule and draw unnecessary attention to the person it is directed to.. there is nothing wrong with it.

    Kudos to the author for leaving that “church” after she saw no real desire to guide these girls by those who should know better. There are acceptable and unacceptable practices in all aspects of life…but as Christians the standard is higher..we don’t conform to the world, rather we conform to HIS WORD.

    My journey is still ongoing, God still is molding me, and I have far yet to go. I have appreciated where persons have corrected me in love in times past…for it is through God’s grace and their admonition I have grown. Let us as brothers and sisters love one another and help each other to grow. Love is not seeing sin and turning a blind eye because it doesn’t directly affect you. Peace and love…

  • Gaylord

    I feel like any god worth worshipping would care more about the quality of your character than the threads on your skin. Who cares about sexual thought

  • LuLu’s GrandDaughter

    Okay… You express your disdain for their attire but in the same breath you don’t want them looking at you and whispering about what you have on… Anyway, I understand and agree with you on the surface. I have come to realize that many people – especially young ladies do not understand how they should present themselves before the Lord. This isn’t the pronlem for all, but it’s definitely a problem for many. Also, we don’t kniw what’s in their closet. Skinny jeans, halters, stilettos, bodycon dresses (dresses that are really tight and conforms to the body), etc… This may be all they have. This is where the elders and mothers of the church come in. I don’t know where you live, but I am from the south. They mothers will throw a cloth over your legs in a hot second… even if you have on a knee length skirt. It sounds as though you are really shifty. Leaving a church because of the members wardrobe sounds a little odd to me. I am in no way judging because I am all for you allowong God to direct you to the church He’ll have you attend. I’m also all for leaving a church after heavy prayer and a word from God. But to do what the so saved saints refer to as “church hopping” on account of someone else’s wardrone is shifty and immature. You are there to worship God. Learn to redirect your focus at any church because trust me, there are plenty distractions in the “holy ghost hospital” … Keep in mind that you also don’t know what brought them to church that day. Someone’s deliverance coukd be delayed because ppl like you turn your nose up and look down on them because their jeans are too tight, their blouses are too sheer, or their heels are too high. What do you say to yourself when you see that same girl with the too short dress press her way to the altar and breakdown? What do you say? This is the problem with the church. So concerned with what the outside looks like and not concerned enough with what’s going on internally. For the one’s that know better, sure, they need to be dealt with in a private manner. You are to rebuke, teach, and correct. Not complain, abandon your church, and speak negatively about your sisters in Christ. Before you speak, pray. Before you judge, offer a kind word to someone.

    • LuLu’s GrandDaughter

      My apologies for the typos.

  • SMH

    Funny… People quote “Come as you are,” but I have NEVER, EVER… EVER seen that Scripture in the Bible. Can someone please copy and paste it, word for word, please? I’ll wait… The Bible has a LOT to say about attire, but we fail to pick it up before forming an opinion. God does not judge our attire; however, our attire speaks volumes. MAN looks at the outward appearance. Wisdom remembers that this will not change. SO TIRED or seeing “bras and draws” in church that make me PAUSE! (And no, I was NOT looking on purpose). LOL…

  • old school

    It’s not about what you wear to “church”. A person/woman should dress with modesty and soundness of mind at ALL times – scripture. Therefore, if your clothing draws undue attention to your body parts connected with procreation or sexual recreation you are not dressed appropriately. Too short, too tight, too cleavage revealing (breasts are still private parts) too much!

    God deserves our best. He demands our best – scripture. He rejects sacrifices that aren’t up to par- scripture. So it does matter what you wear. When you can do better, do better. Go to a second hand store and buy a longer skirt. It may not be in style – God doesn’t care about that – but it will be modest.

    If you believe you are going to the house of God and will be in God’s presence, you will present yourself at your best.
    Men dressing sloppy isn’t their best either. Sagging is sloppy.

  • mac

    Maybe they just didn’t bother changing from the night before *laughs*

  • IllyPhilly

    Around the same time preachers’ got head in the pulpit.

  • I think that there has to be a distinction between “come as you are” and “stay as you are”. On the one hand, people should not care about others judging them based on their outfit and latest accessories. When they come to church, their main concern should be their own salvation, and their relationship with Jesus. If (in the beginning) all someone has is a miniskirt, then that’s all they have; it’s important that we focus on drawing people in and keeping them there instead of driving them away. At the same time, however, just because someone comes in with a miniskirt and stilettos does not mean that they should keep them for their future as a church member. While one should never forget where they came from, it doesn’t mean that they should continue in their old habits (and that includes dress) before they got saved. Part of maturing and spiritual growth is breaking away from old behaviors that could hold them back. There is a way to dress attractively, tastefully, and respectfully while at church. Even as teenagers, my friends and I never overdid it with our outfits. We found ways to be fashionable and appropriate, because we had respect for ourselves and for the house of God. I also agree that education is a key factor. I know that people don’t want to offend others, but it would make such a difference if the older ladies in the church, the mothers, or even other young ladies would tell these girls how to dress, and explain why their current choices are problematic. The same applies to the fellas, too. It’s not a case of being judgmental, but some things are right and some things are wrong.

    • lesley

      A.J. you have a point, buuuuuut, some folks take longer than other to mature in their walk with the lord. So, some people may get saved and change their behaviors overnight while others may take waaaay longer.

  • Nikki

    I remember when I went with my parents to a new church they liked. They inspected us before we walked in. The man stopped my brother and asked him what was on his shirt. (It was just a whole bunch of angel wings)

  • Shealuv

    I had a friend who went to visit someone’s church. At the time she was really searching and felt like she wanted to know about this God she hears some of us talk so much about. They church folk were more concerned with the length of her dress and the usher put a covering over her legs. She was offended and the missed whatever the message was. Sometimes we have to be wise in our actions. And I truly apologize, but everyone doesn’t dress appropriately when even going for a job interview. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t condone the inappropriate attire but I’m not going to make someone feel badly over it either. Let them come into the house (church) first, get Christ and get an understanding.

    • c-cool

      So, you’re saying she should get the job even if she wasn’t dressed appropriately for the interview? Your friend should have been informed there was a dress code and that should have been enough to make a decision. I don’t wear flip flops and a bikini to the Opera, should I do that at church? C’mon people, use your common sense. And I’m not even a church-goer but I don’t think it’s right to be disrespectful.

  • Shealuv

    I was brought up in the Holiness Church or COGIC (Church of God In
    Christ) to be more specific. They didn’t want you wearing pants,
    make-up, sandals and etc and you better not even have considered wearing
    a short skirt!! I’m grateful for my foundation in Holiness, but I’m
    also grateful that I know Christ for myself. In my opinion, I believe
    that we are to come to church dressed appropriate attire, yet I’d say –
    what if someone desires to come and they don’t have what we deem to be
    appropriate attire? Should they not even consider walking through the
    doors of the church? They may not have the money to buy the “buttoned
    up to the neck, ugly overly dramatic hat and 1 slit in the skirt”
    outfits some “church folk” buy to be seen on the “offering catwalk.”
    People want to publicly condemn others for what they themselves
    privately do (or desire to do).

    While we (those of us who are
    able) may not wear short skirts or dresses, who is it that attends
    church, their life is 100% on the mark? The Bible tells us that there
    are none that are righteous. Short skirts and dresses may not be your
    vice but SOMETHING is. I say that meaning there are none of us who are
    perfect. We mess up continually because we are human and have to
    constantly ask the Lord for forgiveness. Thankfully, Christ doesn’t do
    us like we do each other. People also wear sneakers and jeans and
    everything else to church. Would you throw them out too? If you are
    saved, older and wiser then teach the young the way to go. Once you
    come into the knowledge of Christ – WE DO NOT REMAIN THE SAME (at least
    you’re not supposed to). If you are unable to help those that you see
    in error, shut up and pray for them. You don’t know how God is dealing
    with them. If you’ve the resources to help, then do so, BUT DO IT IN
    LOVE. If not, pray for them. God’s Spirit can convict their hearts
    much better than YOU!!

    1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) “The Lord does not
    see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord
    looks at the heart.” If we were busy asking God to work on our own
    shortcomings, who would have time to pay attention to everyone else.
    Yet that goes to show people have their own agenda for going to the
    church. I don’t condone the attire, nor do I condemn it. As an adult, I
    did not always have what I thought I should, in order to attend church
    in the way that I was accustomed to. I thank God that I am set free
    from caring what others think (including the pastor), if I didn’t have
    the correct amount of offering to give or my finances at the time
    weren’t healthy enough to purchase a new (whatever color) suit for
    “Women’s Day” or whatever event/anniversary was being celebrated at the
    time. Thank God that no man (BUT JESUS) died for me or rose for me and
    no man or woman has a heaven or a hell to put me in!! There is a BIG
    in Christ, for real.

    • jjac401

      I was brought up COGIC too! I love how the dress code was strict, but was very classic and beautiful at the same time. The sista’s of the church knew how to carry themselves and would have their clothing together like nobody else. THe secret was not to overdo anything. It was good training for me to be raised this way – and I would not trade being raised COGIC it for the world.

      Now COGIC has relaxed some of the rules of attire, but one must still come to the house of the Lord looking respectable, In reality one should look respectable at all times. Never over do things.

      • Shealuv

        Hi JJac. I agree with you for regarding most of what you said and especially in saying “I would not trade being raised COGIC for the aworld.” It gave me a foundation in “holiness and sanctification.” I believe Bishop Mason left us a legacy that “holiness is right.”

        However, regarding the “reality that one should look respectable at all times,” what if the Prostitute that desires to come into the House of God but doesn’t have what we deem as “respectable” clothing because she does not know better? That may be her “reality.” What about the drug user who may also want to come into the Church but his “reality” may be that his clothing smells and is dirty, do you then turn him away? Why not allow them to come into the house of God FIRST and allow them to get Christ on the inside? If Christ really really is living on the inside, in your heart, a change MUST come. The Bible tells us that a tree is known by it’s fruit.” Truth also be told, everything wearing “respectable” clothing isn’t necessarily living a “saved” life. But I’m thankful for God’s grace and mercy.

  • Me

    I agree with the author. It’s great that they’re in church and all but these youngsters need to be TAUGHT how to present themselves. If you show up to a job interview dressed inappropriately, you WILL NOT get the job. No one’s going to give you sympathy because “at least you were trying to get a job.” Kids can dress casually, but should not be dressing in a manner that is distracting, tight short dresses and skirts…it’s getting out of hand. A lot of the older women are guilty of this too! These kids have to be taught and not just have us being grateful they came to church. You can’t even wear certain things at school. Do you think anyone was like “oh, if we change the dress code, kids won’t come?” Of course not.

  • Janee

    I like this post. People can be quick to tell her not to judge, but for whatever reason, a lot of Christians tend to overlook the passage in 2 Timothy 4 that commands us to rebuke, correct and encourage each other. Don’t just rebuke or judge without encouraging someone to do better, and at the same time, don’t overlook things as if they aren’t an issue.

    God didn’t call us Christians to fit into this world, we’re supposed to stand out and both men and women must be mindful of what they wear at church. You are not there to get chose, you’re supposed to be there for God. Of course, there’s still going to be those who stil come to church expecting to find a boo, but ladies, if you know your outfit is drawing the wrong kind of attention in church, don’t wear it! You’re just causing your brothers in Christ to stumble – which is also a sin (Read up on accountability in 2 Corinthians). And if the leaders (male or female) in the church aren’t doing anything to address the situation, I’d say that says a lot about the falsehood of that church -RUN!!! Find a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. Lord knows we don’t need anymore false testimony/heresy being spread in this country.

    We’ve got to do better! With the way things are crazy throughout the world, the last place there needs to be craziness is in the church. Forget the music, and how much a sermon is “moving” you, if the church you attend isn’t bearing fruit you should probably leave. The truth is in pudding! And….I digress….I’ll write a book later

  • JaneJane

    I’m glad She’She’ and Pokie woke up and came to church, whatever they may be wearing! As they keep coming the washing of the water of the Word will change them–former Pokie testifying here!!! We don’t have to get right to come to God, just come on girl–Sisters like me are praying you in just as you are. You can’t pray people in the front door but push them out the back with judgement and criticism!

  • speakup4truth

    I went to a funeral several months ago and there were a few young women in short shorts; reall,y people that is carrying things a bit too far. I was embrassed for them since they did not have sense to be embrassed for themselves. Please don’t wear that kind of trashy stuff to a funeral. It makes everybody look bad. Where are the church mothers when you need them????

  • speakup4truth

    Keep it holy when going to church and don’t wear clothes that you would be ashamed to wear in front of GOD! Put some clothes on I believe in wear what you have if thats all you have,but some folks need to but dunked in the water a few times. Help us Jesus please!

  • prissy

    You do study a book of a so called god who allows mass shootings and raping of little boys to occur. Slavery. Genocide. The bible is a horror movie within itself. Besides. Come as you are. Yolo

  • who are you to judge anyone??

    only he can place judgement and the bible said come as you are…. the only time you should look down on someone is when your helping them up

    • wyllow

      He who lusts in the heart has committed adultery. Women are just as culpable if they intentionally dress in an alluring manner. The girl in front of me today was wearing shorts that MAYBE had a 3in inseam. Not okay.

  • lovely00

    OMG, most of yall are disillusional if you think club attire is okay at church. People are taking come as you are way too casually. There is no reason why you cant put on a non revealing dress or a skirt. There is no reason for wearing a halter or dazzy dukes to church.

    • Irene

      Its not that it is or isnt okay…. its about getting those young people in there and listening to hell with their attire!

      • ariesdollface


    • Amija James

      I totally agree. It’s not only church, it’s like people don’t know how to dress for weddings or funerals or job interviews. If you can wear it to the club, don’t wear it to church or a wedding or a funeral. To me, the way I dress shows respect. If I had went to church showing too much skin and my mother didn’t have enough sense to check me, one of the older women in the church would have as they should.

    • Kaori

      Do you mean ‘disillusioned’?

      • mac

        i think ‘delusional’ lol smh

  • princess courtenay

    when the bible says come as you are, it meant come with your burdens, heavy heart. now, when those come to church dressed unsavory, you have to remember the bodies in church are not robots, but humans….fighting resistance is a hard thing to do daily. now if you are coming to church for the first time and thats all you have, fine, at least you came, but after some time, there has to be some growth, a difference when you say you want to live right. and im sure there are plenty of women in the church that can help!(i personally have clothes im holding onto in hopes ill get back into them – it aint gone happen!! you need something? holla at me)

    and on another note, its just about respect. i dont get that people will do what a judge, cop, even teacher says, sit, rise, remain silent, but when it comes to the place of worship (not matter what your God is) people have a dont care attitude.

    • Agreed. I find that people keep misinterpreting “come as you are”, with negative results.

  • Renee20

    I completely agree with the inappropriate clothes matter. Some people confuse the words of the Lord “come as you are” with dress however you want. As someone else stated, how those younger people are dressed is from the confirmation of their parents. Obviously, if the parents won’t buy them church clothes than they must not care. The church is becoming one big fashion show! As far as the dances are concerned, as long as they aren’t grinding in church, there’s nothing wrong with doing popular dances. Praise and worship to God is supposed to be enjoyable. It should be acceptable just the fact that they are praising, most people are too embarrassed to actually dance for the Lord so if that’s what it takes then so be it.

    • It also gets complicated when these girls’ mothers are dressed the same way that they are, and see no problem with it. It sends a really bad message.

  • Irene

    I so hate to say this because I’m sure it will be strongly
    disliked. If you’re going to church for your personal salvation then you need
    to concentrate on that not what young girls are wearing or how someone is
    dancing. If I go to church it will be for my own personal benefit not to judge
    and shake my head at others. Lord knows I have my own demons to do battle with.
    I can’t concern myself with someone appropriateness. It seems this story is conflicting your
    judging others and while feeling some type of way for being judged? Huh I don’t
    get that. I’m in my 30’s so I remember the days when girls were more appropriate
    to my personal taste. However, isn’t this the age old conundrum? My mother didn’t
    approve of my baggy gangsta TLC style when I was a kid, her mom didn’t get down
    with her hippy style. Times, fashion it all changes and social norm all changes…. Unless you die
    of course… or find something more worthy to vent you frustration about…
    Personally honey, this ain’t it. Let those young adults, be young adults. In no
    time they’ll be seasoned adults with the same kind of regrets as us all.

    • hatori

      Re ‘ I can’t concern myself with someone appropriateness ‘

      It is also your duty as a christian to teach others the right approach the proper way of dressing in a church

  • ariesdollface

    “I find it disturbing when people look me up and down to check out my
    outfit, my hair, or other accessories I may or may not have going on and
    do that when they should be paying attention to the Word.”

    Isn’t that exactly what you do throughout this entire piece? Dissect what these young women are wearing in the church? Perhaps it’s not the “holiest” look but of ALL the places young people COULD be, the ones you reference are actually INSIDE the church. We all have to work out own soul salvation. I agree, if you can’t tolerate the energy/atmosphere of a church then leave. But please, don’t allow your attitude to be the reason that young women walk OUT of instead of INTO the church. my $.02

  • Kaori

    It probably became popular when the church’s (most positions of power belong to men in the church) told women that church is where they (black women) could find a ‘good black man’. *Laughs hysterically.

    • Irene

      Sadly…Agreed…LOL with an extra emphasis on “probably”

  • MyOpinion

    I really can’t get mad at the teenagers for coming to church dressed like tricks in training. I blame their parents. Most of these kids don’t have jobs so they don’t buy what they are wearing (or borrowing from their friends). Train up a child in the way they should go is something you hear in church and I think this is an area in which that verse applies. Now I do have a huge problem with the grown women coming to church looking like they are trying to get chose. It got so bad at my church one Sunday that finally the minister had to say something, and it has gotten a little better but still, he shouldn’t have even had to go there.

  • divvvaa

    well. at least they are actually in church that is half the battle there. the younger generation doesn’t want to go for fear of being judged. i was raised in church and i was never allowed to dress that way, but i do know from experience that being forced to dress a certain way especially during my teen years when i felt i wasn’t the person they were trying me to look like was extremely difficult. i’m now 25 and have learned that it was for the best, however i do appreciate when i see the younger (teens) in church and active because i remember when no one wanted to be there.

    • Kaori

      Lately, I have been reading that younger people are leaning more towards not being affiliated with a religion.

      • irene

        I see why when you have negative Sister Nancy checking your dress code instead of trying to reach your soul… After someones soul has been changed what you wear how you speak all those things will get in line. It hard to do that when Sister Nancy keeps chin checking your clothing

        • Kaori

          Naw. The issue isn’t the ‘negative Sister Nancy’, but that young people are learning to develop their own beliefs outside of a religious context.

    • c-cool

      I remember a time when going to church and the child’s personal feelings about what they wore to church wasn’t such a big issue. Saying *at least they are in church* seems strange, what happened to you’re going and this is not appropriate? Oh right, we started allowing children to rule over adults. Wrong move.