Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society’---Mark Twain
“Our clothing is one of our most elemental forms of communication, “says Duane Litfin an American Evangelist and the former seventh president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
According to Mr. Litfin what we wear tell people about us i.e who we are even before we get the opportunity to be heard.
“Long before our voice is heard, our clothes are transmitting multiple messages. From our attire, others immediately read not only such things as sex, age, national, social economic status, and social position but also our mood our attitudes, our personality, our interests and our values,” Duane said.
That is so true. Our society is wrought by gossip when it comes to the issues above-mentioned. We unleash instant justice, make hasty generaliisation and draw our own conclusions to suit our whims.
So think about that for a second. Why would you let some people prosecute you with their thoughts, crucify you with their tongues and write your obituary when you’re naturally not dead yet?
Why would you put yourself in that situation or give someone who doesn’t know you from Adam the licence to draw an inaccurate impression about you, badmouth you or judge you, just because of what you wear?
The irony is you wouldn’t even have the same platform to tell your own story let alone validate it.
And you’d think that would douse the flame. No, there are people who have developed a thick skin and don’t really care what people say about them. They believe that what they wear to social functions, be it Church, funeral, movie theatre, tavern etc. is nobody’s business.
After all, they argue, God does not look outward he looks inside. He doesn’t care about what one wears and how one looks. What he cares about is our faith/trust in Him, showing love to our neighbour, being merciful, being compassionate and caring for one another.
The Bible says it eloquently: “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him defile him, but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man,” Mark 7:15 (KJV).
I’m personally not a Bible-thumb Christian. I don’t look at what people wear to form an opinion or make a judgement. I’ve always asked myself this-: who am I?
Who am I to judge or pass judgment or question ones moral behaviour? Had it not be His grace and mercies who am I? We are all not perfect and can never be perfect. Yes, I know I am right. We live not because of our supposedly pious deeds but we live because of his amazing grace and unbending love.
The parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ is a didactic story Jesus told in Luke’s book. It speaks about a traveler (believed to be a Jew) who was attacked by some thugs and left half dead. A Jew supposedly passed by and a priest walked by too. Both of them didn’t care about the condition of the traveler. But the Samaritan attended to the man. And I think you know how the whole story ended. Therefore, it’s needless to ask who showed love to the traveler. But why did the Jew fail to take care of his fellow Jew? And I guess the priest with his long cassock and the scroll tucked under his armpit was racing to the pulpit to preach about love, mercy, caring for our neighbour and paying tithe.
Jesus concluded that it took the unchurched or the least ---the ‘Good Samaritan’ to save the troubled-soul.
So often, it is not who we say we are that truly defines us. It isn’t by our status or nationality or profession and not by our religion but by doing God’s will. By following the things Apostle Paul mentioned in the book of Galatians.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, gentleness and self-control,” Gal 5:22).
The Samaritan showed mercy, he showed compassion and gave love. Obviously, that is more important than showing up at Church with flashy clothes every Sunday. It is more important being in tarps with pure heart and good conscience than paying lip-service.
Thing is those who are lashing out at you might have nice clothes and drive the best cars to Church but they might be wearing uncircumcised hearts. We don’t see it but God sees it. God sees us and knows us all!
That said let’s now put this into perspective. Let’s ponder on a couple of questions first. Would you show up in an interview dressed in tattered clothes if you had good clothes? Would you do the same when you’re meeting your first date or visit your in-laws?
I agree it isn’t what we wear that wholly defines us but first impression counts and you’d always like to put your best foot forward. So, I don’t think you’d like to appear scruffy for an interview when you’re desperate looking for a job. Your clothes could be old and dirty, yet you’d wash them with some sweet-scented detergent and have them well-ironed. All set ready to kick it.
Indeed I don’t think you’d go to the house of your in-laws-to-be looking unkempt and broke, because you fear you might lose your suitor. That’s right you’d surely fall out of the perking order.
“There is a moral and spiritual dimension to human clothing. Our clothes serve a variety of practical, social and cultural functions. Protection and modesty spring first to mind, but our clothes do far more,” notes Duane.
We witnessed loads of that at the just ended an historic funeral of the Asantehemaa in Kumasi. The public was informed about the dress codes---what to wear and what not to wear. For instance, attendees were not supposed to wear necklaces and jewelry. And I don’t think anybody that showed up there dared.
I don’t think churches make dress codes a big deal. Most Churches are more flexible, there might be some that are deep in bed with the Mosaic Law. However the majority is tolerant as to what the congregants wear.
But for Christ sake, why would you put on a flip-flop (Chalewate), or a dress that barely covers your front gate or torso to go to worship the Holy One. Why would you wear a T-shirt that has the words ‘I’m Satan’s Agent,’ or has the F-world scrawled at its back to the church house?
If you and I agree that we serve an awesome and all-powerful God, the Lord of Lords, the Conqueror of the universe, the Master Designer, the Alpha and Omega why would you go to worship or praise Him dressed in something that speaks evil, smells evil and highlights evil?
So get this, much as God doesn’t care about what we wear he is also not oblivious of what our motives are. More often than not our intents are what cause us to sin. Remember what Jesus said in Mark, it is not what goes into our mouths that makes us sin. Rather what comes from within us? He knows what’s in our hearts.
Perhaps it is this new trend of dressing creeping into the Ghanaian clothing arena that has prompted a renowned Ghanaian priest to sound a note of caution to the Christendom particularly the youth of the country.
On Sunday 23 January 2017 the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer Buckle couldn’t hide his disappointment at what he described as the ‘bad dress code’ of the Ghanaian youth. The nobler was worried that the youth are losing their relationship with God because of their appearance in church.
Speaking at the chapel rededication of the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Accra, the clergyman charged parents to correct their children’s dress code at home.
“Take control of sons and let them know what they can wear, where they wear it and where they cannot wear it period.”
They come to church with T-shirts written in front ‘kick me’ and at the back is written ‘37’, adding some of the inscriptions are obscene with writings such as “kiss me.”
He wants the youth to be told that such clothes are not entertained in the church.
“You don’t even go anywhere decent with it how much more the presence of God,”
He explained that the human body is a ‘temple of the holy spirit, for which reason it must be kept clean with appropriate lifestyle pleasing to God.
Most Reverend Buckle also cautioned about he called ‘over-dressing’, urging ladies to ensure that their dresses are befitting for whatever occasion they are dressed for.