Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Should Pastors Wear Special Clothing? Part 3

Fifth, the argument that doctors wear special clothing, plumbers wear special clothing, policemen and soldiers wear special clothing and thus pastors ought to wear special clothing is also false. It reminds me of a John Piper book, Brothers, We are not Professionals. Pastors are not professionals and thus their clothing should not be thought of as uniforms of some kind. I understand the desire to make yourself stand out in a crowd. I’ve heard that many conversations about the Gospel happen with men who wear collars on airplanes and other public places.
But I also know men who have conversations about the Gospel wherever they go and they have never worn a clerical collar in their lives. I also know of a man who carries a cross around everywhere he goes. He gets to talk about Jesus all the time too. What does this argument say for the man in the pew who isn’t allowed to wear a collar, but is told to do evangelism? Again, I think the argument for wearing clerical garb because it identifies a man of God is unbiblical. It exalts the man over other men and creates a false sense of what ministry is about. Everyone is supposed to share the Gospel. Everyone is supposed to have the kind of character, desires, and lifestyle that tells others about Christ without drawing attention to themselves by what they wear.

Even if we granted that a pastor ought to have a uniform, who is to say what that uniform should be? Why would we want to wear what a Roman Catholic priest wears, or worse what a liberal, lesbian, Eskimo woman wears? All the good uniforms have been taken as far as I can see. I believe this is because pastors should not elevating themselves over everyone else by what they wear.

Sixth, the idea that a robe adds dignity to various ceremonies is a matter of opinion. A nice suit is just as dignified as anything else a person in our culture might wear. Just because top level bankers and businessmen wear suits is not a valid argument for pastors to wear gowns and collars. In our culture suits are the best clothing men have to wear. As we gather to worship the living God, we ought to wear our best clothing. This is a Biblical concept. There is nothing inherently more dignified about a robe than a suit. This is a false comparison. Judges don’t wear robes because they are more elegant or dignified. They wear them because it is traditional to wear them. Originally, I would bet they wore their normal clothing and then over time it became traditional. Even if it were more formal and lent more gravity to the ceremony, why do we want to wear the uniform of the judge (see above)? Pastors should be humble in what they wear and lead others by their lifestyles.

Finally, I believe there is a movement in our nation toward higher and more “religious” worship. I don’t believe that this is a sign that the worshippers are more godly or spiritual, rather the opposite. I see it as a fad a movement by people, who in general, want to have the appearance of godliness rather than a real relationship with the living God. Of course there are people in this group, I know a number, who really are men of God, but overall I think most people who lean in this direction are doing it because it is cool or in, rather than because they think Jesus, or Paul, or Peter worshipped this way. It is hard for me to think wearing clerical garb is more mature than in times past because I have a difficult time seeing this style of worship in the Bible.

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