We live in a casual world these days. People get married barefoot and many guys don’t even own a pair of slacks. The church world has also become increasingly casual, and this is a welcome change. It’s important that the church is open and welcoming to all people regardless of social status or wealth.
Listen, I’m a huge fan of casual. I welcome the opportunity to wear shorts and flip-flops. The casual culture of Arizona is one my favorite parts of living here. What’s not okay is for men to continue dressing like boys for their entire life. That’s right; men are egregious abusers of our world’s casual culture.
I’ve been to two funerals in the last few months, and seen grown men wearing jeans and t-shirts. I’ve been to formal weddings recently where grown men are dressed as if they’re running errands around town. I’m not looking to condemn someone who’s struggling financially, nor am I talking about wearing name brands or certain styles. I’m concerned that grown men are being selfish and inconsiderate. Hey Peter Pan, it’s time to grow up.
I remember when I was a little boy and my mom would tell me what to wear to church on Sundays. I would fight and scream because I didn’t want to wear scratchy uncomfortable “church-clothes.” I wanted to wear my play clothes. I wanted to wear my superman shirt, because it gave me super-powers! I wanted to wear camouflage pants, because those pants made me cool! As a little boy, I wanted to be comfortable and cool; but as a grown man, I want to be respectful and considerate.
This isn’t a matter of money. The poorest of the poor college students can find lightly used dress-clothes at Goodwill. Even Americans below the poverty line can piece together a dress shirt and slacks for the price of a pizza. This is an issue of extended adolescence.
Fellas, it’s time for an etiquette lesson. When you’re invited to a formal wedding or choose to attend a funeral, you need to put on dress clothes. You can wear whatever you want the rest of the year, and that’s fine, but when you attend a special event in someone else’s honor, you show them honor by presenting your best. That means you say “no” to your superman shirt, and you put on your big boy clothes. You suffer through the torment of scratchy collars and non-stretchy pants in order to show respect and honor to someone else. If you attend a funeral in blue jeans, you send a very clear message: “This day is about me and what I want…comfort.”
Guys, it doesn’t matter if you’re a blue-collar worker, a hipster poet, or a surf-shop owner. If you’re old enough to shave, you need to go buy yourself dress pants, dress shoes, a belt, and a shirt with buttons all the way up the front. You are now equipped to attend a “dressy” event without embarrassing yourself and disrespecting your host. Congratulations, you’re on your way to manhood.
If you choose to get married in Chuck Taylor’s, or have a Hawaiian themed funeral when you die, then more power to you, warrior. Those days are about you, so you get to call the shots. But don’t live a self-centered existence that places your wants above showing love to others. One way to serve your brother and show tangible love is to place your wants, your rights, and your comfort last. Dead last.
Maybe you’ll have to forgo the pleasure of a pizza, say no a couple “guy’s-night” outings, or delay buying a new man-toy in order to purchase yourself some dress clothes. But that’s okay; in fact, it’s good. When you deny yourself and sacrifice for others, you’re acting like Jesus. He gave up every conceivable measure of comfort for us, so the least we can do is give up our Levi’s for someone we care about.