Sometimes I Dress Like a Pagan

Sometimes I dress like a pagan.

I don’t wear a pentagram, like this stereotypically GenX pagan from totl

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I often dress casually, but thats not necessarily pagan.

The question of what Jesus would wear has been chewed over in many emerging church circles, but no absolute certainty has been achieved. We do know he was given his one-piece garment and it was a QUALITY item, fought over at his death.

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Last week I went to church with holes in my jeans. Someone (not a church goer) commented that in her day, people “dressed up” for church. I asked her whether she was assuming that God was always formal in His dress preference. It’s very possible that when God turned up for his first appointment with humans, he would have worn something appropriate for that meeting. And since the meeting took place in a lush and verdant garden, He was probably NOT dressed in a suit. Maybe he was dressed like a farmer?

A good description of “pagan” in found in the Bible.

Jesus said “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:28-35

[Chip Bell has some excellent thoughts on Kingdom Economy as he tackles these verses]

It seems that worrying over fashion, and running after the money to buy it, is a pagan activity. But the question remains:

How do pagans DRESS while they are running after such things as what to eat or drink (are restaurants the new temples?) or going shopping for clothes (are shopping malls the new temples?), or just dressing for success and financial security?

Hollywood gives us some fashion clues . . .

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Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) from the movie WallStreet models the kind of clothing that greedy pagans wear when they are running after such things as wealth, success and financial security. Gecko gives give fashion tips to Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) on how to dress for success.

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LOVE THAT TIE!!!! Now there’s a real pagan!

The Devils Advocate is another revealing movie about greed and pagan dress codes.

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In the movie, Lucifer incarnate (Al Pacino) helps his protege to climb the ladder of success and look good doing it – despite risking his soul in the process.

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Sharp suits!!!!!

A more recent movie suggests the the devil wears Prada.

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Ahhh . . mmmmmm . . . .

But there are times when I also dress like a pagan and other times when i just wear what i feel like.

What would I wear to meet God?

Something appropriate, I would hope.

Like, if God was meeting me on the golf course, I would probably dress like this:

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and I assume that God would be appropriately attired also.

A site named Slice of Laodicea had a recent post on pagan dress and blue mohawks, like those found in those “emergent” churches. In case you were wondering, my son’s blue mohawk has been replaced with a basic hairstyle – yes, its red – but its very simple.

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Nothing pagan about dying your hair – otherwise half the senior citizens in my old church need to repent!

But I tend to differ on how pagans dress. And sometimes I dress like a pagan. . .. . . when i attend traditional

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Christian churches that insist i dress like a pagan or Christian conferences . .

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Wait a minute . . . where’s my pagan tie?

But God understands. And although people look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. Thats why its good to fear God and a trap to fear the opinions of people.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

45 Comments

  • Hmmmmmmmm, that first picture sure looks like me 40 years ago, and other than the hair (and a few extra pounds), not much has changed.
    “It’s the deeds, not the creeds, dude.”

  • Andrew, I love it!!
    You said – “It’s very possible that when God turned up for his first appointment with humans, he would have worn something appropriate for that meeting…”
    Well, we don’t know what God was wearing, but we do know what the humans were wearing, or not wearing as the case may be. Since that is the first time they recognized their nakedness, is it stretching scripture to suggest that flesh tones were ‘in’ prior to the Fall?

  • When I was reading this, I decided I was going to leave a one word comment: Brilliant. But, then RobbyMac took it, so I don’t have a word. Oh well. Seriously, one thing that I love about you is your ability to see beyond the cultural trappings that keep us from understanding Scripture. You’re absolutely right, and it’s right there in front of us (the Pagan thing about dress in Matthew), but we completely miss it because it does not fit with our view of what “pagan” is. I’m preaching on having a Kingdom perspective on giving in a few weeks (Philippian 4), and, while not trying to copy you, I must say that you just heavily influenced my thinking. Thanks, Andrew. Glad you’re back!

  • nice to be back, alan
    and ted, i was thinking that adam was naked until God made him some clothing from killing a beast – which may be a theological foundation for leather jackets?
    Fonzie anyone???????

  • Andrew, great post, got me thinking. I have for a long time associated the way we enter the sanctuary for worship with our view of God — if we view God as a Ruler/Judge then we dress formally as if coming before the President/Queen, and we come in silence out of respect. If we primarily view God as Father/Shepherd, we seem to have a more “come as you are” approach, and we tend to enter as a joyful family in reunion.
    Just some thoughts I’ve had which you stirred up again. While I thank you, my wife most certainly does not (having to have heard me pontificate about these things all day!).
    Thanks,
    Ish

  • Hilarious post! Gentle, but scathingly subversive. It points out yet another example of how the church adopts the practices of the culture around it (dressing “up”), and then sacralizes those practices as though there were something inherently Christian about them.
    I would echo Alan, too, in saying that I’d never applied the pagans worrying about what they’re going to wear passage with dressing up for church. Even with the best of intentions, we can still be blinded by culture! Thanks.

  • I can hardly wait to read your post when of your lovely daughters comes home baring more skin than Daddy approves of and make-up that implies she’s a kind of girl she’s really not. What might be even worse would be one of your children developing a taste for law and having to wear a business suit every day to the office. What do you say then? You sound suspiciously like the old line Assembly of God types with their rules and regulations about dress. Different rules of course, but rules none-the-less.
    Happy parenting.

  • I don’t understand melody. Could you perhaps peel away some of the tone and explain? I’m curious as to how you see Andrew’s somewhat tongue in cheek post as laying down any sort of law…on either side. Wasn’t that the whole point? that there is no “law”? Or am I missing something?

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  • What would I wear to meet God?
    i’m trying to figure out what to wear for Judgment day. What if I f*ck it up and wear something that annoys God?
    If I dress down will he see through my ridiculous attempt at piety?
    I don’t think much about what I wear from day to day. But Judgment Day, that’s the day I don’t want to screw it up.
    I suspect that on JD we’ll all end up naked and stripped, with only the grace of Jesus covering us up. And then he’ll drape us with that dazzling banner of his love like a wedding gown of light.
    Judgment Day will magically become a Wedding Day.

  • I can’t believe that we’re still having these conversations, even in tongue in cheek, let’s face it most people if they are anything like me dress to make a point in a particular environment – from i wanna be different but the same teendom, to trying to retain something slightly more dignified (well won’t get me fired, us accountants have clients with expectations dontchaknow, apparently scruffy might worry them that i’ll treat their accounts in the same way ;)but still desperately youthful, lol. We live in an image obsessed and obsessive culture where we don’t wanna care what we wear as long as we still get seen and admired – or at least not ridiculed, lol. I think it’s no longer what we wear or how we wear it but why we wear what we really wear what we wear and how it reveals something of the nakedness and neediness of our souls – well ok my soul…

  • Andrew, I know that your were making fun of yourself. But there is a strong undercurrent in this conversation that people who wear suits are unspiritual, greedy capitalists and that people who wear anything else are not. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, there is just as much judgementalism (as Benjamin implies with his comment that you are,”scathingly subversive”) on the emerging side of the equation as there is on the other side.
    My point about how teenage daughters dress is that there really are boundaries to physically appearing Christ-like. As a schoolteacher, I am very careful of how I dress and the impression I give my public high school students. They notice everything I wear, what kind of words escape my mouth and what my attitude is. If any of those are not Christ-like then my witness is compromised.

  • I’m with Melody here.
    I don’t agree with the commentor that formal = judging (judgemental?)/respectful and informal/casual = family/loving. IMO, God is not just my “friend” with Whom I can “be myself” but He is my savior who laid down His life and the King of the universe who expects much of me so I dress as such.
    There are just as many places in the Bible that applaud wearing fine raiment in the presence of the King as there are disparaging ones. Context is all important. Let’s not reverse James 2 and fawn all over the dude in the ripped jeans while dismissing the the guy in the Armani suit.

  • The core message that I heard was, don’t get distracted by the things of the world that are of lesser importance. If you feel in your heart that it’s an honor to God to dress in your “sunday best” when in church, then by all means, do so. If you think dyeing your hair bright pink or piercing yourself or getting a tattoo or wearing a shirt that shows a little cleavage is a dishonor to God, then by all means, don’t do those things. But don’t put the burden of a new law on people and let’s keep the main thing the main thing.
    I think Beth, that your comment and Melody’s are a perfect example of taking something to the n’th degree, a degree God didn’t intend. By reading too much into Andrew’s post and by going so far as to refer to the Old Covenant priestly garments to make your point, you’re demonstrating the exact kind of attitude that gives too much attention and takes too seriously the clothes that one wears.

  • makeesha’s right. plz dont get weird on me. this post is just a little meme on how pagans dress in the light of this post from slice of laodicea that criticizes emerging church people for their pagan dress [which apparently is blue hair and mohawks and other casuality]. i am bringing up another possibility in the light of Matthew 6 and having a little FUN at the same time.
    i am sure the good folk at Slice enjoyed it. they’re human too.

  • Elzabet – you spoke of the references applauding fine raiment. There actually aren’t many and the ones that immediately come to mind are in the Old Testament related to the Priests and temple servants… a system within a law that we are not under. In fact, the man after God’s own heart disgraced himself to glorify God and his wife was made barren for her hard heart against that worship.
    And even if you were to take the Torah and suggest that it is an example for us today (which would be a stretch), there is still a greater “law” or a greater “lesson” at work – the prophets spoke of it often, warning the Israelites that they do all the external stuff very well while they ignore the greater law of doing good and caring for the poor, widow and orphan. I believe the language whitewashed wall is used and the warning of utter anihilation is giving by God through the prophet.
    Jesus himself carried this on in his ministry, condemning the pharisees for their hypocracy and concern for things that weren’t important in light of the greater truth. Again, the whitwashed visual is used in regard to a tomb.
    I was trying to keep Andrew’s message light, as I believe it was intended, but if we are to discuss the issue of Christian attire in a serious Biblical sense then let’s make sure there isn’t proof texting and straw men.

  • thanks M.
    i was actually thinking about the OT prophets the other day and their dress code – which was often the very opposite of successful costuming.
    Even John the Baptist dressed down (what did you go out to see?????) and Jesus thought he was GREAT!

  • Actually, the verse that came to mind for me was from Psalm 45 where the King’s daughter is described as arrayed in cloth of gold. My only other reference was in James. The torah never crossed my mind. But…whatever. I still think that (and my point was), tongue in cheek or not, randomly calling things out as “pagan” is a bit insulting and judgemental–on both ends.
    Unless of course someone is dancing naked around a tree on Beltane calling on the goddess. Now, that would be pagan.

  • Ezabet – hon, I think you’re taking the whole issue too seriously…and that’s exactly the point being made.
    Jesus himself called being overly concerned with clothing pagan…Andrew was merely “playing off of” Jesus’ statement.
    Perhaps you have to have a son who wants to dye his hair koolaid pink in order to fully appreciate how rediculous it is that much of the church is so concerned with appearance…so much so that they’re willing to call casual dressers pagan.

  • its good to fear God and a trap to fear the opinions of people.

    That, right there, needs to be preached more often. Great post!

  • Not to mention He turned up for His incarnation in his birthday suit, and was promptly wrapped in rags. And I don’t think Mary and Joseph were looking their finest, and the shepherds didn’t stop at Brooks Brothers before making a bee-line for the stable. (Whatever they were wearing, I bet it smelled interesting….)

  • Hello Andrew…
    I came across this entry of your blog through Shaun Groves’ blog. Just wanted to say that I got a kick out of it (especially the “devil wears prada” bit.) 🙂 Thanks for reminding us not to take some things so seriously.
    Take care,
    Rachel

  • Hey… now if we must use pagan… it must always be qualified with…
    “beloved”… as in “beloved pagan”…
    LOL!
    Great post… I do have this great looking cap!
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • My question is, why in the world are we using pagan so loosely. I wonder if the word is meant to be used in its original meaning “country dweller” or if the author meant it as in Pagan, “those who study/practice an earth based religion” or even ‘pagan’ in the meaning anyone who hasn’t bowed down to the christian God or anyone who lives outside of the box. Making it sound as though Pagans are either poorly dressed and in bad taste or think too much about their dress and are therefore prideful. Interesting post, but a little twisted I think.

  • WOW man, this is an absolutely fabulous and well written post!!!!! Totally how my husband and I feel about the subject. 😀 I thought I’d let you know that I am posting a link to this on my blog and thanks for sharing!
    ~ Alison (& Steve) in Alberta, Canada

  • I wasn’t sure what you were getting at. I am a pagan, and I dress like everyone else I see. Do people at your church mean to insult you when they say you dress like a pagan? I’ve never had anyone tell me that I dress like a Christian. Perhaps I will start saying that to people who I think dress poorly.

  • I wasn’t sure what you were getting at. I am a pagan, and I dress like everyone else I see. Do people at your church mean to insult you when they say you dress like a pagan? I’ve never had anyone tell me that I dress like a Christian. Perhaps I will start saying that to people who I think dress poorly.

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