The Evil of Flip Flops and Pants

Lisa Ray TurnerCulture, sacrament meeting 44 Comments

We had a Relief Society lesson a couple weeks ago on appropriate dress. A few clear conclusions came from the discussion. Women’s pants are evil and flip-flops are of the devil. Denim and the chapel do not mix under any circumstance. And pantyhose make you more spiritual.

I’m stretching a bit. But just a little.

Let me say up front, I don’t mind dressing nicely for church and I do feel it shows a certain respect for the sacred. I dress in “appropriate” clothes except at choir practice. But when I saw the passion surrounding this topic, it gave me pause. One woman related an “inspirational” story about her rebellious 13-year-old granddaughter who came to sacrament meeting, angry and wearing (gasp!) pants. The grandmother sat in the foyer with the granddaughter because of her attire. Another woman reported how upset she was when seminary students spoke in sacrament meeting and all the young women wore flip flops and tight t-shirts that barely met the top of too-short skirts. A past temple matron talked about how skirts were kept at the temple to offer to women who showed up at the temple in pants.

The stories were heartfelt, but I was vaguely disturbed as I listened to them and uncomfortable about such a strong emphasis on externals. I thought we should welcome everyone to sacrament meeting regardless of what they wear, especially rebellious 13-year-olds. I questioned whether it was worth embarrassing somebody by offering alternate clothing and reflected on stories I’d heard of people who’d been offended when this happened. And, I wondered why dress is such a big deal to mainstream Mormons.

Or is it? The previous week I’d attended sacrament meeting in a ward in Manhattan. About a fourth of the women were wearing pants and nobody gave them a second glance. There were no flip-flops in sight but I suspect that was a fashion decision and not a moral one. Blue and yellow shirts were speckled throughout the men in the congregation, and a pink-shirted priesthood holder passed the sacrament. I briefly wondered whether that ward was an anomaly or whether the culture was changing. The lesson in my ward indicated that nothing has changed, at least in my Colorado ward.

There’s probably a balance between becoming Pharisees about dress and showing respect through our dress for our worship and our God. While I was in New York, I also attended a service at a Baptist Church in Harlem. I admired the congregants’ beautiful spring dresses, immaculate suits, and fanciful hats. Their Sunday best seemed to say something about their attitude toward worship. And maybe our floral skirts, pantyhose, and white shirts do the same.

Still, I’m not sure the answer lies in delineating the smallest details of clothing. Instead, the answer may lie in our hearts and minds, not on our bodies.

Comments 44

  1. Another example where one should be concerned with oneself, I think.

    I don’t have a problem with culture influencing whether women wear pants to church. If people think dresses/skirts are more respectable, I’m okay with it, as long as they don’t actually believe that skirts are more righteous. As for modest dress for women, as a man I am the only one responsible for controlling my thoughts. I am tired of all the talk girls get in YW about how their dress affects the YM. It makes me feel like I belong to a pack of animals who can’t possibly control their thoughts. That being said, I do like the arguably more conservative dress at our church compared to other settings. Pants, I have no problem with. Nor do I think white is intrinsically a more righteous color than yellow.

  2. I remember in my ward in Arkansas when they moved the Courts of Honors from the chapel to the cultural hall just so mothers involved with scouting and wearing uniforms wouldn’t wear pants in the chapel.

  3. Great Post Lisa…I love your conclusion. They do say that your outward appearance is the expression of an inward commitment. But I disagree with this for the most part. I think your outward actions towards others is the best expression of an inward commitment.

    Although pharisees wore the right clothes on the right days…their behaviour to others was what Jesus chastised them for. Jesus spoke with a working class accent, was a dirty and poor carpenter that wore sandals. He probably looked like a hippy!

    And again…if God does not care if we cut of the ends of our willys or not as an act of devotion to him then I dont think wearing pants or flip flops is going to be any different.

    It is about the fleshy tablets of the heart…not ear piercings, tatoos, flip flops and pants.

  4. If my wife had been in that class, I already know what she would have said on the way home:

    “I come to church after a hard week to be spiritually fed and uplifted. I spend hours getting my kids bathed and dressed and fed and to church on time so that we can hear the word of God. And I get a lesson on whether I should wear dresses or pants?!”

    It’s lessons like these where I look around and hope there isn’t an investigator or less-active member there.

  5. This type of discussion is all too common at church IMO, but thankfully there is none of this discussion in my current Relief Society. There really are not many women wearing pants in my ward (sometimes investigators), but no one would look askance at it either. And it’s over 100 degrees most of the year, so flip flops are absolutely commonplace, especially among the YW. Pantyhose? I think there might be 3 women who wear these in my ward. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wear those dreadful things a day on my mission either (also hot). They don’t keep you warm enough, they ride down with garments, and they run at the slightest stress. They are a nuisance. If it’s too cold for bare legs, I would opt for tights which are at least sturdy, but I didn’t wear them in SLC either. I don’t wear them for fancy dress events for work either.

  6. About 6 years ago I was attending choir practice when a fight almost broke out over this very subject. Church was over and we had come to a members house to practice. Several of the members had “dressed down” into more casual clothes for the practice. One older sister though stayed in her “Sunday best”. When she noticed that another sister was wearing pants, she made a comment to someone sitting next to her about how inappropriate it was. I thought this sister would just ignore the comment as old fashion like the rest of us, but she didn’t. In fact, she directly confronted this offending sister and asked her if she had a problem with her pants. I couldn’t help smiling at the possibility of a fight in choir practice. It took a few minutes to calm them both down and get back to the reason we were there. It made choir very exciting for all the wrong reasons.

  7. I love your story about choir practice, Jay. I make it a rule to NEVER wear “church clothes” to choir practice, especially when I’m directing the choir (as I’ve done for the past hundred years or so). I don’t want people to feel like they have to dress up for choir; otherwise, some won’t come. However, a few years ago, someone in the choir obviously was offended by the way I dress. I was the ward choir director at the time, and an announcement appeared in the ward bulletin one week that announced choir practice. At the end was a tag that said: “Please wear appropriate clothing to choir practice.” I was really unhappy with this because I hadn’t put in this part of the announcement. I was, of course, left with the decision of what to wear that day to choir. I wore my usual pants. Now I direct the stake choir and almost everybody comes to rehearsal in pants and jeans and comfortable clothes. No fights in choir practice yet, but you never know what might happen!

  8. I am on both sides of this issue. On one hand, I think we should be dressed in our “Sunday Best” as a way of showing respect to the Lord on His day. Just like our Sabbath activities, our dress shows a bit of “where our head and heart are at” in that regard. Our “Sunday Best” varies by geography and economic circumstances. I think there is an over-emphasis on some elements of dress, like white shirts and dresses rather than pants. There is also an under emphasis on some level of appropriate clothing like the shoe thing.

    What I would not like to see is what I see coming out of other Churches, namely jeans, shorts and casual attire. They could just as easily be coming out of a sporting event or from the beach, instead of church.

    I think we do have the tendency to be expected to conform to the look of the “Corporate Church.” That these things will be discussed in an official capacity like over the pulpit or in a class is sometimes too much to take as we are lectured to as if the Lord would love us less in a colored shirt or pants.

    But there is a difference between neat and sloppy, and I think we should be neat on Sundays. But, even that is open to interpretation.

  9. I do feel that our attire doesn’t have much influence on our eternal salvation and that we are judged on the intentions of our hearts and deeds as Stephen says. However the chapel is a house of the lord, and if the church has a certain dress code to wear on sundays then I don’t see the big deal in trying to keep it. Obviously if there are investigators there and members on holiday etc it’s no big deal that they aren’t wearing their sunday best clothes, the fact that they are there is all that matters. However a young man who owns white shirts but chooses to wear a coloured one because white shirts aren’t fanshionable enough for him to be seen in would indicate to me that he loves himself more than the lord.

    The type of people that I have come accross who aren’t abiding to the churches dress code are those who are half hearted about the church and didn’t make an effort before they turned up, and it shows. For example girls wearing sleevless tops, skirts that are too short, boys without ties or coloured shirts. The people that I have seen doing this have either not really wanted to be there and probably threw someone on five minutes before they turned up, or were very particular about what they would be seen wearing in public. I don’t feel people should be told off for what they turn up in, I feel that the guidelines for dress should be made very clear and it should be up to the individual what they choose to turn up in, and at the end of the day the lord knows their hearts and intentions, he knows if they made an effort to look smart or if they just didn’t care what the church wanted. If we leave it up to individuals to choose what they feel looks smart, where will it end. How low cut is too low? or how short is too shart? and are jeans just as smart as suit trousers?

    I’ve never known a church in England to say don’t wear flip flops, over here they are seen as quite smart I think for girls most things are ok apart from sport shoes, but I guess in the states if they give off a perception of being sloppy then girls should respect that.

    I’ve never been part of an institution that didn’t have a dress code. At school I had to wear blue skirt, white shirt and green tie. I never understood how girls looked nice wearing ties but we all did it. All the jobs I’ve had have had dress codes and even my university has a couple of don’ts and nobody has complained. I don’t see why people complain about following the dress code of the church, I really think it’s not that hard and we should be used to following dress codes from going to school and work. I personally think men look smart in white shirts and you can’t tell who is rich and poor whereas if they could wear whatever they wanted you could probably tell who spent a few hundred on their outfit, whereas in church it doesn’t matter, clothes aren’t important!!!

  10. Right…after reading my wife’s post I think it has brought me back to the center on this issue. She helps me to stay straight 🙂

    Just as Jeff stands on both sides of the issue I am rather conservative when it comes to low cut tops and people flashing their bits. However, I am rather cantankerous when I feel there is no justification for items of clothing like white shirts etc.

    We do need to respect out bodies and I retract the statement above about tatoos.

    Now I realize why my white shirts are laid out for me in the mornings for church! 😉 Perhaps I should get some flip flops and trousers out the night before for Tara to wear hehehe. j/k

  11. Elder D. Todd Christofferson wrote an interesting article in the New Era on this topic. It was called “A Sense of the Sacred,” and as the title suggests, Elder Christofferson focuses mostly on the inward attitude of worship that our appearance signifies. For instance, he says:

    “Some say dress and hair don’t matter—they say it’s what’s inside that counts. I believe that it is what’s inside a person that truly counts, but that’s what worries me. Casual dress at holy places and events is a message about what is inside a person. It may be pride or rebellion or something else, but at a minimum it says, ‘I don’t get it. I don’t understand the difference between the sacred and the profane.'”

    He has other very interesting things to say about this topic. Check out the full article if you’re interested.

  12. Great article,

    Being an exmormon and in another denomination, I can see how heart felt some of your points are. I enjoy wearing European Hosiery so much, that I wear them everyday, except a majority do not wear at the church I attend. For those attending, I believe God just wants them there to speak to their hearts. This day and age when individuals realize just how lonely it is and feel a feep black empty hole, they respond to churches that demonstrate god is love and loves us before we want to love him. Once someone makes peace with god, then the spirit will automatically clean them up to start attending…look at me!

  13. I was thinking about this post this morning as I got ready for church. I think we might get further encouraging people to treat our chapels as sacred spaces if we focused on behavior instead of attire. When people are milling around and chattering and treating the chapel as just another room for visiting in prior to sacrament meeting, it doesn’t do much to encourage a reverent or sacred atmosphere, even if all the women are in dresses and the men in suits with white shirts and ties. It might as well be an interlude at a large group of lawyers for all the spirituality that can be felt there.

    I contrast this with the behavior of the audience at a recent concert I attended at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. The cathedral is in the heart of the French Quarter, and people were dressed for vacation – lots of shorts and t-shirts. But when they walked in, they behaved as if they were in a sacred space. There was some muted conversation, but it was QUIET. When the orchestra started tuning up, all conversation stopped. And this wasn’t at a mass, but a concert! Contrast this with OUR sacred space, where a real live worship service is about to begin, and people talk OVER the organ providing the prelude music.

    If we want young people to treat our meetings as sacred worship services, then the lead up to the meeting needs to encourage that atmosphere. That isn’t going to be a result of how we dress, but how we behave.

  14. Tara – you make some great points.

    There is also something to be said for norms. Going without hosiery or tights in UK or other cold climate would be odd. But wearing tights or hose in a very hot climate would also be odd. Pants are not generally worn by women in LDS church services, so I wear skirts and dresses. Going to church without a good pedicure in my ward is also pretty gauche, but might not be in other regions of the world. Modesty is the lowest threshold everyone should achieve. I have to be honest, though, I haven’t seen immodesty at church in a long time. Flip flops are norm for youth in places that are very hot. I don’t wear them because they seem too casual, but I do wear open sandals.

    The other key is not to judge those who may not be aware of the norms or who are struggling. It’s more important to me that visitors feel welcome than that our standards do not deteriorate. People catch on to the norms, though.

  15. The type of people that I have come accross who aren’t abiding to the churches dress code are those who are half hearted about the church and didn’t make an effort before they turned up, and it shows.

    Then why don’t we focus on the reasons they might be half-hearted? Perhaps a lesson on how to gain a testimony would be of more value to such a person? I’m not disagreeing with the church’s standard of dress. What I find troubling is that an entire lesson was devoted to it.

  16. “Mormons do not […] dress in old-fashioned clothing or wear unusual hairstyles, […] Quentin L. Cook said […].”

    So apparently there will be a new accomodaions away from Jazz Age men’s cleanshavenness and women’s silk-stockinged legs under skirts towards men’s well-trimmed beards and ladies’ pantsuits?


  17. To me it’s all about respect – and an understanding of the nature of the particular meeting/gathering in question. As others have mentioned, it’s also about recognizing that there is no “one standard” when it comes to attire, specifically because clothing is an expression of culture. I believe we should uphold a **worshipful** standard for our worship services and a “minimally acceptable respect” level for all of our associations (meaning immodest, revealing, suggestive, etc. clothing is prohibited in all instances).

    In my own case, I wear a full suit with white shirt whenever I am attending the normal block of meetings and other instances where I am representing my Priesthood leaders, specifically because I have been asked to do so by my direct Priesthood leader as a result of my current calling. I generally wear dress pants and a polo shirt to the non-public leadership meetings I attend, especially when they are in the evening and I go there straight from work – because these meetings are *administrative* NOT for worship. (I would change that if requested directly, but that has not been mentioned – even though I often am the most casually dressed person in the room.) I often wear jeans and a t-shirt to fellowship dinners and ward or stake functions that don’t include the chapel – because these are gatherings of friends that are NOT “church-related”, per se. If I was involved in missionary correlation meetings Thursday night in our ward, I would show up in jeans or slacks – whatever I was wearing at the time.

    Too many times, people equate any meeting arising out of our callings or relationships at church as “church meetings” that require “church dress”. Imo, “church dress” is a misnomer, since there are widely varying reasons and purposes for meetings and, therefore, widely varying models of appropriate “church dress”. I reserve “Sunday dress” for direct worship. Everything else is a step below that; therefore, so is the way I dress.

  18. Bishop’s wife was wearing designer flip flops today at church. Just thought I’d mention. And no pedi. She’s got to be one of the best people I know. I just think it’s culturally normative in AZ to wear them. But in my sister’s UT Valley ward, they were denounced from the pulpit in a talk. I figured since it wasn’t my ward it didn’t apply to me.

  19. “Casual dress at holy places and events is a message about what is inside a person” (Quoted above from Elder Christofferson)

    I don’t have a problem with that statement, but at issue for me are what constitutes “holy places and events” and “casual dress”.

    When going to the temple or attending a meeting containing an ordinance, I’m pretty formal. At almost all other times, I dress down to be comfortable while trying to stay respectful by having my appearance fall within the range of “neat”.

    The last time anyone commented on this was Friday, at a fireside meeting with Elder Russell Nelson speaking. My shirts were still at the cleaners, and I really wasn’t in the mood for a tie anyway, so I was casually but neatly attired. And I caught some heat from a couple of friends. My response was something along the lines of “Are you offended for yourself or for Elder Nelson? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mind”

    Side note: This event was an adult only thing, and I’m assuming it was a gathering of the “faithful”. Saw a lot of neatly trimmed facial hair spread through the congregation and liked it.

  20. Readers might be interested in a statement by the First Presidency on this issue, given way back in 1971:

    “The Church has not attempted to indicate just how long women’s or girls’ dresses should be nor whether they should wear pant suits or other types of clothing. We have always counseled our members to be modest in their dress, maintaining such standards in connection therewith as would not be embarrassing to themselves and to their relatives, friends, and associates.” (Statements of the LDS First Presidency, p. 123.)

    As far as I can tell, that approach of teaching principles but not mandating a specific dress code still holds today. Consider this 2004 statement from “True to the Faith”:

    “Your clothing expresses who you are. It sends messages about you and it influences the way you and others act. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you can invite the companionship of the Spirit and exercise a good influence on those around you.”

    Although the Brethren have not set any specific dress code, I have unfortunately heard reports that stake and ward leaders have attempted to impose a specific dress code on their stakes and wards.

  21. Several years back a friend of mine was told she could not be a YW leader because of wearing pants at church. They were those wide-leg, practically-a-skirt pants (full length). They said she was a bad example to the girls.

    Thanks for the quotation, Andrew.

  22. My wife remembers that in about 74, a letter came out indicating that a certain level of dress (ie… dresses) should be worn when women are in the chapel.

    Flip-flops was in references to a Jeffery Holland talk that mentioned Beach Wear. This was in GC a few years ago. Anyone have reference?

    I enjoyed my peach-color shirt yesterday. I think I was the only one there. I also found it interesting that my deacon aged son came to me asking if it was ok that the sweater he was wearing only allowed the top of his collar (white) to be seen. (humor)

  23. This has been an interesting thread to read. Observing the differences in dress code and cultural worship preferences from one faith too another is good life experience. Good for a smile. And good for the heart. I was watching the Danish foreign film “Italian for Beginners” over the weekend, and it was interesting to me that in a couple scenes where you could see observant Danes in church the feeling was a bit constrained — reminded me quite a bit of an LDS sacrament environment. This worship environment was one of several “every day life” environments the film showed that worked as a nice foil against the new life and love that was blossoming among the lead characters who were attending their Italian language class. In other words, it was a good reminder that LDS aren’t unique in their preferences for conservative attire and mood.

    What others have also noted here is when you visit cathedrals and other worship places, usually the manner of people attending is more respectful of being in a place of worship: less chatty and more consciously intent on the worship experience. I’ve seen this when visiting Italian masses, and also when visiting Shinto shrines. Attendees are often dressed casually (though knees and shoulders are usually covered) and worship leaders are dressed very ceremonially. There is more a feeling of respectfulness than I’ve usually found in an LDS chapel meeting — reminds me in mood to an LDS temple, though in a much more accessible environment to outsiders. Not to say these are the “right” ways to worship; it just shows to me that valid worship and respect for deity needn’t fit a certain mold.

    At an “opposite” is our church where the “dress code” is nice casual but some come dressed down more and some come dressed up more. It only seems “opposite” if a certain dress code is really the point of worship. Our worship is very upbeat and energetic (for the most part) and the preaching very well prepared and Christ-/Bible-centered. Again, I don’t wish to say it the “right” way to worship either. The point is that there is a tangible reverence for God and His gospel. One shouldn’t confuse that reverence is absent because attire is more casual and mood not somber. It is just a different manifestation and culture for worship.

    I think it is a life-enhancing practice to seek out and experiences different kinds of worship, and to consciously choose an environment that personally leads one to God. When one’s tradition is chosen just because it is familiar, I think such reinforces detachment and alienation from abiding God in meaningful worship; It makes worship mundane. Whether worship is very liturgical or not, whether somber or energetic, it should stand out from everyday life — break one’s everyday mental routine. I think each individual should consciously and intentionally evaluate what they, their marriage, and their family needs, even if that is one’s family tradition or even if it isn’t.

    The only tragedies in this discussion, IMO, are when some LDS assume the “Mormon Corridor” cultural norm is God’s preferred way of worship. A globalizing LDS church should work more intentionally to let local wards and branches manifest local cultures of worship style, rather than culturally imposing a religious franchising “McMormonism” identities. (Thankfully they are not always successful in accomplishing this.) And even more tragic is when this corporate cultural preference is justified by perverted prejudices and assumptions that one can judge the inward commitment of members by their outward appearance. Not only is this dehumanizing, alienating, “Pharisaical” and arrogant, but, in my opinion, is intently in opposition to Jesus Christ’s ministry and the gospel guidelines for His church contained in the New Testament.

  24. “The only tragedies in this discussion, IMO, are when some LDS assume the “Mormon Corridor” cultural norm is God’s preferred way of worship. A globalizing LDS church should work more intentionally to let local wards and branches manifest local cultures of worship style, rather than culturally imposing a religious franchising “McMormonism” identities.”

    I agree with this. A young man in our ward did an Eagle project where he collected white shirts and ties for members in South America and Africa. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but I wondered if all that time and leadership might have been put to better use than trying to “Mormon-ize” people in other cultures.

  25. A few years ago, I was called to chaperone duty at a Stake dance for teenagers. My first assignment was to enforce the “Sunday Best” dress code at the door. I was quickly re-assigned when those in charge realized my level of spiritual discernment was incapable of judging “Sunday Best”. The issue that got me re-assigned was the length of sleeves and neckline on a young woman’s dress. I had let her into the dance without a challenge. The young woman was sent home to change. When I saw her the next day in Sacrament Meeting, she was wearing the same dress that had not been acceptable to wear while dancing in a gym. Apparently the standard for worship is somewhat less than the standard for dancing. The irony was not lost upon the young woman. When she saw me in Sacrament Meeting, she did a little spin to allow for inspection. The dress still looked OK to me for both occasions.

  26. hey lisa
    culture sure seems to be changing, thank goodness, but you have not, since those days back in Happy Valley. how delightful!

  27. Interesting……

    Answering one question pretty much clarifies any gospel and/or cultural nuances….

    Would I be comfortable with this ________________(attire/appearance/music/movie/humor/entertainment/attitude/action/behavoir/thought/etc.)in the presence of my Savior?

    If I answer yes, then great…
    If I can adjust to answer yes, even greater!


  28. My daughter wears trousers to church,when she comes.I’d rather she came than did’nt.Whilst I accept people’s attitude to sacred things is sometimes expressed in their clothes,that may change-but only if they are met with acceptance in the interim.My friend’s daughter habitually dresses like a street walker,but has been married in the temple and is a good girl.We all have a right to grow.

  29. Pingback: LDS Religious Trappings - Why? (part 3) « Heart Issues for LDS

  30. One day the new bishop of our ward asked the relief society to speak to me about wearing pant suits to church each week. I had been in this ward for over one year and the bishop prior never mentioned anything about what I was wearing. I was informed that if I did not ‘conform’ to wearing a skirt I would be released from my calling.

    It broke my heart!!! I had been a faithful member of the church for about 20 years. In the past I had worn a skirt but having put on weight I now felt not only comfortable, but looked more professional and better dressed in a suit.

    Well I got released, and when I said I would wear a skirt I was recalled to another position. By then my heart would not heal and I never felt comfortable coming to church. I could only find 2 skirts that fit me and I dreaded getting dressed for church each week.

    In the end I moved ward, for a couple of reasons, but mostly because I wanted to enjoy coming to church again and not having to worry that I was not wearing a ‘skirt’.

    I believe Heavenly Father loved me no matter what I was wearing. But even wearing pant suits I was always well dressed, and I believe I was able to do my calling successfully whether I was wearing a skirt or not. My wardrobe is expensive because of the career I am in, so pants were of high quality, as was the rest of my outfit.

    The interesting thing was that this bishop was quite young and I am surprised it became an issue for him.

  31. I don’t think old lady shoe stores include flip flops because old ladys can’t walk in them nor does it look right in their matronly polyester flowered suit dresses.

    I don’t wear hose. Ever. When it’s cold I wear socks in my boots. When it’s hot I wear sandles. I wear shoes I can walk a few miles comfortably in. Flip flops are a more affordable version of sandles and if my teens want to wear them, I’m fine with that. An ugly closed-in old lady high heeled shoe that you cannot walk in is not more holy than my daughters’ flip flop.

    Jesus does not care one bit what you wear on your feet, but Jesus certainly did a lot of walking, which should have been more the discussion topic in yesterday’s Relief Society lesson.

    Jesus was a homeless, unemployed man. His focus was on acceptance and love, not conformity to a 1950s dress code.

  32. Didn’t Jesus wear sandals? also, I think more females should wear nice dress pants to church. I have never been a fan of dresses or skirts but I wear it to church. I have decided that I will start wearing pants to church until someone “kicks” me out, then I will go find another church.

  33. Due to the sexist attitude apparent,and the suppression of women I never wear dresses to church anymore and I know God does not care either. It’s about purity and not perfection. If less time were spent judging others and making sure that everyone fits the mould, then we would have more time reading and understanding the Book of Mormon and researching the early church history. God is about purity of heart and not perfectionism which is only obtained through control which is of Satan.

  34. I wholeheartedly agree. Attendance at Sacrament Meeting (and all church activities) is about your individual salvation. It’s not about what you wore while you were there. Of course you will wear what you have that that is clean and modest and respectful. Does it conform to what others expect of you? Is that really important? To you or to them, and the eternal perspective of things? I hope your answer is no.

    I believe our Heavenly Father loves us in pants and in skirts and does not love us less for our choice or ability to conform to accepted/expected norms.

    And I really don’t think our Saviour will turn any of us away because they were only able to, or felt more comfortable attending services in a pant suit or flip flops or a sarong, etc.

  35. If I wore pants to the ward i’m in there are some people that would totally have a fit. As it is, my Bishop has never spoken to me… not even when I just got a guy baptized and went into his office to be there for a priesthood ordinantion, or when I gave a talk at a baptism or when he leans over me at church to talk to someone else…

    When I was a kid growing up in Montana & Washington DC & Maryland & Denmark… I do not remember everyone wearing a white shirt. When did it change to being the appropriate or required attire? In some places there are people who do not have or can not afford a dress or a white shirt or??? Do you think the Lord would send them away because they weren’t in the right clothes? In July I was on vacation in MA and went to church with my kids. I did not bring a dress in my suitcase so I wore a nice pantsuit. I was worried about it because I knew I would be received negatively in Utah in that attire & didn’t want to embarress my kids. But I wanted to go with them also. So I did. When I was sitting in RS I noticed that maybe a fourth (?) of the women were in pants. My daughter-in-law explained that there were some really poor families in their ward. I saw an older woman (in a dress with nurse type shoes) roll her eyes and shake her head at a young mother that walked in in pants. I felt like going over to her and asking her if Jesus would like her wearing her nurses shoes to church. When I was a child in Denamrk, a missionary came up to me at church and said, “Shame on you for wearing saddle shoes to church!” They were the only shoes I had. I hated them too, but that is all I had. Would barefoot have been better? I think it is ridiculous that there is a stigma for dress. Being clean and modest is one thing… but really, don’t you think the important thing is to go to church?! Instead we went up to the young woman and welcomed her there and visited for a bit after the class.

    I also think that visiting and welcoming people to the ward is an important part of being a good person. Walking absolutely silent into a meeting, no, and sitting there silently ok, but then checking on others on the way out & on the way to class & after church is important. Those who just go to church & think they are better than anyone else because they go to church…& don’t do anything good for others at any time… do not impress me as being good Mormons. Those who call a single mom and tell her that “We are having a Valentines Day Dinner party at the church and you are not invited because it is for couples.” has something wrong with them. Someone who would walk up to a man, who was investigating and brought to an Elder’s party by his wife, and say to him: “What are you doing here, You’re not an Elder.” has something wrong with him… What happened to fellowshipping?

  36. I just saw this post because Voni commented on it and it showed up in the side-bar. Oh, side-bar, how I love thee!

    Anyway, this is a topic that has always irked the crap out of me. When I was a new convert, I wore new slacks to church my first two Sundays. The third Sunday, I felt like wearing a sundress. After church, a counselor in the bishopric came and thanked me for my “appropriate clothing”. I know he meant well, but I seriously felt about 2-inches tall. And he seriously said it in the nicest way possible, but nevertheless, I understood what he meant. That weekend, I went to JC Penney and bought two dresses on my meager student’s salary.

    Dialogue recently printed an article entitled, “A Style of our Own: Modesty and Mormon Women, 1951-2008.” The paper did a great job of chronologging the change in emphasis in women’s clothing in the church. The “dress feminine” push to not wear slacks was apparently a direct response to 2nd wave feminism. That alone is going to be my motivation for wearing slacks this Sunday at church 🙂

  37. In the New Testament it says not to do anything that would cause your brother to stumble. I believe that females should wear clothing that will not cause a male to “stumble”, if you get my drift. 🙂  It’s not wrong for women to wear pants or flip-flops. Jesus himself said that the pharisees focused so much on the “outside of the cup”, but inwardly they were full of greed and “all things unclean”. He said that man judges by outward appearance, but God sees the heart. So rather than focusing on ourselves when we decide what to wear to church, we should consider whether or not it will cause someone to stumble. If you are in a mormon church and they think women should only wear skirts or dresses, then wear a skirt or a dress. If you’re in a church that doesn’t have an opinion, simply dress so as to not make anyone “stumble”. But overall, the way we dress really isn’t the most important thing. For as Jesus said, “Through the overflow of the heart a man speaks.”  It’s what’s on the inside that matters most to God.

  38. What kills me about modern culture is, the culture kills everything.

    To me, what’s more pertinent than “the horror of cultural mores in appropriate church attire” is “the horror of having the modern culture – which has brought us everything from a fifty percent out-of-wedlock birth rate to casual drug use to fatherless families as a commonplace – dictate the changes one must make to one’s religious observance.”

    So, you can’t forgo the flip-flops and pantsuits for three hours a week? Who’s dictating to whom?

  39. My husband is Tongan and we go to a Tongan ward where flip flops are the norm. Lest you think that Tongans need to repent, I would like to see you try to fit into a regular shoe with Tongan feet. Yes, I am sure they could buy custom made shoes at a huge price for their beautiful triple wide feet, but why? I would like to see Palangi’s (white folk) match their dedication and faith, not to mention their actually singing the hymns with spirit. In my opinion, what needs to be addressed, is White folks mumbling our precious hymns with about as much spirit as a wet noodle.

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