In years gone by it was the tradition of all the young ladies, of all ages, to buy a new dress for the Easter Sunday celebration at their respective churches. The 21st century church has abandoned that tradition by and large, in favor of a more casual look. The intentions that led to this casual dress in the Sunday worship service was pure, but the question is left begging, has the church landed squarely in the opposite ditch in response to an obvious evil attached to this tradition?
The practice of buying the new dress at Easter in many ways had become a competition among the women of the church. Who could show up on Easter Sunday with the most elegant, yet not too gaudy, dress? For many, and certainly not all, and maybe not even most, pride and/or envy governed the purchase of the new dress for Easter Sunday. Some who could afford the latest fashions flaunted their ability to do so, and looked down their noses at those who could not. Others who could not afford expensive new dresses would accuse all who could afford the best fashions of being motivated by pride, whether they truly were or not. The tradition of buying a new dress for Easter was falling into the Marxist trap of class warfare for some.
No one should argue that the attitudes exhibited in this scenario are acceptable. Pride and envy are both grievous sins. What is arguable, is whether resorting to casual dress for the Sunday worship service was the right response to obvious evil in the midst of the church.
There certainly is no explicit command in scripture admonishing women to wear a dress to church. It would be difficult to argue that casual dress during worship is a sin. However the tradition of the “Sunday go-to-meetin'” dress was born out of a respect for the house of God. Putting on “Sunday best” was the outward manifestation of the inner conviction that God deserved our best in everything.
Maybe there is no correlation between the two, but it seems that alongside the tendency toward casual dress is an attitude of casual worship. In days gone by, those who dressed up for Sunday service out of respect for God also carried that attitude into their daily tasks. They believed that excellence and integrity in their vocation was a necessary act of obeisance toward God. In other words they believed that they were to give their best in everything because everything was subject to the authority of almighty God. Today the attitude of the average churchgoer is “what can I get out of God?” This attitude starts at the worship service and carries through to the rest of life.
It may not be necessary for a return to the era of beautiful dresses and buying a new dress every Easter. However, it is necessary to return to an attitude of giving your best to God, not only in the worship service, but in all of life. If that attitude convicts you to wear your best dress to Sunday worship, don't worry about what your neighbor thinks concerning your motivation. Simply offer your appearance to God as an offering of respect.