It occurred to me today that maybe part of the problem of getting people to meet and marry within the church is the high incidence of egregious frumpiness. I’m not saying that this is the reason or even a main reason, but surely it is a not completely insignificant contributing factor.
Seriously, look around the average evangelical McChurch on Sunday morning. People don’t dress up for church anymore. In the effort during the past 25 years or so to entice non-churchers into (or back into) the fold, churches ditched just about everything that was traditionally churchy. Out went the stiff, boring hymns**, and in came “worship choruses” that sound like the worst dreck of soft hits radio and usually feature lyrics addressed to “you” about streams, fountains, skies, and hearts. This also meant that organs were out, and “praise bands” led by a semi-hip guy (sometimes trendily unshaven) who passionately grimaces while strumming his acoustic guitar were in. Similarly, pastors stopped wearing suits and ties and started wearing Hawaiian shirts in order to be “accessible,” everyday joes. Churches started trying to be cutting edge and “not scared of the culture,” injecting movie clips, popular songs, skits, and lots and lots of PowerPoint into sermons.
And, not surprisingly, with churches now acting the part of “cool hangout where, like, you can learn stuff that’s, like, totally important for life – bring your unsaved friends!”, out went the practice of dressing up in Sunday’s best. Nowadays it’s rare to see a man in a button-down shirt, much less a tie, much much less a suit – and this goes tenfold for younger men. Women don’t wear dresses, and if they do, they’re not nice dresses but Frump City specials that don’t accentuate anything good about the woman’s body. In the summer, it’s common to see hideous khaki shorts all over the place, and in the non-summer, jeans galore.
If Christians are representatives of Christ on Earth, shouldn’t we be doing a little better in the looks department? Yeah, yeah, yeah, God cares more about the work you’re doing for the lost souls of the world than your appearance, and we certainly don’t want to encourage superficiality or materialism, and heaven forbid we even hint at a legalistic dress code, but ugh…when you think about it, most congregations are eyesores. And yes, some of it is just a widespread cultural thing, with the average American being an eyesore himself, but man, not many people dress with pride for church anymore. (And part of me wonders if churches would be more effective if their congregations dressed better.)
So, bringing this back around to the mating game – when the majority of young, single people at a church frump it up on Sundays, how are they ever going to catch each other’s eyes? (It’s not like they’re dressing any better for the young singles group on Wednesdays.) I guess everyone’s just hoping that this year’s winter retreat is going to be the one where Jimmy finally sees the inner beauty of Sarah’s godly personality. Or vice versa.
(To find the above photo, all I used was “worship service” as my search term. This is fairly dressed up by contemporary evangelical standards.)
**Good hymns = Not Boring. Boring = Most Worship Songs Sung in Churches Today.