Clothing optional church part 1.

508There is a fairly consistent theme in scripture about being clothed, specifically about being clothed in righteousness. Job puts on righteousness and it clothes him (Job 29:14), Isiah speaks of garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness(Isiah 61:10) and even goes so far as to speak of it as a breastplate (59:17). Revelation even warns us of not soiling our garments instead to keep them white all the while we are all to often not clothed at all having no garment of righteousness to even soil.

Few of us would consider going to the store naked. Few of us would pump our gas without pants. Few of us would mow the lawn in our undergarments. Most of us regularly go to church and stand before God claiming worship and praise sans any sort of appropriate clothing. Many of us have engaged in conversations about what is proper church attire, but how many of us have said that the proper attire to come before the Lord is indeed righteousness? How many of us even know what righteousness is?

It’s Sunday morning  and we get up, we choose our clothes and we set out. We forget to clothe ourselves in righteousness. We assume it is there, we forget that we should, we believe we have it of ourselves, or any other number of reasons. We are naked. Instead of having the good sense to be afraid and ashamed of our state as were Adam and Eve in the garden, we delight in it and prance around. For all of the good it does us, we may as well be pole dancing for the heads of the faithful. (In case you missed it, that is a Salome reference.) That’s right, we may as well dance for the heads of the faithful for all the good our nakedness does us. Daily, even hourly and more, we must clothe ourselves in righteousness, or risk being naked before the God who has given us new garments.

So what do these clothes of righteousness look like? They are amazing in their diversity and beauty. They look like the continual sanctification of the faithful, they look like the waters of baptism and the Eucharist, they look like the store cashier who, upon noticing your necklace, says God bless you. The only thing that we need to remember is that they are clothes given to us, not clothes that we have of our own accord. Our garments of righteousness are indeed the salvation and justification received through the blood of Christ as well as the sanctification that we continually work our with fear and trembling. When was the last time you cleared out your closet? When was the last time you looked to see what no longer fit? When was the last time that you took a real inventory of life to make sure that your clothes were indeed new and not old and moth eaten? When was the last time that you actually payed attention to what your garments of righteousness actually looked like? When was the last time that you made certain that you were not dancing naked before God on the very clothes that He provided for you through Christ?

The good news is that there is no shortage of righteousness for us to put on. God’s wardrobe is infinite. Our justification and sanctification are continually available for us to grab on to and clothe ourselves in. Look in a spiritual mirror and see if you are indeed naked when you should be clothed. Check the drawers and closet to ensure that the garments are not old, but new each day. Give up the cheap and tawdry garments that you would choose and instead allow a loving father to clothe you in the perfect garments that He has prepared. Clothing is not optional in this faith, indeed it is required of us, but not just any clothes, the proper clothes. Let the Father dress you.

We have all become spiritual strippers doing all that we can to tear off our righteousness instead of earnestly seeking more to put on. We find excuses to justify our sin. (Take off the top), and excuses for why we have not fed the poor (off with the pants). We have criticized the beggar instead of trying to do something to meet their needs (socks go flying). Collect the cheers and tips from the crowd. You get the picture. While none of the faithful would rightly consider pole dancing before Jesus, the reality is that we already are because we refuse to clothe ourselves in the garments purchased for us through His precious blood. The prophets delighted in these garments, while we do everything that we can to strip them off and throw them to the adoring crowds of the world. The world begs us to strip ourselves bare all the while cheering and throwing us cheap tips while the Father weeps, the Son begs for our forgiveness and the Spirit does all it can to tell us that we need to put more on, not take more off. We are Salome dancing for the head of John the Baptist, we are Gomer being unfaithful, we are indeed the very people that God threatened to divorce Himself from. We are strippers on the stage of the world and we are good at what we do. God be merciful toward us. God be merciful to me.


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8 Replies to “Clothing optional church part 1.”

  1. Amen–though one of the congregations I serve includes many residents of a local nudist colony, so I may not be stealing from this article for a sermon, as thoughtful as this is (lol).

    By the way, what church do you attend now?

    1. We have not settled into a new denomination as of yet. We are still in the process of examining the theology and polities to find what we believe will be best. We are currently attending a pretty fluffy local non-denom that preaches salvation and not much else as it is theologically it will not teach anything that confuses Thaddeus.

  2. “congregations I serve includes many residents of a local nudist colony…”

    Just had a strange thought. If the goal is to get to New Jerusalem (as in Revelation), and we have no sin, or desire to sin, and the ultimate goal is to return to our condition in the Garden of Eden, does that mean we will all be naked in New Jerusalem?

    .’. Then your nudist congregation may be closer to the state of New Jerusalem than we are!

    1. Concerning New Jerusalem in Revelation, the only reference to garments that I can find is:

      Rev 22:14 (ASV)
      14Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.

      Rev 22:14 (KJV)
      14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

      Robes versus commandments. Interesting variation in translations.

      From a web site (don’t know valid)…

      “Most modern versions, having followedthe NA/UBS Greek text, replace “do his commandments” with “wash their robes”.  This NA/UBS reading is from the Greek manuscripts Aleph, Alexandrinus, 1006, 1841, 2050, 2053, 2062, and the Church fathers, Pseudo-Athanasius, Ambrose, Fulgentius, and Apringius.  The KJV reading, following the Textus Receptus, is supported by the majority of Byzantine manuscripts, including 205, 209, 1611supp, 1854, 2030, 2329, 2377, and uncial 046.  It is also cited by the Church fathers, Andrew, Tertullian, Cyprian, Caesarius and Beatus.

      Says possible scribe copying error. Or changed so it does not imply “saved by works”. Or my opinion, changed by scribe/monk so no one thinks people in New Jerusalem are naked, like Adam and Eve’s original state.

  3. Gary, thank you for the exegetical breakdown of the eschatological orientation of the members of my congregation who live in a nudist colony. Seriously, I appreciate anyone who looks up the original Greek, and my congregation members will feel affirmed!

    1. From a KJV site, beyond my capabilities!

      “This textual variant most likely arose from a careless scribe as the two variants share most of the same letters. Compare the following (same letters are underlined):
      “οι ποιουντες τας εντολας αυτου” (Textus Receptus)
      “οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν” (NA/UBS)”

      Underlines didn’t show up in the copy/paste process.

      But this reminds me of a time I was talking with a friend living close to a nudist colony. I jokingly said, “we ought to attend a church service there, just for fun.”

      He responded, “I just hope they bring a towel to sit on!”

      So maybe we should both keep the commandments, and bring our washed robes (towels) along, to double-down. Maybe the monk/scribes were smarter than I ever thought.

  4. Scott, as for your decision to attend a theologically fluffy non-denominational church for Thaddeus, that makes sense. Do they have Wesleyan or Free Methodist congregations where you live?

    1. There are Wesleyan and Free Methodist churches where we are and we are looking to schedule meetings with the pastors there. We are also exploring ACNA and Orthodox congregations as well. We are purposefully trying to take our time so that we make the correct decision and do not end up in the same position we are in now in the future.

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