Christian clothing is a topic that has gotten plenty of attention recently in the wake of the deadly attack on the Boston Marathon, with the Boston Globe, for example, reporting that the Bible states that it is wrong for Christians to wear clothes that “disturb modesty.”
It also states that the Lord would “not put them in such a way that they should be ashamed, nor make them to be ashamed in the sight of the Lord.”
But the Bible does not actually say that you should “wear clothes that disturb modesty.”
In fact, many Christians believe that wearing clothes that offend modesty is a sin and should be punished.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that wearing a garment that is “inappropriate” for the body is a “disobedience of the flesh” and is sinful.
The United Methodist Church teaches a similar principle, while the Methodist Church, as an institution, discourages all sorts of dress that is not appropriate for the person in it.
But there are some exceptions to the rule.
For instance, the Episcopal Church teaches in its Handbook of Discipline that clothing that is appropriate for a person who is “discipleship” is “a gift of the Spirit and a privilege of God.”
For example: “The clothing worn by the faithful in worship is not improper if it is appropriate to the person or persons doing the worship.
The garments worn by ministers in their official capacity may be appropriate if they are fitting to the needs of their ministry and the environment of the congregation.”
For more on the Christian faith and its relationship to the dress code, read our previous coverage of the Boston bombing.
But the Catholic Church does not have the same position.
According to the Vatican, clothing that violates modesty is not sinful, and the Catholic doctrine of modesty holds that people are allowed to dress “how they please” (which, in the context of the Church, is often interpreted to mean they are allowed, but not required, to wear what they feel is appropriate).
And according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, it is not a sin for a Christian to “wear clothing that disturbs modesty,” and even in the United States, the bishops have acknowledged that “the doctrine of dress does not exclude the possibility of being offended by wearing clothing that causes others to be uncomfortable.”
The U.K. also has its own view of modesty, but it’s not as clear-cut.
The Church of England has its dress code which includes a clause that says that if a Christian “does not agree with the general way in which people dress, then he should wear clothing that does not offend modesty.”
The United Church of Christ, on the other hand, states that “there is no such thing as an appropriate dress code,” and the Church of Scotland also has a dress code that includes a statement that it does not believe “that there should be a requirement that a Christian must dress in a certain way to be accepted by others.”
However, in a survey conducted by the Catholic News Agency in 2013, about a quarter of U. K. Catholics thought that it was acceptable for a church member to wear clothing “in a way contrary to the Catholic faith.”
According to that survey, Catholics who reported having been victims of a hate crime, sexual assault, or stalking were significantly more likely to be in favor of a church that had a dress policy that did not include a requirement to dress in accordance with the Church’s moral teachings.
So it appears that both the Catholic and Protestant churches are at least starting to take a hard look at what is appropriate behavior in dress.
This is important because, as the United Nations Conference of Trade Unions pointed out in its 2016 report on “The Globalisation of the Catholic Religion,” “many countries have made significant progress in the promotion of women’s equality, and more and more countries are following suit.”
In the past, when Catholic bishops spoke out against the dress codes of other nations, they were frequently accused of trying to “take the heat off” the church by attacking its reputation, or of “blaming the victim.”
But these days, these attacks are more often directed at the way Catholic women dress, and often against the way they behave, as they have been for years.
“When we are not talking about the clothing we wear and the way we behave, the Church has become the scapegoat,” says Franciscan friar John Cardinal Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedict XVI.
“It is the Church that is the source of so much suffering and suffering and so much loss and so many sins.”
And, while many Catholics may not like what they see, it seems that they are more willing to listen to what other people have to say when they disagree with them.
“We do not have to choose sides on this issue,” says Cardinal Ratliff.
“There is a lot of consensus on this.”