- Category: Think Tank
- Published Date
- Written by Paida Mpaso
Does the Bible enforce a dress code? Is it okay to wear trousers let alone short skirts in church? What about men, are they allowed to wear shorts in church?
These are some of the questions that linger on the minds of people as fashion continues to change and shake the rubric of the church.
The Reverend Andrew Maere of CCAP Church says Christian leaders see the need to have a dress code because there are times church goers do not dress appropriately.
According to Maere, the church deserves respect and must be differentiated from other places.
“The church is a decent place and needs to be respected at all costs. Like our brothers and sisters from the Muslim community have their attires, I think it is also important for Christians to have their own attires,” he says.
Maere said there are times people, especially women, dress in a distracting manner and end up disturbing the whole congregation.
He said the church is not a marketplace or some discotheque; hence, the need for proper dressing as people worship God.
Maere, however, said clothes worn in biblical times are different from what people wear today.
“Both men and women wore a loose, woollen robe-like cloak or mantle as an outer garment. It was fastened at the waist with a belt or sash. A tunic or coat, a long piece of cloth, leather or haircloth with holes for arms and head, was worn under the cloak. Sandals were worn on the feet.
“The difference between men’s and women’s clothing was small but distinctive. In addition, men often wore a turban to confine their hair and women of some cultures wore a veil,” he says.
Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) secretary general Father George Buleya says people should dress in a manner that reflects their conscious and dignifies God.
“The most important thing is to glorify God as we all know we were made in His image. So, let our dressing reflects that,” he says.
A Chilomoni Township resident in Blantyre, Cecilia Mbewa, says it is important for the church to have a dress code.
“If the church feels it is important for people to have a special dress code, let it be so. I think it is very embarrassing to see women dress inappropriately in church. It lowers the importance of church.
“Many have adopted the Western kind of dressing, which is not good. We are Malawians and have our own kind of dressing. Otherwise most dresses being seen are very disruptive,” he says.
A Bangwe Township resident in Blantyre, Maria Chigalu, however, thinks, the church should not enforce a dress code.
“I feel the church is losing it somehow. Why should the church tell me how to dress? I have my own wardrobe,” says Chigalu.
According to Chigalu, God is interested in the inward appearances.
“Give them [people] the word of God, then let the word of God work in them,” she says.
But sociologist Pierson Ntata said issues of religion are usually complex; hence, the need to handle them with care.
“The church has its own platform, but it is important for the church to be reasonable when making such decisions and the decisions should be within the social context in the way people are living,” he said.
Ntata said the church has the final authority, but some decision could become extreme and people might feel out of place.
“If the church has to decide how people should dress in church, I think it is okay, but it has to be within the social context, otherwise, it could be awkward.
“If it becomes strange, it will be like telling members of the church to wear raincoats when it is not raining. There is a need for orderliness,” he said.