The dressing down of the church is something that has been happening during the last decades. Little by little, we see that going to church is no longer seen as an opportunity to wear our Sunday best, and more people choose to wear informal attire when attending service. Many priests have also expressed a preference for more lax garments, ditching men’s clergy robes for jeans and shirts, so Sunday services are today more relaxed and secularized.
Many people like to believe this is a good thing.
Some say that wearing clergy vestments are unhelpful and unnecessary as they are seen as a symbol of power. The argument goes on to say that men’s clergy robes put the young in a world of deference and nostalgia that is, according to detractors, disconnected from present values.
Others insist that church vestments put a distance between the religious leader and his flock. Those defending this position express that they want their congregants to feel the priest is just one of “the guys”.
This is not a tendency exclusive to religious environments. Even traditional institutions have started to blur the lines between authority and participants. Today, if you enter a classroom you would be hard-pressed to distinguish between professors and students, and even political institutions are progressively dropping formal attire.
Is this good?
The book of Genesis tells the story of how God not only created everything, It also indicates that God came to bring order, separating light from darkness, nature from men, men from women, and good from the bad. Then, He commanded that men continued His work, giving names to things and keeping everything in its right place.
It was in the book of Exodus when God commanded that priests wear “holy” clothes. We must remember that the word “holy” means “separated”, so what God commanded was that these clothes were saved for religious purposes only, and were kept distinctively clean.
After its foundation, the church followed this tradition for centuries. Men’s clergy robes were not different from regular roman garments. However, they had to be kept immaculate and other elements had to be added so the ordained could be more easily recognizable. Priests were not only religious leaders but community leaders and even judges in terms of moral affairs. Their garments also had the function to signify that congregants were in presence of something bigger than themselves or even the priest.
It is true that, at one point, church attire got confused with symbols of power. This confusion between power and authority started during the conversion of Rome and went on all the way through the division of the empire. But centuries later, the reformation movement broke this confusion and sought to restore the authority of the word of God.
The separation between our religious leaders and us was restored to its original meaning. Pastors should wear their clergy robes because it is a reminder of their commitment to their faith. But it is also a sign of respect for others. Wearing men’s clergy robes and vestments means the pastor takes the time of his congregation seriously and can exercise his duties to the last detail. If a pastor is capable of overlooking any aspect of his holy uniform, he is also able to overlook more important matters related to his office.
One way to show your congregation the respect and decorum they deserve every time they come to your presence is to wear high-quality men’s clergy robes. Divinity Clergy Wear specializes in crafting church vestments for reformed denominations and making sure they offer the best fabrics and materials so your vestments are always practical and comfortable. Visit their store in Hamilton, NJ, or browse through their online collection.