If you grew up in a more traditional church, the idea of someone wearing jeans to church might be enough to make you feel faint. On the flipside, if you had had most of your church experience in a more casual setting, you might wonder why anyone would wear anything but jeans to church.
The fact of the matter is that dress codes in churches are as varied as flavors of ice cream. The real question boils down to this: what clothes are biblically acceptable to wear to church? To answer this question, we need to understand a few things…
Dress in Biblical Times
In Biblical times, there was not a lot of diversity when it came to clothing… everyone wore pretty much the same thing: a tunic and a cloak that covered their entire body.
When someone dressed differently, it was often meant to communicate something very specific. For example, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that their women should not adorn themselves with fancy jewelry and braids in their hair, but should instead dress modestly (1 Timothy 2:9-10). When you research the culture in that time, you find that fancy jewelry and braided hair were often signs that a woman was a prostitute.
Hence, Paul is telling the women to dress in a way that does not draw unnecessary attention to them in the way that a prostitute would draw attention to herself. This tells us that the biblical standard for clothing was that it’s not take away from godliness in anyway.
The Heart of the Issue
This brings us to the heart of the issue when it comes to the clothes that we wear. God is very clear in Scripture that he cares about the heart, not the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).
God is more concerned about who we are then he is about what we wear. We just need to be sure that whatever we are wearing at church (or anywhere for that matter) promotes godliness and does not distract from a brother or sister’s focus on God.
This is why Paul tells the church in Rome that they should refrain from doing anything that would cause another to stumble (Rom. 14:21). Our focus in everything that we do should be on promoting a honouring environment, whatever that may look like.
Submitting to Authority
Ultimately, we must submit to church authority when it comes to what we wear (Rom. 13:1). God has placed the leaders of our church where they are because he wants them to lead. If a church leader gives direction on what is or is not acceptable to wear to church, It is our responsibility as faithful believers to follow that direction whether we agree with it or not. In submitting to our leaders we submit to God and the point is honouring God.
So are jeans okay in church? It depends… If your church leadership approves of it and it doesn’t distract others from God, then it is okay.
But for the sake of the body of Christ, if wearing them is distracting or church leadership does not approve, then it is not okay.