“Excuse me.” Tap, tap, tap on my shoulder.
I turn to see a woman standing behind me. She smiles, her perfect white teeth bling back at me.
“Hi,” she whispers and shoves a t-shirt the size of a moomoo at me. “We’re so happy to have you here today. But, we’d like you to be more comfortable, so please put this on to hide those.” She points at her own chest, waving her finger back and forth. While the shock of her words sink in, I take in her clothing. A baggy jumper that stops at the top of her shoes.
“Um, I’m sorry. Am I really supposed to hide my boobs?”
“Yes, we have a dress code so that we are not a temptation or distraction to the men in our community.”
Deep breath. Count to ten. Really?
“I’m sorry, did you say dress code?”
“I sure did.” She motions me to follow her over to a corner. As if in a trance, I follow. “Jesus wants us to be focused on worship and that includes our men folk. We’ve decided as a congregation we will do our best to help keep their minds pure, especially in the house of The Lord.”
“Seriously? So, basically I’m to pretend I’m not a woman? What else is not allowed?”
“Well, we don’t want to see cleavage, panty lines, bra lines. Basically anything that defines your shape. After all, we don’t want to be a stumbling block for our men. That just wouldn’t be right, now would it?” She clasps her hands and grins, as if she’s just passed on a message from Jesus himself.
I pat her shoulder. “Honey, these are a package deal.” I point back and forth at my boobs, mimicking her movements from earlier. “And I’m not wearing this to attend your church.” I shove the mammoth sized t-shirt back into her hands.
“Oh, please don’t be offended.” She pats my arm. “Jesus just doesn’t like panty lines.”
With every ounce of control I can muster, I keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head and my mouth from dropping out a few choice swear words. Barely. “Sweetie, God created our bodies unique from Adam and put us in the garden. NAKED.” I pull my purple tank top over my head and hand it to her. Her gasp is satisfaction enough. “I’m 100% certain he doesn’t give a wit about panty lines, bra lines, or breasts.” I plump my shirtless breasts in their push-up bra and stalk to the front door. As I leave, I notice the dress code sign I missed on the way in.
“This is a holy place. Please dress properly or we will provide appropriate attire for you.”
Good grief. Because, you know, Jesus doesn’t like panty lines.
Sadly, this story isn’t 100% fiction. I’ve heard some pretty crazy stories from some of you about churches who try to enforce dress codes and encourage their members to aid in the enforcement. What do you think? What did this story evoke in you? Please remember, you’re welcome to comment, but I do have a comment policy and I will enforce it if violated.
While I don’t agree that “Jesus doesn’t like pantylines,” I do think that as a society we lack modesty. I’m not comfortable having a lot of cleavage showing, but I don’t wear a sack either. And I don’t think modesty should have anything to do with keeping the men around you pure. We give men very little credit. There are plenty of men that don’t ogle women other than their wives. I trust my husband to not be staring at other women’s pantylines during church or anywhere else. So I guess, while I don’t know that I condemn dress codes altogether, I do condemn the notion that its to keep men pure. They are capable of that themselves. For me, I like to keep some things just for my husband’s viewing pleasure…so I guess I have a self-imposed dress code or sorts.
Sadly, we know a pastor who has an issue with panty lines and bra lines. The title was tongue in cheek 🙂 I think we all need to let Jesus do the convicting on things that aren’t black and white, otherwise we risk running people off, which I think is the exact opposite of what Jesus would want.