Dress Standards - A Uniform for Identification and Modesty or Essential for Salvation?

By Stephen Mann

*Is having to wear a church dress standard just a mark of belonging like wearing a work uniform?

*Will Jesus only return for people wearing the 'uniform' which He has revealed to the UPC?

If a woman came to your church wearing pants, make-up and jewelry, would you or any other people at your church assume that this person was a sinner or backslidden? Would you or others there seek to change this woman's dress to a Christian 'uniform' standard that was set by your leaders?

Some teach the analogy that a Christian woman dressing in pants, make-up and jewelry is like someone working at McDonalds wearing a Burger King uniform. According to some, if they choose to work at McDonalds (belong to Jesus' church) then they should follow the employee handbook (the standards).

Here are some problems with the church uniform idea using the McDonalds model mentioned above...

1. McDonalds doesn't require any standard for employees in their own homes and private lives. Any organisation that does that is intrusive into personal liberties (like the Taliban and the Nazi party) and is venturing dangerously into authoritarian control.

2. McDonalds doesn't claim any Biblical authority and so admit their requirements are purely from an organisation of people. The UPCI preaches it is part of the 'truth' revealed through men of God (but why there are so many differences ex: rings/length of sleeves, etc. isn't clear) and aren't up front about it being a purely organisational thing.

3. McDonalds doesn't imply the more strict a uniform you wear the more 'in' the company you are and the more committed to management you are. The same uniform is required throughout the company. There is not a minimal uniform and the 'really committed' uniform (or lots of disagreement over what the uniform is).

4. McDonalds doesn't hide uniform requirements from new applicants as if they don't need to know all the 'finer details' of working for McDonalds. In the UPC I used to think it was best to not mention hair, make-up, pants, and jewelry to new converts because they couldn't handle it. I thought that it wasn't deceptive but now see that is wrong and approaching cultic behaviour.

5. McDonalds doesn't insinuate that KFC or the local fast food store employees aren't real fast food employees because they don't have the same uniform! The UPC uses dress standards to claim others are not Christians.

6. People haven't committed suicide, gotten extremely depressed, felt embittered, abused and manipulated through McDonalds' requirements as far as I know. The UPCI however, is quite a different story. A story I heard preached in UPC Bible school was of a 'holiness' preacher who preached it too hard against abortion and fornication and looking like a harlot, that one young desperate lady walked in off the street and then left that meeting and ended her life. It so affected the preacher he later lost his walk with God as well.

7. I have never heard of McDonalds etc. proclaiming their standards with intolerance and anger towards those not cooperating or not agreeing with company standards. Can you imagine a McDonalds staff meeting where the staff hear the manager yelling and spitting into a microphone about not letting down standards? Some in the UPC have zero tolerance to disagreement and are very angry towards 'compromisers'.

8. People at McDonalds do not bring up their children compelling them to obey 'company rules' even if they don't want to.

You can see the 'company rules argument' doesn't really work to explain UPC dress standards.

The dress standards are taught by most in the UPC as showing evidence of inner holiness. The Bible teaches that those without holiness will not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) and will burn in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8, 22:15). Therefore when the UPC then refers to these dress standards as 'holiness standards', it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand they are thought of as salvational.

Holiness isn't like that at all. Jesus said the Pharisees appeared unto men to be righteous but weren't. If they were in some UPC churches they may well have been very highly respected. The fact that they kept a so called 'holiness standard' without holiness seems strange to me?? Sounds along the same lines as the 'wise fool' or 'legal murder' oxymoron and shows there is no such thing!

Keeping these dress standards to be saved is quite the opposite of the Bible's "saved by grace and not by works lest any... boast" model. Sadly, many boast of never having cut their hair, never worn pants, never wore make-up or jewelry. This boasting is in opposition to our boasting in the Cross of Jesus alone.

"They want you to be circumcised in order that they can boast that you are their disciples. As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Galatians 6:13-14 LB


August 23, 1997
Page Added April 10, 2002
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