Ask Winnie – Why Do I Have to Get Dressed Up for Church?

Dear Winnie,

Why do I always have to get dressed up for church on Sunday and wear a suit. It’s such a pain.


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Dear Anonymous,

Can nobody throw me an easy question? I’m just a squirrel. You people are killing me. A softball question isn’t too much to ask for, is it?

But I’ll do my best to answer your lightning rod of a question.

After much careful consideration, meditative contemplation, and hours and hours of study I’ve come to the conclusion I have no freaking clue why you have to.

I mean think about it. All the pictures I’ve seen through the windows of humans looking at drawings from the biblical days have the dudes are basically wearing burlap bags and sandals.

How you doing?
How you doing? Come here often? Stop me before I make an ass of myself.

And then your question sent me off wondering what kind of underwear the guys wore. Apparently, none. Yep, many were swinging commando. Thanks for that revelation.

Some of the peeps with a bit more money apparently purchased linen undergarments at the Shekel General store.

The Bible, like I’m any kind of scholar on that subject, says:

The Lord proclaimed to me: Go and buy a linen undergarment. Wear it for a while without washing it. So I bought a linen undergarment, as the Lord told me, and I put it on. The Lord spoke to me again: Take the undergarment that you are wearing and go at once to the Euphrates and put it under a rock. So I went and buried it at the Euphrates, as the Lord instructed. After a long time, the Lord said to me: Return to the Euphrates and dig up the undergarment that I commanded you to bury there. So I went to the Euphrates and I dug up the linen undergarment from the place I had buried it. But it was ruined and good for nothing. – Source


If anyone in town is taking this literally and burying their old underwear along the Neuse River, we need to have a chat.

Now I’m just freaked out. What are your people actually doing with your old stinky underwear?

This all comes down to what the people at the religious building you attend find acceptable. It seems more of a secular demand than a biblical one. But I’m a squirrel, what the hell do I know? Seriously, what do I know? I spend my days gathering nuts.

And then there is this:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – Source

You people are all weird and wound up with the oddest things. When we Wake Forest squirrels get together on Tuesday afternoons for squrch we just wear our fur. We’d probably scare the crap out of you if we put on little squirrel suits and dresses. Ever seen a cross dressing squirrel in a thong? Want to? But I digress.

There are places of worship you can attend like a drive-in movie, some you can go to wearing a bathing suit, others let you dress up like you do for school, and still others frown upon you if you don’t wear the right costume or uniform. Isn’t that what you call suits? Did I get that wrong?

All I know for sure is the underwear is probably a good idea.

Have fun negotiating an alternative outfit with your parents. If you need to blame me for the ensuing conversation, feel free to. I’m just a squirrel, you’re the one listening to a squirrel. That makes one of us nuts.

Your friend,
Winnie the irreverent Wake Forest News advice squirrel.

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3 thoughts on “Ask Winnie – Why Do I Have to Get Dressed Up for Church?”

  1. Dear Winnie and Anonymous,

    When I was a kid, being raised by ‘evangelical free church’ (such an oxymoron!) parents in the ’50s and early ’60s, there was absolutely no question about wearing your Sunday Best to attend Sunday school and church. The males wore suits and ties, and the females wore dresses and heels (blouses and skirts were frowned upon). It was almost a law in the minds of some folks, but in retrospect, I believe it was designed to keep the sexes uptight and separate while being the weekly opportunity to strut your stuff, if you know what I mean.

    I was forced to wear a dress to Sunday school and to church, and those dresses were certainly not the same ones I was forced to wear to school, oh no. Back then, we had a dress code in school, and it would spin students’ tiny minds today if they had to live by that code (and I’m not talking about uniforms). In any case, school clothing was separate from the more formal clothing used for the ritual of ‘dressing up for church.’ It was the way things were. It was what it was at all churches back then. Sometimes, the costume required accessories, such as a hat that sat (Ooooh, I love assonance!) on top of my head like a wide vice-like headband (see what I mean?) and gave me a headache soothed only by sneaking out of church and heading around the corner to the local White Castle for a snack. (OK, I admit it … I did that as often as I could all the way up until I declared myself church-free right after confirmation). The hat was usually coupled with stiff-laced anklets that scratched my delicate skin almost to the point of bleeding. Fortunately, the killer hat and the torturous anklets lasted only through the third grade when I flat-out refused to wear them anymore. But I digress.

    Now, being free of the constraints of organized religion, I have had plenty of time to step back and watch the show. Over the years back in Sweet Home Chicago, I learned that shorts and sneaks (clean and pristine) were acceptable for casual church services in many Protestant denominations. The spectrum of acceptable church dress became vast and intriguing. As casual as some houses of worship became, there were others that fell in between that and the time-honored tradition that even has an excellent photo book about it. One’s Sunday Uber-Best continues to be the norm for the African-American church-goer, and that norm still includes those fabulously ginormous and fussed-up hats that make statements and are not for the faint of fashion.

    Since I rarely venture out during ‘church hours’ here in WF, I was pleased when some friends stopped by after their church service not long ago. What pleased me was that they were dressed in what I’d call ‘light business casual.’ No suit, no jacket, no heels, no frills. They looked dressed to go just about anywhere except a metal concert, a mud/jello wrestling event, or the darkened back-alleys of Rio de Janiero. And they attend one of the Baptist churches in town.

    This disparity between church ‘norms’ of attire can only mean one thing:

    You’re right, Winnie. Anonymous needs to go with the fashion flow of whatever church he attends. ‘Anon’ didn’t give his age, so if he’s a kid, perhaps he should take the matter up with his parents and their choice of church. If he’s an adult, he could easily seek a more casual environment for his weekly attendance.

    And although you and not he mentioned the underwear thing, he definitely shouldn’t go all Jon Hamm and commando. At least not to church..

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