Dressed 2 Kill

The public grade school my four children attend will be entering into the world of uniforms this upcoming semester. As my wife has very strong feelings against this new policy due to cost & detailed dress regulations, I on the other hand like the idea. I think having quick dress decisions in the morning and less focus on consumerist, material-wear can be a healthy thing.

However, if my kids went to a Christian school, I would probably be opposed to it.

Reason being?

In my experience, this is the process that tends to be created in the minds of the pupils of Christian institutions with dress codes (yes, I have oversimplified this some):

  • We are a Christian institution.
  • We have rules based on biblical ideals.
  • We have a dress code that must meet certain standards.
  • These standards must be biblical.
  • Anyone who dresses outside of these standards (within my academic setting or in the outside world) are unbiblical or ”unchristian.”

As any institution has the right to establish their own rules and regulations, I think Christian organizations must be especially careful in what rules they choose to enforce. I believe since the continuous problem of our sin nature within a Christian framework tends to lean towards judgmentalism and works-based-salvation…we all create dangerous, legalistic systems.

So, I think it is essential for Christian institutions to do their utmost best in creating rules that stem from true scriptural principles and that the biblical rationale is continually explained (and those rules without biblical rationale are consistently explained too).

Essentially, what is legalism? It is either trying to earn the favor of God which is only given through grace, or creating requirements of conduct that go beyond the teaching of Scripture…making people abide by them if they are to be a part of the Christian community (church, university, school, etc.).

Personally, I would not want my kids thinking that a girl is unspiritual if she decided to wear a tank top, bikini, or mini skirt…or that a guy was less of a Christian for wearing a shirt with a skull on it…or that once a person became a Christian that they would have to jump through unbiblical, “fashion hoops.”

So, what do you think? Am I overreacting here? I am certain I am being shortsighted somewhere, so feel free to let me have it.

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~ by Dave Smith on August 25, 2008.

7 Responses to “Dressed 2 Kill”

  1. Uniforms are the most economical way to go…just wait until until your teenage kids are trying to keep up with the latest trends…talk about expensive!

    I agree with your logic about Christian institutions and dress codes…I experienced this myself in college.

    If I had a nickel for every Resident Advisor who expressed concern (in an egregiuosly artificial manner mind you) about not wearing socks – I could have paid for my ‘tuition free’ education.

    However, dress codes are a part of life. Your kids will never escape them. I have one for my employees here at my firm, and yes, my perception (i.e. I “judge” them) of how good they are as an employee is shaped by how they dress.

  2. “As any institution has the right to establish their own rules and regulations, I think Christian organizations must be especially careful in what rules they choose to enforce.”

    hmmm…i worked for a place once that might benefit from that sentence.

  3. Yea, I too thought it was over the top that Camp Gideon enforced you to wear shorts every day.

  4. Haha, banter between jdh and Dave. Good stuff.

    Here’s my opinion:

    Dress codes for schools are ridiculous. I have yet to hear one good argument for having dress codes. The only arguments I hear ‘for’ dress codes are really arguments against or in fear of something else (i.e., afraid girls will dress immodestly, and boys will lust after them, and teenage sex will run rampant in the hallways).

    Given that this is not a Christian school, I’m a bit surprised to read this. I cannot imagine how this decision was reached. I would like to know.

    As far as a Christian school would be concerned, I suppose I’ve already tipped my hand. I tend to agree with you, Dave, that dress codes are often born out of a spirit of legalism, and it tends to alienate and/or demonize outsiders.

    That said, however, if a Christian school were to enforce a dress code for the same explicit reasons as the school mentioned above, then it seems you wouldn’t be able to argue against it. That is, if there are no biblical/theological reasons given for it, then it cannot be legalism by its very definition.

  5. Strong thoughts Ben.

    The rationale for the uniforms/dress code follows:

    http://www.akron.com/20070301/wsl1.asp

    -dave

  6. As a product of 12 years of Christian education (whoa!), I always felt that the rationale coming from the school was . . . quick dress decisions in the morning and less focus on consumerism and less distraction from one of the main goals of school – learning. I never really felt it was a spiritual legalism or holier-than-thou issue, rather it was just the common sense concerns you have for your kids, Dave.

  7. Great perspective from someone who has been there!

    It is definitely not a “for sure,” and I have personally seen the results more on the high school/college level with various students (but that doesn’t mean I have seen it from everybody for sure).

    Thanks Jason!

    -dave

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