Did you ever wonder how Jesus would look like if he was clean shaven, with short hair and wearing a suit? I saw this picture in the blog of someone called Mithryn.
We always talk about “Sunday best” but what’s considered “best” seems to be a matter of personal interpretation and of course culture, depending on your geographical location.
However, it worries me when we seem to make a direct connection between clothes/personal grooming with worthiness. The General Handbook of Instructions says:
“Those who bless and pass the sacrament should dress modestly and be well groomed and clean. Clothing or jewelry should not call attention to itself or distract members during the sacrament. Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate. Nor should it be required that all be alike in dress and appearance. Bishops should use discretion when giving such guidance to young men, taking into account their financial circumstances and maturity in the Church.”
Even though, I do not necessarily see how a tie and a white shirt “add” to the dignity of the Sacrament, I don’t think priesthood holders (specially the youth) should be told they cannot pass the sacrament because their shirts aren’t white. Of course, I do understand it for any other reason but not as THE reason for refusal.
Wearing a white shirt doesn’t automatically make you worthy just like wearing a beard doesn’t automatically make you a drug addict. Young people are very impressionable and I think we need to be tactful and understanding when we deal with these things.
How many of us would be criticizing the Jesus in the first picture if he comes to Church unshaven and wearing a red robe? How many of us would think the second Jesus is possibly a returned missionary, worthy to pass the sacrament just based on the way he looks?
The thing is…both pictures are from the exact same person. Less facial hair and a new wardrobe didn’t change Jesus, it changed our perception of him.
I really like the lyrics for Hymn # 235 “Should You Feel Inclined to Censure”
1. Should you feel inclined to censure
Faults you may in others view,
Ask your own heart, ere you venture,
If you have not failings, too.
Let not friendly vows be broken;
Rather strive a friend to gain.
Many words in anger spoken
Find their passage home again.
2. Do not, then, in idle pleasure
Trifle with a brother’s fame;
Guard it as a valued treasure,
Sacred as your own good name.
Do not form opinions blindly;
Hastiness to trouble tends;
Those of whom we thought unkindly
Oft become our warmest friends.
Text: Anon., ca. 1863
Music: Philip Paul Bliss, 1838-1876
Perhaps the next time we feel the itch to criticize or gossip about someone for not wearing the right shirt color, or the right shoes, or the right skirt length to Church it would be nice if we think about the fact that they CAME and in many instances, it took a lot of sacrifices for them to be there. What we can at least do, is welcome everyone with open arms.
In Hugh Nibley’s famous words:
“The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism… The haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.”