Friday, May 03, 2013

By This Shall All Men Know

That is, of course, a reference to John 13:35. Jesus goes on to say that it is the love we have for each other that indicates to the world that we are His disciples. Of course, I have no quarrel with that. But I have been thinking about another indicator that the Church of Christ has given up and left to other, older, more hierarchical forms of Christianity: clerical clothing.

This grew out of an idle thought I had, about how few professions have any real distinctive badge of office, uniform, or signifier of any sort. Sure, there are some; police, firemen, postmen, UPS and FedEx, auto mechanics and airline pilots. But other than the security guards  in the lobby and a couple maintenance guys, no one in my building wears anything that would tell you what his job is. (Even security is only noticeable because they're all wearing the same blazer and slacks combo.)

Perhaps, at least in my case, this is a good thing. I have had occasion, several times in my life, to wear uniforms and/or badges of various kinds and I have found that I am susceptible to a rather sinful pride, not to say vanity, when wearing them.

I wonder, though it would not apply directly to me, if my church has not lost something of value by repudiating clerical garb. I do see the logic, however, in such an action. Believing in a priesthood of all believers and Christ as the only intercessor between us and the Father, it makes sense to reject badges or signs of office as we emphasize the unity of the brotherhood. but the loss of the distinctiveness, the instant recognition as a servant of God and one's fellow-man? I suppose it's too late to make an effort to change it, particularly after this much time establishing our current practice.

Too bad; it would be cool to see our minister rocking a cassock.