What’s appropriate to say from the pulpit? Can you talk about sex? How explicit can you get? What about cussing? What if it’s part of a reading? And how about clothing? What is appropriate to wear to church?
I cussed from the pulpit, the first time I spoke in front of the congregation. It was totally intentional. Part of a poem I had written and was doing. The phrase was, “bullshit moral standards.” I said it loud and clear.
I usually wear jeans to church. Sometimes a pair of black or beige cargo pants. Usually I wear a polo shirt or a button up. Every so often I’ll throw on my Standing on the Side of Love shirt. And sometimes I’m really happy to have made it out of bed and gotten myself ready in time that I realize I’m wearing Birkenstocks with orange wool socks, jeans that have seen better days, and the same black t-shirt that I wore the day before. Nobody seems to care.
At least my underwear are clean.
And about that whole cussing from the pulpit thing? Well, nobody seemed too upset by that, either. But I’d never do it again.
Why bother, if nobody cares? I guess because I see church as challenging me. Challenging me to be my best self and my best self is not cussing. It’s not throwing on the first thing I see in my laundry basket. It’s not being a grumpy sour person or a cold, mean person. It’s not cussing or saying mean things or gossiping about people or any of that.
The thing is I don’t actually have a problem with cussing. But that one time I did it in church? It felt so monumentally inappropriate. It felt wrong. Whereas with my friends? I’m like a sailor and I don’t really mind. And with my friends? I have some shirts that I love. But I’d never dare wear them to church. “Whips and Chains belong in the bedroom, not the circus” is one of my favorites. But it’s not appropriate for church. Am I being inauthentic in church? I don’t think so.
So let me ask, do you think it matters? Do you think people should try to be their better selves in church? Do you think it matters what you wear or what you say?