Some time ago as we were preparing to go to a missionary fellowship on the field, a missionary sent a general email to all of us who were coming telling us how we should dress. He said, that our wives should not wear slacks and the men should not wear shorts lest we unnecessarily offend some of our missionary brethren. He then admonished us that this kind of consideration would be Biblical citing Romans 14:13. He is of the “Falls” persuasion, so I knew it was for his sake that we were given the dress code.
Now, I could care less about the clothes issue. My wife doesn’t mind wearing a dress all the time, and my legs are so white I endanger people’s eyesight. Therefore we feel very at ease with any code that people might want to impose. However, I took exception to the fact that we needed to worry about “offending” missionaries so I told him that we would take great care not to irritate him, but if he was truly offended he really shouldn’t be on the field.
The concept of Romans 14 is to avoid tripping people up spiritually. If missionaries and pastors are offended in that sense by a violation of dress code, then they are too weak to be leaders. That they are irritated is a forgivable carnality. I’m irritated by their wives’ culottes. I’m maturing though, and even that is starting not to bother me. I wish they wouldn’t be irritated by my wife’s pants. If they are vexed (as I am) by immodesty, this is normal and good. But vexed because of my righteous soul, irritated because of my carnal pride, and offended because of my immaturity are three different things. Let’s get it straight.