If you are LDS and on Facebook, there's a pretty good chance you've heard about the drive to make this Sunday "Wear Pants to Church Day" for women. (If not, here's the Joanna Brooks version of the call to action.)
As it happens, my wife and daughter wear pants to church quite frequently. They are typically baggy, brightly colored, and accompanied by long shirts called kameez. They wear them because those are the the kind of clothes they get from cousins and because they're both beautiful and comfortable. Nicole particularly enjoys wearing salwar kameez when she's pregnant, since drawstrings are way easier on a changing belly than rigid Western-style sizes. As far as I know, the women in my family have only had compliments on these clothes.
I have never worn a skirt to church. But my home teaching companion, who is Fijian, often wears the kind of wrap that's common on his island. I don't think that bothers anybody either, and I know that a lot of people enjoy seeing him worship in clothes he associates with tradition and reverence.
So: I'm not bothered if the people who are trying to organize this event wear pants (for women) and purple ties (for men) to their wards' meetings on Sunday. Why shouldn't they?
But here's a confession: I feel pretty uncomfortable with using the internet to organize just about anything symbolic that people carry into their regular wards on a certain day.
It just strikes me as potentially factionalizing. If we decide it's a good idea for people to wear pants this Sunday to show they agree with x or y perspective on gender, what sort of precedent do we set? What happens next year if someone starts a Facebook group asking Mormons to wear red if they think their government is off track? Or to wear hats if they think 1930s Mormonism was way better than today's?
The hope, of course, is that wearing pants (or red or hats) would start productive conversations. But I worry that it would actually just take the focus from the ward family and the inner spirit of worship, where it belongs, to, well...Facebook stuff. I worry that by starting a movement on the internet and importing it into our churches, we'd also risk importing internet comment culture and petty divisions into our churches. And we don't want that. Or at least I don't want that.
By Sundays, I'm tired of Facebook. I want God.
And I want to see God's face in my brothers' and sisters' faces. I don't want to worry about where I stand relative to conscious messages of protest or faction coded into their clothes.
So...could we maybe ask people to change their profile pictures next time we want to raise awareness for something? And just let everyone come to church ready to worship and in their own usual Sunday best--whether that means salwar kameez, Fijian wraps, or cowboy boots and jeans.