By Steve Wolfgang

Footnote: “None Are So Blind As Those Who Will Not See,” Gospel Advocate, XX (January 3, 1878), 6-7.

Upon reading about a Chinese mother who disfigured the feet of her little girl, Justus M. Barnes, a pioneer preacher in Alabama, wrote: “I know a clever, good girl, who has driven the color from her face, is sickly and cannot walk straight. Oh, but she has the beautiful figure of a wasp. What does she pay for it? Truly her whistle costs her an enormous price. . . . These Christian mothers destroy the breast bone and ribs of their daughters with an eye-letted vice, and then turn them deformed upon society to drag out a miserable life filled with groans, complaints and sighs – a perfect cheat upon a husband and the human family.

Our culture has surely advanced by “liberating” women from vice-like corsets and 18-inch waistlines. But while modern women are more comfortable, I am not sure they are always more sensible.

It has always been difficult for young Christians (both male and female) to realize that beauty is not what our culture tells us it is. Physical beauty and physical attraction are facts of life; the Bible does not teach us that we must be ugly. But while the world is a slave to the physical, a Christian recognizes another, far more important, source of beauty. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array: but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Tim. 2:9-10). A young woman must cultivate the beauty of her spirit, and a young man must look for that enduring beauty.

Brother Barnes also emphasizes the responsibility of parents for the conduct of the young. The sometimes sensuous, frequently ridiculous dress of many young girls is directly chargeable to the vicarious lusts of her mother. Many nineteenth-century mothers probably did damage the health of their daughters in their efforts to make them beautiful. Many twentieth-century mothers damage the spiritual health of their daughters by dressing them in expensive and worldly clothing. The biblical charge to “aged women” was never more needed: “that they teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Tit. 2:4,5). – Ed Harrell.

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 11, p. 324
June 7, 1990