By Benita E. Crumley
In recent years, Christian men and women have become lax in their attention as to what is considered proper dress for those “professing godliness. ” From the time when man became aware of his unclothed state until now, our God has been concerned, and has given instructions to guide us in the way we clothe ourselves.
Numerous considerations enter in to determine styles: many cultures, variations of weather conditions, and numberless areas of the world where man was destined to live. People in hot climates, of necessity, would not dress in the same clothing as the Eskimo. Neither would the South Sea Islanders, nor those in the jungles, dress in the same manner as those in areas with the four distinct seasons, such as we experience in America.
But taking all of these things into account, there was always to be a distinction between the sexes. God said, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination to the Lord thy God” (Deut. 22:5). Today, it is often difficult to distinguish between the sexes, due to their hair and clothing styles.
Clothing greatly influences the behavior of the wearer, and one has but to notice the difference when a young lady dresses in feminine dresses, and then switches to faded jeans, sloppy sweat shirts and soiled sneakers – she becomes a different person altogether. Numerous studies have been done in order to determine the effects that clothes and hair styles have upon children’s behavior, and the findings apply to adults as well.
In one such experience of mine, where I was involved with a kindergarten class in a Campbell, California public school, the little bully of the group had long, shaggy, unkempt hair, which all but covered his eyes. His clothing was equally as bad. The other children picked on him; they didn’t really like him, and he fought back with a vengeance!
As a last resort (when all else had failed with this child), I said, “Danny, before you come to school on Monday, tell Mommy you need a hair-cut and some clean clothes.” The teacher was mortified and quaked in her boots for fear of repercussions! But on Monday, a totally new little boy came to school. He had been transformed! He had a radiant face, beautiful, big, brown eyes, and a grin from ear to ear. The kids all gathered around him, and were so pleased with his new look. They couldn’t believe their own eyes! Danny’s belligerent and unacceptable behavior never returned, and even his learning problem improved. What made the difference?
God gave us a positive message as to how we must dress in order to please him. However, in later years, too many of us have been unfavorably influenced by a fashion world that is largely ruled by homosexual designers, and patronized by the rich, vain and bored (both men and women), who set the pace in dress for the equally bored, idol-worshiping and publicity-seeking rest of us.
In our headlong dash to be like the pack, we have st sight of proper decorum, seemliness, decency, dignity, etiquette, a sense of what is proper or correct, to say nothing as to what God requires of us. To our shame!
The second rule speaks of modest dress, “as becometh women (and yes, men, BEC) professing godliness” (1 Tim. 2:10). Men’s attire can be just as immodest as women’s, and when they stand before the congregation to lead in any way, with trousers so tight that nothing is left to the imagination, then that is immodest. But anything that meets these two requirements may be worn.
Since clothes do give identity to the wearer, one needs to ask himself, “How do I wish to be known?” In Bible times certain garments identified a widow, a harlot, a priest, a prophet (e.g. John the Baptist), a ruler (king or queen), those in mourning, the wedding garment for invited guests, to mention the most familiar.
In our time, the rule still holds – our clothing identifies us most of the time. A uniform could indicate a soldier, policeman or policewoman, nurse, doctor, UPS person, chef or waitress, etc.
There are dress clothes, formal clothes (how many would be admitted to a dinner at the White House dressed like many Christians come dressed to worship?), wedding clothes, casual clothes, sport clothes, school clothes, play clothes and night clothes. We even have laws concerning those, and if you don’t think so, try going shopping in your night gown, or men in their pajamas.
Consider the following words which describe and suggest clothing, and see if immediately you don’t also associate them with people: gaudy, modest, immodest, sloven, neat, hippie, tasteful, appropriate, sloppy, dainty, coarse and suggestive. How we dress fairly well tells people the kind of person we are, and what we stand for.
The most important place we go, and for which we should be properly dressed (both men, women and children), is when we assemble for worship – We tend to forget, if indeed we ever knew, that we are coming into God’s presence. This is not a causal affair – where we can approach it in whatever way suits our fancy. God laid down strict rules for the children of Israel at such times, and the principles have never been altered for us: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day; for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai” (Exod. 19:10). But lest any should argue that such command doesn’t apply to us, consider Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Each Christian, young or old, male or female, is the only Bible the world reads, and it is of utmost importance that we set proper examples. The objection is raised thus: “But, if we have to be so strict we will be freaks.” Hardly! Our women will be the lovely, feminine, dainty, desirable, adored creatures they were meant to be – the climax of God’s creation. Our men will be Christian gentlemen, proud to be seen with us, and our women honored to be seen with them!
We are children of the King! We are kings and priests unto him (Rev. 1:6). What an honor! Let’s not disgrace ourselves, nor bring reproach upon him, because of our thoughtlessness and careless regard for what is proper dress for those professing godliness.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 16, pp. 488-489
August 17, 1989