Thursday, January 29, 2009

What is Modesty? Part III

Modesty in Apparel: Does it really matter to God what I wear?

There are all sorts of groups and sects out there who have many different ideas of what modest apparel is. And some dismiss the issue altogether, quoting the passage in I Samuel that says, "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." But those who believe that God does not care about how we cover our bodies have apparently not considered what the rest of the Bible has to say on the subject. (There will be more about that in the next post.)

Today, I hope to consider why it matters what Christian women wear. Have you ever seen students in a private school dressed in uniforms? Or identified a policeman or military officer simply by what he was wearing? If you are lost in a hospital, who can you approach in the hallway to ask directions to the right ward? The ones who identify themselves as employees by their uniforms, of course.

The clothing that a person wears is very telling; in fact, it speaks long before that person ever opens the mouth. If I see a guy wearing a jersey, helmet and football pads, no one has to tell me that he is a football player. His clothes say it for him.

Likewise, a Christian's attire should identify him or her as a Christian, a follower of Christ. When a stranger looks at me, there should be no doubt in their mind that I am not a woman of the world. I am not saying that Christian ladies should literally wear uniforms, but that we should wear what is becoming of a Christian lady.

A Christian woman who wears clothing that identifies her as worldly is wearing the uniform of the enemy. Have you read James 4:4? "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

God expects us to look and act differently than the world at large. II Corinthians 6:

14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them ; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

God wants us to be distinctly different, so that we will be light in a dark world. How can our light shine, if we look just like the ungodly?

It is true that clothing does not tell what is in the heart, but the fact is that man does look on the outward appearance. And that is why it matters.

(Read Part IV HERE.)


Anonymous said...

I agree with your conclusion...

Tammy said...

Amen Amen! Well put. People don't stop and think that they may be a hindrance because they have the attitude that God sees and knows the heart but you are right that man can't see the heart or the intentions of the heart and judges often on the appearance. If a man walks out of a bank with a ski mask on and carrying a gun, one would automatically think he's a bank robber! I want people to know there is something different about me right from the first glance.

Vera Prince said...

Hi Tammy! This is a really interesting series. I really enjoy your perspective on modesty. It's something I'm learning more about every day.
I have a few questions for you, if you don't mind.
1. Is that a snood you're wearing? (I have a lovely one in gold threads with pearls and garnets for my ren faire costume....but that's not really here nor there...) Is this to cover your hair for modesty reasons?
I don't understand Christian women who cover their hair. From what I understand, this is done in regards to an admonishment in the OT; now, I thought Jesus made a new covenant with us and so the old laws don't apply. I'm still learning, so please correct me if I'm wrong. I'd really appreciate it if you would refer me to the appropriate passages in the Bible, so I can increase my knowledge, if you happen to know them.
However, I understand that this is the reason that we can eat pork, and that we can eat meat and milk together and wear mixed fibers, and other more obscure laws from the OT. I wonder, why is it that some OT laws are followed by Christians, and some are not. I am in no way questioning your choice. I simply want to learn more.

2. Why is it that most modest clothing preferred by Christians is "old-fashioned?" I see a lot of sites with period clothing and hair styles and I wonder why? I found some really nice tea-length or ankle dresses with shrug sweaters, that are stylish, and for me anyway, very modest. Is part of modesty being...the word I'm looking for isn't unfashionable...but apart from fashion? I don't think there's a good English word for it.

3. Where do pants fit into a modest woman's wardrobe? There are several things I'm not comfortable doing in a dress/skirt. Serious cleaning, for one. Working out. Walking for any distance.

4. Why is it important to stand out? Now, I don't know the passage, but at the last service at my church, we read a passage about how Jesus told someone to pray in a closet, rather than make a big deal about it. I understood this to mean, don't be all showy about how religious you are. It's better that it's a private and serious relationship with God that you do for Him, rather than to show everyone you're so Godly.
Can you talk more about why it's helpful for an average Joe to know I'm (or anyone really) a Christian? I mean, if I need a doctor, or a nurse, yes, I'd want to be able to identify them right away. But, what would the average person want with me?

Thanks for your kind comments on my blog!

Unknown said...

Vera, you raise some very good questions, and several of them! I think I am going to address each one in a post.

I will answer #4 here. We definitely should have a private prayer time. But when it comes to being a follower of Jesus, we are not to hide it. Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Faher which is in heaven." Matt. 5:14-16

Thank you for such thoughtful comments! Blessings -

Vera Prince said...

Thanks Tammy! I'm looking forward to learning more. Incidentally, I just taught J. Winthrop's "City on a Hill" sermon to my college class.

Unknown said...

Oh yeah, and that is a scarf on my head, not a snood. I will address headcovering in the near future.