Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A call to modesty - Part 2

If you missed my first post in this series, you can find it here.

This post is bound to cause some controversy because I will be discussing the very sensitive topic of what we should be wearing. My prayer is that you will be open to my views and read this post with an open heart and mind, you can disagree as much as you'd like. I will not judge anyone who doesn't see things as I do. Please keep in mind, much of this comes from my own personal conviction and God doing some works in me that require me to be completely obedient to His will in this area of my life before He can open the doors to the things I see coming!!

I will be discussing 2 things today:
* Adornment (jewelry, makeup, etc.)
* Clothing

Adornment:

This is a very difficult subject for most Christians (myself included). I definitely don't want to tell you something that isn't in alignment with God's word and I also don't want to be too careful to be 'politically correct' because following God's word and instruction isn't about pleasing the world (Romans 12:2), it's about being pleasing in God's eye. No one will stand in judgment for my life other than me and all I can do is strive to be what He calls me to be.

I'll try to tackle makeup first:

There aren't any specific references in the Bible where anyone is instructed to wear/not wear makeup. There are several references to painting of faces/eyes, etc. and the references lean to both good and bad.

The Bible does tell us:

3- Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4- You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3-4 NLT
No where in that scripture does it give a specific command of do or don't, but it does say don't be concerned. One commentary I read in the Full Life Study Bible - KJV says that "gaudy, showy or expensive adornment is contrary to the spirit of modesty that God desires for the Christian wife." This doesn't mean that we are not to wear makeup at all, it simply says to me that we are to be cautious and not let the significance of looking a certain way overtake the true spirit God intends us to have - one of discretion and meekness.

A woman who is beautiful but lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout. Proverbs 11:22 NLT

And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself
with crimson, though deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest
thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will
despise thee, they will seek thy life. Jeremiah 4:30 KJV

These two passages speak to vain attempts to 'beautify' oneself. What we show on the outside is a direct reflection of what we are on the inside. The old adage 'don't judge a book by it's cover' really doesn't hold true for those of us professing to be believers in God's word because one should be able to tell just by looking at me that I'm different and if I'm modest on the outside, I'm most likely that way on the inside. Again, I have found no direct references to whether we should or should not 'paint our faces', but I have found numerous passages cautioning us to be careful not to do such things in vain attempts to beautify ourselves or our selfserving nature.

For me: I do wear makeup. I do not wear a lot of makeup. I've even cut out a couple of things that I was wearing - over the years I had let myself add too many 'enhancements' to my makeup routine. I personally wear foundation, blush, a tad bit of eyeshadow and mascara. Nothing dramatic.

Jewelry is next....

Again, I find lots of references in the Bible where jewelry is seen as a good thing and then references (usually to LOTS of jewels/pieces) where jewelry is seen as bad. I have the same thought on discretion and vanity as I do of makeup. What is our purpose for wearing jewelry? Obviously wedding bands and watches have a direct purpose, but I'm talking about necklaces, earrings, etc.

The following scriptures are examples of good adornment and examples of our husbands adorning us with whatever he sees fit for us to wear.

And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2 KJV

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my sould shall be joyful in my god; for
he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the
robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a
bride adorneth herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 KJV

And it came to pass, as teh camels had done drinking, that the man took a
golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten
shekels weight of gold. . . Genesis 24:22 KJV

Ah, so you can see why this is such a conflicting area for most Christians. My prayer would be that you look inside yourself for the reasons why you wear the adornments you do. I cannot tell you personally if what you are doing is correct or pleasing to God because I do not know your heart. I can say for me that I was putting too much emphasis on my jewelry until recently and I now see that even though I wasn't wearing all that much it was definitely for the wrong reasons. Do I still wear jewelry other than my wedding band and watch? It's about 50/50 and really depends on if I think that extra piece of jewelry will call too much attention to me or not. Mostly these days any extra jewelry is a necklace - I haven't changed my earrings in ages and they are very simple small hoops, most days (if my hands aren't swollen - 3rd trimester...) I also wear a ring that was my mother's when she was younger on my right hand.

Clothing

This has actually been a very simple concept for me to grasp. To some it will seem not-so-simple and maybe there are others of you that will come to the same conclusion I have. God convicted me in this area before any of the others and when I started researching everything (to make sure it really was God's will for my life and not the enemy trying to pull me into some trap) it almost seemed like a no brainer for me.

In my last post I discussed what modesty really is and how it pertains to every area of our life. I also discussed some specifics, such as what should be covered, but I didn't really go much further than that.

In my research, I've come to realize that women in "Bible days" wore robes that were long and flowing and were very different from the garments men wore. Here's some research I found on that subject and the difference between the garments men and women wore. It's worth reading the entire post, but if you just want the specifics on the type of garments worn, you'll need to scroll down to the 12th section (they're not numbered, so you'll just have to count them off!!).

From reading the section in the link above you've discovered how different the apparel for men and women was and it's only evolved to what it currently is in the last 60 or so years. Before that, most women would never have dreamed of wearing 'crotched garments' such as shorts or pants because they would be looked at as being in men's clothing.

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 an
abomination unto the Lord thy God. Deuteronomy 22:5 KJV

In my opinion (and for my personal life) that sums it up pretty well for me. Crotched garments (pants, shorts, etc.) are not to be worn by women and this is most likely because they actually show the countours of our body (legs, bottom, crotch area, etc.). It doesn't stop at just wearing a skirt ladies, skirts can be inappropriate also. Remember in my last post where I quoted Matthew 5:28 where it says that any man who looks at a woman lustfully has already comitted adultery.... well, skirts and shirts that are too tight, shirts that are low cut or see through/thin are also out because they give a man ample opportunity to look at you in that lustful way (and only my husband should EVER be privy to those seeing those parts of my body exposed by inappropriate clothing).

My opinion about skirts is that they should be at least knee length and here's why:

2- Take the millstones, and grind meal; uncover thy locks,
make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. 3-Thy nakedness
shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I
will not meet thee as a man. Isaiah 47:2-3 KJV

The thigh being uncovered is likened to nakedness.

Here's the actual definition of the term 'thigh' from http://www.dictionary.com/:
1. the part of the lower limb in humans between the hip and the knee.

To me that explains pretty simply that the thigh extends all the way to the knee and all of it should be covered.

Here's my one dilemma in all of this...

I am currently VERY pregnant and expecting #3 in just over 3 weeks. I own a grand total of 4 skirts that I can wear at this point. One of them is completely casual and mid-calf length and I love it, however, I cannot wear it every day - it does need to be washed occasionally! The other skirts I own are a lot more dressy and come just below my knee cap - still appropriate, only I don't feel comfortable 'dressing up' every day to play around the house with my kids. I would really hate for one of them to get torn or a stain and then be unwearable. And there is absolutely no point in buying any more maternity clothing this late in the game - that would be unwise use of our money because I may never wear them again after this pregnancy (because we do not know yet if it is God's will for us to have any more children).

I have spent much time in prayer over this and feel like God is directing me (at least until I can get back into my regular clothes - of which I have plenty of knee length or longer skirts to choose from) that no matter what, I am NOT to expose anything above the knee and the more 'flowy' (ie. not fitted or exposing countours) the better. I have a couple of pairs of capris and 2 pairs of very skirt-like gaucho pants that I've been wearing until this baby arrives.

Whew...

Ok, I'm going to leave you now with some other resources that I've found - please note that I may not agree with everything in each of these articles/posts but have found them very informative and they have lots of great research in them.

* The Bible's Dress Code

* Modest Dress of Christian Females

* Modesty, A Matter of Heart (there is a box on this page with the links to the actual articles)

* Biblical Modesty

* Jewelry, does the Bible say it's a sin?

* The Christian's Dress and Adornment

2 comments:

Mrs. Butler said...

I'm so excited to read more about this. I am passionate about modest dressing and I agree with your conclusions. I spend much of my free time sewing modest skirts for ladies and girls because I believe so much in this style of dress. Also, as a mother of 4 boys I just really don't like what my own children see when we are out in public. It is shameful what some mothers buy for their precious daughters.

I'm excited to read more on your study as it progresses.

~Kaira

Beth said...

Thank you for writing this. I appreciate the links inside your post and at the end for those of us that want more information. Be blessed!