Why Not Worldly Fashion?

By Rev. C. J. Meeuse

Why Clothing?

One day, as a grade five teacher in elementary school, I unexpectedly came into difficult circumstances. During recess, I saw a group of boys running over the playground, laughing and calling out to each other. They were obviously enjoying themselves to a certain degree, and also tried to get some girls involved. When I investigated as to what they were so busy with, they showed me, with burning cheeks - a pornographic magazine! What effect would that have’? I think it would cause a more sneaky preoccupation with these same matters. Back in the classroom, I asked, "Did Adam and Eve wear clothes in Paradise?" Everyone knew the answer: "No!" "Did they react to naked bodies in the same way as you did just a while ago?" "No," the class responded again. Then we discussed that shame about nakedness came only after the fall, and that they had received their first clothing from God. We discussed that it is ungodly to show naked bodies, as it is done in pornography, and that our body must be kept chaste for marriage. We clothe ourselves to cover our shame and to conceal our bodily form.

Concealing or Revealing?

God gave man clothing after the fall (Genesis 3:21). It is a wile of the devil and sin against God to be misusing clothing now. This essentially happens when its use is contrary to the purpose for which God gave it. The purpose was: to conceal. The devil wants clothing to be used in order to reveal. The world of fashion is very active in this area. It knows how, in a very sly manner, to play along with the desire of a segment of the female gender to attract attention by wearing seductive clothes. Not only the so-called "ladies pants," but also a high split, a tight fit, or sheer see-through material can serve their purpose to acquire the desired goal: an arousing effect on the opposite sex.

Not everyone who buys or wears such clothing is always aware of this. If the question is asked of a young girl why she wears just such clothes, often the answer will be, "Simply because I like them." But I think that parents and others who bring up children must assist them in making them aware of immodest dressing customs. A true Christian will want to dress in a sober fashion, according to God’s Word, and will surely not wish to participate in feeding wrong desires.

Emancipation and Unisex

A wrong desire is also concealed behind the emancipation movement, which tries to give the woman equal status with the man. Desperate attempts are made to "feminize" all kinds of positions in society, A man and a woman, however, have different abilities in very many areas. Ignoring this harms both the woman and the man. Poor woman who really wants to be a man!

For many women, customs in dress and hair style are an expression of their drive for emancipation. A domineering woman used to be called "the one who wears the pants in the family," however, now it has become a normal custom for many women to wear pants. In this way, the assumed equality is brought out. Sometimes you can hardly see if it is a boy or a girl you have to do with, and you first have to listen to the voice or look if there is any hair growth above the lip or on the chin.

Has the sought-for equality been achieved with all this’? Never more than just outwardly. The woman remains a woman. Only she can become a mother. With this, and for this reason, she has special qualities which men do not have. Men, in turn, have other gifts. The Creator desired to have it so. What foolishness, then, to fight against this so desperately. And must we go along with this? Is there also among people who desire to live with God’s Word, a need to obscure the fact that the woman exists, and do our girls and women also very much want to appear as a man? Let us listen instead to God’s Word: "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 unto the LORD thy God" (Deut. 22:5).

"Yes, but," someone will object, "this belongs to their ceremonial laws and refers to the immodest clothing exchange at the temple feasts." Indeed, idolatry was coupled with immodesty and exchange of clothing in ancient times. But is there no idolatry in our time with god of fashion’?

He, who objects that a skirt is immodest clothing for girls and women in farm and garden work, or that the Scottish culture allows men to wear skirts, is really pointing out exceptions. There are such. We do not seek strict, legalistic rules for pharisaical religion, but for God’s will, which we must also love and seek in this matter. The purpose of clothing must answer to that which God meant: modesty. That must be our basis.

Immodest

Those short skirts, wherein girls and women certainly are not dressed more becomingly, are definitely not modest. Sometimes a person dresses herself in such a way that she does not even know herself how to sit decently. Where does the virtuousness of a woman go with such fashions? Some may say, "For once we are not talking about pants, or a pant-skirt, or a culottes, and now there is still something wrong with it." Others will perhaps even shrug their shoulders scornfully and speak of a legalistic attitude. The heart is the main thing, is it not? Indeed, the main point is the attitude of the heart. I do not think this is legalistic, but that the gospel has a lawful attention to modesty. Whoever does not want to accept this, does not know the true gospel, for in it, the law is not despised. Fashion is not an insignificant idol. Whoever does not want to serve idols will agree with the sentiment of the apostle, who wrote, "Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh" (Jude:23b).

The extent people go to with seductive clothing styles and the wearing of revealing clothes, is evidenced by a new "leg-fashion" for girls and women, namely, the so-called "legging." For many women and girls, it appears to be a replacement for the pant-skirt, culottes, or shorts. We must not be vague concerning the standards of this type of clothing: it is immodest, and at bottom., it is sin against the seventh commandment. Bodily curves are displayed as obviously as possible. I sometimes used to say to the girls in junior high, when they spoke of the pants they wore at home as "ladies wear": "How can you call yourself a ’lady’ when you force yourself like a sausage into a casing? It is dishonorable to walk around like that." Most likely not all realize this, but adults should be aware of it, should they not?

If we want to conform to the world, it goes from bad to worse. It is not for nothing that we want to distance ourselves from the fashion of pant-skirts and culottes. This is where it starts, and we end up with the most immodest clothing. The word of Paul is, indeed, applicable: "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2).

The Lord speaks by the prophet Zephaniah about a coming judgment, also over those who display their idolatrous sentiment in their clothing: "And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel" (Zephaniah 1:8).

Adornment or Vanity

Are nice clothes and the wearing of jewelry wrong, and therefore sinful’? It would be unbiblical to say that! Joseph received a coat of many colors from father Jacob, The Bible often speaks of a bride adorned for her husband (Isaiah 49:18, Isaiah 61:10, Jeremiah 2:32, Revelation 21:2). The adornment of a bride may even serve as a type of the Bride of Christ (Psalm 45:14,15). If someone was richly blessed with temporal goods, he was permitted to dress accordingly, not in a desire for pomp, but for distinction of rank and position, and this was also allowed to show.

Besides this, festive clothing existed in Bible times. and guests at a wedding wore wedding garments. And we know from the history of Isaac’s marriage and from many other places, that jewelry was used.

Still, it is remarkable that we read of Jacob when he was on the way to Bethel, that he said, "Put away the strange idols that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments’ (Genesis 35:2). And a little further we read, "And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand. and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.’"

The directions for the lifestyle of the congregation in New Testament times also require the ideal of sobriety in clothing and adornment.

Paul writes in I Timothy 2:9, 10, "In like manner also. that woman adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shame-facedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women proffessing godliness) with good works."

And Peter says in I Peter 3: 1-4, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of’wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."

Let us not forget that this same principle can be present even if someone dresses himself modestly, perhaps even in black, Pride lives in the heart!

You can also be a "whited sepulchre" in black clothes. The Lord sees the heart. Where is the meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price’!

To Be Continued.