The LORD’s call upon our lives is that just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do (1 Pet. 1:15). In all our ways we should show that we belong to the LORD; we are separated to Him. Accordingly, there are no parts of our lives which are off-bounds as regards to God being interested in how we conduct ourselves. One such area concerns how we dress.
First of all we need to establish clearly what drives us in our choice of clothes. In Rom. 12:1-2 Paul urges the Roman believers Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. The pattern of this world should not be what gives the impetus regarding our attire, but what is according to the mind of the LORD. The glossy magazines, which advocate certain fashion styles, should be handled with care.
God is primarily interested today in our inner transformation rather than outward conformation. Accordingly our clothing should not be attention-grabbing. Rather it is our characters which should be attention grabbing. We see this with our Saviour; there was nothing about His attire which shouted for attention as he lived in this world. Is. 53:2b speaks of Him that He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. From this we deduce that His clothing as a man was according to the normal conventions of the day. A lot of fashion changes have no moral significance and in that sense we should happily fit in with the general styles of the day.
The propensity to display and show ourselves off is prevalent in the world around us. And both scripture and experience indicate that this is something to which ladies are particularly prone. In Is. 3:16-24 we read The LORD says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.” In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls. Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding. The action of the LORD shown here shows what He thinks of “the women of Zion” dressing like the world.
Rather the wholesome godly desire of a sister is shown in 1 Peter 3:4-5 where Peter addresses the wives and says Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. The Christian woman should NOT want people to immediately say “isn’t she pretty”, but rather “isn’t she godly”.
To make sure that it is the beauty of the inner being which is on display the scriptures counsel that modesty should be found in the dress of a sister. Paul says I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God (1 Tim. 2:9-10). The inner beauty of godly character is seen in good deeds and NOT fancy clothes.
Male and Female
At creation mankind was created male and female. Such a distinction is important to God and should be displayed in the clothes that we wear. The law of God codifies this and says A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this (Deut. 22:5). No doubt such a distinction needs to be outworked according to the cultural standards of the day, but it must not be ignored.
One driving principle of new Testament teaching is that we act in such a way towards one another so as to prevent each other from stumbling in our walk with God. The Lord in Rom. 14:13b says make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. Elsewhere the LORD Jesus says I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:28). Putting these two lines of truth together leads us to consider the need for us to dress in such a way so that my clothing does not give any encouragement for a brother or a sister to be led to commit adultery in their heart. Love dictates that the freedom I have in Christ is never exercised to harm someone else.
Similarly in church could it be the case that someone is being prevented from giving due attention to God’s Word in the services on account of their attention being diverted by the suggestive attire of someone else in the congregation?
The way we dress then is important. In this study principles have been laid down. The implementation of them varies from age to age according to the changes of fashion. They also vary according to circumstance. Milking the cows on a farm requires different attire to attending a “posh” dinner. Nevertheless at all times in all circumstances we should be careful to uphold God’s standards in how we dress.
(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Newsletter of March 2008)