Okay, this is an odd topic, but I figured I would be safer writing it now than when the weather gets warmer!
I’ve been intrigued by the Amish for years. There is something about their lifestyle that resonates with me. Perhaps it’s their simple way of living that seems appealing, a life without the constant barrage of information and entertainment (so much noise!).
Amish are easily identified—their clothing is a dead giveaway. Simplicity and modesty, perhaps to a fault, characterize their clothes.
While I’m not suggesting that believers need to hearken after Amish attire, I do think believers ought to recognize that their clothes say a lot about them. That our culture has become too complacent about clothing has become evident even to secular folks.
Major League Baseball has become the first professional league in North America to issue dress guidelines for media members. According to the Associated Press, “The media should dress ‘in an appropriate and professional manner’ with clothing proper for a ‘business casual work environment’ when in locker rooms, dugouts, press boxes and on the field, the new MLB guidelines say. Banned are sheer and see-through clothing, ripped jeans, one-shouldered, strapless shirts or clothing exposing bare midriffs. Also listed are ‘excessively short’ skirts, dresses or shorts cut more than 3-4 inches above the knee.”
The ideas of modesty and appropriateness have been lost in our society, and our church culture experiences the same loss. Folks think little about the seriousness of worship, and it shows when they enter the worship center on Sunday morning wearing shorts and flip-flops during the warmer weather months. Some defend such attire (or lack of it!) by saying that God looks on the heart. “Where in the Bible does it say that men have to wear a three-piece suit and tie and women have to wear ankle-length dresses?” Have you ever noticed how persons will use extreme examples to justify their positions? The issue isn’t suits and ties and ankle-length dresses. The issue is appropriateness. Worship is serious business. It doesn’t require a certain style of dress. Ties are not mandatory, but surely flip-flops and shorts are hardly proper attire for the serious business of worship.
What about our day-to-day clothing? Are appropriateness and modesty evident? Unfortunately, many girls and women, even professing Christians, allow the fashion of the day dictate their clothing choices. The apostle Paul gave this instruction: “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (1 Timothy 2:9a).
Concerning the Greek word translated as “modesty” in 1 Timothy 2:9, Mary Kassian writes, “[It] means that you choose clothes that are decent in His eyes . . . not clothes that are provocative, seductive, and that honor nakedness. When you dress decently, you recognize that God ordained clothes to cover, and not draw attention to, your naked skin. You cover up out of respect for Him, the gospel, your Christian brothers—and out of respect for who He made you to be. Decency means you agree with the Lord about the true purpose of clothing and set aside your self-interest to dress in a way that exalts Christ.” She provides this practical advice: “So in that dressing room trying on that skirt, take time to sit, bend, and stretch in front of that mirror, and ask yourself, Is this skirt decent? Does it do what it should do? Does it properly cover me up? Does it showcase my underlying nakedness—or exalt the gospel of Christ?” (http://www.girlsgonewise.com/what-not-to-wear/).
Likening inner vices and virtues to our outer clothes, Paul writes, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. . . . Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:9-10, 12-14). What we are on the inside is more important than what we wear on the outside, but what we wear on the outside should not contradict what we are on the inside. Our clothes are not what we are, but our clothes tell a lot about us.