What to Wear?

Warmer weather is in the air in the panhandle of Florida. Down here that means- among other things- the beach! God has blessed this region with some of the most scenic beaches anywhere in the world (I do not exaggerate in saying this- believe me). 

 

It also means for the next six months or so that shorts, tank tops, strapless wear, swimsuits, etc. will be worn everywhere- not just on the beach. Occasionally some of these styles even show up down at the church house (no swimsuits yet though lol!). 

 

And this always sparks a debate- about what is appropriate and modest- to wear at church and elsewhere.

 

Below is a bulletin article I wrote a couple of years ago addressing this. Rereading it- it sounds sort of quaint in current culture. What is your take on all of this?

 

 

We are called by God to be different to make a difference. In every aspect of our life we are a people who uniquely belong to him. In baptism we “put on Christ” and in life we are to “wear” him. This explains the Apostle Paul’s statement in Titus 2:10 for Christ’s followers to “adorn the doctrine of God”. Putting on Christ, wearing him and adorning his word in modesty demonstrate that we belong to him. It is a positive faith statement to our culture which can be nullified by immodesty which is not reflective of Christ’s values. It is clear that God calls us to be a people of modesty. Here are some thoughts along this line for you to consider:

  • Don’t dress in such a way as to call undue attention to yourself. Folks in some New Testament churches were struggling with this. Some had a tendency to dress in outrageous ways with extravagant hairstyles and far too much jewelry- just for attention. This diverted attention away from the adornment of Christ. Paul addressed this problem. “I want the women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” (1st Timothy 2:9-10 The Message)
  • Don’t dress in such a way as to expose yourself. Contrary to growing cultural trends God has called us to cover up. Ever since the episode in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7) public nakedness has not been in style with God. To dress modestly means to adequately cover ourselves. No one has to barely dress to be attractive.
  • Don’t dress in such a way as to harm your Christian influence and reputation. Really this is what it is all about in so many ways. We are the “light on the hill” and should want to demonstrate the positive and healthy values of Christ to all around us. Modesty does that and presents us as a people wearing Christ- beautiful- like a bride adorned for her husband. (See Revelation 21:2) 

Also consider these other ideas about modesty.

  • You can dress attractively and stylish and still be modest.
  • Always try to dress appropriately for the occasion or circumstance. But do not allow any occasion or circumstance to tempt you to dress immodestly.
  • Regardless of what everyone else does, God’s standard is the right one.  

God has not given us any specific dress code, but he has left us enough teaching to guide our decisions on dress and modesty to reflect his will. Our challenge is to apply these teachings in our life so as to always demonstrate we belong to him- by the way we interact, by the way we conduct our life and by the way we dress. 

 

“Adorn the doctrine of Christ” and dazzle the world with the heavenly style and beauty of grace, mercy, peace and love. It is always in fashion with God.

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19 Responses to What to Wear?

  1. That Girl says:

    I heard a sermon on this several months ago and it has definitely changed the way I think about the way I dress. Women and men are wired differently (duh!) and we (women) don’t understand what a man is thinking when he sees an attractive woman. Even a modestly dressed woman.

    The preacher of this sermon said that he thought it was the responsibility of the husband/father to make sure that his wife/daughters know what they’re doing by dressing immodestly. My gentleman friend was with me that day and after church, I asked about my clothes and he said that I had a blouse that was very pretty but not modest.

    I can’t say that I was shocked because I felt uncomfortable in the blouse and didn’t wear it often but I took it that week to a clothing giveaway place and felt guilty because I knew that no other woman needed it either.

    Women probably pay more attention to each other’s clothes than men do anyway.

  2. mkjergaard says:

    Good stuff! We don’t hear these kinds of messages much anymore, but they are needed. The Youth Minister’s wife in my former church used to hold an annual “fashion show” for the teen girls (no men allowed!). She would don short shorts and bend over in front of them; low cut shirts and lean over, etc. Then she would say something like, “This is what you are showing to the boys.” It left an impression!

  3. xybatt says:

    Nothing is more distracting than another “flash” of a thong or butt or too much cleavage. Yes, men are “wired” to look but who wired females to show so much? Also, while most women state that they aren’t visually stimulated….it’s still wrong for a man to wear skin tight or revealing clothes also.

  4. J D says:

    Good Post Danny. Someone recently said that they were tired of all of the clevage at our church. I know a young teenage girl that shows more clevage than most women have… and seems to be oblivious to it. But I know she has to look in that mirror … so it’s not done in ignorance.

  5. SteveLavin says:

    I can’t count the times I have taught a teen class only to see some girl sitting across from me tugging uncomfortably at a dress that was way too short. I am 30 years their senior and it made me uncomfortable as well!

    Parents need to take a good long look at what their daughters (and sons) are allowed to own and wear. (I get tired of seeing, and having my daughters see, boys underwear also!)

    mkjergaard, what a great idea!

  6. Darin says:

    Good discussion and good reminder.

    I know the clothing issue is a big one and one that needs to be addressed.

    Thanks for the post.

  7. dannydodd says:

    Good input everyone- mostly from a male perspective, but Teri is representing the girls.

    Yea, this issue does cut both ways- the point about the jeans hanging down is a good example.

    I knew of one church that had a hemline minimum and even had a sister designated to check it out with a ruler! That maybe going to far, but it seems we are going to far in the other direction.

  8. Ideas about modesty really differ from the Delta to the Coast, don’t they…Where we were taught that “mixed swimming” was wrong, on the coast, it is common place…still there are some swimsuits that are certainly more modest than others and the build of a person’s body can make a big difference in how modest an outfit is. I like what That Girl said. If you don’t feel comfortable in it, then it’s probably not modest so don’t wear it! I also like the idea of the youth minister’s wife doing the fashion show for the young ladies. They are sometimes so clueless or maybe they just don’t care. Good post, Danny. Gives teens and parents lots to think about.

  9. Trey Morgan says:

    Well said Danny. And, as a man I appreciate That Girl’s attitude. Thanks!

  10. benoverby says:

    Being in Columbus, GA this week, after a year and a half in New York, the difference in dress is amazing. I know it’s hot down here, but that really doesn’t require running around half-naked all the time. It’s one thing to dress stylish. It’s another thing to try to dress sexy by highlighting all the wrong parts of the body.

  11. dannydodd says:

    Tammie, their is a difference in regions- just like Ben said. I like what that YM wife did. Pretty creative way of illustrating this point.

    Ben, I think it is nothing but conditioning. Everywhere we look skimpy clothing is the style and girls- it seems- are influenced to dress less.

  12. Jim says:

    Someone brought up the “boy’s underwear”. Does anyone know what exhibiting your underwear means. My work partner is an urban young black man and he states that it symbolizes “availability” in prison life. The boys need to be talked to also about dress!!!

  13. TLC says:

    Excellent post and bulletin article. The pastor at my previous church did a sermon on this one day and gave very specific guidelines. One was that a neckline should go no lower than a hand’s width below the collarbone. I’ve used it ever since!

    However, experience has shown that the people who need to pay the most attention to these sermons are the least likely to realize that THEY are the ones who are having trouble. So you might need to get more specific in your guidelines, and maybe some men and women in your church need to approach these people quietly and in person.

  14. Teresa says:

    I’m going to preface my comments by saying that I am a mother of a high school and a college age daughter. They never leave my house inappropriately dressed. We have trained them to be modest and respectful in their dress.

    However, I think we need to be careful in our churches to avoid a judgmental attitude. It is so easy for visitors or young Christians to be turned away from the Lord by the critical spirit of His Kids! It is much more effective to lovingly develop a relationship with these girls and come alongside them to influence their choices. Jesus had a lot more impact on the many sinners He was with by loving and accepting them by throwing a handbook of guidelines at them.

    Okay! Maybe this is an unpopular CofC opinion, but I see it all over the Word!

  15. SteveLavin says:

    Excellent point Teresa! A lot of damage has been done over the years by handing down arbitrary guidelines from the pulpit, in written form, or even quietly approaching people. I agree with you, it is always more effective to teach the principle and then help people along in maturity so that they can make the personal application.

    Having said that, I still like mkjergaard’s fashion show idea. If handled correctly, it uses a safe environment to teach the principle but in a non-threatening, non-arbitrary, non-personal attack approach. It simply makes the point – visually – without condemning anyone specifically (assuming that care is taken to make sure that a specific ‘offender’ is not being targeted in the group setting).

    Arbitrary guidelines are only good so long as someone is around to enforce the rules. We should teach, and encourage, in such a way that our young people will not require ‘enforcers’ once they enter the adult world.

  16. dannydodd says:

    Teresa does make a good point- and I have witnessed some misguided attempts to address the issue of dress. That is unfortunate.

    I like Steve’s last paragraph.

    This topic- like all others- needs a balanced approach.

  17. Pearls and Diamonds says:

    This is a great article and a great discussion. I’ve tried to deal with this issue on the blog I share with my sister-in-law, http://www.pearlsanddiamonds.wordpress.com. Lately, I’ve done a series on situational modesty. It’s been a challenge to write–trying to call out some things that simply don’t reflect Christ-likeness while being gentle enough to hold my own convictions as my own convictions, and not go farther than challenging girls to think about what they wear. I’d appreciate feedback, if you take a look at that series.

    Grace and Peace,
    Lauren

  18. imssdarm says:

    I enjoyed the article. I have also transcribed a series of sermons from my church on the subject of dress of which can all be read here;

    http://imssdarm.wordpress.com/category/dress-reform/

  19. link has changed;

    I enjoyed the article. I have also transcribed a series of sermons from my church on the subject of dress of which can all be read here;

    http://sabbathsermons.wordpress.com/category/dress-reform/

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