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Dressing for the Glory of God
Sometimes we get the idea that simplicity is tackiness, but nothing could be farther from the truth. “Christians should not take pains to make themselves a gazing stock by dressing differently from the world.”1
Solomon said it this way: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”2 You couldn’t find a better definition of appropriateness. What we wear while working in the garden would be totally inappropriate at church or a business meeting. What is just right for the dead of winter would certainly not be sensible in the sweltering heat of summer. Our garments while flying down the road on a bicycle would probably not be what we would wear to a dinner party. Appropriateness combines common sense with all the other principles of dress, to make a balanced picture. It keeps us from such extremes in dress that simple grace and beauty are lost.
The cultures of different countries play an important part in deciding what is appropriate dress. In Middle Eastern countries, where women are still largely covered except for the eyes, a western woman or girl would need to take extra care to dress modestly and respectfully. In some countries of Europe, people dress so elegantly that a sloppy American, in T-shirt and jeans, becomes almost a laughingstock. Dressing appropriately means dressing with good judgment.
What is appropriate for men is not always right for women, even if common culture allows it. Today the unisex look is trendy, but as Christians we need to make certain that there is clear distinction in our clothing. Scripture teaches us to respect the distinctions between men and women.3 These distinctions are important if we are to understand who we are and the role God wants us to fulfill.
“There is an increasing tendency to have women in their dress and appearance as near like the other sex as possible and to fashion their dress very much like that of men, but God pronounces it abomination. ‘In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety’ (1 Timothy 2:9). . . . God designed that there should be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women, and has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it; for the same dress worn by both sexes would cause confusion and great increase of crime.”4
Christian clothing should be not only appropriate but also pleasant to look at. We should not deliberately dress in an ugly way so that people are disgusted when they see us. This would detract from God, also! No one should ever be able to say, “I would sure hate to be a Christian! Look at what hideous clothes their God makes them wear!” Instead, “In dress, as in all things else, it is our privilege to honor our Creator. He desires our clothing to be not only neat and healthful, but appropriate and becoming.”5
God loves the beautiful. If He didn’t, He would not have filled this world with such a variety of beautiful colors. True beauty in clothing starts with style rather than fashion. Fashion comes and goes, but style remains. Fashion is exciting, transient, and faddish; style is poised, lasting, and consistent. Good design is ageless. In fact, fashion is almost synonymous with temporary. If fashion designers created timeless styles, they would soon work themselves out of their high-paying careers!
On the other hand, clothes with true style do not easily become outdated. Like quality works of art, they say something and have a purpose. In fact, many classic styles have been appropriate for years and will never go out of fashion.
1. Ellen White, Child Guidance, page 414. 2. Ecclesiastes 3:1. 3. Deuteronomy 22:5. 4. White, op. cit., page 427. 5. Ibid., page 413.
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