An old saying tells us “Clothes make the man” (or woman), but an even older saying is “the habit does not make the monk.” Both are partly true. I have met men and women who were impeccably dressed with everything matching and very expensive accessories but they were people without character, charm, or civility. Good, elegant dress does not mean that one has good principles or is a person you would want as a dinner guest. In like manner, because a person is very casual in his dress does not indicate he is without principles.
However, while the habit does not make the monk, it does identify him and it affects the way everyone looks at him. How a person dresses also affects how he or she looks at himself or herself.
As an educator, I noticed that when students were better dressed it influenced their self-control. Uniforms are even a better guarantee of good discipline. So clothes are important. I would be horrified if my wife or daughters dressed the way most professing Christians dress. It is bad enough for teens to dress with their rears and bosoms on display but to see a 45-year-old woman do so is pathetic. She is trying to return to her spent (misspent) youth so she dresses as a youth in a failed and desperate attempt to return to yesteryears. She expects observers to admire her juvenile fashions on her ever-spreading, ever-sagging, and ever-shapeless body. These infantile fashions are not accidental. The wearing of juvenile-appearing clothing is just one more attempt to create an illusion of eternal youth or eternal adolescence, a phenomenon that is called the “Peter Pan syndrome.”
Modern fashion displays this tendency to infantilize people. An international fashion critic thus expressed herself: “For a long time now, we have seen on catwalks, both international and domestic, fashions that should be displayed at the Children’s Expo, such is the level of infantilization they suggest. Stylists over 25 years old were designing (and wearing) clothes that could be worn by children in a daycare center.”
Others, wearing short, seductive dresses, sit displaying the charm and grace of an obese elephant sitting on a bar stool.
I must say that my mother (even when she was not a Christian), my deceased wife, my present wife, and my daughters were/are the epitome of modesty. I have never been embarrassed or ashamed of any of them, not in the way they dressed or the way they acted.
People go to church, to weddings and to funerals dressed as street urchins but they would not visit the Queen or the President dressed that way. Those loose dressers use “being comfortable” as the determining factor in choosing clothes but that dog won’t hunt. While doing conferences in Japan, a Marine captain who was my driver, told us that he would have to adjust our schedule the next day because he had to see the general. He of course would wear his dress blues with highly polished shoes, a clean shave and combed hair. He was showing respect for a superior officer, his boss. It didn’t matter how uncomfortable he might be in the hot weather.
Others use the culture as an excuse to expose themselves; however, while culture, fashions, etc., constantly change, modesty is always demanded. If one takes the position that modesty is controlled by the crowd, customs, culture, and circumstances then they can also plead that honesty is dependent on the crowd, customs, culture, and circumstances. No honest person really believes that.
It seems active Christians think the above excuse changes the rules temporarily but that is not so. No Christian girl should lower herself to fashion simply because she is a bride or bride’s maid. “But all the dresses are strapless and very, very low,” says an excited bride-to-be. All right, then don’t have a formal wedding or have a seamstress redesign your dress. I recently saw where a bride had purchased a strapless dress and had a beautiful top made for it. Modesty is always in. Immodesty is always out.
Children are permitted to watch all the silly shows on television and movies that brutally attack everything godly, good, and graceful. I just saw four or five dolls dressed as street walkers. Of course, little girls will be impressed to dress similar to them or at least defend such dress. I would not purchase such dolls.
Christians should dress as Christians at all times–understanding the occasion, the time, and all circumstances. After all, we should set the standards not follow them.
A professing female Christian from one of the largest and famous Independent Baptist Churches and Colleges in America said, “I developed a gigantic, curvaceous, apple-bottom *** when I was around 14. [Already there is a signal that she is not a committed Christian.] Then the comments started coming such as ‘You have a lot of junk in your trunk! Your butt wiggles when you walk. Your bouncing rear-end is distracting my husband.’” Then she says that many years later when she thinks about those comments, “I want to curl up into a ball until the pain goes away.” That just doesn’t ring true to me. Me thinks she protests too much. If she is so pained, maybe much of it is guilt.
She found a wedding dress that was immodest and she knew everyone would critically respond to her wearing it. (Maybe this gal is mistaken about how much or how little people think about her.) But she decided to buy the dress whatever anyone thought. She said, “When I pushed my credit card across the counter, I felt… proud. Because I knew what I’d just accomplished, and it had been monumental: don’t let the ******** get you down, and I thought, and I scheduled my first fitting.” I believe she revealed her true rebellious, carnal, immodest heart without realizing it.
She was sure that her Christian friends back in Indiana would ask how she could wear a dress like that. Or how could her parents permit and pay for such a dress. And why would her future husband permit such a thing? I know that I have had such thoughts many times!
She says that those who emphasize modesty do so because we think a woman’s body is an “unclean object.” What silliness and immaturity. She is only seeking a foundation upon which she can stand to defend her own immodesty. Obviously, her college and church, where I have preached a couple of times did not teach her logic and systematic thinking. God helped Adam and Eve with their clothing dilemma. Sin had revealed they were naked and He covered them in animal skins.
She whined on and on saying, “No matter what I wore, I was still on the receiving end of cat calls, jeers, slurs– I was stared at, grabbed at, slapped, and mocked, because my body was unclean, and my body was under the purview of what men thought about it.” I don’t believe it! That did not happen at the church or college she attended. Maybe, just maybe, while shopping in Chicago it did but I even doubt that.
Her last statement is proof that she has major spiritual problems. She wrote, “But what I have learned since then is that there is nothing about my body that I need to hide!” So, what do you want to do, jerk it off and prove you are a totally liberated but frustrated, feminine Fundamentalist! After all, even nudity can be “justified” by some people.
This is no plea for the burqa, only attractive dress that covers what sane people have always known should be covered. For sure, no one should dress to tease, tempt, or tantalize others.
Jerome in the fourth century scolded a Roman woman: “Your vest is slit on purpose….Your breasts are confined in strips of linen, your chest is imprisoned in a tight girdle…your shawl sometimes drops so as to leave your white shoulders bare; and then it hastily hides what it intentionally revealed.” Not many preachers like Jerome today.
Most modern preacher stay away from the dress issue the way a mythical vampire flees the son light.