“And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.” (Matt. 6:28)
Those of you who have a strong childhood memory, no doubt can easily recall when you received a new dress. Maybe it was for your birthday party, a holiday, or special event. Being dressed nicely brings an indelible impression for most women. What is most clear in my memory was when my mother made sure my four sisters and I had nice dresses for the Lord’s Day. She took special efforts to sew all of our dresses in a flattering coordinated way. And, every Lord’s Day, she received numerous compliments from other women in the congregation about her girls “being such nice young ladies”.
I will never forget our special trips to the local fabric shop, and watching her carefully select patterns. When she had a shopping cart filled with bolts of fabric of various lovely shades, adorable prints, decorative buttons and elegant lace trims, on the way home, she lovingly shared her plans. We were always eager and excited to see her final “masterpieces”, as she added her unique creative touches. Several days later, after hearing her “Singer” sewing machine running late into the night, making that uncanny sweet whirring sound, we knew she would have our dresses completed the next morning. We wondered if she ever slept. Then, she would call us to her sewing room and as we eagerly rushed to her, anxious to see new feminine dress creations. We were always grateful to receive what she designed for us. Those moments brought us to tears, giggles of delight, all hugging our mother for such loving sacrificial gifts. Being able to wear our dresses each Lord’s Day, with our white laced ankle socks, and shiny patent leather shoes, which made us feel…well, special, yet realizing the Lord’s Day was very special! Without a word, our attitudes changed, for we knew that we were dressing for a sacred event. Being that young, we certainly didn’t understand the spiritual implications, however years later it has made a deep impression upon each of us. Coupled with discussions regarding “modest apparel” and “honoring our Lord” providing a very clear impression upon my heart and mind.
As a young teen, I recall the peer pressure escalating and seriously desiring to fit in with the “fad”, wanting to wear different clothes to church. My parents never buckled nor allowed us to dictate our appearance. I am deeply grateful for their wise and strict handling of this topic, for now it is easy to see how wild deviations and allowances have become the norm rather than the rare exception… sadly in church. Women can be assured that Scripture does detail how we are to dress. Utilizing greater discernment when deciding what to wear each Lord’s Day is a decision to “Dress for Him”, as we obey Scripture.
Whatever we decide to wear is a liberty given to us by God, however, being filled with the Holy Spirit and possessing the knowledge God’s word, guides us to choose to honor Him, and strive to not bring attention to ourselves, nor make a “brothers in Christ” stumble with our clothing. It is a time set aside, “holy” unto Christians. We assemble with our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ who are now our eternal family. We have responsibilities and ought to “love our neighbors”, and that includes making choices with our clothing, as we assemble to worship our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not something to take lightly, for our live’s are fleeting.
We must keep in mind the very definition of “church”, for it clarifies why we come together. The Greek word for church is “ekklesia”- which is the “body of which Christ is the head” (Eph. 1:22, Col. 1:18, 24). A “body of believers” called by God, assembled to worship God. “It is the medium through which God’s manifold wisdom and eternal purpose are to be made known not only to all men, but to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3:9-11). It is the bride of whom He is the heavenly Bridegroom, the bride for whom in His love He gave Himself up, that He might cleanse and sanctify her and might present her to Himself a glorious church, a church without blemish, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph 5:25 ff). This church clearly is not the actual church as we know it on earth, with its divisions, its blemishes, its shortcomings in faith and love and obedience. It is the holy church that is to be when the Bridegroom has completed the process of lustration, having fully “cleansed it by the washing of water with the word.” It is the ideal which the actual church must keep before it and strive after, the ideal up to which it shall finally be guided by that Divine in-working power which is able to conform the body to the head, to make the bride worthy of the Bridegroom, so that God may receive in the church the glory that is His (Eph 3:21).” (ISBE definition).
Hopefully, this un-exhaustive definition brings gravity and clarity as to why we assemble with our spiritual brothers and sisters each Lord’s Day. In essence, we gather with our eternal spiritual family to worship our Holy Triune God in a “house of God”. Therefore, as we seek to worship and learn from our elders, as a “divine body of believers” we are being sanctified by the Word.
As we are daily inundated and assaulted with thousands of worldly images from our post-modern secularized world; we are being tested to obey God. It is all too easy to follow the latest trends and fads and fall into sin, by selecting immodest or irreverent adornment. There is a plethora of choices a woman can make which will enhance her beauty, as a woman of God. Scripture states, “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly…” (1Tim. 2:9).
At times our church may have an unbelieving female visit while we are assembled; inappropriately and immodestly clothed, this sin is to be expected by a non-believer. However, this a glaring problem which must be addressed lovingly and immediately. While recognizing the Holy Scriptural intent of our time of worship, forces us into action, and not sheepishly recoiling in fear. First, the non-believer who has chosen to visit our “holy sanctuary”, immodestly dressed, abruptly disrupting the entire body of Christ, worshipping God, ought to have one of us responding. Secondly, we are to care for our “brothers in Christ” who are being challenged by visual sin, especially, specific brothers who profoundly wrestle with visual or sexual sin to the point of an addiction to internet pornography. That brother may stumble, once he leaves, and sin even greater once he gets home, because no one addressed the unbelievers’ caustic appearance. An elder or one who is mature, must lovingly provide a sweater or wrap for that girl or woman, and in mere moments the problem is eliminated. She may feel relieved, and cared for. Then afterwards evangelism may occur after our time of worship, for the primary reason for gathering, is for “the body” to worship the Lord!
As we recall the sobering words our Lord Jesus “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.”Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matt. 18:6-7). We are wonderfully obligated by God to love one another. “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
How horrific it is to know that some men are choosing to discontinue assembling with the “body of Christ” because “sinful appearance” is being ignored. Both men and women ought not be distracted by girls or women scantily clad. As Paul reminds us, “It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God”. (Rom. 14:21-22).
Additionally, the women “more mature in faith” are called to seek younger women in the church body, and help them to dress modestly. Some may not yet have the biblical discernment, and sincerely need lovingly guidance into godly decisions. Helping them becomes a lifelong divine gift of love, wisdom, aiding them to dress opposite of the secular images pushed upon them. “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.”(Titus 3:3-5) (Prov. 31).
Married women have a “built-in” blessing. They are able to ask their husbands opinion about their appearance, prior to leaving for church, with time to change if needed. Paul states“…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” (Eph. 5:21-42)
Sadly, as the modern liberal Evangelical churches across America chase the latest splashy trends, in every aspect, evoke a loss of wonder, awe and reverence of our Triune God. This is something to grieve over, and pray for drastic change.
Yet, all “woman of Christ”, must seek to become “salt and light” by individually choosing to obey God and Scripture, holding fast to biblical fidelity. “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:2-3).
Women of Christ, as we prayerfully prepare ourselves for each Lord’s Day, let us resolve to Dress for Him, as we rejoice, knowing we were made in the very “image of God”, called to know His Son, Jesus Christ as our Lord. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”(1 Cor. 10:31).
May our Lord bless you in Truth!