October 7, 2018

In this issue: Modest Apparel? by Bobby Graham

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Bobby Graham (The Gospel Guardian, July 16, 1970)

The problem of which Christians are probably more conscious now than any other, is that of dress. Most recognize it to be an issue, but few are really aware of the principles involved. Many who once decried such wanton disregard for the will of the Lord and the consciences of others apparently now have little concern. The violations sometimes result from a lack of teaching, but more often they are the fruit of an unwillingness to accept what the Book teaches. Many who claim to be the Lord's people hearken more willingly to the call of style than to the voice of the Good Shepherd. Instead of setting examples to enlighten a sin-darkened world, most follow the trends that lead into darkness. Surely the Lord has spoken on this subject that attracts us: will we not listen?

This writer recognizes his is a delicate and unpopular subject, but he at the same time seeks to please God — not men. In efforts to please God, in fact, we should be willing to displease men. The writer also recognizes that styles vary and alter modes of dress; but when styles are such that they involve people in violations of Bible teaching, God's will should be supreme.

Let it be understood that God has placed in every man all desires that are good and proper avenues of fulfillment. For these reasons, adultery and fornication are sin; furthermore, any incitement or invitation to such is equally sinful. The concerned Christian would do well to consider these thoughts.

When the Bible uses the term modest, the meaning is orderly, well-arranged, decent. When Jesus used the word lust in the passage that we shall consider, he meant a strong desire to do evil. Then when Paul classified lasciviousness a work of the flesh, he was describing an absence of restraint, a situation of indecency.

The word of God sets forth several principles to guide us in our efforts to please God and to benefit man. A sound understanding of these principles renders the modern mode of dress utterly defenseless — without justification. God teaches us that we are to be consecrated. Paul points out that consecration or sanctification will help us know how to possess our vessels honorably (I Thess. 4:3-7). Sanctification and devotion, moreover, demand separateness and distinction in our lives. Christians will outwardly bear the mark of belonging to the Lord (I Pet. 2:9). If we belong to the Lord, we will therefore disdain the world (Jas. 4) and help others know the Lord. For the man or woman who hinders others from doing right by producing lust in their hearts, better were it that he drown in the deep (Matt. 18). Paul likewise teaches in I Tim. 2:9 that Christian women should possess shame-fastness and sobriety. The former, in context, refers to a character that produces shame and blushing when immodest clothing is worn, and the latter depicts the good judgment that we should use in dressing. Peter writes in I Pet. 3 that a woman concerned about converting her husband must manifest her chastity in her adorning. Although immodest apparel does not always evidence impure thinking on the part of the wearer, let it be remembered that immodest attire never reveals chaste thinking. Finally, the woman concerned about doing good and not evil will emphasize the inner man, not her outward adorning. If need require, she will change her emphasis and concentrate on that which can be renewed and which in God's sight is greatly prized.

Now in view of these Bible principles, how can the Lord's people seek to justify the rising hemlines, plunging necklines, and the revealing tight attire that is so prevalent. Can we not see that today's fashion trend and philosophy violates and opposes every one of these eternal principles. Let God be true, and let guilty men and women repent!

The remedy to the existing problem first involves an acceptance of God's way and affections directed toward Christ rather than the passing vogue of fashion. It also demands courage to be different and to stand rather than to be lulled into a drowsy acceptance of worldly standards. The remedy, most of all, however, calls for parents who are willing to show their children what modest is and to tell them why God desires modesty. Bible teaching and examples that conflict only create disrespect for man and God. Will parents recognize that their little girls have grown up and insist that they dress accordingly? Better yet, will they impress an attitude of modesty upon their little girls? God forbid that we do otherwise!

Ours are perilous times that seek to steal our souls by making us one with the world. "The masses in the church and out of it are going to hell on the pleasure route. Neon signs flicker, 'Welcome,' where red lanterns should swing, 'Danger here — keep out.' " Will Christians respond to that call to prepare for that other world wherein dwelleth righteousness — even to the point of dressing as God bids us. ~

(The Gospel Guardian, July 16, 1970)

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