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The Appearance of a Christian Woman and Her Reputation  
by pamela spurling

Can you open the door and say "Welcome Home!" to the LORD? I have some heavy thoughts on my heart...I have been wanting to write about this for many weeks; I don't know if it is the presence of spring or the sights I have been seeing, but I would sure like to share with you something that is on my heart, and it is the subject of modesty. I am deeply concerned that what I write today will be taken to heart and will not cause a "reaction." This topic doesn't come from any specific place or from any organization and I have no personal "agenda" in sharing this with you. I just pray the LORD will use this message to inspire women to godliness and obedience to the Lord Jesus. I have committed to the LORD once again to share what He lays on my heart to share.

A woman who fears the LORD

We have an obligation because of our freedom in Christ to honour the Lord Jesus and our brothers in the LORD by our dress and by our behavior. For many years I was totally unaware of how my dress and behavior affected others. I was indifferent to the fact that I was, by the clothing I was wearing, causing a brother to stumble. It would be many years into my Christian walk before I realized I had an obligation to the LORD to avoid the appearance of evil, that I had a responsibility to protect the gift that I am to my husband and the duty to my brothers in the LORD to not be a stumbling block. Evil, you say? Yes... if I disregard my behavior and am careless about the message of the cross, I see this as evil. How frequently and easily we apply this to "drinking" and how acceptable it is for a Christian to not "drink" so as not to cause a brother to stumble, but how seldom this is applied to the area of modest dress. I believe the LORD has called me to minister to women and to share the 'hard things' and I am willing to be scoffed at for the sake of the LORD. I am aware that whenever this subject comes up, there will be accusation of legalism or of "bondage." I am perfectly comfortable hearing these allegations because I probably at one time rejected these truths or thought the same thing until I began to understand the difference between legalism and obedience. When a woman is in the bonds of legalism, she depends on behaviors or thoughts and the performing of these duties as necessary to keeping or obtaining salvation. So then, fundamentally, legalism becomes a religion unto itself. So where does obedience to the Word differ from legalism in behavior and thought? In the last several years I have thought on this question perhaps thousands of times... wondering what in this world should a woman wear, how should a woman behave, where should a woman spend her time, how should a woman go about loving her husband and how should she live pleasing the LORD? So... here goes: It matters what a Christian woman looks like. It matters what she wears and doesn't wear. She is a representative of the LORD. She is an "advertisement," if you will, for the LORD. I recently shared with you how important it is for the reputation of the LORD and other Christian women how one looks to the "watching world." I am not referring to the physical appearance of a woman's body, whether she is tall, short, thin, large, small, etc., etc.; but her appearance: When a Christian woman is out to shop or to run errands, it does matter what she looks like. It matters what statement she is making about the LORD and about the reputation of her sisters in the LORD. Today, I am not simply referring to the appearance of neatness or cleanliness, but I am concerned about another area, and that is the area of modesty. Modesty is about as foreign to some as living in a mansion or in a hut or fluently speaking a foreign language. What is modesty... and what does the Word say about modesty? Not the world, but the Word. 1Timothy 2:9 says, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel..." Why is it important for a Christian woman to dress modestly? How modest is modest? Well, I have been mulling over this question for years... How low is too low and how high is too high... and what does it matter anyway? I used to think a one piece bathing suit was a modest thing to wear to the beach. I used to think that jeans were fine. I used to think that short skirts and strapless evening dresses were fine... until I began to ask the question: is this attire appropriate to the LORD? I began to ask myself what I would think were I to open the door and see the LORD standing on my porch... would it be pleasing to Him? Would it bring glory or shame to His Name?

There are numerous books written on style, glamour, colour charts, appearance and fashion. Everywhere we go, the world is dictating how we should dress---how we should look. Just today, a news article was commenting on the newest hairstyle trend being made popular by an actress in a movie. We often blindly follow the trends, consulting the magazines rather than consulting the Word. Many have written articles on the meanings of the verses in 1 Timothy and in 1 Peter 3 regarding the dress of a woman. Sadly, these articles rarely appear in "mainstream" Christian magazines and so to many Christian women, the discussion of modest dress either never comes up or it is rejected as under the category of legalism or fundamentalism. After reading these and other verses in the Bible, what would you say? Studying the meanings of the different words rendered "apparel," would you say that modest dress is for legalists? I don't think you would, in fact, I believe a careful study of the Scriptures necessitates a trip to the closet and a "weeding out" of inappropriate clothing.

Maybe you are thinking right now that you already do dress modestly but perhaps there are a few things that may attract attention to you in a way that is not appropriate. I share this with you all today, because I cannot recall a time I ever had instruction from the pulpit or from a Sunday School teacher in appropriate or inappropriate dress. I did not know that it was even something I ought to be concerned with. However, the more I read the Word, and the more I prayed to be a godly woman, the more I realized that my appearance really did matter and I began the journey to appropriate, modest dress. I am still studying to understand what it means to dress in modest apparel---apparel that does not cause a brother to stumble. I probably told you about a time ten years ago where I sat watching women and men watching women. I was amazed that the women in tight or low or short clothing were completely unaware of the distraction they were to some of the men. I was (in this "Christian" setting) further aware of the women who *did* know that the men were watching and the subtle entertainment and deception that was taking place... Entertaining to both the man and the woman and deceptive because of the emotions that were being stirred that were inappropriate and could or would not ever be rightly fulfilled. It was an occasion to entertain lust of the eyes and the pride of life. No matter what the world says about fantasy and entertainment... it is wrong. Does this matter? Yes, it matters. You might say something like, "well, I am not like that..." You are probably not like that... and then again, it is flattering to be found attractive by a man. You might say you no longer have an attractive figure or appearance... I think you'd be surprised at the different things men find attractive. Good men, married men, dedicated men.... You might say, "those men should learn to control themselves!" I'd reply, you're right and jokingly say that that would be like telling them to stop breathing. You might laugh a little, but I would exhort you to pray and ask the LORD what He would have you to do regarding this subject of dress and appropriate clothing for the godly woman and then to talk candidly with your husband about men and what they see and what they think, how easily their thoughts are tantalized by the sights they see.

You may feel like you have dressed in a certain way for so long that you wouldn't be able to change now. Or, you may feel like you *like* the way you dress and it's too bad what others think. Would you be open to the LORD and His promptings? I do join you in praying for what is best and seeking what is or isn't appropriate. I would just say in closing, that it really does matter what you wear and how you represent the very God we serve. He has given us all we need in the Word for instruction as to what we ought to wear and how we ought to appear.

2Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

pamela spurling ~ The Welcome Home ~ 2000-2001

 


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