How Should a Christian Dress?
After my last post about Dressing Modestly, I received a number of emails from all sides of the debate. Some disagreed, some said I was resorting to shock tactics. Some agreed, some even expounded on the issue. A couple people asked me to continue the idea and take it further also focusing on guys, different sins, or take different angles on it. Thank you for the emails. Let me emphatically state that the issue is not only for the woman. We are all sinful. A man can sin with his choice of clothing just as much as a woman can.
I may have employed shock tactics last post with my “hooker training academy” quote but it is a shocking issue – Christians dressing immodestly.
So how are we to dress as Christians?
It is important that we understand holiness. Today we tend to be far too casual in regards to our life of thankfulness, our sanctification, and our pursuit of holiness. This goes for me and some of my brothers and sisters in my church and many other Christians as well. We probably do not understand holiness if we think Colossians 3:17 does not apply to our clothing.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Do you think it is wrong or legalistic to think of our clothing in this way? We do not understand holiness if Jesus is not the Lord of our entire life – including our choice of clothes. At the dedication of the Free University of Amsterdam, Abraham Kuyper uttered these unforgettable words:
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
So ask yourself if you really believe that. In your mind, is Jesus lord of everything? Do you say that your clothing is yours and Jesus is not Lord of your clothing? That is not really any different from me saying that Jesus is not Lord of my family, or my congregation, or my marriage, or my salvation, or my life.
Everything is His.
Even my grey socks and brown sandals…
When I bring up modesty some say that I am being judgemental.
That makes me think of a Paul washer quote:
“People tell me ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.’ I always tell them, ‘Twist not scripture lest ye be like Satan.’”
“But what about grace?” they may ask.
If the “grace” we have received does not help us to keep God’s laws and to seek to put sin to death, but rather this “grace” permits us to sin more freely, then we have not really received any grace at all. Yes, we receive grace freely from God’s hand, but that grace did not come free, it came at a price. The price was the death of God’s own son. If you believe, then you are saved from all your sins of the past, present and future, but if you use that as an excuse to sin or to deny Christ’s lordship over all aspects of our lives (including our clothes), then maybe we should look at this issue of grace again and see if we really understand it…and whether we are really saved at all.
Why do I carry on about modesty? Are there not more pressing issues? God’s people cannot ignore this issue, because if we do not think biblically about the issue of clothing we will not naturally choose modest clothing. And that issue may reveal a deeper underlying issue that needs addressing. Pastor and Theologian DA Carson stated:
People do not drift toward Holiness.
Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. (emphasis mine)
Hebrews 12:14 says:
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy;without holiness no one will see the Lord.
It tells us that holiness and spiritual maturity must be pursued. We are not to be idle in our sanctification. No we don;t save ourselves, we have nothing to do with our salvation, but over and over again in scripture we are told to pursue holiness. 2 Peter 1:10 says:
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,
and 2 Peter 3:14 says:
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
These verses tell us that we should be diligent in the pursuit of holiness.
A lot of readers said that the issue of modest clothing is unimportant today. But why then, was God not satisfied with man’s own attempt at clothing to cover his shame after the fall into sin? God intervened to replace it with clothing of His own making (Gen 3:7, 21) that truly covered their shame.
Some sincere believers can dress immodestly. It can happen. I have. I see it often as well. Some of my own brothers and sisters in Christ, those I am very close with, are sometimes guilty of this. They seem to have no idea they are being immodest. And when I bring it up they usually laugh it off – or tell me to stop being legalistic and judgemental. I know without a doubt that they are not trying to offend others or parade their sexuality or sin against God. I believe that they are sincere and that they think that they are dressing modestly. But when we desire to dress like the world, when we let “Hollywood” determine what is fashionable rather than God, the result is, as DA Carson says, we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom and we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. Unintentional immodesty is still immodesty. The Bible and the godly principles contained within it should be our standards for clothing – not Hollywood.
The clothing we wear makes a very loud statement about who weare, where ourpriorities are and where our affections lie. What we wear proclaims loudly who is Lord of our life. What we adorn ourselves with has a definite spiritual aspect to it, including not only our choice of clothing, but also our hair colour and style, our jewelry, tattoos, piercings, etc. (1 Peter 3) All these outward things can be used to serve other people and they can be used to hinder other people. All these outward things can be can be used to glorify God and they can be used to defame Him.
Guys, does this mean that we should only wear black suits to church? No. That is ridiculous. Ladies does that mean you should only wear frumpy Amish dresses? No. That is also ridiculous.
Let’s not be legalistic about this. I am not going to make a list of things we should or should not wear. That is just Pharisaical. I mean I don’t even own a suit….let alone a black one. Dress attractively, that is fine. Dress comfortably if you want. But when we buy an article of clothing, or get dressed, or go to the beach, or to church we should think about what we choose to wear from the point of view of a saved sinner over whom Christ emphatically proclaims, “Mine!”