Holiness in Dress

In my writings I have often dealt with the subject of how Christians should dress. In discussing dress that is proper for those professing godliness (1 Timothy 2:10), many times I have focused on avoiding the sensuality that is so much a part of contemporary fashion (Galatians 5:19) and have challenged readers to ask themselves if their clothing is…

Too short?

Too low?

Too tight?

Too clingy?

Too sheer?

Too brief?

In connection with those points I have often written about the need to be certain we are not the stumbling block that causes another to lust because of our indecent dress (Matthew 5:27, 28; 18:6-9).

And while I believe those are valid points that must continue to be taught, retaught, and often reviewed, today I want to stress dress that reflects our call to holiness. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15,16). Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

            Far too often decisions about what to wear or what not to wear are made with one simple concern, viz. is it fashionable? Let’s understand that God’s call to holiness is not answered by simply rejecting all that is stylish or fashionable. If we are to be the salt this earth needs, the light so desperately needed in this dark time, we should not deliberately choose to be weird, or seek to be different simply for the sake of being different. And we must also realize that God has not given us the list of colors, styles, fabrics, etc. He expects us to wear. Yet, the call to cleanse ourselves and complete our holiness requires that we view this world’s fashions through the prism of God’s word.

            When the statement made by a fashion is intended to be a shocking one, should a holy people concerned about their influence be a part of that? Take a few moments to read Matthew 5:13-16; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; and 2 Corinthians 8:20, 21 which include such statements as, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” and  “providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” If we take seriously the call to be a holy and righteous influence on those around us we will not want our choices in clothing to negatively impact the way others see us.

            When, as is so often the case, the styles are intended to be sexy, alluring, etc., our sense of holiness should cause us to reject these things. When someone chooses to wear things I see as immodest, oftentimes it will not be that he or she has made a carefully thought out decision that differs from mine; instead, with little if any thought given to holiness, the fashions of this world have ruled the day. While I do not see myself as the final arbiter of modesty versus immodesty, I do wonder why those called to holiness will so often wear, without hesitation, fashions designed by a world given over to sensuality and other things not fitting for saints (Ephesians 5:3, 4).

As I suggested earlier, everything fashionable is not sinful, but when our world rejects the teachings of God on premarital sex, adultery, lewdness, etc., we know that godliness will not be of concern to fashion designers, and in fact, ungodliness will often be the governing principle in their lives and their clothes will reflect it. Please take a close look at anything you are considering wearing and honestly ask yourself if it promotes the practice of purity or reflects the immorality of our age.

We don’t have to look weird, but we do have to be different. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1,2).    

John R. Gibson

All quotes taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1994, Thomas Nelson Publishers.