Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dress, relationships, adornment: God's way or mine?

I have recently studied about dress, adornment, and relationships. This is a very interesting topic in my mind, and I believe it especially applies to youth. So that makes it more interesting for me, as it seems these issues are not addressed often. I encourage as much feedback as I can get! Let me first share this quote from ‘Education,’ pg 248; “A persons character is judged by his style of dress. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of simple and appropriate attire. Chaste simplicity in dress, when united with modesty of demeanor, will go far toward surrounding a young woman with that atmosphere of sacred reserve which will be to her a shield from a thousand perils.” I like the ‘Modesty of demeanor’ idea a lot. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was like that? Look at this quote from ‘Messages to young people,’ pg 345; “Many deceive themselves in thinking that good looks and a gay attire will gain for them consideration in the world.” Here is another quote from the same book, on page 346, 347; “The outside appearance is frequently an index to the mind, and we should be careful what signs we hang out for the world to judge of our faith.” So, our dress is a witness, either for, or against, the truth. Again from the same book, on page 351; “Any device designed to attract attention to the wearer or to excite admiration is excluded from the modest apparel which God’s word enjoins.” (see 1 Tim. 2:9)
The next quote describes how Mrs. White felt about these things. It is also from the same book, on page 355; “My heart is pained to see those who profess to be followers of the meek and lowly savior, so eagerly seeking to conform to the world’s standard of dress. Notwithstanding their profession of godliness, they can hardly be distinguished from the unbeliever.” Now see page 359; “Having before us the picture of the world’s demoralization upon the point of fashion, how dare professed Christians follow in the path of the worldling? Shall we appear to sanction these demoralizing fashions by adopting them?” I think most all of us as Seventh- day Adventists can attest to the fact, and maybe even worldlings as well, that there has been an outrageously immodest trend in fashions in recent years. I have seen this displayed in men and women, young and old, both. Things are now allowed as normal, that would have taken many to jail for indecent exposure not long ago. Along with this has come an ‘immodest demeanor,’ as we saw earlier. What is most disturbing about this, is that I have seen this movement creeping into our precious church, little by little, and more apparently as time has gone on. In Revelation 3:18, it says; “ I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear..” God says that our nakedness is shameful. He thought it was important enough to clothe Adam and Eve, even though they were the only ones on the earth, and besides that, they were married. If it is important to God, it should be important to us as well. We should also think about swimming. I used to like swimming in our local rivers, at secluded places with my family, and sometimes family friends, and wore the normal attire that boys swim in, short shorts, and no shirt. As I got older, I started wondering about that, mainly why it would be fine to expose so much more than I might generally consider to be modest, just because I was swimming. I started wearing T-shirts and below knee- level shorts when swimming, which felt much better, but the issue that still bothers me, is co-ed swimming. Most of the time, swimming clothes are quite form fitting, even if they do cover the skin. I can’t feel comfortable with co-ed swimming myself, and I really think that this could be a stumbling block for some, if not all, but we all have to make our own decisions, based upon God’s word. So, why do you think that such immodest trends have become acceptable in society, and even in the church? I believe that deep in our hearts we know that people generally dress immodestly to attract those of the opposite gender. But we will not attract someone who will have pure and noble desires. So, since immodest dress is obviously not the right way, how should a young person go about this whole thing of finding a spouse? I think that I have learned from experience that most youth are pretty anxious to get started in this at an early age. But this is not God’s way, or in our best interest, considering the Divorce rate. Here is a quote from ‘Messages to young people,’ pg 452; “A youth not out of his teens is a poor judge of the fitness of a person as young as himself to be his companion for life.” It is so true that until we are of a more mature age, our judgment is still undeveloped, and it is dangerous to make decisions that will affect us for life during this period. It is interesting to note that even worldly studies and documentaries have proven this point in recent years. There is also much more on immature relationships in Mrs. White’s writings, which I would encourage anyone with questions to study. Now, even when we do reach an age of higher maturity, we need to remember that only God can make the right decision for us. See ‘Messages to young people,’ pg 460; “If men and women are in the habit of praying twice a day before they contemplate marriage, they should pray four times a day when such a step is anticipated. Marriage is something that will influence and affect your life, both in this world and in the world to come. A sincere Christian will not advance his plans in this direction without the knowledge that God approves his course. He will not want to choose for himself, but will feel that God must choose for him.” We are also counseled extensively to make use of the judgment of our parents, as they can see so many things that we can’t. Of what kind of character do you think that God would choose? Look at this quote from the same book, on page 435; “Let every step toward a marriage alliance be characterized by modesty, simplicity, sincerity, and an earnest purpose to please and honor God.” Now see page 457 of the same book; “Satan’s angels are keeping watch with those who devote a large share of the night to courting. Could they have their eyes opened, they would see an angel making a record of their words and acts. The laws of health and modesty are violated.” So, there are some of the differences between someone God would choose, and someone that Satan would encourage you to choose. Notice that modesty, or immodesty, plays a role in either circumstance. These are just some guiding principles, and I would encourage you to read and study these things for yourselves, as there is a great blessing in studying. I would also like to note a quote from ‘5T,’ pg 366; “ In this age of the world, as the scenes of earth’s history are soon to close and we are about to enter upon the time of trouble such as never was, the fewer the marriages contracted, the better for all, both men and women.” God’s purpose in marriage in this life is to help each other heavenward, and to take as many with us as possible. Note that in the above quote, it did not say that we should not marry, but the fewer marriages, the better. We should keep in mind through all of this that God’s plan for us may be singleness. No, it’s not that bad, we should be looking to God to be our constant companion, and if He chooses not to supply a helper, we should accept that with joy, as did Paul. Now, since we know that modesty is important, how do we decide what to wear, and what not to? There are so many well meaning people out there who want to please God in their dress, but have no idea how. Here are some basic guidelines that I found, let’s start with this one, it is from ‘Messages to young people,’ pg 345; “ If half the time spent by the youth in making themselves attractive in outward appearances were given to soul- culture, to the inward adorning, what a difference would be seen in their deportment, words, and actions.” So, we should first see where our priorities are, and then go from there. Another thing to consider is from Deuteronomy 22:5; “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” We should be able to tell the difference between men and women. This may be especially hard to do in the times we live in, but God will help us to follow Him, we just have to trust Him with the details! Now let us look at ‘Messages to young people,’ pg 351, 352; “ But our clothing, while modest and simple, should be of good quality, of becoming colors, and suited for service. It should be chosen for durability rather than display. It should provide warmth and proper protection. The wise woman described in the Proverbs ‘Is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with double garments.’ Prov. 31:21, margin.” I have seen so much wisdom in those words as I have gotten older. It is worth it sometimes to pay more for high quality clothes, that will last, even under hard use. Moving down the same page, “Our dress should be cleanly. Uncleanliness in dress is unhealthful, and thus defiling to the body and to the soul…” “ Christ has warned us against the pride of life, but not against its grace and natural beauty. He pointed to the flowers of the field, to the lily unfolding in its purity, and said, ‘ Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.’ Matt. 6:29. Thus by the things of nature Christ illustrates the beauty that Heaven values, the modest grace, the simplicity, the purity, the appropriateness, that would make our attire pleasing to Him.” God wants us to be tastefully dressed. We do not need to dress in sackcloth, (at least most of the time!), but in clothes that would glorify God by their simplicity and appropriateness. I believe that these quotes are a good start, and there is so much more for the diligent seeker for truth. I pray that we will all sacrifice our own desires, pride, selfishness, and the like, and devote ourselves to the Lord’s work, and wait for His leading! God will bless us, as we seek to do His will!
Your Brother in Christ, --Schane

(For further study, I highly recommend a two CD series called ‘Christian standards,’ by Joe crews, as He addresses these issues and more with a clarity that I love! You can order them through ‘American Christian Ministries,’ (formerly ‘American cassette ministries) or 1-800-233-4450)
God bless!

1 comment:

  1. Very good article, Schane; I really enjoyed reading it. I was wondering if you were going to mention swimming, and I'm glad you did. I think it's something that the church should talk more about, but usually it gets stuffed under the rug and we go ahead and do it anyway. I think there are some blatant dangers in it, though, that should be addressed!

    I was just wondering, have you read the book "Creeping Compromise" by Joe Crews? That's another VERY good book! It hits a lot of the same issues!