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Family, Fashion,
   Feel & Faith

Increasingly, the pathetic disrespect of our society is evident at church, weddings, and funerals.  If ever it was ignorance or lack of teaching, the admission is to the contrary now.  It’s an “in your face” agenda driven, statement-making event.  There is no shortage of full length mirrors nor can ignorance be an excuse.  Even preachers assertively flex their “liberal-rated” degrees and emphatically declare no Scriptural word on dress.  So from the pew to the pulpit, it’s anything goes.  Casual wear, come as you are is comfortably popular.  Sleeveless, plunging, body clinging attire is common parade on display in the choir loft.  Does God’s Word have any instruction for the believer in this world of fashion?  If so, is there a willing heart to be instructed?
Since it is so evident that the church readily takes it cues from the world, let us first look at a bit of history concerning dress and fashion. 

Then we will see the specifics of Scripture.
In this section, we will explore why people dress the way they do. There is some obvious overlap in these points, yet distinct in terms of understanding types and motives of dress.
I. Family (who you are)
Historically different people groups had distinctive dress. What nationality or nation are you from? Clothing spoke of who you were. Even within that division, there may be an obvious difference in the dress of the aristocrat, wealthy and the poor or servant class of people. Your family, class, bloodline - who you are - was demonstrated in dress. As a boy growing up in America, people identified with certain clothes. Even in play we boys understood this. We might pretend to be army men or even cowboys and Indians. We could identify a policeman or fireman by the uniform. Clothes have historically identified “who you are.” Even the church has had to confront this aspect of culture and custom.
II. Fashion, Fad, Fluff & Fuzz
Fashion may speak of a certain period of dress. Often the term “style” is used for different kinds of clothes.
After WWII when people in general, and young people in particular, had more money to spend, clothing entered a new era. Advertising promoted the fashion industry. With television and the media giving greater exposure to clothing styles and fashion, attitudes began to change. Even underwear was designed purposefully to accentuate the female body. Hollywood got in on the act. In the mid 1930s film producers began to present their female stars in a specially designed bra with certain intent. Money, morals and women in the work place as early as the 1920s effected dramatic change. The movement towards more independence for women was on the front-burner and skirts got shorter, skimpier and straighter. Miniskirts, bikinis, pants on women, along with shape-revealing, flesh-exposing designs are key components to the clothing revolution from the 1920s to the 1960s.
Pants had been traditionally worn by men and represented masculinity and authority in a male dominated world. Have you ever been asked the question “Who wears the pants in your family?” We all know what that means. Who is in charge, the husband or the wife? Greer Garson appeared on the Tennessee Ernie Ford show in pants. Now keep in mind, at that time pants worn by women on television was very rare. Tennessee Ernie Ford was compelled to comment on his guest star’s pants. He said, “They tried to make you look like a boy, but you defeated it before they got started,’’ referring to her figure outlined by the pants.
The ancient Romans, Celts and Germanic tribes wore pants for protection against the elements. The same was true for the men of the middle ages.
North American Indians and Far Eastern women have worn a pant type garment and leggings for protection under their traditional outer garments.
In 1851, Amelia Bloomer made her trouser-like bloomers. Working women during wartime in the West began to wear pants, and by the end of WWII more and more women were seen in pants. By the 1960s the young women had made the pantsuit fashionable. Even though changes in dress were highly criticized, women in the work place along with twentieth-century sports were prime movers of the trend. Hollywood intensified the effort to change the distinctions in dress for men and women. Then came the intense increase in the unisex look and styles. Jeans were originally designed as a working man’s garment during the California gold rush. It was considered indecent to expose the flesh at the beginning of the twentieth century. Women could actually be arrested if dressed improperly in public.
Consider the advent of the bathing suit or swimsuit. Saltwater bathing was thought to be therapeutic. At the time, bathing suits or swimsuits did not exist, so men and women ventured the surf nude. Separate beaches were designated for males and for females. Even at that, The Times of London reported the scandal of the naked dippers. The French may be the innovators of the “Bathing Costumes.”
The ladies wore woolen drawers covered by a black below-the-knee blouse gathered at the waist by a leather girdle. Men wore a rather curious sailor type outfit with stripes.
The solution to the scandalous skinny dippers was found in a relatively respectable swimsuit. Some even wore a large smock style garment constructed of canvas. In the world’s estimation, the pastime of therapeutic bathing and swimming surf side remained relatively respectable until the Bikini exploded on the scene. Exploded is the word. So shocking it was that this skimpy design was named after an atomic explosion on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.
Feel, fit, fluff or fuzz - is there a rhyme or reason to all the fashion and fad? Sure there is. The brazen baring of Bikini beauties even though named after such an explosion needed no atomic scientist to analyze the effects.
There is intent in design. Fake buttons for example. Typically, the man’s jacket buttons left over right. Was there a purpose in this design? Originally the left over right design kept the loose flap of material out of the way of a swift drawn sword. However, the female jacket had a right over left design to permit the right arm support of a nursing baby. Even those buttons on the cuff were to add protection from inclement weather. Still today the buttons remain on jackets as a fashion element. Some high-class top of the line jackets will have actual buttonholes sewn in for the buttons even though the original function is by-gone.
Various religions of the world have designs with a garments specific purpose and message in mind. Even the color may have significance.
Research shows that not only color but also shades or variations of certain colors effect people. Color, clothing design and music are powerful, manipulative elements used both subtly and blatantly by this age to achieve specific sensual, sexual responses.
The occult ceremony, Black Mass, is very deliberate in clothing and color usage. Not only is Satan worshipped instead of God, blasphemy replaces piety, sexuality rather than chastity, but in reverse of the classical Mass, black vestments replace white along with backward prayers; An example of the intent for color and design.
III. Function, Fit and Feel Geographically, climate and extreme elements had definite impact on dress. The Eskimos and Inuits of the cold regions obviously wore types of clothing that protected from bitter cold.
Hot, arid or tropical areas were reflected in the dress. Protections, comfort and the overall “feel” have been an important part of fashion and style.
Not only the feel of comfort in terms of protections from harsh environments but the feel of importance given by certain dress has expressed not only an outward message but an inward message as well. Clothing speaks loudly about how one feels about many issues. Clothing indeed is a powerful advertisement.

IV. Faith
Take a look at the religious garb of various world religions. From the leadership to the laity many religions exhibit distinctive dress for very distinctive purposes.
Is dress for the child of God an element, an act of Faith? “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” These scantily clad liberators in the church that parade around exposing every twist and curve definitely are not wearing much substance.
The West Virginia mountain preacher got it right when he said, “These women don’t wear enough clothes to wad a shotgun!’’ Not much substance there. “Faith is the substance...’’ That substance is the support, groundwork and reality of essence to that which you possess. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Some would say “God looks on the heart, not on the clothes you wear on the outside.” In reality, God knows your heart and the clothes you wear are the outward “evidence’’  (Gr. elenchus) proof of what you have on the inside. Things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hey, don’t accuse me of “text tearing and bad exegesis.’’ Without a doubt your dress, that which is seen is derived from that which is not seen, your heart.
In the context of women, I Tim. 2:9-10 says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest (proper well-ordered, well-behaved, moderate) apparel, (dress, a robe type garment distinct from a man’s garment) with shamefacedness (honor, regard and respect for others, self-restraint, not forward, reverence) and sobriety; (discretion, chastity and self-control) not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls or costly array; (extravagance, show) but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”
You cannot profess something on the outside you do not possess on the inside. Yes, this “professing godliness’’ is definitely an act of faith.
Proper dress for all believers is right, is to be preached outwardly as a message of an inward possession. This is indeed an act of faith - substance to the hope, evidence to the unseen. The believers clothing of the tabernacle is a daily, spiritual exercise. Just as the athlete disciplines, conditions, and exercises the body to victory, so the believer has spiritual disciplines that exercise and demonstrate the inward victory. The gold medal athlete is physically superior to the average individual. The child of God is to be obviously, in attire and attitude operating at a different altitude than the world below. The eagle soars high upon the unseen currents of air lifting this noble, flying creature far above the terrestrial. The child of God is not adorned as this world, but hath been made Kings and Priests unto the heavenly Father. So rise and walk in faith not in the fashion and fads of the world.
A Bit of Wit

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. In this case, a bit of wit might make it more palatable. Erma Bombeck is certainly a master of wit especially when it comes to making a difficult subject a bit more palatable.
Mrs. Bombeck’s agent granted me permission to reprint her article:
 “If It Fits, Wear It.’’
It’s getting tougher and tougher to sort clothes these days and figure out what belongs to whom. First, it was women who started wearing men’s shirts ... just to paint in. Then men started to wear women’s jackets with push-up sleeves. The turtleneck sweater became unisexual. So did the  slacks with pleats and the zipper in the front. And of course, women runners couldn’t wait to covet the boxer shorts.
    It was only a matter of time before his-and-her briefs.
    Jockey International Inc., who have come out with a line of Jockey shorts called ‘Her’, claim 70% of the people who bought men’s underwear were female anyway, so why not go for the market?
    Before men start throwing hats in the air and salivating over the ads at this flattering invasion, let me warn you, we corrupt every fashion we touch.
    Women’s fashions have nothing whatsoever to do with comfort or practicality. We put zippers in our clothes that take 72-inch arms to reach. We add little touches that chafe and shape our bodies into unnatural forms. We all inherently believe that if it doesn’t kill you wearing it, it isn’t worth wearing.
    We took a simple pair of farmer’s denims and demanded they fit so tight we had to take a water pill and lie on our backs before we could zip them up.
    We designed a simple work shirt by dropping the shoulders to the elbow, then putting a button and a tab to roll them up. Then we stuck on epaulets on the shoulder and put a breath-sucking belt around them.
    We’re responsible for putting vents in your boxer shorts, busy little panda bears on your pajamas, piping on your T-shirts, making bikinis out of your swimsuits and turning your bathrobes into caftans.
    So far, men have been able to hang on to the front zippers of their trousers, but I’m warning you, don’t get too secure. According to what I’ve read, the underwear briefs are still in a period of transition. Already they’ve come out in three styles: briefs, hipsters and bikinis, in all colors or striped.
    Frankly, I don’t like the idea of male and female styles crossing over. Next thing you know, women will start to sweat.
Amen, Erma! I don’t have a date for her article, but it was probably ten or so years ago that I cut it from the local paper, and, Erma says,  women have started to sweat. By the way, the whole clothing subject for men and women, not in the world but in the church, has begun to stink.
Do you remember “The Dick Van Dyke Show”? When Laura Pettrie (Mary Tyler Moore) appeared on the show in her capri pants, women viewers wrote in saying they only wore dresses. From that point CBS would not let Mary Tyler Moore wear pants on the show. Later CBS compromised and allowed her to wear pants in one scene per episode.
Once upon a time pastors and churches did not allow certain dress. Later they compromised and now anything goes.
Have you ever seen these signs posted anywhere?

We’ve got a crisis in America. Soon no one will know what restroom to use. Women don’t wear dresses anymore. Men sure don’t wear the pants. Children are not taught phonics so they cannot read signs. How is the world supposed to know which restroom to use? We desperately need a little wisdom here. The world understands so why doesn’t the church? While in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I saw a sign on a public transit bus that read, “More women are buying men’s wear.”
During the December ‘94 fashion exhibition in London, England, it was said, “Clothing is a way to say what you believe without even opening your mouth.” Where do you get your dress standards: The Church-The Bible-The World? What are you saying?
Levi Strauss now has computer programs you can feed your   measurements into so as to have the perfect shape-revealing fit.
Kids are murdering each other for articles of clothing. The fashion world makes billions of dollars. Inner city schools are moving to dress codes, but pastors say it’s a secondary issue and not worth splitting their churches over.
The Word, not the world, should be our guide.
“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’’ (Deut. 22:5).
Matthew Henry says in his Commentaries, Volume 1, page 814 and 815, concerning Deuteronomy 22:5: “... because God’s providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, His precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of the Lord, as we are under His eye and care. And yet the significance and tendency of these statutes, which seem little, are such that, notwithstanding their minuteness, being found among the things of God’s law, which He has written to us, they are to be accounted great things. The distinction of sexes by the apparel is to be kept up, for the preservation of our own and our neighbors chastity, nature itself teaches that a difference be made between them in their hair (1 Cor.   11:14), and by the same rule in their clothes, which therefore ought not to be confounded, either in ordinary wear or occasionally.
“. . . It forbids the confounding of the dispositions and affairs of the sexes. . .’’
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array’’ (1 Tim. 2:9).
Think about it:
A. Scripturally defined, the word ‘modest’ (Greek - Kosmois) means orderly, proper, becoming. The Christian lady is to adorn herself in a long lowered robe (Greek - Katastole) that is orderly, proper, and becoming to women professing godliness - not just covering the body.
God’s Word teaches us to wear that which is proper for the Godly.
B. The Greek word “Apparel” is translated “long robe’’ in Young’s Analytical Concordance. Stole -is for men and women; Katastole - for women only.
C. Who is commanded to wear breeches or pants in the Scriptures?   Robes - okay for men; Pants – not for women. *Note “Lesbian Pants Creed.”
D. Is I Timothy 2:9 just custom and culture? Are the OT and NT simply archaic when it comes to any voice on dress today? The Word of God has some very specific teaching concerning the dress of men and women of any day or culture. Give the Holy Spirit opportunity to reveal these important truths. If Jesus specifically told you how to dress, would you do it? The fact of the matter is, He has! The fact of the matter is, The Word has instructed us, but the world’s fashions are in direct rebellion against what God’s Word teaches and the world understands that. Note the following article:

Will Ellen Still           
   Wear Pants?
Newsweek’s April 14, 1997, edition entertained some questions regarding the homosexual/showbiz issue. Paul Rudnick writes, “If Ellen comes out will she remain loyal to the lesbian pants creed? Certain Sapphic celebs are clearly encouraged to femme up by their agents and managers, but getting Ellen or Melissa Etheridge or K.D. Lang into a dress is like coaxing Huck Finn into a camisole. I always picture the dressing room warfare, with the performer finally throwing up her hands and exclaiming: ‘Fine! You can put trim on my blazer’!’’ Sodomites know what they are doing in this dress warfare.

Dresses vs. Pants

The following is from “What in the World Should I Wear?”
A friend of mine told me that her decision to restrict her wardrobe to dresses and skirts came as a result of a ladies’ class. All the arguments and reasons that could be given were unheeded until the lady who was speaking said, “Let me just demonstrate something to you.” She held up a large picture of a woman in an attractive,   (modest) feminine skirt and blouse. She asked the ladies to open their eyes.
Then she inquired, “What is the primary focal point to this picture? Where did your eyes first fall naturally?’’ The audience agreed that their eyes were first drawn to the face of the woman in the picture.
She once again asked the ladies to close their eyes. When they opened their eyes they were looking at a large poster of a woman in a sport shirt and blue jeans. She asked, “Now, be honest with yourselves, and tell me where your eyes first fell naturally when you looked at this picture?’’ Many of the ladies in the crowd were surprised to find that most people’s eyes first focused upon the hips and crotch area that were so vividly emphasized before they ever noticed the woman’s face.
If this happened in a crowd of ladies, how much more would it be true of men?
    - Mrs. Cathy Corle

Charles Spurgeon  
  On Separation

lf you feel we are too stern-too hard on sin, you might ask yourself if you are not the one off track. Consider the following, from a man whom Christendom has acknowledged as the greatest preacher since Paul. Read this and realize how clearly the compromising, contemporary church movement flies in the face of great men of God like this-men in whose shadows these spiritual pygmies are not worthy to stand.
“I believe that one reason why the church of God at the present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church. Nowadays we hear Nonconformists pleading that they may do this and they may do that- things which their Puritan forefathers would rather have died at the stake than have tolerated. They plead that they may live like worldlings, and my sad answer to them, when they crave for this liberty is, Do it if you dare. It may not do you much hurt, for you are so bad already.
“Your cravings show how rotten your hearts are. You have a hungering after such dog’s meat, go, dogs, and eat the garbage. Worldly amusements are fit for mere pretenders and hypocrites. If you were God’s children you would loathe the very thought of the world’s evil joys, and your question would not be, ‘How far can we be like the world?’ but your one cry would be, ‘How far may we get away from the world? How much can we come out from it?’ Your temptation would be rather to become sternly severe, and ultra- puritanical in your separation from sin. The worse day the world ever saw was when the sons of God were joined with the daughters of men. Then came the flood; for the only barrier against a flood of vengeance on this world is the separation of the saint from the sinner.
“Your duty is to stand fast in your place and stand out for God, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh, resolving like one of old that, let others do as they will, as for you and your house, you will serve the Lord.
“Come, ye children of God, you must stand out with your Lord, outside the camp. Jesus calls to you today, and says, ‘Follow me.’ Was He found at the theater? Did He frequent the sports or the race course? Was Jesus seen, think you, in any of the amusements of the Herodian court? Not He. He was ‘holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.’
“The first lesson which the church has to learn is this: Follow Jesus into the separated state, and he will make you fishers of men.” From Spurgeon’s sermon on Matthew 4:19. 
Study what the Bible has to say about nakedness. You’ll find this interesting. The first confession of Adam after the fall was “I’m naked.” The first provision God made—clothing. Could God be interested in our clothing—our outward appearance today? The way you dress or don’t dress affects the way you carry yourself, think of yourself as well as how others view you. Does the Bible speak to this point?
Did God intend to keep a distinct differentiation between man and woman? When and why have clothing standards changed for Christians? Does culture, temperature and the world’s fashions determine how Christians should dress? What is your heart and attitude about dress? Why do you dress the way you do? If the next generation lowers your standard, what condition will the church be in?
When the Demoniac of Gadara met Jesus, the Bible records the change: He was found sitting, CLOTHED and in his right mind! The world today knows the difference. They need to see a church different on the inside and outside because of the touch of Jesus!