RED CARPET FASHION
OF THE SAINTS
RED CARPET FASHIONS
At award events for the Hollywood crowd, they usually have a long red carpet outside the event, and the stars and their guests, stroll along that red carpet, while photographers snap their pictures. The participants of the event wear fashions to stun, captivate, impress, and bring them (they hope) notoriety on the news media reports. Some of the clothes are impressive, some are totally too revealing, all are costly, and none do more than impress for the one time. Some struggle to keep they from falling off, some trip on the heights of the heels, some reveal some great fashion sense, and others reveal a total lack of fashion sense.
Those are all literal clothing, and reveal nothing of the spiritual garments of those wearers. Yet, much time was given, much money was spent, many alterationswere done, in preparation for these red carpet events.
Congregations of the saints do not normally have red carpet events at church, and yet, some still over the decades, have maintained a watchful eye on the wardrobes of the saints.
In the Bible times, the clothing worn by the Hebrews was graceful, modest, and exceedingly significant. They preferred bright colors. There was no real difference between the clothing of the men and women, they both wore skirts and robes. The only difference was how ornamental the clothing was. The women wore clothing that had embossing, embroidery, and needlework. When Moses commanded that the men and women were not to wear clothing of the opposite sex, he was stressing that men should not try to appear as women, and vice versa. The homosexual problem had permeated even that society.
I Peter 3:3
"Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel..."
Note in the verse above, that three things are mentioned: hair style, wearing gold, and wearing apparel. If the first two are wrong by this verse, then the third must be wrong also. Yet, not many are saying we shouldn't wear clothes. It is not all clothes, nor all hair adornments, nor all jewelry that is condemned.
Peter was warning the Christian women to beware the overemphasis on outward adornments, expensive clothes, and the excessive worrying about the outward appearance. The emphasis should be on the inward person. To have a beautiful and loving spirit is much more important. Many men and women spend more time in front of a mirror than they do the Bible.
Jewelry was much more important to the oriental than to the occidental. Diadems, bracelets, necklaces, anklets, rings, gold nets for the hair, pendants, jeweled perfume and ointment boxes were common in that culture. The customs of the day required use of rich, festal garments, and a great display of jewelry when approaching deity. The Lord wanted His people to know that He looked on the inside of a person rather than the outside. God cannot be fooled by a lovely outward appearance when the inward person is filled with sin and ugliness.
Jewelry was given to Moses for the building of the tabernacle.
The Prodigal son was given a ring.
The High Priest wore on the fringe of his robe pomegranates and bells of gold. On his breastplate was golden thread and precious stones in gold mountings. The mitre of the High Priest was surmounted by a crown of pure gold.
Jesus mentioned jewelry twice- [the parable of the pearl merchant, and the parable of the casting of pearls before swine.]
Paul exhorted the Christian women not to rely on broidered hair, or gold, or pearls or costly array.
I Timothy 2:9
"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."
James warned not to give preference to someone who has a gold ring or costly array.
"...if there come in your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, ant there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing... are ye not then partial?
The emphasis of the Bible on clothing and jewelry seems to be more interested in the costliness of the clothes and jewelry than on the style, or even the modesty.
1 Timothy 2:9 (KJV)
9 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;
The word for "modesty" in I Timothy 2:9 is "kosmios", which refers to the emphasis of the clothes, not how much they cover. If one wears clothes to impress and stun the viewer, it is immodest. If one is extravagant, or spends too much time and money on their clothes to get attention from God or others in the congregation, then it is immodest. In too many of the congregations of the day, there has been a judgmental attitude against certain styles, and skirt lengths.
Some think God is carefully watching everyone's apparel as they enter the building of worship. Yet, on the Day of Atonement, the only day the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, the High Priest had to remove his grand garments, and enter in his underwear. He could not come to God in the pretentious and beautiful clothes of his position. He had to come in the most humble way to God.
Many believe that people should always dress nicely for church to show respect for God. I see two problems in this belief. One problem is the obvious- respect comes from the heart, not material that you are using to cover your body. When God first created Adam and Eve, they apparently wore no clothing before they ate the fruit. Does this mean that they lived in disrespect for God in that time period? Clothing didn't even enter the minds of Adam and Eve until Satan came along and led them into rebellion.
Another problem would be this- what's nice to me might not always be nice to you, and vice versa. If I'm going to show respect for God through my clothes, why should I choose according to your style to do so? Why should I have to conform to what you think of as "normal", or "nice"? If I'm dressing nice for God, then that's something that should be between God and myself. But if I started dressing according to what you think of as nice, then it wouldn't be just between God and myself anymore, because I would be doing it also for acceptance from you.
God wants us to: be modest in the amount of money we spend on clothes, emphasize the inward beauty, rather than the outward, have our attention on the spiritual, rather than the flesh, set a good example, avoid concentrating on impressing others with clothing and adornments.
Too many people today are wearing costly and extravagant clothing and jewelry. God would be more pleased with them if they wore less extravagant clothing, and less expensive jewelry. Some of these same people will criticize the poorer saint who might wear clothes that are simpler, cheaper, etc.
These critical, judgmental attitudes are a disgrace to the church. God looks on the heart of His people, but mankind has too long looked and judged the outward. It is time for the saints to begin with themselves, and spend time and money on the inward beauty that God wants us to have.
Standards, rules, and regulations of the church are not supposed to be legislation, but are supposed to guide our conduct. They are to be like blueprints, which give instruction on how to build in order to reach a desired end. These proper standards are to help us to please God, to influence the world aright, and to not offend our fellow Christians.
There is always a danger in rules, regulations, and standards that we begin to depend on certain ones to be our source of salvation. This we call "legalism" or "Galatianism", because the people of Galatia, to which Paul wrote, had gone back to old customs, law, and rules that were unnecessary in Christianity. Paul had to reprimand them for their entanglement in rules.
Two commandments that Paul gave the Galatians are these:
1. First, he told them to stand fast in the liberty that Christ had given them, from all bondage in legalism. (Gal. 5:1, 3:10-12) (Compare Col. 2:14-17)
2. He told them not to become entangled again with the yoke of bondage to the Law.
"...be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage..."
The word "entangled" is from the Greek word, "enecho" and means "to be held or caught." We are free from Jewish rites, commandments, days, sabbaths, times, years, and any traditions or rules of religion.
Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley (two great evangelists of the 19th century), gave her definition of sin as:
"Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish for spiritual things, that - to you- is sin."
The disagreements on standards in wardrobes sometimes change with the era and culture. When Christians cannot agree, some think that if all others do not agree with them, the others are not "spiritual", or are "sinful." Paul's advice is "Don't judge another man's servant!" We answer to God alone. We are not to answer to denominations, or church dogmas. We are servants of the Lord, and to Him alone do we answer. We must not judge, condemn, or fault find other Christians with differences.
Paul didn't try to help the early Christians in Rome by giving them a long list of "do's" and "don't's". Instead, he gave them basic principles to help guide their conduct and standards. It is time for Christianity to throw out its added list of rules. It has hindered Christianity for centuries. It has cost us souls for the kingdom. It has put unnecessary burdens and condemnation on new converts. It has developed a group of Christians who are worse than the Pharisees of the early church days. It has created a hypocritical, and unloving church to which few sinners feel drawn.
Note in Romans 14:1-2 (see above), it is the one who has added extra restrictions to those given of God that Paul calls "weak." Today, it is reversed and many will call a brother "weak" if he doesn't keep the added rules or taboos. The Bible points out in Romans 14, that it is the legalist (i.e. the one who adds rules), that is the "weak" one.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of majoring in minors. It is easy to be critical and judgmental. In many congregations of the church today, the majoring in minor debates of rules and conduct is condoned. It leads to legalistic, miserable, critical, and judgmental "Christians." It is easy to judge another who dresses, acts, looks, or thinks a bit different. In reality, the condemner is the "weak" one. To not have enough love to accept some differences, to allow Christian liberty, and to share the freedom given to us by God, is far too common in the congregations of today.
Since God is the Master, we really don't have a right to judge His servants. We are not their masters. The moment you criticize another for choice of physical wardrobe, you are trying to assume God's job.
We know Jesus is our Lord and Master, and we know His love and forgiveness for us. We also know that He commanded us to "love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12). How then can we judge and condemn? If we do condemn, we are showing that our relationship with Jesus is not as it should be.
"Let us not judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
Don't allow your liberty to stumble others. This is sometimes difficult. Some stumble so easily. Jesus allowed His disciples to gather grain as they traveled on the Sabbath. Some Pharisees jumped on this as a criticism of the Lord. He had not stumbled these Pharisees. They were already stumbled by their own hypocritical judgmentalism. What Romans 14:13 refers to is to not allow our freedom to lead another to a place that to them would hinder spiritual growth.