The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: D

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Dress, makeup, jewelry

"In like manner also, (I command) that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with restraint and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array..." (1Ti 2:9).
This word "apparel" includes more than dress. It may be translated "deportment" or "bearing". Actions are very much a part of this "apparel"! This reminds us of so many Biblical passages showing clothing as a symbol of our life in the Truth (Job 29:14; Psa 132:9; 1Pe 5:5; Isa 11:5; Rev 19:7,8). Paul is looking for modesty that is firmly rooted in the character -- not the "modesty" of a showy affectation. "Sobriety" denotes soundness of mind and judgment. It is a habitual, inner self-government, which puts a constant rein upon the natural desires and passions. Sobriety puts into action what the "modesty" recognizes to be proper.

With such qualities of modesty and restraint the sister must adorn herself, so as to be pleasing in God's sight.

"The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1Sa 16:7).
God sees the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb 4:12), and our "adornments" must be those characteristics in which He finds delight. These verses are specially for the women, but the ultimate application is for all: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1Pe 3:3,4).

Paul is commending the virtue of self-restraint: the refusal to conform to the foolish fashions of a vain and changing world. How closely should a brother or sister conform to the fashions of the world, as to dress, makeup, and so forth? Men and women are born, make changes while they live, grow old and die; and others come to take their places. This world's fashions come and go, and the only sure thing about them is that nothing will remain the same for long. But the Almighty God of heaven never changes. In this is sufficient reason to shun (as much as is practical and reasonable) the passing fancies of a godless world.

By slavishly following the fashions of this world, we are showing our misplaced dependence upon it. We are showing that we regard the favor of the world as of greater value than the favor of God. We think more of the world's fellowship than we do of God's fellowship.

Furthermore, stylish dress, elaborate hair-styles and excessive makeup, which imitate the changing fashions of today, give the impression to others of a similarity of thought and behavior. This is not something which a believer in Christ should wish to imply. As much as is practical we must show our separateness from the world. Thus we should be modest, neat, and tasteful -- not skimpy on the clothes, not excessive in our spending, not elaborate and time-consuming in our personal grooming. The overall key -- and especially is this true for the sisters -- is modesty (not seductiveness) in apparel, and in deportment.

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