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wife of John Graf, Pastor of the The First Baptist Church, Sayville, New York.
They are the parents of Jennifer, John, Timothy, and Ashley.
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Women who are in sound, independent fundamental Baptist churches ought to know how to dress according to Bible standards. No doubt your pastor has preached about the biblical principles for proper, modest dressing and if you are saved, you quite naturally agree with him. I John 5:3 "For this is the love of God, that we keep His cornmandments: and his commandments are not grievous." Psalm 119:165 "Great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them."
We understand that, while we do live in this world, God wants His people to stand out and be different and not to use our own standard to determine our dress, but to use God's standard. For example, once we are saved, it doesn't take us long to understand that God considers it an abomination for a woman to dress like a man. (Deuteronomy 22:5)
Early in our Christian lives then, we put away our pants and all of our excuses for wearing them (i.e. it's cold, I'm going horseback riding, I just wear them around the house, etc.) After all, who wants to dress like an abomination in God's sight? So, we replaced our Levi's with dresses, skirts, and culottes.
We also understand that in order to be modest in God's eyes, our dresses, skirts, and culottes need to fall below our knees--for any part exposed above the knee is considered nakedness in the eyes of God. (Isaiah 47:2,3 "...make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, ...Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen:" Webster's dictionary defines the thigh as being the portion of the leg between the hip and the knee. Another verse that defines nakedness as an exposed thigh is Exodus 28:42.)
I'm sure it is of utmost importance to those of you who are reading this article to know that your dress is well-pleasing to the Lord. So just to be absolutely sure we are obedient in all areas of dress, let us review and examine our philosophy of dress to make sure we can align ourselves with the Word of God.
I have observed among independent Baptist women a certain naivete of sorts when it comes to wearing dresses-- An unspoken philosophy which seems to say, "As long as I'm wearing a dress, I must be scriptural." Yet, there are many types and styles of dresses that are every bit as immodest and revealing as a pair of tight Levi's would be!
I purposely chose the title of this article from Proverbs 31 because of the word covering. A covering means to clothe or enwrap. The virtuous woman covered herself. (And from the text we see that she covered herself beautifully: tapestry, silk, and purple!) We see how in the Bible God designed clothes three times and all three times He designed coverings.
In the Garden of Eden God made coats for Adam and Eve to wear. A coat is not a sleek, tight, body-revealing sort of apparel, is it? It does not accentuate any part of the body nor draw attention to any one place. When you wear a coat, you are simply covered. The next time the Lord designed clothes was for the high priest's attire. They wore long robes with linen britches underneath the robe. A robe is not an "attention grabbing" article of clothing, is it?
I mean, if you and your husband were going out of town on a romantic little getaway, what would his response be if you cuddled up next to him and whispered, "Honey, I want you to know that I'll be bringing my floor-length, long-sleeved, fuzzy, pink robe on this trip!" (Well, in the first place, he may have already fainted because you actually cuddled up to him... but that's another article!)
If you were really trying to get his attention, I think you could leave the robe home. A robe, like a coat, was not designed to bring attention to anything on the body, but rather it is used for a covering. Also in the book of Revelation, we read of God's design for our heavenly attire: white robes. Every time the Lord God designed clothes, it was for the purpose of clothing the body in a decent and modest way.
Here I have composed several questions for you to ask yourself concerning the way you dress:
1. Are you attracted to the world's latest styles and do you try to dress accordingly?
2. Do you dress to show off, or draw attention to, certain part of your figure? (i.e..
small waist, long legs, etc.)
3. Do you usually wear form-fitting clothes?
4. Are your culottes nothing more than "long shorts" or "short pants"?
5. Do your skirts come exactly to your knee and do those skirts have slits in them?
6. Do you get as close to the world's way of dressing as you can possibly get away
7. On the other hand, do you purposely dress dowdy and frumpy to appear more "holy"
than those around you? (i.e.. Amish style - plain, head coverings like you just popped
out of a thrift shop window.)
8. Do you wear things that may be "see through" and excuse it with the fact that you're wearing a slip (so if anyone sees anything, they'll "just see my slip.")
** A note to mothers of daughters **
1. Do you allow your daughter to wear form-fitting, figure-flattering clothes just
because she may look "cute" or have a "good figure"?
2. Are you mindful to teach your daughter how to dress modestly, and do you check
her wardrobe regularly to be sure she is doing so? (This is your responsibility,
3. Do you allow your daughter to indulge in worldly attire simply because she is young and it is "in style"?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you have set up your own dress standards and you need to question your own motives for doing so.
Now I want to mention a word that is not often used in discussing our wardrobes, and that is the word balance. I personally believe that we as modern day Christian women must have Holy Spirit leadership in our lives, and must exercise good discretion and balance in choosing what we will wear. This is not to say that we need to find a happy medium between the world's standards and God's standards. Nothing could be farther from the truth. However, we are three years away from the 21st century.
We do not use horse and buggies to come to church, nor do I do my laundry down at the Sayville beach. My girls and I do not wear bonnets and prairie dresses like "Ma" on "Little House" and my husband does not dress like Moses or Joshua did. Why? Because those things no longer pertain to our culture.
So where does balance apply? God never says that it is a sin for the leg below the knee to show. So I can wear skirts and dresses below my knees and yet they do not have to be to the ground. I do not want to be poured into them in such a way that I can no longer breathe once the skirt is on, and I would still like to be able to move and sit down in what I wear! So I will avoid tight, form-fitting, worldly clothes, but I will choose clothes that look sharp, fit well, and cover me. There's nothing wrong with looking clean and pretty and sharp! We should stand out as pleasingly different, not ostentatious or weird.
Here are some basic rules that we need to measure our dress standards by:
1. Never try to "Christianize" the world's dress and make it your own. (Some ladies who live in jean skirts, for example, wear them every bit as tight as they used to wear their jeans! The idea behind wearing dresses and skirts was to make certain parts of your body literally INVISIBLE!)
2. Open, low necklines, sleeveless tops and dresses, short and slit skirts and dresses, tight, slinky, form-fitting attire and pants or shorts, have no place in a Christian woman's wardrobe. (You might say, "Sleeveless?! Oh, come on!" Ever notice what advertisers say about "bare" shoulders? Words like sexy, soft, and alluring are always right there.)
3. Culottes were invented in order to give a lady the freedom to move around-- i.e.. gardening, cleaning, bike riding, etc.-- and yet still look like she has a skirt on. If you want to wear culottes, make sure they look like a skirt-front and back.
** A Word to Brides-to-be **
I am utterly amazed and shocked when I attend Christian weddings because of some of the bride's gowns I have seen. Here we have this wonderful, sweet, little Christian girl, who has dressed modestly and properly as long as she's been in the church. What happens on her wedding day? To quote a familiar passage- "June is bustin' put all over!" Please keep your standards as high as ever on this wonderful day! There have been brides I've been embarrassed to look in the eye because of her immodest apparel.
In all areas of our lives, we should try to live godly. Let us especially be circumspect in our attire. The virtuous woman has the utmost respect for God and His Word. So the virtuous woman covers herself. And her husband praises her.