I've been thinking. It doesn't come easy anymore but the things that roll around in my head need to come out. So here goes.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. - Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)
This verse has been on my kitchen cabinet for the last few weeks. It caught my eye while reading and hasn't let go. Why do we do what we do? Is it because we believe that is what God has told us to do, whether through Word or Spirit. Or is it because "that's just how we do it." I must admit that I find many things lacking when held up to this light. And then another interested argument was presented to me in the topic of modesty (which is hugely important to me, after our few years in youth ministry).
... in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. - 1 Timothy 9-10 (NKJV)
Women are told to dress modestly. Now obviously modest is a very widely defined term. Some will wear everything from sweatshirts and jeans to fitted shirts and pants, looking much like relevant society dresses. Some will only wear loose fitting clothing, looking dowdy and ill-fitted. Some will only wear flowing skirts and long sleeved tops, with or without head coverings, claiming they are setting themselves apart by being simple. But what was God's intention with these verses? I've come across an idea that says that women must dress modestly, as to not cause men to stumble, but should dress relevantly. For dressing in a manner that draws attention - whether by young men checking you out or by people pointing at the woman dressed plainly - is undesirable. How a woman dresses should not draw attention to her person but to her God. So if a woman dresses in very simple, almost Amish clothing she is drawing attention to herself because she stand out so much in modern society. But on the other hand, women should not be dressing in revealing or tightly fitting clothes, as they can lead men to stumble. So what's in the middle? I'm not sure. I know that watching shirts get smaller and skirts get shorter, in public and in the church, is an alarming trend. Are we being lead by the principles of this world rather than Christ? But on the other hand, does dressing so plainly as to make people look at us (Do you think she's Amish?) rather than at our character and countenance also defeats the purpose. Are we being led by religious traditions? Both are equally wrong according to Colossians 2:8.
So what's in the middle? Are the guidelines that have been taught to young women over and over again still relevant? If they are relevant for young women why not older women? I must admit that I float more toward the dowdy, old-lady look that any thing fashionable. I've even considered wearing only skirts several times. But is it just religion? Who defines too tight, short, big, frumpy, old, low cut, dowdy? The standard will change for each family. What are your guidelines? Any one mind sharing? I'm really re-visiting this issue with a vengeance. Because I don't want to be religious about it, dressing dowdy because I think it's right. When in reality, I just look like an old lady and ridiculous any way.
So what are your guidelines for modesty? How do you go about deciding what is acceptable? Do current fashions make it impossible to be both fashionable and modest? I'd love to hear some opinions!