Written By: Hannah Kittle
I have a confession to make. I am a hard core fashionista. Put me into a mall with an unlimited budget and my phone and you probably wouldn’t see me again. Recently, I went on a shopping trip with some of my girlfriends. We went to a mall and several other stores and I was able to snag some really good deals. However I came out of the trip feeling rather sad.
Why was I sad? What was wrong with me? I had gotten great deals and was with some of my dearest friends. What was going on?
The answer was simply this: other girls and some guys. It wasn’t that they were being rude or mean. In fact most of the people that I saw seemed quite pleasant and nice. It was simply the way that their heart attitudes reflected in the way that they dressed. Many of the girls were dressed in the latest styles, some of which were really cute.
Was there anything wrong with the fact that they were wearing the latest fashion? No, of course not. I had just bought a tunic\shirt dress in a store which is considered “in” and “fashionable” right now. So, what was the problem? The problem was that their clothing reflected what was in their hearts and what was in their hearts was anything but Christ-honouring.
All too often the debate on fashion in the Christian community centers around questions like, “Is it immodest to wear yoga pants?”, “Is it modest to wear skinny jeans?”, “Is there something wrong with wearing Aeropostale, Hollister, American Eagle, Pink, Abercrombie and Fitch, Forever 21, etc.?” and so many other questions. While those questions are important to answer, there is one question we must answer first in order to make any decisions regarding our fashion choices. We need to ask ourselves, “Am what I’m wearing reflecting my heart’s desire to honour God or is it reflecting my desire to fit into the world and look attractive to a guy?”
When evaluating tough questions, we need to take a step back away from the issue and look at what God has to say. The Bible doesn’t explicitly give us guidelines on what to wear and that just makes it even harder, right? If you’re like me, then you like to have everything in black and white and listed in good order. So let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about fashion and hopefully bring a little more light to the issue.
Now by asking the fashion question, I’m not saying that we should be doing rigorous self-examination every time that we put on a pair of socks. In the Bible, God talks about how He adorned Israel with, “…clothes…of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth…You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.” (Ezekiel 16:13)
In the Bible, we read how Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Dinah, Ruth, Abigail, Bathsheba, Tamar, the Proverbs 31 woman, the lady described in Song of Solomon, and many others are described as beautiful. In Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs), a good portion of the book is given to the description of the beauty of the woman. The Bible talks much about the beauty of women and the adornment of them. Jewellery and fine clothes are mentioned many times in the Bible, as both a praise and as a warning.
In Proverbs, we read how Wisdom is personified as a beautiful lady who wears fine clothing and jewellery while the adulterous woman is also described as beautiful and also wears fine clothing and jewellery but instead of her beauty coming from her integrity and grace, the adulterous woman is described as someone whose “…speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is as bitter as gall, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” (Proverbs 5:3-5)
The adulterous woman is described as being dressed as a prostitute. (Proverbs 7:10) She is dressed in a very provocative manner which stems from her heart in which is only death and rebellion against God. 1 Corinthians 4:5 talks about how “…before the appointed time…He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motive of the heart.”
How we dress reflects our relationship with God. When we are in a right understanding with God then the fashion, modesty, and dress issue fall into place. When we aren’t in a right understanding with God, our judgment is clouded and our emotions tend to take over. We attempt to justify wearing an outfit which turns out to be tempting to the opposite sex because of the attitude we show in the way that we wear our clothing.
The root of the problem isn’t whether or not we should be wearing the clothing that is “in” or “fashionable.” It isn’t about whether or not we as Christian young women should wear yoga pants, leggings, or skinny jeans instead of skirts, or whether we should just wear dresses completely. It’s about the heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) When our heart’s desire is to honour and please God, it will be reflected in our choice of clothing and even in the way we wear it.
The brands and “pants versus skirts” issue pales when we consider ourselves before God. All that matters is how we stand before God. When we can stand before God with a clean conscience and say, “Yes, Lord. My fashion choices are made with the ultimate goal of glorifying You,” then we can answer all the questions that come out of the fashion\modesty debate.
Fashion in and of itself isn’t bad. It’s what we make of it and use it for that is the issue. We have to make a choice to use it to glorify God.
End note: By writing this I’m not attempting to tell anyone that it is more modest to wear pants versus skirts. I’m not giving advice on what clothing or brand is more fashionable. Your clothing choices and standards are your own. Even within my own family, we have different tastes for clothes and different views on things. The primary issue is for each of us to be able to stand before God and say with all honesty that we are seeking to honour Christ in what we wear.