Glamor is big business.
Even the church is so enamored with a pretty face that a woman who exploits her outward beauty in order to indulge our culture’s lusts of the flesh and of the eyes is praised for conquering “every square inch” of her domain under the lordship of Christ. I wonder whose inches are truly being conquered–hers, or the fashion industry’s?
Isn’t 1 Peter 3:1-5 clear that we as women–for all time–have struggled with overemphasizing the outward appearance?
Whose adorning let it not be of the that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let [our beauty] 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.
The passage goes on to explain that in the old days women who were holy, who trusted in God, “adorned themselves” with the ornament that God thinks is beautiful–a meek and quiet spirit.
I have been on a quest this year pursuing meekness. Matthew Henry has been helping me to understand it, as well as its value. These posts will be my attempts to restate his thoughts in my own words in order to better glean from them.
I am amazed at Henry’s ability to cross-reference Scripture. In the opening of his book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, he demonstrates his assertion that women have always been known for what we could even call an obsession with our outward appearance–our hair, accessories, and clothing–with 1 Peter 3:3-4 (above) and Jeremiah 2:32a:
Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?
The obvious answer is NO. Obviously a young girl doesn’t forget the items that make her prettier; and a bride, on the most important day of her life wants to look her best ever! Even in Bible times, this was common knowledge about women.
But Peter is trying to help women to wean themselves of the futility of fussing about outward appearance. When a child is being weaned, he cries, fusses, and cannot be made happy. He wants his mama. But once weaned, he sits calmly and peacefully in his mother’s arms without a thought troubling him as to what he went through. We love clothing and our outward appearance in the same way that a baby loves nursing, and likewise need to be separated from that thinking into valuing a better kind of beauty.
Peter doesn’t say that we should forget clothing altogether or act as if our dress doesn’t matter. The shame that came into the world because of sin has made modest dress necessary. But we shouldn’t love clothing. We shouldn’t put importance on outward appearance, as if our value is equal to our looks. We shouldn’t be puffed up about it, as if we’re better than others.
Clothing and jewelry really aren’t that important, and that’s why we shouldn’t pour time or money into thinking, talking, or stressing about them. After all, even King Solomon couldn’t be fancier than the flowers God chose to dress up the field. The rich man of Luke 16 found his joy in his things, including his rich robes; but he was a fool.
Remember years ago, as teens, when we used to say that someone was “out” or “in”? Do teens still talk like that? Christians are called not to love this world, but to overcome it. Does that mean we “claim” all of fashion for Christ, as in the above example of a model “missionary” to the fashion world?
Clearly, the Bible prohibits Christians from dressing in certain popular fashions today. If that means we’re “out” or partially out, like, whatever. It shouldn’t even bother us, because we don’t love it–right?
That said, modesty has been an issue for women throughout the history of the church, as evidenced by the passages in the Bible. But it’s just one problem of many that the church needs to address. For all time, the church has to see the fashion of its times and warn Christians against loving it too much or trying too hard to pattern themselves after the world. “Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.” Ecclesiastes 7:10
We ladies must join the line of faithful, godly women who have decided to prize what God prizes, to see beauty in what He claims is beautiful–the hidden person of the heart, or more specifically, a meek and quiet spirit.