When I attended a fundamentalist church, the women were required to wear head coverings. Most women wore lace doilies but being the quasi-fashion conscious maven I am, I refused. I bought a number of stylish hats so that I could be in compliance with the practice and not compromise my look. But many Sundays not compromising my look cost me time; I would build my outfits around a hat or search for the perfect hat to match my outfit. My focus was off. I wanted to get glory for my look instead of seeking to give God glory for following the standards set in that house (1 Corinthians 11:3-16). So please understand that I am well aware how we can easily be drawn into vanity when trying to give God glory. I think a look at 1 Peter 3:3-4 and Isaiah 3:16-4:1 will help us have balance.
“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 incorruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3-4). This scripture teaches that a woman’s focus should be on a heart (mind, will and emotions) that strives to express meekness and quietness. Meekness acknowledges that someone has power but that she has it under control and quietness suggests tranquility, that she shows no signs of anxiety or agitation; she is composed. So in addition to striving to be neat and clean a woman must strive to be meek and quiet. Her appearance and attitude should reflect a heart that doesn’t need to take physical control or express that she is upset because she was unable to take physical control. As we know, some Christians have misappropriated this scripture, requiring women to be homely, forcing them to be ascetics. Others have suggested that these verses are passe’ but these people are in danger of being like the Israelite women in Isaiah 3:16-4:1.
The Lord said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty. Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle. And her gates shall lament and mourn; empty, she shall sit on the ground. And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”
If we don’t seek balance, we end up homely, threatening to repel people from us and God or we end up flashy, being a hindrance for people’s true salvation and shaming God. To have balance, we must ask ourselves questions: Why am I wearing this? Why do I want to wear this? Why am I not satisfied wearing this? How does dressing like this make me feel? How does dressing like this make me act? Who will get the glory from me wearing this? Does wearing this make me look homely? Would wearing this make me act haughty? Once we can be honest with ourselves we are able to make the necessary adjustments so our look reflects godliness and a woman striving only to give Jesus Christ glory.
Copyright 2009 by Rhonda J. Smith