“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” [1 Peter 2:9, AMPC]
Recently there was a question raised in a woman’s forum about what is befitting for clothing as Christian women. Typically this question leads to a strong divide among Christian women with one side believing that no one should be judged by how they dress. However, the other side believes that there has to be a distinction between the way Christian women dress and the way women the world dress. Both sides of the fence are right in a sense, but the true answer to this question is not in what we personally think about it, but what God’s Word says about it. Afterall, if this life that we now live is through the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20), then how we live with regards to our clothing should be from that basis as well.
As new creations, we have been made priests and kings unto God. When you compare how the royal family or kings are always clothed, in comparison to the layman, you will observe a stark difference. This difference is not necessarily in the cost of the clothing but in the dignity and decency of their clothing. Why? Because these officials represent a kingdom where their title offers them a high level of authority and honor. Their office affords them ambassadorial rights to other countries where their mannerism, clothing, and decorum becomes representative of their native country. Now we belong to a heavenly kingdom for which we have been made ambassadors here on earth, and have been given official titles of “royal priesthood”, with the main goal to “set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” [1 Peter 2;9]. This is royal capacity which necessitates that just like the Queen of England, we cannot be clothed inappropriately or indecently because whether we realize it or not, those to him we are to minister will judge us by this as well.
When it comes to not being judged by what we wear, the main scripture used to defend this stance that “man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart” [1 Samuel 16:7]. It is really true that God judges after the heart because it is out of the heart that the issue of life flows from. Yet, we have not been called to minister the Gospel to God, but to minister to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to men. Unfortunately, man is not like God who judges after the heart; men make estimations and evaluations by how you look before they even take time to hear you have to say. In the world, there is clothing that is associated with those who are “of the world”. Although we are in the world we are not “of the world”, and it behooves us to not be associated with the worldly way of clothing which typically is indecent and not royal of nature. Remember that this way of the world is what the Bible calls “darkness”, which we have brought out of, and now function in the light. In this Kingdom of light that we belong to, there is also a standard way of life, including our clothing This way of life is what Apostle Paul emphasized when He said, “And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do” [1 Timothy 2:9-10, NLT]. Although you may not see anything wrong with dressing indecently, it negatively affects your Christian witness because the indecent dressing is associated with those who not born again and makes those to whom you are to minister you judge you wrong. In their minds, if the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot even lead to an outward transformation in your life, then what good is it for them? What makes you any different than they to whom you are preaching? If the Gospel of Jesus has power, why is this power not at work in your life, in the simplest thing as the way you dress? Why should a Gospel which has the power to save men only work on the inside without impacting the outside of a man? Then what hope will the others have, if there is no distinction between you and them?
Also, “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, and that you are not the owner of your own body? You have been bought, and at what a price! Therefore bring glory to God both in your body and your spirit, for they both belong to him” [1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Phillips]. Therefore it is not about how we feel when it comes to our dressing. It is about what will bring glory to God and what will cause the name of Jesus Christ to come into disrepute as a result of our clothing. When we become born again, we no longer belong to ourselves, but we belong to God. If we belong to God then our clothing must be godly and reflective of the God nature that we possess. If we don’t own ourselves anymore, then we no longer have the right to indecently expose ourselves to anyone without the permission of our body’s owner. And we know that it is not God’s desire that we are clothed indecently, but rather with royal dignity. As you have offered your body as a living and pleasing sacrifice to the Lord, don’t take yourself off the altar of decency and offer it as a sexual object to the world through the way you dress. You are royalty and not a piece of meat to satisfy the lust of someone else. However, through indecent exposure or inappropriate clothing, you will be deemed and treated as such. If you want to be treated like royalty, then present yourself and function as such.
Finally, “I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?” [Romans 12:1, TLB]