With the preaching of the full gospel of Christ by D. S. Warner and other ministers of the Church of God in the Evening Light Reformation, which began about the year 1880, came the word of God on the subject of the Christian’s dress. At first thought one may think that the dress question is of very little moment, or rather of no moment at all; but by carefully reading the scriptures addressed to Christians upon this subject, we find that Holy Inspiration has not left us to ourselves in regard to this matter, but has given us punctual directions as to what we shall or shall not wear.
Accordingly we read, “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 not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.” (1 Peter 3:3-5)
Also, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:8-10)
And also we read, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
Again, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)
The first two passages quoted, emphatically forbid Christians wearing gold, pearls, or costly array, or to put on apparel, but commands them to dress as becomes their profession, namely, holiness, declaring that the spirit of the Christian must be “a meek and quiet spirit”; and also that their dress must be modest, for we all know that a Christian is a modest, humble, lowly man or woman of God. Since their very spirit and character are meek, quiet, holy, and humble like unto their Lord and Master, they are commanded to dress as is suitable and becoming their profession of Christ. The last two scriptures referred to forbid us as Christians to conform to the world, and exhorts us to lay apart all “superfluity of naughtiness.” The Romans 12:2 may more directly refer to the spirit and wisdom of the world, yet it also refers to the foolish fashions and customs, which naturally emanate from its spirit and wisdom, and if we are ever to prove the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” thus pleasing Him in all things, we must cease our conformity to the world. The laying apart of all superfluity is very essential to our Christian life and walk. Superfluity is anything excessive, not needed, unnecessary, and that is worn or used for show or ornament, to please the eye, to satisfy the lust of the flesh or the pride of life; and the Word says, “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:24)
Therefore, seeing that the Scriptures are against such things, we can truly say that such as laces, embroideries, silks, satins, plush, and other fine goods should not be worn by saints of God; neither fancy vests, neckties, silk socks, fancy watch fobs, or any gay or flashy clothing, but that which “becometh holiness” (Titus 2:3); also, all jewelry, such as rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, gold watches, stick pins, or anything that is worn for show or adornment must be left off for Jesus’ sake. However, lace and embroidery cannot be classed with other fabrics; for whole garments or parts of garments are made of cotton, wool, velvet plush, silk or fur, and such garments cover the body and keep it warm; but garments or parts of garments made of lace or embroidery are worn for show, and not that they have any value as clothing. But again, saints should not wear anything that has the appearance at being worn for show or costliness.
Now this is the way the truth has been preached from the beginning of the Reformation until about the year 1910, as the following extracts from Gospel Trumpet literature will show:
Superfluities—By this is meant unnecessary things, such as are worn for show and style, and cannot be worn to the glory of God, such as gold cuff and collar buttons, and other jewelry; neckties, an unnecessary amount of ribbon, feathers, and many other things which can be laid aside for the glory of God.
[Little Things, pp. 14]
If we as saints will leave off the feathers, the ruffles and mufflers, the gold watches and chains, the diamonds, rings, necklaces, gold-rimmed glasses, silk dresses, hobble skirts, low necked waists, embroideries, etc., we shall avoid transgressing the Bible, the Holy Spirit, our conscience, sinning against the brethren; then we shall stand without fault before the throne of the great Judge who now stands before the door with the record of our deeds. Take for example the wearing of the necktie. We not only consider our own conscience, but that of others. Because it has been discarded as an unnecessary article of dress, and is so regarded by the church, almost, if not, universally, it is therefore best to leave it off lest we offend our brethren, if for no other reason.
[The Gospel Trumpet June 21, 1912]
It has been fully agreed upon by the saints as an article of dress, that the wearing of it is catering too much to the world, and, therefore, should be discouraged. Ministers who are full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom and miracle-working faith and power will not need such things, neither pianos, nor stringed instruments to get an audience and to convert souls.
[The Gospel Trumpet December 12, 1912]
Question—Why do not the saints (men) wear neckties? It is so noticeable, would like to know.
Answer—For the reason that they are for ornament only, and as such are not needful nor useful.
[The Gospel Trumpet August 20, 1908]
Question—Can one keep saved and use tea, coffee, wear corsets, neckties, etc.?
Answer—[Caffeinated] tea and coffee are narcotics—poisonous, and more or less injurious to the human system, and men and women become slaves to the habit. Salvation will deliver from all such bondage and habits when connected with the proper teaching. It is a generally admitted fact that the corsets are injurious, and if people know this, they are guilty before God in cleaving to pride and fashion, and especially when it is harmful. Neckties are superfluous. God’s Word forbids outward adorning; but such are fashionable, and doubtless have a part in “the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16) Salvation delivers from the desire, “lust,” and “pride” of such things. Where men and women get saved from these things and teach against them, then take to them again, the devil has seduced them.
[The Gospel Trumpet June 12, 1902]
We gladly refrain from wearing anything that only brings us nearer the world and adds nothing to comfort or necessity. Wearing a collar large enough and of such material that it protects our coat from the perspiration of the neck, seems to be a matter of convenience, economy, comfort, and cleanliness; but this could not be said of a necktie, which is so generally considered by the world as a necessity, but which is for no other reason than for appearance. It is consistent with the word of God that we should be clean and neat, but if you were to take the worldly judgment for our standard of neatness, where should we find ourselves?
[The Gospel Trumpet October 20, 1910]
Now, dear reader, you, can see by the Word of God and the past teaching of these people, that all worldliness in dress was forbidden. But now these very same writers and preachers, including E. E. Byrum himself, have repudiated their own teaching and are wearing many of the things they formerly taught against. So, according to their own statements, as recorded in the above extracts, “The devil has seduced them.”
E. E. Byrum had said:
It is a matter much to be regretted that two or three ministers of this Reformation have become so blinded by such a spirit as to don their superfluous paraphernalia and take the pulpit, even at a camp meeting, and upbraid as fanatical the saints who would not fall in line with the same…. The word of God stands today as it always has, and to wear a superfluous article will lead to other superfluities and open the gates to worldly conformity and pride; and a compromise spirit that will plead for worldly conformity will plead for letting down on doctrinal lines. Then what is the matter with those ministers? They have stepped over into the bypath of the broad way, and are headed for the dump pile. “Is that not too strong a statement?” someone may say. No; and the sooner they are made to realize it, and the people see it, the better it will be.
It is a downright compromise with the devil.
It is the spirit of the thing we are after, and we trust the men themselves may find deliverance.
[Enoch E. Byrum, Marching Along the Bypath; The Gospel Trumpet September 15, 1910]
The writer of the above now wears his necktie, which he had vehemently condemned in others. So, according to his own teaching, he has “stepped over into the bypath of the broad way, and [is] headed for the dump pile.”
And the same spirit of compromise, that has seduced these people in regard to worldly dress, has also seduced them into letting down on other doctrinal lines of Bible truth, as we shall see as we proceed. We find among these Trumpet people today those who wear neckties, gold watches, breast pins, laces, embroideries, silks, and coffee and tea drinking, corset wearing and many other things almost too numerous to mention, but may this suffice for the present on this subject.