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Christian Conduct | Charles E. Orr

Christianity in Dress

The Bible, in telling Christians how to live, makes mention even of their dress. Why is this? It is because extravagance in dress is indicative of a proud heart. Thefts, murders, evil thoughts, pride, etc., come forth from the heart and defile the man (Mark 7:21-22). Any article of dress put on merely for adornment can only be the fruit of pride in the heart. Some may wear adornments by way of jewels, pearls, rings, necklaces, etc., and still say that they are not proud. But the Bible says, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”* (Matthew 7:20) These facts are plain, no matter how much man or woman may deny them.

Some have asked, “Can I not be a Christian and continue to wear my rings and plumed hats?” We would ask, Can you be a Christian and willfully disobey the Word of God? What does God’s Word say? “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.”* (1 Timothy 2:9-10) We have heard people say that this text does not mean what it says, or is not meant for us now. What makes you say that? It is because you do not want to live to it. If I should tell my daughter not to wear gold, and she continuing to wear it, and should tell others that I did not mean what I said, I should consider it an act of very great disrespect. Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”* (John 14:2-3) Where is the professed Christian that does not believe that Jesus meant what He said in this text, or that He did not mean it for them? If He did not mean what He said in the former text or meant it for some other people, how can we know He meant what He said in the last text, or meant it for us? We all believe this text to mean what it says, and that it is meant for us. Why do we? Because we would love to have it that way. And why do some disbelieve the former text? Because they do not love to have it that way. Oh, the inconsistency of man! We shall quote this text in Timothy from the Syriac Version of the New Testament: “So also that women [dress] in chaste fashion of dress: and that their adorning be with modesty and chastity: not with curls, or with gold, or with pearls, or with splendid robes: but with good works as becometh women who profess reverence for God.”

The curling of the hair, or the wearing of gold and pearls does not become a woman who professes reverence for God. Such things give them a worldly appearance. It is really painful to the Christian heart to see men and women laboring and planning and striving to keep up with the fashion. Someone has said, “We had just as well be out of the world as to be out of style.” That is just what Christianity will do for you. It separates you from the world and its fashions and styles. Many a young man is driven to dishonesty merely to keep up with the world in its pride. His clothier perhaps goes unpaid while he walks the aisle of some fine meeting house with the air of a millionaire. He takes his part in the League or the Endeavor, and considers such service entitles him to the name Christian.

Many a husband is working hard to support his wife and children, while the wife is spending his hard-earned money for fashionable and costly array for herself and children. The new spring hats and bonnets must be purchased, and that in the latest style, if debts go unpaid. Many a mother is working late at night, and goes to her bed with an aching heart and head because of her desire to clothe her children after the world so they may attend Sunday school, etc. Oh, where is the plain and humble Christianity of primitive days! Let us take a look at the life of the lowly Nazarene and His devoted followers. Here we behold the humble and self-sacrificing Christian virtues.

While it is wrong and contrary to the Scriptures to spend money for gold and pearls and costly apparel, it is equally as wrong to make an unnecessary expenditure of money in the erection of buildings. When we see dwelling houses with their fancy carvings and domes and decorations, we conclude that vain is the heart of the owner; and when we see a meeting house with its towering steeple and stained windows, our heart is grieved. In the name of Jesus we affirm that it is wrong and contrary to the spirit of Christianity to make such an unnecessary expenditure of money in the building of a house of worship. We have seen many a meeting house that cost fully enough to build three plain houses that would seat as many people and fully as durable. The unnecessary expenditure of money in the building of these houses is often double the amount required to build a good comfortable plain building. Frequently meeting houses are remodeled when the old one was plenty good enough, but not fine enough. Why those colored windows with their drawings? Are they the result of love to God, or are they the result of pride? At this present writing there are thousands of human beings starving, not in foreign and heathen lands only—in our own beloved land many feel the pangs of hunger. With this suffering of human beings around us we say in the fear of God that no man nor society can expend money for costly colored windows and rich fancy carvings and ornamentation without incurring the displeasure of the Almighty.

Dear reader, I appeal to your commonsense and reason (if you do not know anything about the Bible): which is more congenial to the spirit of right and of Christianity and more commendable to God—to use money in buying feathered and flowered hats, laces, ribbons, necklaces, beads, jewels, gold rings, chains, studs, buttons, etc., or the giving of this money to some poor man or woman who is struggling hard to keep the wolf from the door? May God help us to see.