Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How Do You Decide?

A few months ago, some of my online friends were discussing the issue (and a hot one it is!) of women wearing only dresses. One of the ladies asked for testimonies of other ladies who had come to this conviction and how it had happened for them. The forum moderator allowed 3 of us to answer, and I was 1 of those 3. I want to share this testimony here simply as my experience. It will be long, so if you're not interested, just skip it. I'm not doing this to condemn anyone or lift myself up; it's simply how I came to the conclusion that wearing only dresses was what God wanted me to do.

My dad was saved in an IFB (independent, fundamental Baptist) church when I was 6 years old. Two years later, he was called to preach and made plans to go off to Bible college. The church where the college was located also had a Christian school, which he planned to place me in. The school had a dress code which included dresses for girls, so I would be wearing dresses to school all day and dresses to church (this was 34 years ago, so everyone wore dresses to church then). He explained to me that, since I'd be wearing dresses most of the time anyway, it only made sense for me to wear them all the time. He and my mother had been learning about dresses only for ladies and had come to the conclusion that it was right and that I should wear dresses also. I submitted to that with no problem.

I don't remember ever hating wearing dresses; it was just how our family lived. As a teen, there were moments of discomfort when I felt odd, but not overwhelmingly so. My dh and his family had the same conviction, so after we married, I still wore dresses only. It was just how we lived.

There came a point about 10 years ago, that I had a friend who was a Baptist preacher's daughter. She had been raised to wear only dresses, but after she married she had grown away from that. She began talking to me, questioning my "conviction," so I talked to Wes about it. I finally talked him into letting me wear pants just around the house. He said only at home, and no jeans, only slacks. I wore them about 3 times, and felt so out of place that I decided I'd study this thing out for myself.

I used a concordance and my Bible and a book or two (Cathy Corle's book, What in the World Should I Wear, was one I read), and the things that made wearing dresses my personal conviction were the modesty of dresses and separation from the world.

Women are to dress in modest apparel (I Timothy 2:9). Modest means not extreme or bold, and not morally loose. Those can apply to pants, yes; but when I have on a pair of pants, I don't feel that my body is covered. Pants are form-fitting, thus exposing my body. That's just how I feel. The illustration that Cathy Corle uses is two pictures of the same woman. The first one has her in a nice dress. She asked a group of ladies what they noticed about this woman, and they answered her face. Then she showed them the picture of the same woman in a pair of jeans and asked what they noticed. They said their eyes were immediately drawn to the crotch area! That drove home to me that clothes can emphasize the body or the face; I'd rather have folks, especially men, notice my face and not my body. Again, this is my feeling.

The other thing that convinced me was the doctrine of separation from the world (I John 2:15; II Corinthians 6:17). The fashion of the world is to wear pants (patterned after men's clothing). This wasn't the case until about 100 years ago, when actresses began wearing pant suits that resembled men's suits. Before that, women in western culture almost universally wore dresses (I remember my Granny saying that she wore her brother's overalls to pick cotton to keep her legs from getting all scratched up). So the fashion of the world became women wearing pants. I felt that, to be separate from the world, I needed to dress differently than the world. I also needed to be feminine and distinctively female; there should be a noticeable difference between my clothes and a man's clothes (Deuteronomy 22:5). The difference in our culture is that women wear dresses and men wear pants, so I believe it's right for me to wear dresses.

(Edited here to remove the principles for modest dress that I posted last week that my pastor had preached)

As for this being a matter between a wife, husband, and God:

I believe that a saved man will probably encourage his wife to do what God is laying on her heart. Several ladies have mentioned how their husbands didn't see the need for dresses only, but supported them in wearing them because the ladies felt that is what God wanted them to do. With an unsaved husband, the dress issue can be a witness to her husband in one of two ways: (1) if he doesn't mind her wearing dresses only, it can be a witness of her changed life; (2) if he doesn't want her to wear dresses only, her submission to him in this area will be a witness to him (especially if she makes sure to wear what pleases him when they are at home, even if she wears dresses all the rest of the time).

This issue is just like any other that families have to make a decision about. If your heart is open to do whatever God wants you to, and you study scriptures related to it and come to a different conclusion than others, you've done what you need to to follow God's leading. We have freedom in Christ to follow Him as He leads us to. I don't know why some people develop certain convictions and others don't. How people dress is not a salvation issue; it's a separation issue. It's not my job to win them over to my way of thinking on separation - it's the Holy Spirit's job to teach them how God wants them to live. If they ask why I believe something, I'll tell them; otherwise, I stay quiet. It's not something that will stop me from fellowshipping with someone, and wearing dresses is not a requirement to come to our church. It's a personal standard.
 The following books, in addition to the one mentioned above, may be a help if you're seeking more information on this issue (disclosure) Please note that I may not agree with every position or conclusion in these books, but I believe their value is worth the read.

               

Disclosure: This entry contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and order a product, I may earn a small commission. I am not compensated in any other way for my opinions and recommendations. My opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I do or would personally use.




2 comments:

  1. I'm glad to hear your statements reguarding your convictions. You said "I don't know why some people develop certain convictions and others don't. How people dress is not a salvation issue; it's a separation issue. It's not my job to win them over to my way of thinking on separation - it's the Holy Spirit's job to teach them how God wants them to live. If they ask why I believe something, I'll tell them; otherwise, I stay quiet. It's not something that will stop me from fellowshipping with someone, and wearing dresses is not a requirement to come to our church. It's a personal standard."

    I came from a really strict church that if you didn't look and dress the part, you weren't saved. The church my family and I came out of is cult-like. If you don't do just what they say, you're cut off. We left about 7 1/2 years ago. Up until about 2 years ago, skirts and dresses is all that we wore. But I started to pray and seek God in the pant issue b/c the church was so strict on the issue that if you didn't wear their standard you couldn't be a part of them. I am thankful that my salvation isn't based on my dress standard. I've done a lot of seeking and praying on the matter and have come to a peace, with God, on wearing pants. But I only wear loose fitting ones. I do agree that there is a danger when pants are too tight and immodest. However, there are times too when skirts can be immodest. (For example: on a windy day, riding roller coasters, bike riding, etc.) I don't feel the need to wear pants every day, but there are certain situations in which I feel they are more modest. And I don't wear anything above my knee. But that is just my conviction. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have really enjoyed reading your posts. I do strive to do what God calls me to do and that is my heart's desire. Where He leads me, I will follow. I didn't mean to write a post on your blog, but it looks like I have. :o)

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  2. Thanks for posting, you have a wonderful testimony. It is always so encouraging to read/hear from others who hold the same beliefs as you.

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Thanks for taking a minute to read my ramblings and leave a comment! I appreciate it!

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