Dress Standards in the New Testament Church
"In like manner also, that women adorn (dress) 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" (I Timothy 2:9-10).
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (life style) of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation (life style) coupled with fear. 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" (I Peter 3:1-5).
Although holiness begins in the heart, it is manifested by the way we talk, act, live--and even dress. Paul states that women should dress themselves in a manner "which becometh women professing godliness (holiness)." Peter also connected godly living with proper dress.
In the above verses of Scripture, we learn several things about New Testament church dress standards:
1. Women are to wear modest apparel. The definition of the word "modest" is "not forward; shy, reserved; not showing one's nakedness; quiet and humble in appearance and style."
2. Women are not to dress expensively, nor to wear elaborate hair styles. "Broided" and "plaiting" are translated "elaborate" in the Amplified Bible.
3. Gold, pearls, and jewelry are not to be worn. This was also true in Old Testament days (Genesis 35:1-4; Exodus 33:1-6; Isaiah 3:16-24). The ornament God wants a woman to wear is that of a meek and quiet spirit.
A WOMAN'S HAIR
1. Every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered, dishonours her head--her husband (verse 3, 6).
2. Her hair is given to her for a covering or veil (verse 15).
3. It is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven. The word "shorn" means to cut--even just a little (verse 6).
4. The phrase "because of the angels" in verse ten refers to the fact that God's judgment came upon the angels that did not stay in subjection (II Peter 2:4; Jude 6). A woman must stay subject to her husband, and her long hair shows that she is subject to him.
"Now if anyone is disposed to be argumentative and contentious about this, we hold to and recognize no other custom than this, nor do the churches of God generally" (verse 16). (Amplified Bible)
A MAN'S HAIR
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" (I Corinthians 11:4, 14).
Our outward appearance should not be according to the fashions of this world (I Corinthians 7:31). Also, men and women should not dress in the apparel of the opposite sex (Deuteronomy 22:5).
Our personal standard of dress must be based upon the Word of God, not what everybody else is dressing like. We also need to take into consideration the fact that we are a part of the body of Christ. Although certain standards of dress might not convict us, we are to be subject to those who are over us in Christ Jesus, and the standards of dress that they teach and preach.
Surely if we follow the admonition of God's Word and His leaders, we will walk closer to Jesus Christ! (ds)