Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Necessity of Clothing (Some Heart-Applications)

After our first two Sunday School lessons, the girls' faces wrinkled with worry:
So, what does all this MEAN?
Is it ok to wear a tight shirt?
Doesn't context dictate what is ok and not ok to wear?

The reason we begin the class by looking at Genesis is so we can get at heart-question first: where is our heart when it comes to what we wear? What is our love and who are we trying to please? And understanding the purpose of clothing in light of God's Word helps us to focus on our hearts before the Lord.

For the sake of giving a practical example, here is one more glimpse to the goriness of my wedding dress adventure.

As I was planning our wedding, I had my heart set on two things:

1. Cheap, preferably a great deal.
Lofty reason: I refuse to fall into the pitfalls of wedding obsession and consumerism that permeate the American culture.

2. A mandarin collar, or something like the perfect dress of my imaginings.
Reason: I don't want to bare more flesh than I would normally, e.g. I would not normally wear something strapless. I did feel very strongly about finding something that is elegant and that appropriately covers.
Real reason: I can be quite picky with some things. The image of my perfect dress was stuck in my head and it wouldn't go away.

It is all a fad anyway, so unnecessary.
It is just a silly dress that I am going to be in for a few hours.
I couldn't careless what I wear.

I lied.

My pride and emotions were so wrapped up in finding the dress that it consumed me. Even if I had the "right" reasons, my heart was definitely in the wrong place. It was that night in the train, defeated after a fruitless day in NYC, that I finally saw my foolishness.

So, I dropped my search and focused on other things. I eventually found a dress, quite unlike the dress, but I was grateful for the search to be over.

The whole point of this tale is to illustrate two things:

1. When it comes to the way we dress, as Christians, we must live in the tension of it being both an important and unimportant matter. It matters in that the Bible speaks of it in various places, so our affection must be in a disposition of obedience. Our hearts, however, must not be so bound to our external ornamentation, that we neglect necessary things such as good works and serving others.

2. The heart, my heart, is a crooked thing. Clothing ourselves with modesty requires both rightness of heart and action. On one hand, a person who covers their body appropriately does not prove their heart is right with the Lord. On the other hand, a person who is ostentatious or who neglects propriety cannot claim that they had "good intentions."

We need much grace and wisdom.

Here are the links to the series:
Part 1: In the Garden
Part 2: Shame
Part 3: Sackcloth
Part 4: Bridal garment
Part 5: Christ
Applications: Take Two
Hunger: Modesty is not just about clothes

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