Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dressing to Please

When we first met, she recognized me as a Christian (or something) by the rainbow covering. I recognized her as a Christian of a certain ilk by her dress--demure mid-calf denim jumper over a white t-shirt, and athletic shoes with white socks, and long hair with bangs.

I have avoided the conversation about her dress, because I'm not sure I could be lovingly, non-judgementally Christian about it. I simply know that she has stated that she made a decision to wear only dresses, because "it is pleasing to the Lord."

I think it's great that she wants to please God, but I'm not sure how she--and quite a few other women--figured this particular God-pleaser out.

This style of Christian women's dress truly perplexes me. It's distinctive enough that I can recognize women by it a long ways away...and yet there is, quite simply, NOTHING biblical about it...aside from the fact that the jumper, at any rate, is not "a man's clothing" which women should not wear. But t-shirts and athletic shoes WERE men's clothing when I was a child, and remain "unisex"--or, more accurately, "bi-gender." It is, at least, practical and not ostentatious or fashion-conscious...and fairly modest, though the "modesty police" from many cultures and times would cluck their tongues at the bare elbows.

Jesus himself actually never really got specific about women's dress, aside from maybe some vague comments on modesty...and he very specifically told us to not worry about what to wear. I take that as permission to wear practical, comfortable, modest clothing that befits my daily work. Denim and t-shirts had not, to my knowledge, been invented in the time of Jesus. I don't think knitting had even been invented. Sandals were the norm, if any footwear were worn. Paul, who had a little more to say on the subject, merely asserted that women should not wear men's clothing, and should cover their heads when they pray.

So, why doesn't she cover her head if she wants to please God, since that IS clearly stated in the bible?

This is such a prevalent blind spot among biblical literalists--the women go bare-headed day in, day out, in church, in public and at home! Paul would have found this shameful! Yet the literalists insist that a few vague inferences about particular sexual practices in a now-obsolete cultural context are proof that it is ALWAYS sinful to have a committed, lifelong emotional relationship with someone of the same gender!

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