The Heart and the Hemline by Bonnie
Linda Okello, the infamous policewoman of Kiambu County, gained notoriety with “Tight Security” courtesy of her reinvention of the police uniform. The debate was primarily because police uniform should communicate authority, respectability and conformity which her short body-hugging skirt did not.
Dressing has had its fair share of hullabaloo, with a onetime minister of education, the late Mutula Kilonzo, unfortunately equating some school uniforms to nuns’ attire! The recent #MyDressMyChoice campaign only further muddied the whole discourse on dressing. The media is awash with conversations to no end condemning and celebrating indecency in equal measure.
For Christians, there is no better time than now to respond with reflection on scripture to this issue. The million dollar question is what does it really mean when I dress as I want? Does one’s wardrobe solely depend on their discretion?
Modelling and the fashion industry have styled themselves as the SI units of dressing. Models and fashion lines qualify every garment being introduced to a gullible market however indecent and ungodly!
Upon inventing the bikini in 1946, engineer Louis Réard had to hire a stripper to wear it as no French model could wear his scandalous invention! With even models blushing and leaving it to a stripper, the target audience is then questionable! For Louis, the litmus test to any true bikini was making the approximately 36sq.inch dress go through a wedding ring.
The culture presented here is one of celebrating perverse self-exhibitionism, further fanned by the media and globalization. A couple of generations after the invention of the bikini, this piece now appears normal not just on beaches but even in swimming pools in our neighborhoods, hotels and church retreat centers!
Since audience with models remains imaginary, the appearance of one’s friend in itsy-bitsy dress is fertile ground for misconduct of all kinds - sexual or otherwise. With so much flesh on display, an undisciplined or mischievous mind goes haywire. The result is hard to predict. Could this explain why women were recently stripped in Kenya?
Godliness is a way of living; we are responsible (to those around us) for how we appear. A godly culture is represented by the dressing of Christians.
Proverbs 7:10 and Genesis 38:14-15 mention dressing identifying prostitutes. Simply put, there is a distinct dress associated with harlots. Proverbs 7:9-12 and 16-21 alludes to the ladies’ intention—luring men. The intention and imagination behind the dress is not morally right. This then means that dressing expresses character and speaks volumes of who we really are.
Sadly the media today has bombarded us with “harlot dressing” without doubt with the intention of killing our values.
True beauty attracts purity, respect and love. In Mathew5:28, Jesus says that a lustful look equals adultery. If one party initiated or encouraged lust by insensitive dressing, the scenario is similar to that of one preparing poison and another drinking the fatal potion. Who should be condemned? If my dress draws unnecessary attention, how can I be innocent of fanning sin?
True beauty is a reminder of God’s holiness. Bearing in mind that He created us fearfully and wonderfully (Ps139:14), beauty reminds us of God and His holiness. By honoring God with our hemline, it communicates the condition and attitude of our hearts towards Him. Whereas indecency draws attention to self, decency focuses on Christ and His excellence.
Reflecting on the story of Adam and Eve in the context of the forbidden fruit, it is apparent that Eve aroused forbidden passions in Adam. He failed to resist the passion aroused by the fruit. Many a time, our dressing arouses forbidden passions in the other people.
“Dressed to kill” is a misguided phrase. It already communicates ungodliness as one draws attention to parts of their body with the sole aim of distracting others and forcing them to cast lustful looks at their curvaceous body! With the world around us celebrating itsy-bitsy dressing, it is a high time we, like Adam and Eve, allow the Lord to clothe us in righteousness, allowing our bodies to draw attention solely to Him.
Immodesty communicates emptiness in one’s heart and soul. With a disturbing sense of lack of worth, many resort to finding worth by drawing attention to themselves and their bodies. They are the types who post questionable photos on social network sites with the sole aim of receiving “You are sexy” comments from the opposite gender, comments that make them post even more provocative snaps.
This draws attention to self and not Christ, consequently distracting many. By appearing inappropriately dressed for church, for instance, fellowship is hindered as constant adjustments to the apparel distract both the wearer and others. This is not to mention the preying eyes that need to be guarded as they feed the mind with lustful thoughts.
Compromised dressing is leeway to the sin of rebellion bringing the whole matter of the Lordship of Christ comes into focus. Arguing that skimpy dressing should be allowed for sports is a question of who calls the shots! Me and my hobby or Christ and His standards!? If the Lord has placed me as a witness in the sports arena, even my dressing should appear as such - a witness.
An immodest wardrobe renders every other act of modesty superficial. Consistency demands that private and public lives be uniform.
As Christians, we should only demand for that which is godly. If demand truly determines supply, our heartfelt need for godly standards in dressing will overwhelm the industry with godly apparel since truth always wins. Identity with the savior is greater than identity with friends who compromise.
We should not shy away from boldly confronting evil. We should fearlessly share our convictions and stand for that which is right and godly. The actions of bad people and the silence of good people are evils of equal measure.