A Peculiar People

Karen Bergen

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“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” 1 Peter 2:9.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17.

Praise the Lord! I am a young twenty-four-year-old woman and proud to be a member of the church of God! I am married to a wonderful man, and we have been blessed with two beautiful little girls. I don’t drop my babies off at day care every morning so I can pursue my own career, but stay home with them to take care of them and raise them to love the Lord and to walk in His ways. Our home is in order, and I can truly say that we lead a very happy life. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Yet, most people consider us to be very strange, both because of our domestic arrangements and because of our dress. Our dress is probably what stands out the most to the casual observer.

I am fully clothed in a long, dark skirt with a vest and long-sleeved blouse. My long, uncut hair is put up in an old-fashioned bun. My husband is easily recognized by his dark pants, vest, and beard. Our babies are also associated with us by their simple and plain, yet practical and beautiful little dresses. Why do we dress this way? It is not that we never had the opportunity of choosing otherwise. In fact, due to family circumstances, as a teenager A Peculiar People and young adult, I could easily have chosen the fashions of mainstream society over the fashion of a Christian. I considered my options, made my choice, and here I stand. But why? Couldn’t I have chosen both? Is it not possible to be an up-to-date, stylish Christian? Let’s see what the Bible says.

First of all, people are recognized by their dress: police officers, military personnel, doctors and nurses, pilots, leaders of various religions, and so forth. We want to be recognized too. We want to look different. We want everyone who sees us to know that we are Christians. So why this particular dress or uniform?

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, the apostle Paul says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” In the next verse he says, “keep the ordinances [or traditions], as I delivered them to you.” In 2 Thessalonians 2:15 the same apostle writes, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” These scriptures bring out two points regarding our topic. First, that the church of God has some traditions, and, second, that the apostles have the authority to set those traditions either by direct word or by letter. No need to be shocked here. Everyone follows someone. Everyone has their role model, and we do too.

The traditions of the church of God are not the mere fabrication of someone’s over-inspired imagination. They are solidly based in the Word of God.

Let us turn to 1 Timothy 2:9-10. This is another valuable passage of scripture also written by our apostle Paul. He says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel.” What does modest mean? According to Webster’s dictionary, the word modest means to be restrained by a sense of propriety (which means to be in consonance with established principles, rules, and customs); hence not forward or bold, not loose or lewd. It also means to be moderate, not excessive or extreme. By this we see that modesty, by definition, cannot be decided by any independent individual acting on his own impulses and fancies, but can only be defined by certain previously set principles and customs. In short, no person can decide for himself what is modest and what is not, based on his own ideas, but must conform to some previously set standards. Whose standards? Certainly not Hollywood’s, as it has been the lead for declining morals ever since it was founded.

Modern-day society can also be no judge since its standards have been declining rapidly as well, especially since the loosing of the dragon (paganism) during the last century (Rev. 20:3).

What the average person nowadays would consider acceptable is a complete disgrace and shame to original Christianity. So who sets the definition of modesty? Since we are Christians, and thereby followers of God and not sinful men, let us go back to God, our ultimate pattern and source of all virtue. God sets the standard and reveals it through His messengers. In the morning time, that would have been through people like the apostle Paul, the apostle Peter, and His other apostles. They were not afraid to hold the line and say what was what. But times have changed. What about today? Surely, we aren’t expected to dress in the same robes and sandals as the Christians of the first century! No, the times have changed. That is why God has blessed His church with modern-day apostles. They set the standards of today, but with the same burden as the morning-time leaders. With that in mind, let us keep reading 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel [definition already covered], with shamefacedness and sobriety.” Shamefaced, according to Webster’s dictionary, means to be bashful, not wanting or attracting attention.

Sobriety, by the same source, is habitual freedom from enthusiasm, inordinate passion, or over-heated imagination. Remember that we are talking about the way we dress ourselves. While enthusiasm is excellent and essential when directed in the right cause, directing it into ideas of showy dress is not the right cause.

The rest of the passage of scripture continues, “not with broided hair [referring to elaborate braids and hairdos], or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” On the same subject, our apostle Peter writes, in reference to women, “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” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

A woman truly beautiful is one who is adorned by the grace of God in her heart and by good works. She does not have to add all kinds of glitter to attract attention because she is beautiful where it counts, on the inside. This is greatly attractive to God and to those who love God.

This is why we women of the church of God dress in plain clothes, not with flashy colors or anything extra to attract unwanted attention. We wear darker colors. We don’t make any extra effort to fancify our clothes with lace, ribbons, borders or ruffles, embroidery, or in short, anything that is not necessary. We wear loose-fitting clothes–again, to not attract attention to ourselves (shamefaced). We use no make up and wear no jewelry at all.

We also dress our babies plainly. We teach them from young on that simple is beautiful.

We women and girls do not wear pants because, until very recently, pants were used only by men and thereby pertain only to men. (Deut. 22:5) We are women, not men, and not anything in between, and we want everyone to know that too.

What about our hair? Our brother Paul gives us some direction on that in 1 Corinthians 11:14-15. “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”

A woman’s hair is her glory, so why would she want to cut off any of it? How long is long, since the natural length of hair varies depending on ethnicity and the individual? To make it simple, long is uncut, however long, or short, that may be. Why a bun? Because it is a plain, simple way of getting our long hair up and out of the way. Open hair has long been considered a sign of a loose woman.

We have said all this about our women, what about our men? Most of the instructions along the line of dress in the Bible are given to women because generally we are the ones to care the most about our clothes. However, the same principles of modesty and distinction would definitely refer to men as well. Our men want to be recognized as church of God too. We are not ashamed of ourselves in our originality, in fact, we love it!

Now, we invite you, whoever you may be, to join our ranks as strangers and pilgrims in this world but joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ, and partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

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