What to Wear
9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 1 Timothy 2:9–10 (NKJV)
Does it matter what I wear to church? The first church I attended placed a strong emphasis on clothing and hair style. It was 1975 and the counter cultural movement was in full swing. Many in the culture were showing their anti establishment attitudes by the clothes they wore and the hair styles they adopted. At the church the attire was expected to be semi-formal and grooming was expected to be conservative. These were unwritten rules that everyone in the congregation seemed to understand. Thirty years later it appears that the standards have relaxed considerably. But the question still remains, does it matter what I wear to church?
In our text Paul addresses this issue with his protégé Timothy. In the culture of the first century women would often display their wealth by their wardrobe. They would braid their hair with the “family jewels” and wear expensive clothing which was also considered a sign of great wealth. The purpose for this display seems to be pride, they wanted to get noticed. You could imagine in the first century church how disruptive this action could be. Ostentatious displays of wealth would create unnecessary divisions between the haves and the have nots.
What really is really at issue here is the heart of the worshipper. Paul is concerned more with the adornment of the heart than the head. He is concerned with the internal motivation for external behavior. So, he calls for godly women to dress modestly and adorn themselves in a way that does not distract from their inward godliness which is displayed in good works.
Does this text have any relevance for us today? Yes. Christians are called to adorn themselves in such a way that we do not become a distraction from the gospel. We are to adorn ourselves in such a way that we are able to serve others in humility. Christians adorn themselves in such a way that we do not become a stumbling block, but rather a stepping stone to faith. So does it matter what I wear to church? Yes.
1 Peter 3:3–4 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.