Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Charm and Beauty

" Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting". Proverbs 31:30a

I've been pondering the role of Christian women in society a lot lately and then came across the above scripture. Everything that has been going through my mind gelled when I read this.

In a recent blog I talked about looking in the mirror and being convicted that my inner self was unprepared for the day, while my outer self was presentable.

I've been following this train of thought on and off and considering some of the Bible verses about what makes a woman beautiful..."Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelery and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4.
I've been thinking on the almost never discussed topic of women wearing pants and how the Bible (yes in the new testament) tells us to cover our heads when we pray (see 1 Corinthians 11).
Lots of fodder for conversation I know.
On the pants topic I've never seen anything in the Bible that says a woman shouldn't wear them, however there is scripture in Deuteronomy 22:5 that speaks of it being an abomination for men and women to wear clothing belonging to the other. You can just begin to imagine the discussions and arguments that come from that verse. The Google list was extensive. But I have to ask..."Why did God say that?", and "What did He mean?"

Why all this? Because I think that we as a gender have strayed so far from the image that God had for woman, that we don't even know it. How can you return to ancient paths, or even begin to look for them, when you think you are on them, or don't know you have left.

Might I carefully suggest that most women of this generation, and the last have never been taught in the ways of the ancients.
Let me set it straight right now that I know many women who I consider to be Godly examples, all older than me, of different walks of life, who yes, wear pants and don't cover their heads.
So I am not being critical or legalistic...
But there is something deep in my being that is crying out to know how to lead our current young ladies who are struggling.
What am I presenting to them that is different? I know that most importantly, beyond my appearance is my behavior, which comes ultimately from a heart that is right with God.
But I want to go farther. And I hear the question...How can you go farther than your heart? But doesn't what is inside of you affect how you are on the outside?

When God said for us to be in the world, but not of the world, what did He mean? Are we to look different? Physically? Are we to be obvious like the Hassidic Jews, or the Orthodox Mennonites? I don't know, perhaps not so uniformly, but just in a more gentle, individual way.

One of my thoughts was that in the past, the men "wore the pants" in the home. Now, women wear them too. Does this putting on of a garment, originally worn by men, bring about a heart change, a very subtle, subconscious shifting of the hearts position if you will.

Does the perceived lack of need to cover one's head while praying, indicate a lack of reverence for the Lord's instruction through Paul to women. Does it also indicate a shift in position of heart and position within the family structure?

Does the unveiling of our heads and the donning of men's clothes mean we have decided to take the role of man, of leader. Some Women's Lib supporters might say "Absolutely yes!", but I think all this happened before that movement came on the scene.

Most everyone I talk to on the topic of head coverings, says that particular scripture isn't for today. One person (a man) said that in this age, Paul might have instructed women to cover their shoulders while praying, since many women, even Christians wear a lot less in this day than they used to. Whereas in the day of Paul's writings, for a woman to have her head unveiled indicated that she was a woman of suspect character.

In that conversation I had to ask, if it is possible, that God really did intend for us to cover our heads, and the instruction still applies to today, but we, over the ages have drifted so far from His call to us, that we don't even recognize it today as being relevant.

If we still did follow these precepts, would so many of our young women be in such trouble?

If we positioned our hearts and clothed our bodies in this fashion, would anything change?
I have to ask. These questions pursue me frequently, and occasionally I come across women who have the same ones. Not women from sects who are required by law to dress this way, but who are feeling a stirring...

I will continue to ask and search out answers on this topic, perhaps blog again as more thoughts come up.

"...but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30b

9 comments:

Belinda said...

Ah, Ang, you can be counted on to spark controversy and challenge us.

It will be interesting to see what others think.

One of my favourite verses from Colossians 3 says this:

12 "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

I think there is a place for teaching our girls to be modest and ladylike. I love the movies based on Janette Oke's books, and the kind of beauty with which women are portrayed.

Dave Hingsburger said...

OK, this was a bracing way to start my morning over here at Whatever He Said ... these questions, while worthy of discussion, also pour ice water in my veins. Knowing that verses like these can begin with discussion and end with tyranny and oppression. I can't, I'm sorry, I can't see a woman covered head to foot as anything other than victimized by the faith of their fathers.

Belinda said...

Dear Dave,
Sorry for the shock!

I don't endorse legalism or tyranny and oppression.

On the other hand, I am embarrassed at the way I dressed as a teenager, in an attempt to be found "attractive." No-one told me that what I was attracting was not worth it. My view was so distorted, and plagued by my own lack of self esteem and influenced by the culture of the 60's, I had no clue as to the message I was communicating or the inconsistency with who I was.

With the cultural pressures of today, I hope that my granddaughters have more sense of their worth than I did. I think they are in a much better place than I was, but I still worry. We are all so prone to insecurity.

I realize this is a slightly different direction than Ang's question about pants and head coverings. I deliberately didn't comment on that as I was interested in the thoughts of others.

We won't all end up agreeing, but the discussion is important to have, I think.

Dave Hingsburger said...

DB, I do agree that there is a discussion to be had, that what the bible says, it says, by looking clear eyed and openned hearted at the issues - meaning can arise, I beleive. So I sure didn't want to suggest quelling the discussion, just was reacting to where the discussion has ended in the past.

Belinda said...

Dave,
Of all people, you could never be accused of quelling any discussion!

lifedancegirl said...

I am wondering if the "stirring" that these women feel is the desire to be totally sold out for God; to live a life of total obedience to God; to crucify the desires of our fleshly nature. I too feel this passion, in varrying degrees, but it is not dependent on what I am wearing, but it is when I am actively seeking the Lord and desiring to be a vessel filled with Him and not me.

Angcat said...

Oh such good input!
Thank you Dave and Belinda and lifedancegirl.
Yesterday was crazy and I never got a chance to respond...so here goes.

My thought of head coverings and modest clothes doesn't come from those tyrannical sects and groups that oppress women. I can totally understand the concern.
It is so sad and horrifying really when people take that which was designed by God in the first place and distort it into something oppressive and fearsome.
I think of women like Mother Teresa (who yes belonged to an order of Sisters, so covered their heads and wore robes, but hers is a gentle and diligent example). I think of women I know who have just chosen not to cut their hair, or the gentle Mennonite I got to learn a bit about over a weekend, and saw such devotion. I think of wearing a skirt and something in me feels more feminine and gentle than when I am decked out in my jeans. And there is just something about the cut of jeans that makes them snug.

I think that when I am focussing on me in the mirror and being stylish,
that time is being detracted from beautifying my heart and spirit for Him.
It's not that we should't look becoming, but...I hardly know how to explain this.
When I am putting on makeup and styling my hair and putting on clothes that are pleasing to the eye, I feel that I am pleasing the flesh.
When I wear something that, to me, represents my femininity and how God wants me to be, I feel that my focus has shifted off the flesh and onto pleasing Him.
I hope this makes some sense.
It is a journey. Never to be imposed on anyone. God is molding hearts in His unique way and He tenderly deals with each of us as we individually need.
Thank you for helping me as I work through this.
I do love and value all the input.

Anonymous said...

I think the world has changed SO much since the New Testament has been written. But it was written so well that the laws can still be shaped and understood in such a way that applies to people living today. I also believe that it is a guideline, given us by God. And guidelines don't hold the answers to everything. We have to stay in communication with God to know what exactly He expects of each of us individually. I think the reasons behind head coverings and skirts are more important than the head coverings and skirts themselves.
Love Night Owl

Angcat said...

Well said Night Owl. I loved that last statement that the reasons behind are the most important.
:-)
Onward on the journey...