II.  THE OUTSIDE:  DRESSING TO DISTINGUISH THE SEXES

 

            When we approach the world of religion, the outside becomes a major factor for some.  Different religions and cultures do have great differences of opinion.  My attempt to define the outside will be confined to the American culture and predominantly a conservative Pentecostal Holiness viewpoint.  It is my belief that the Pentecostal way of worship and Holiness way of life are those that God has defined and ordained for men and women alike across the entire planet.

            Now we can talk.  We have covered a few points that are encountered when we experience the outside.  But I have yet to say anything about how the outside should be, especially how the outside of a conservative Christian should be who identifies with the traditional teaching of a Pentecostal Holiness lifestyle.  What I call traditional is that which occurred during the first centuries of the birth of the New Testament Church and was revived in the United States over and over again especially in the earlier 1900's and definitely before neo-Pentecostalism (Charismatic) was introduced.  Neo-Pentecostalism, in my observation, is a liberal, modern-day movement that claims to maintain the Pentecostal power without submitting to the "Holiness" lifestyle.  I have not found that you can have Pentecost without Holiness anywhere in Scripture, neither has it been my experience that the power of God operates through worldly vessels.

            Before I go any farther though, I want to clarify a couple of points.  I have plenty to say about Holiness on the inside that is manifested to other humans by the outside.  And, I am not an extremist in terms of outward holiness.  If you are, you will see much of what I call conservative as being liberal.  If you are liberal in outward Holiness, according to comparison to my own self, you will view this much as being an extreme position. 

            Just the same, I will express my opinion.  And, I hope that you as readers are able to stay with me until I am finished.  Please hear the conclusion of the whole matter before making any rash judgment.  It is my hope to present a balanced viewpoint. As you will see as I unfold my thoughts in the paragraphs to come, Holiness to me is predominantly an inward experience that is manifested outwardly.  However, it is not my intention to belittle the outward experience and say that you can be holy inwardly and unholy outwardly.  I believe that God works from the inside outwardly.  As the inside comes into subjection to the will of God, the outside will present the inward action in an outward way to fellow human beings.   

            Nor do I say that if the outside is perfected in terms of Holiness standards that the inside is perfected before God.  The exact opposite can be true.  You see the outside is the easy part.  The outside can be a facade (cover up) to what is going on inside.  It is just that my discussion must have a central focus and that in this case will be the outside as interpreted by visual terms.  However, I may occasionally discuss the connection of the outward appearance to the inward condition.

            Let me begin with distinguishing between the sexes.  What comes to mind when you think of a little girl?  Focus on the question and form a mental image.  Did you form a mental image at my prompting?  What do you see?  Does she have a ponytail or pigtails and a little pink dress?  Are there bows in her long hair?  Surely there's a beautiful little smile on her face.  Oh, you say that is so traditional, stereotyped, or old fashioned.  I said that I was going to approach this from a traditional viewpoint. 

            Let's do the same thing with a little boy.  What comes to mind when you think of a little boy?  Focus on the question and form a mental image.  Does he have a baseball cap on his head?  Is he wearing blue-jean pants and a typical "boy" shirt?  Is there chocolate on his face or dirt on his shirt?

            Your images may have been different than those I supposed.  Certainly, we may differ in viewpoint, but how many of you see a little girl with most of her hair cut off wearing pants and a baseball cap?  Again, how many of you see a little boy with long flowing hair or a ponytail or ribbons in his hair wearing a dress?  Probably not many see the boy in a dress, then why so easily do you see a girl in pants?           

Now, bring this idea to the adult level.  What do you think of when asked to form a mental image of an adult female?  I know, in our day almost anything goes, but what do you really think of?  Most, I hope, see a woman with at least shoulder-length hair.  What is your mental-Eve wearing?  Pants are too common in our times on females.  You may or may not see her in a dress.  But, the fundamental look of an adult female has been in times past an individual with significantly longer hair than the male and she is attired in a dress or skirt and blouse.  I know we are living in "modern" times, but we need a fundamental belief system based on Scripture of what a female should look like on the outside. 

            What opinion do we have of males?  Form a mental image of the basic male.  Does the typical male have long flowing hair in your mental image?  Certainly, he is not wearing a dress.  Thank God males in dresses are still viewed as erring on the side of bizarre.  But if we continue in the direction we are traveling, it may not be so strange in the future.  We can put men in dresses using the same reasoning that has been used to put women in pants.  Does your mental-Adam have a regular haircut?  Is he wearing trousers?  Again, we need a fundamental belief system based on Scriptures of what an adult male should look like on the outside.

            In the past, I have pointed individuals to the signs on the restroom doors in department stores when discussing typical imagery of how a male and female should look.  The use of the typical female sign of a stick-like figure wearing a dress for female and a stick figure with straight legs for males was born out of someone's imagery of how a typical female and male are defined.  Just recently, I encountered an individual wearing a necklace with two figures hanging down from the chain.  One figure was a stick-like image representing a man and the other was a stick-like image representing a female.  How did I know the difference?  The female image had a triangular middle portion that I interpreted as wearing a dress to distinguish the female from the male.  I expect the feminists to rid the nation of this "horrible stereotypical symbol."  To think a female should dress in such a way as to be recognized as female is sometimes found to be repulsive to the modern female.       

            The feminist is too liberated.  She would never be tied to such traditional female attire like a skirt.  Not that all females who wear pants are feminists, but those types of attire (dresses) were "for grandmothers in days gone by," so they might say.  So was a commitment to stay married to one man and remain faithful for a lifetime.  To bear children and guide the home was also a part of this era.  To produce stable children who knew their father as well as their mother and who knew they were not a mistake but a gift from God to be loved and cared for throughout the years was part of this "traditional" way of thinking.  It was during those days when mothers and fathers read Bible stories to their children instead of the police reading them their rights before placing them in the squad car. 

            I think my approach just accelerated somewhat, but I don't apologize.  I think there is a direct relationship between some of the social consequences I just mentioned and the fact that males and females have left behind wholesome, traditional upbringing.  Each generation, we fall farther from that which made our nation great---traditional Christian values that dictated a distinction between the sexes.  I agree with John R. Rice when he says, "The modern woman wonders why now she must chase a beau down, as her mother never did.  The modern woman wonders why men do not rise up on the bus or streetcar to give her his seat.  The modern woman wonders why some men feel so free to curse in her presence, and to use language that no respectable woman of the past generation ever heard.  Yes, the modern, masculine, pants-wearing, cigarette-smoking, bobbed-hair woman has fallen from her pedestal.  She is not reverenced by men as her beautiful and modest mother was" (Bobbed Hair, 1941).  Did you notice the date this sermon was delivered?  This is a Baptist brother preaching nearly sixty years ago.  Was anyone listening? 

            God established order from before creation and manifested it in creation.  He is not the author of confusion.  Therefore, God is not behind the confusion that is taking place in the family and in the church.  The Book of First Corinthians shows very clearly that God has established order in spiritual matters and family matters, which are directly related.  The concept of headship in chapter 11, viewed by some females as bondage to be broken, is ordained of God when properly enacted.  It is clear that Paul taught through the inspiration of the Spirit of God that "the head of the woman is man."  He did not say that man was the boss or that man should be the master to the female in slavery.  But, it is clearly defined that man is to be the spiritual head of the family.  As someone said, “Eve was not taken from Adam's foot to be stepped on, or taken from his head to be his headship, but from his side to walk by his side.” 

            What does this have to do with the outside?  Biblical values draw distinct lines between the roles of males and females and among these distinctions one of the first to surface is dress.  I know this concerns the outside and I am here to state, the outside is the easy part.  The dress is symbolic of the position of the individual in several ways and the particular issue that I am addressing is the distinction between the sexes.  When father looks like mother should, or mother looks like father should, the children receive mixed messages as to what the roles of male and female should be.  Jamiesen, Fausset and Brown state that the exchange in attire “of the one sex by the other is an outrage on decency, obliterates the distinctions of nature by fostering softness and effeminacy in the man, impudence and boldness in the woman as well as levity and hypocrisy in both; and, in short, it opens the door to an influx of so many evils that all who wear the dress of another sex are pronounced an abomination unto the Lord” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown on Deut. 22:5, pg 574 -575).

            According to Spiros Zodhiates, "The whole thesis of the teaching of Paul concerning women is that there must be respect for the differences that exist between men and women as such, and that the external differing aspects of appearance should be maintained.  A man should never be mistaken as a woman or a woman as a man from the way that they maintain their hair or dress or behavior.  God has appointed tasks for women and tasks for men" (The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, pg 1473).

            If you want to produce an effeminate (soft, womanly, womanlike) male child, then confuse the child early in life concerning male and female roles.  I Corinthians 6:9-10  "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived:  neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."  A domineering wife and a submissive husband can bring about this confusion.  When the father should be modeling headship, he allows the female to "wear the pants."  I am sure this statement, "wearing the pants," is not confusing.  It pertains to what the male should be, and the female out of the order of God can be.  This same environment will produce masculine (manly) females.   

            Can you imagine the grouping of effeminate with adulterers, thieves, drunkards, etc.?  Apparently it is as disgusting to God as it is to many who see the male as being manly and the female as being womanly according to traditional values. 

            There are deeper reasons for the distinction of sexes and God's dislike of transgressing these distinctions.  I see the above mentioned confusion contributing to the development of gay and lesbian relationships.  When the values and principles which clearly separate male and female roles and behaviors are blurred by a manly mom and a womanly dad, the next generation departs even farther from traditional roles to pervert the distinction to even greater depths. 

            It is at this point that God gives "them up unto vile affections even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:26-27).  Despite the liberals’ attempt to explain this Scripture away, it is clearly defining homosexual activity and that this activity is an “error” from God’s plan.  Therefore homosexuality is sin.  Their activity was so disgusting that God gave them up to continue in their wicked desires and allowed them to reap what they had sown which was their own destruction. 

            Our society wants to claim that homosexuality is just an alternative lifestyle.  Biologists lay claim that it could be genetic.  God’s Word clearly states that it is out of order and filthy.  “We err when we think that it is God's mercy or kindness that allows man to continue in sin; it is actually His wrath which allows us to go on destroying ourselves with sin” (David Guzik).

            Women would never leave men for women, nor would men leave women for men, if we continued in that which is "natural."  The natural was established at creation and given an appointed order.  This order involves the maintenance of traditional roles for the sexes and clearly established distinction of the sexes by the manifestation of outward appearance as well as behavior.  It is the responsibility of the Church of God to remind the world constantly and consistently of God’s creative distinction between the sexes by defining the difference between male and female in attire and role in the family unit.    

            I want to speak briefly to some dear sisters with lost husbands who have mastered the outside and yet are out of order in relation to the home.  Your unregenerate sinner husband might accept the Lord as his Savior when he experiences your submission to Christ as Lord, and submission to him as your husband as God designed it to be to maintain order and prevent the confusion discussed above.  I Peter 3:1  "Likewise, ye wives be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they may also without the word be won by the conversation of the wives."   First the fact that he spoke of those who "obey not the word" pertains to the unregenerate husband.  Secondly, the word conversation does not mean your talk, but your walk.  So quit depending on what you call your testimony if it pertains only to the things you say if you want to win your spouse. 

            You see the Greek word anastrophe (Strong's 391) translated into the English word conversation means much more than your talk.  This term should not be confused with the English term conversation that applies only to verbal communication.  Anastrophe means your manner of life, behavior, or conduct.  If your walk does not support your talk, the husband sees outward religion with no inward change.  This will not produce in him a desire to be like you, nor will he be convicted of his own sinful lifestyle.  True Christianity lived out in close relationship with a spouse who is lost can develop a desire in the unregenerate individual to be a Christian.  It is your manner of life (anastrophe) that God uses to impress and draw the lost spouse to Him, not the words you utter alone. 

            A point of clarification, I did not say and will not say that a Christian wife should submit to the ungodly ways of a sinner husband.  And I am not saying that this is an automatic process.  Some spouses choose to be lost in spite of a life being lived before them that witnesses Christianity is deeper than the surface and more than religion.  It is just my belief that some spouses are not converted due to a double standard.  One standard is lived out before the church and another is lived out before the spouse.    

            Dress distinguishes the sexes and God ordained this distinction to have order in the family and the church.  Deuteronomy 22:5 "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God."  I know this is Old Testament Scripture and that we are no longer under the law and the Ten Commandments do not save us.  We are saved by grace through faith.  We don't keep the ceremonial laws of sacrifice, etc.  But still, God made a distinction between male and female here in this Scripture and that has not been and will not be done away with in this life.  “The distinction between the sexes is natural and divinely established, and cannot be neglected without indecorum and consequent danger to purity” (Barnes Notes on the Bible, Deut. 22:5, pg 385).  Stay with me.  Hear the conclusion of the whole matter. 

            God has order and anyone out of order should repent.  Brothers and sisters, if you are not in the order ordained of God, the deeper spiritual aspects of God are off limits to you.  Walking in the Spirit is not possible while walking disorderly.  Can two walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3:3)?  I am not saying that you are not a Christian, but you are out of order.  God has more for you, but He cannot give it to you due to the fact that you are out of order.  Are ye not carnal (I Corinthians 3:4)?  Will you remain a "babe in Christ"?  Set your house in order according to what God has ordained. 

            And, if your house is disordered, this disorder comes into the church.  Many a female cannot submit to God, will not submit to their husband, and certainly do not submit to their pastor.  What is the result?  Confusion!  Confusion in the home results in confusion in the church.   

            On the same token, men should assume the role that God ordained and be the spiritual leader of the home.  Along with leading, he should also be loving his wife as commanded in the Scriptures.  Ephesians 5:25 says "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it."  Brother, are you leading as commanded?  Do you love her the way Christ loved the church? 

            As you should see by now, there are many reasons to preserve the distinction between the sexes.  It is clearly God’s will to continue in your ordained position to maintain order in the family and in the church.  Keeping these comments in mind, we should now move on to our next topic concerning modesty. 

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