“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the Voice of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, “Where art thou?” And he said, “I heard Thy Voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:7-10
As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in a career in fashion merchandising, both at the couture level and the mass market level, I still find it incredibly surprising how emotional people react to clothing. The truth is, there is nothing new under the sun. All clothing has been around for centuries, in one form or another. I recently explained to a group of adult students that, in the rural areas of some countries, if a woman shows just a little bit of bare ankle accidentally, she can be stoned for what is considered an act of seduction; while in other countries, bare breasts are the norm.
One of my favorite fashion-related stories comes from an English pastor who was converted after leading a life of selling drugs and other street related activities. He tells the story of how he, in total despair, spent the wee hours of the morning of his last night as a hoodlum, arguing with God, attempting to commit suicide, with a nine millimeter handgun pointed at his head, when it jammed—twice. An interesting occurrence since, this type of handgun was specifically designed not to misfire. In total self-pity, brokenness, and no sleep, he dropped to his knees and promised God he would get dressed, and attend church services that morning.
He looked in the closet and selected his best “...pimp-mack-daddy-suit in bright sunshine yellow, to be as sharp as possible” for God’s house. When he arrived at the church, he wanted to make certain that God knew he was in church; so, with the pews filled with its ultra conservative congregation, he marched right down the center aisle for a prime seat up front. He said, “Because, I wanted to make ‘sure’ God knew I was there!”
If you attend church services or are familiar with the conservative nature of most churches, you can imagine the reaction of the church membership as the man in the bright yellow suit marched down the center aisle. If the events leading up to this visit wasn't so serious, it would be almost comical; a true comedic skit from one of those Medea movies by filmmaker, Tyler Perry.
And yet, this young man went on to become fully converted, turning his life over to Jesus Christ, leading others by retelling his own story, and finally becoming a pastor. The “yellow pimp-mack-daddy suit” is now the marker for his conversion. But, imagine for a moment if someone in the church would have said to him, “We don’t want you here! Take your sunshine-yellow-pimp-mack-daddy-wearing-self back out the door!” In church culture, we really don’t have to say it to the person; we simply snub our noses in an unwelcoming fashion, believing that the person should know better. But, what happens if this is all they have in their closet? It doesn’t have to be a bright yellow suit. It can be a revealing party dress, jeans, a t-shirt, halter top, tube top, something too short, too tight, too loose, or old and dated, etc. What difference should it make to you? --To us? --To anyone?
Clothing, more than many other things, say a lot about the wearer; sometimes style has to do with taste level, sometimes income status, cultural identity, etc. However, many times, like Adam in Genesis 3:10, it has to do with shame, self-esteem or lack thereof. We emerged from conservative puritanical roots; church attire should be conservative, but if you don’t have it, Jesus says, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out...” John 6:37. Our Father in Heaven created us with no clothes or adornments; except, the ones innate to our own body—hair, fingernails, toe-nails, and skin. Let us not allow our conservative puritanical ideologies to inhibit us from aiding someone else in finding God. Since, thankfully, God sees only our heart—not our fashion statement. L.
Study Reference: Genesis 3:1-14
From: "The Question of Attire." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions For Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell
photo: Justin Dingwall