“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
The need to belong or to be seen as ‘up and doing’ or even better still, a role model for others to look up to, is a fundamental need for humans. It’s no wonder we live in a ‘classful’ (do pardon my English) society of strata: low, middle and high! We waste no time and seize every opportunity (or lack of it) to display opulence like the peacock on a circus show – lavish parties, flamboyant dressing, state-of-the-art cars, just name it.
Hmmm, let’s take a pause here and zero in on one of these ‘shows’ of wealth because each of them is a topic on its own; yes o! Speaking of dressing, I had the opportunity to worship in one of the Churches in town last year. Now when I say town, I mean high-brow societal neighborhood. Upon entering, I was immediately struck by the elaborate ‘crowns’ seated on top the heads of most ladies – I must have stared for a long time and why not, after all seeing different classy and chic hairstyles made me contemplate, with a little confusion, my next hairdo. As if that was not enough, what about the mode of dressing displayed by some female members? I saw people in miniskirts, fitted trousers, short figure-hugging gowns, ankle chains and such; trust me, you could have knocked me over with a feather for so great was my shock!
This was clearly a distraction, no doubt, because for some mind boggling minutes, I forgot I was in a Church. It took the stringing of the piano keys and a deliberate look around to jar me back to the present. What is even more astonishing is that not only were youngsters the culprits, even women were guilty in this regard. Hello guys, are you there? One can only wonder what would be going on in your minds at this point – is it not an intrusion of your privacy? When we ladies who should know better decide to make a public show of ourselves, what would be your thought at that moment? At this juncture, allow me to congratulate the men for setting good examples with their dress sense.
There is a saying that “in proportion to the amount of flesh, mortal sin seems to increase.” This being the case, one would assume that at least our WOMEN AND GIRLS would have the good sense to always wear clothes that tend to conceal, especially when attending Mass. Women must cover their heads: “Every woman praying with her head not covered disgraces her head” (1 cor11:5). It is a sign of humility and submission for a woman to cover her head for this brings down God’s grace and blessings upon her. Why then should our females turn the church to a place for showcasing hairstyles and ridiculous dresses when coming to pray? There really should be no excuse for our moral dress code being different in the name of fashion; instead we should wear clothes that show we are conscious of the fact that “our bodies are temples of the holy spirit.”
On the subject matter, Pope Benedict XV has this to say, “One cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age made foolish by a desire to please, they do not see to what degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed foe such apparel as for a grave fault against Christian modesty. Now it does not suffice to exhibit themselves on public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of churches, to assist at the holy sacrifice of the mass and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the holy altar, where one receives the heavenly author of purity.”
The Holy Bible’s teachings on this is also very clear and leave no doubt as to what is meant or expected of us, “A woman should not be clothed with man’s apparel neither shall a man use women’s apparel; for he that doeth these things is abominable before God” (Deut 22:5); 1 Tim 2:9-10 says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel which shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls or costly array; but (which) becometh women professing godliness with good works”. Why then, should we disobey these laws? The Laws of God cannot be bent to satisfy man. What is indecent is indecent, there simply cannot be allowed any grounds for compromise. People should also understand that what they do and how they choose to behave affects others around them and this brings in the issue of responsibility. A female dressed scantily cannot attract any responsible or decent attention – either male or female. The purpose of our coming to the house of worship should not be sidetracked or out rightly defeated. The Church is not a runway place for fashion, neither is it a place of festival for latest trends.
At this point, I want to call on Pastors and bid them to lend a voice to this cry and condemn this growing evil. Our female members must be encouraged to spurn indecency when coming to church or any other place of gathering for that matter; our mothers and prospective mothers who are as guilty as charged, should change their ways so as to be worthy of emulation to young ones just as God has presented Mary to us as a Model of Purity and Modesty. Parents on the other hand should also ensure that their wards or children are disciplined from the onset to be decent and check where necessary for appropriate dressing before they are allowed to step out of the house.
It is time we understand that as women, modesty is the sign that Jesus Christ dwells in our hearts. It is like a sweet perfume of edification, which we should wear and are called upon to diffuse its fragrance wherever we go. Therefore we should make efforts to be decent not only during mass but at all times. Remember, beauty is vain and charm is deceitful but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
There’s nothing wrong in being fashionable or trendy but there is something wrong when our fashion trends are grossly indecent, lacking in character and a total violation of the word ‘privacy’. May the Lord almighty give us strength to uphold our Christian virtues; Amen.