Dress Code Idolatry
By Brenda Gregory
Why is it that the 'super' legalistic always feel the need to have a religious 'image?' It had its start way back in the Old Testament where people felt the need to have something 'visual' to identify with and proudly proclaim their allegiance to. The images then were made of stone, wood, gold, etc....all were images that they could point to and say, 'this is our idol (god) of whom we worship and identify with.' All religious idols today are not made of stone, wood, or gold, but they are esteemed... held high, and in a sense, 'worshiped' just the same as those images of old.
The dictionary defines an IDOL as;
The definition of a GRAVEN IMAGE;
In the legalistic institutions of today, the 'holiness dress code' has become their graven image...their idol. They take abundant pride in that 'image' to the extent of deep self-righteousness. Lines are drawn in the same fellowship as each try to 'carve' their 'image' better than the other across town. Pride becomes the driving force as each try and 'out holy' others...and the Enemy has a hey day...
What always stood out to me in the organization we had been a part of for years, was that the women's 'image' was always the one 'carved' on the hardest. This was confusing not only to me, but to many women who came to me asking why. Scripture plainly states that God Himself is no respecter of persons, yet in our circles it was projected the opposite. More is demanded of the ladies and it seems that the yokes placed on them get heavier as time progresses. Guidelines and rules become ridiculous as many in the pastorate become more focused on impressing their peers with their 'holiness standards.' (even that title is not scriptural)
They do not trouble to really study the scripture on these matters and when they try and preach on them using their own examples and thoughts, they appear awkward and unwise. Their guide, or measuring stick, is what their peers preach and what tradition has handed down to them through the years. But much keeps being added to that tradition and woe to the next generation when they see their even longer list of rules. All the while, the ladies keep trying to adjust to the latest law, working hard to make themselves look as presentable as they can, considering what they have to go through to do it.
Most will say, as I did, that it is no big deal, while in my heart I wondered why. Never did I complain out loud and I can honestly say I never resented it but I longed to hear a real explanation of scripture that applied to all they taught. If they would only cherish the women of whom all the demands were laid upon, I am convinced that they would be more careful in the 'carving' of their 'image.'
I wonder if the pastors even consider what attitudes come with their 'image?' It is packaged with criticism, judgmentalism and gossip when others do not line up and look as they do. After the pastor has finished 'carving' their 'image' they stand back and hold it up with pride so that others will say, "Oh! Look how holy! He is acceptable to us!" and the 'image' again is worshiped.
I wonder what is the real motivation behind the continual carving on the women? What is the real intent? Is it really to make us holy or is it to take care of a deep problem in the heart of some towards women? If it is because that women in general need to cover up that which appeals to the opposite sex, then why don't they ask us what appeals to us so that we can help them with their holiness standards? Such as...Men wear a loin cloth over your trousers. OK, go ahead and laugh but if all are equal in God's eyes, then all are equal. Maybe they need to start 'carving' two idols!? What do you think?
I know, I know, I got a little preachy here but this has been in my mind and heart for years and only now am I able to express it without fear!
P.S. Oh by the way, yes, I still do believe in 'modesty' which being defined
means 'to be moderate'...not in extreme one way or another, just simply to 'blend in.' It means not drawing undue attention to oneself...exactly what I used to be so guilty of!
Brenda Gregory is a former United Pentecostal Church pastor's wife. This article is used with her permission.
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August 23, 1997
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