by Lois E. Gibson
Ruth Harvey, formerly Ruth Rieder, wrote a series of books for children. These were based upon her first two adult books on standards. (Power Before The Throne &
Reflecting The Glory) Wes Comer illustrated them, having been recommended to Ruth by UPC minister O.C. Marler. Wes has illustrated other books, including Marler's. He was a guest on our private online support group board in the past.
Six Children's Books
Ruth Rieder Harvey started with a series of four children's books aimed at ages five through nine. These books teach standards which are taught in many UPC and other Apostolic churches. Later she added two additional books to the series. Each of these books have a quiz as well as one or more Bible passages for memorization.
In these books, Ruth uses her children, Miriam and Angel Rieder, for the characters and included their cat, Ashes. I believe at least one story in her books, about their paternal grandmother giving a gift of pearls, is based on an actual incident.
In the first four stories, Ruth and her girls are always pictured in skirts or dresses almost to the floor, long sleeves, and a lot of hair on their heads. The illustrator, Wes Comer, did not receive any instruction from Ruth on how to draw the characters. Back in 2004, when he was a guest on our online private support group board, he shared that he "decided to ere on the side of caution" in how he drew the characters, "knowing that there are those who dress in long sleeves and long skirts only." This changed with the last two children's books after Wes saw a picture of the Rieder family.
The first book is "Angels Watching Over Me," which starts by talking about the armor of God. It goes on to teach children that "we do not cut our hair because God's Word commands the woman to have long hair" and that her obedience brings protection. Males are to have short hair "because they represent God and are supposed to look like Him." Ruth tells Miriam, when she says that boys with long hair look funny and it makes her laugh, that God made her feel that way.
The second is "Kingdom Clothing" which teaches that women should not wear pants. They should always choose skirts "that are long enough to cover your body" and that God didn't want men and women to dress the same way. In explaining what abomination means, the mother describes it as "something extremely disgusting to God and makes Him feel very sick, almost like throwing up," causing God's stomach and heart to hurt and for Him to feel sad. The signs on the bathroom doors are used to show that people really know how they are supposed to dress.
The third is "Marble Palaces or Painted Barns" which tackles the issue of make-up. Miriam receives some make-up as a present and mother tells her, "You don't need that make-up set because God made you perfect in every way." We hurt God's feelings when we use make up, and lipstick and fingernail polish are termed "ugly paint." We should want to be marble palaces and not painted barns.
"God's Jewels" is the fourth in the series and covers jewelry. Grandma Rieder gave a pearl necklace as a gift. Mom tells a story about how Lucifer was covered with various jewels and became prideful, turned into the devil, and fell. This is why God commands us not to wear gold or pearls. "Jewelry draws attention to us instead of to God. This can cause us to turn proud and disobey God just like Lucifer."
The last two books are "Adorned for the King" and "The Enclosed Garden." The former teaches girls the type clothing to wear, while the latter addresses moral purity and includes a purity promise card.
In her books, Ruth writes, "My humble desire is that somehow these writings would establish and anchor the truth of holiness within the hearts and minds of the younger generation. ...In a day of non-commitment and trashing of godly values may they "Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding." (Proverbs 23:23)"
The question remains: Do these books teach the truth concerning standards?
This is book two of the series and features both Ruth's daughters, Miriam & Angel Rieder, with more of a focus on Angel. She is listed as the co-author.
We discover that it is the last day before the start of school, and Angel is happily remembering her summer vacation. Ashes escapes out the back door and the girls hunt for him. He is quickly caught and Miriam informs Angel that mom is taking them school clothes shopping at the mall. They decide to look for the skirts they need at a new store, All-American Girl.
We then hear the teaching that females are not to wear pants when Miriam asks her mom, "How come all those girls on the posters are wearing pants? Don't they know girls are supposed to wear dresses?" Mom's response is that they don't know and not many wear them now.
Seeing only pants at first, they finally discover the skirts they need at the back of the store. As the girls attempt to pick what they want, mom reminds them that they are "King's Kids" and should wear "Kingdom clothing" that is long, covering their body.
Angel inquires as to whether God really cares about what type clothing we wear and mom shares that God made the first real clothing, causing Angel to exclaim, "God was the first fashion designer."
Successful in their shopping, the family gets something to eat. Angel has been observing the people around them and takes note that not many girls were wearing skirts, just like at her school. We discover she is almost the only one at school who does and the children question Angel as to why. Mom is then asked why they don't wear pants.
Ruth quotes Genesis 1:27, about God creating men and women in his own image. "From the beginning God made boys and girls different from one another. He did not want them to look, act, or dress the same way." She then quotes Deuteronomy 22:5, explaining that each sex should not wear the clothing of the other and that to do so is "an abomination to God!"
Miriam asks what an abomination is and mom says it is "something extremely disgusting to God and makes him feel very sick, almost like throwing up." When Angel inquires as to if it makes his stomach hurt, Ruth shares it hurts his stomach and heart and he feels very sad. The girls decide that since they love Jesus, they "don't ever want to make him feel sick or sad."
Angel wants to know if there are other things she can tell her friends about the way she dresses and mom has the girls draw stick figures of a boy and girl. She then states, pointing to the girl figure drawn with the skirt, "Tell them this is why I wear skirts. I am a girl!" She then points out the signs on the restrooms, asking what each are wearing, sharing that these signs are used all over the world. Angel comments, feeling she now has answers for her school friends, "I guess people really do know how we are supposed to dress." Miriam agrees and adds she doesn't want to be an abomination.
They return home, check on Ashes, and the girls go outside to play after hanging up their new skirts. Later when dad arrives home, Miriam shares, "I wear dresses like a girl because I don't want to make Jesus sick or hurt his heart." She again mentions being an abomination.
Dad tells them to never be ashamed of how they dress because they are "spiritual royal princesses." We learn that boys are princes when they obey God and wear "Kingdom Clothing." In God's Kingdom each sex dresses as they should. "Remember God's Kids are special and King's Kids always wear Kingdom Clothing."
The scripture given at the back of the book is Genesis 1:27. The memorization verses are Genesis 1:27, 3:21, Deuteronomy 22:5, Proverbs 23:23, & 2 Timothy 3:15. Some of the questions asked in the quiz area are:
Who was the first fashion designer?
Does God want girls and boys to look, act, or dress the same?
What is an abomination?
If you love Jesus, will you want to make him feel sick or sad?
This book is problematic as the author does not share one Bible passage that states that the stomach and heart of Jesus hurts and he is sad when girls wear pants. She fails to provide any scriptural backing, linking boys to being spiritual royal princes if they wear Kingdom Clothing. No scripture is used to show what Kingdom Clothing is. Where does the Bible teach God was a fashion designer? No Bible passage is given that states women are never to wear pants, though I know some would disagree with me as she quoted Deuteronomy 22:5. No verses are given to show that God doesn't want males and females to look, act, or dress the same way.
Genesis 1:27 & God The First Fashion Designer
Let us look at Genesis 1:27 as well as all of chapter 1. On page 17, Ruth uses this in an attempt to teach that from the beginning, God made the male and female different from each other and that he didn't "want them to look, act, or dress the same way." This is a basis for her teaching against pants on women.
The quoted passage states in the KJV, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." There is nothing here about what she claims. While there are physical differences that are obvious, you will not find anything in all of Genesis 1 that teaches what Ruth does. What the latter part of the chapter does tell us, is that God gave both the man and the woman dominion over everything living and gave them the same food to eat. He equally told them both to be fruitful and multiply.
Ruth uses Genesis 3:21 ("Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." KJV) to show God made the first real clothing, causing Angel to proclaim that "God was the first fashion designer." As far as we know, God only made clothing this one time and the attempt to liken God to fashion designers is silliness. If the book had simply shown Angel as making this statement, something a child would possibly do, I could have been fine with it. However, Ruth reinforces the thought by using it as a question in the quiz, thus making it part of her teaching.
In addition, she states that the reason God made clothing is because Adam and Eve's fig leaves were "skimpy aprons" and "not good enough." She has read these things into the scripture. Nowhere do we read that Adam and Eve made something skimpy or that what they made was not good enough, as in not covering themselves. All we learn in Genesis 3 is that "they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons" and we cannot know of the finished product. Even if we did, unless God stated that clothing like he made is what people should always wear, we could not use it to teach what Ruth does. We also do not read that God clothed them because what they made was skimpy or not enough. We cannot know what the clothing looked like or how much it covered their bodies. God must not have felt it important to have the clothing described in detail in the Bible. While this would also be reading into the scripture, and because of it I could not teach it as a fact, my thoughts are the reason would be in part that the fig leaves would not last as clothing, couldn't be washed and would eventually tear and dry out. Clothing made from the skins of animals would be long lasting, could be washed and could withstand the actions of those who wore it.
Some might say that I am picking on what Ruth writes in these instances. I would disagree. Reading into the scripture what is not stated and using those added thoughts to teach that God says we are to do or not do something, is a dangerous practice. One could make up anything and claim God said it by doing what Ruth does in her books.
Page 18 has Ruth quoting Deuteronomy 22:5, saying this is a "special commandment" from God about our clothing. The KJV states, "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." Some believe it is speaking about the armor used by a warrior. Others believe it is speaking of deliberate cross dressing in order to commit heterosexual adultery. Yet others believe it simply means the two sexes should not wear the clothing of the other. (This review is not meant to be a study of this passage, and as such I will only be making some brief commentary. Some may be interested in this Jewish review.)
Here is how Ruth Harvey explains this verse: "This Scripture simply means women should not dress like men and men should not wear women's clothes. It is an abomination to God!" If the explanation were left like this, I would not have a problem with it, other than her explanation of abomination. I personally believe each sex should dress appropriately for the culture in which they live. In the USA, pants are culturally acceptable for both men and women. Yet we find in Scotland, for instance, that the kilt is acceptable attire for a man, where in the USA it would not be so accepted.
In Old Testament times, we find that men and women both wore robes for a great many years. While there were some differences, they were essentially the same. I would ask, what is the difference between that and today in the USA, where both wear pants? There are differences in how the pants are cut and sometimes in the coloring & designs used. That is why we have a section for both men and women in clothing stores. When this passage was written to the Israelites, none of them wore pants as we do today, so how is this interpreted to focus on pants?
In addition, if this passage means any clothing for a man is not to be worn by a woman, and vice versa, why do many of the same people use other articles of clothing pertaining to the opposite sex? Examples of this are using a shirt, tennis shoes or socks of the other sex that were made for or used by the other. Why does the woman feel at liberty to put on her husband's sweatshirt? Why does the husband feel he can put his coat on his wife if she is cold? Why would the wife use her husband's ball cap or gloves? Why is this almost exclusively used to mean women are not to wear pants, while at the same time not forbidding these others?
I Don't Want To Be An Abomination
Abomination sounds scary, especially to a child. The abominable snowman character comes to mind. To use this in a book specifically for children ages five to nine, in the manner in which the author does, is a frightful thing. In fact, it is upsetting to Miriam and Angel, as both determine to not be abominations.
The word 'abomination(s)' is used more than 100 times in the Old Testament and can refer to objects or thoughts and actions or even people. Sometimes it was used in showing how one people saw another people, such as how the Egyptians looked at shepherds. Sometimes it refers to something God uses to set apart the Israelites from other people, such as not eating flying things that go on all fours. It referred to the graven images of other gods, lying lips and using a sheep with a blemish for a sacrifice. It was used to speak of the actions of heathen people.
The use of the word was by no means limited to Deuteronomy. In fact, in Deuteronomy 25:16, we read that "For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God." So anyone who is unrighteous is an abomination to God, not just whatever is meant by Deuteronomy 22:5. To attempt to make that verse something that stands out as especially disgusting to God is faulty and disregards other scripture.
Ruth explains on page 19 what an abomination is. "It is something extremely disgusting to God and makes him feel very sick, almost like throwing up. ...(It hurts) Not only His stomach, but also His heart. God is very sad when people do not obey his word." In this, she teaches things that the Bible does not. Nowhere will one find that an abomination makes God feel sick or hurts his stomach or heart. This is added to the Bible by Ruth and is manipulative, a way in which to shame people into following the teaching.
She is correct in using disgusting to describe an abomination. It is used in a ritual or ethical sense. She errs in adding the physical responses by God.
In preparation for this review, I came across an article written by a Jewish man that gives a different thought in regard to how this word should be applied. Here is what he shares, "The third clause of the verse, "whoever does such a thing is an abhorrence unto Adonai," has been understood by our sages to mean that it is the forbidden act that is an abhorrence, not the person. The wording of this clause is merely a figure of speech, an idiomatic usage, and should not be taken to refer to the person himself or herself." (I did not have the time to fully search this.)
When this passage is used in support of this teaching, some will point out that the same people do not follow other things taught in Deuteronomy, such as not wearing a garment of wool and linen, which appears just a few verses down. The response is often that in those passages, abomination is not used. It is claimed that, "once an abomination, always an abomination." Yet even with this, that thought is not true. God told the Israelites in Leviticus that certain living things would be an abomination to them as food, but in Acts 10 we find God telling Peter in a vision to kill and eat them.
Don't Do That Or You Will Make Mommy Sick
"Cindy, I don't want you to wear those type shoes." Mom is busy doing chores and admonishes her five year old, who is wanting to go in the backyard to play.
"But, mommy, I like them. And they feel good!"
"Now, Cindy, I have explained this to you before. Girls don't wear those type shoes. Aunt Betsy was wrong to buy them for you."
"But I want to! Please? Why can't I?" Cindy asks.
"Cindy, if you wear those type shoes, mommy's belly and heart will hurt and I will feel very sad. You will make me feel sick and I will throw up."
"Ewww- I hate throwing up! I love you, mommy. I don't want to make you feel sick and throw up!" Cindy replies, still looking at the shoes.
"If you put them on, you will be disgusting to me, plus make me sick. Now put on your other shoes and go outside."
If there are moms reading, would you speak to your young child in this manner? Would you attempt to manipulate your child into doing what you wanted by telling them that they would make you sick? Would you want someone to do similar to your child? Maybe their teacher could tell the class that if they wear a certain color clothing, they will make her ill and then she would see them as disgusting.
This is what Ruth Rieder does in the book. It causes Miriam and Angel to share that they love Jesus. They "don't ever want to make Him feel sick or sad!" Is this how you wish to motivate your child to dress properly?
Stick Figures And Restroom Signs - Proof Women Don't Wear Pants
Ruth uses both of these in a failed attempt to prove that females should always wear skirts and dresses and never pants, and that the world really knows how they should dress. How do stick figures or bathroom signs prove anything? If those restroom signs teach us about proper dress, do those same signs also teach us about hair? The male stick figure has no clothing, so does that teach us men should wear nothing? It is a sign used around the world. There are bathroom signs that have other objects, so do they teach something, too?
If I take you to the bathroom door for men that shows a pipe, does that mean God wants men to smoke? If you see a high heel on the door for women, does it mean all women must wear high heels? Some restroom signs show a figure standing and urinating, with the other sitting on a toilet. Does this teach that males can never sit on a toilet? Some show a type of top hat and another a type of bonnet. Should this tell us that men and women should always wear these? During a low point in USA history, there used to be signs distinguishing restrooms for white and colored people. Should that have been used to teach that different colored people should never use the same facilities? One international way of showing a women's restroom is to use a circle, with a triangle for the men. How do we figure out what this teaches us?
International symbols are used to make it easier for people, no matter the language they speak. They were not ordained of God and do not mean that people really know how they are supposed to dress. (For an interesting article on the sociology of bathroom signs, go here. Some may find a few images to be offensive. They are all actual restroom signs.)
Can you see how the line of thinking is faulty? Why should one even need to attempt to use stick figures and restroom signs in order to teach that God says it is wrong for females to wear pants or that they should always wear dresses and skirts? Should there not be at least one scripture somewhere in the entire Bible that plainly states, "Women are to only wear dresses and skirts" or "Women are never to wear pants"? Why doesn't the New Testament teach specifics in this area if it is that important? Certainly God could see ahead to our day and age where women would wear pants.
King's Kids Only If You Dress Right
"Are boys King's Kids too? Are they spiritual royal princes?" asked Angel. "Yes they are when they obey God and wear Kingdom Clothing," replied Dad. "In His Kingdom, boys dress like boys and girls dress like girls! Remember God's Kids are special and King's Kids always wear Kingdom Clothing."
Above is how Ruth concludes her story. Earlier, on page 13, we first hear about this when Ruth tells her daughters, "Don't forget you are King's Kids and should always wear Kingdom Clothing." I have no problem with the reference to King's Kids. I do have a problem with the reference to Kingdom Clothing, as well as linking that to boys being spiritual royal princes. Does our walk with God really come to this? A boy is excluded from the Kingdom because he doesn't wear what some person believes to be Kingdom Clothing? Boys reading the book may find it especially troubling since the author has nothing to say about what the male should wear, not even a mention of pants. Yet his being a King's Kid depends on it.
What is this essential Kingdom Clothing that we are always supposed to wear?
Where Does This Leave Us?
One would hope that some of the other passages Ruth Harvey shared will show women are only to wear skirts and dresses and never pants and give us answers for the boys. But, alas, they do not. They speak about God making clothing for Adam and Eve, about buying the truth and not selling it, and that knowing the scriptures can make one wise. She fails to provide even one verse that clearly shows wearing pants is wrong or that God will see a female as disgusting should she wear pants. (Some reading will believe she did as she mentions Deuteronomy 22:5. However, though she mentions it, she fails to relate how it applies to pants.)
If we are to teach that the Bible and God say something like girls wearing pants is wrong, then we should be able to provide scripture that very clearly shows this. "Thou shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not commit adultery" - God makes these and more very plain. They are not read in between the lines, we don't have to pull passages out of context, and we don't have to re-word anything to make it seem like God doesn't want us to steal, kill or commit adultery.
Had Ruth written a book that simply stated her beliefs, or those of the UPC, without attempting to say that God disapproves or commands us not to do something, then while I would be in disagreement, I would not be able to fault her. Anyone is free to believe what they want. If you wish to believe that pants are wrong for you to wear as a woman, I have no problem with it. I truly do not care if a woman does or does not wear pants. Yet when you say that the Bible teaches against it and a person causes God to feel sick, having his stomach and heart hurt if you do, then I want to see where the Bible states what you are proclaiming. I do not wish to see a misrepresentation of scripture, or your opinions, or stick figures and restroom signs...or a mention of Kingdom Clothing, linking that to salvation.
Unfortunately, this is what she teaches in her books, that these clothing standards are a special commandment from God and that God is sad and feels sick in his stomach and heart when women wear pants because that is an abomination. When dad answers Angel that boys are Kings Kids when they "obey God and wear Kingdom Clothing", there is no mistaking that Ruth is teaching that this standard is God ordained and a matter of salvation. If one is not a King's Kid, how are they saved?
I would not recommend that anyone use this book to teach their children about clothing, even if they believe pants on women is wrong. It is flawed in too many ways and places too much pressure and responsibility on children, causing them to be fearful of making Jesus sick and that he could see them as something disgusting. It could also cause boys to be fearful, hearing they must wear Kingdom Clothing, and yet not be told what that is. The approach in this book, to me, is an abomination.
This book can be seen in a PDF format here.
For further information and additional reviews of her books, go here.
Ruth Harvey no longer sells copies of the first four of these books on her website, but the last two are yet available.
You may write Lois at the email address displayed in the image. No correspondence that seeks to debate will be answered as I have no desire to debate. Understand that due to the volume of mail, not every email may be acknowledged.
Posted May 24, 2014 & Updated May 25, 2014
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© 1997-2014 by Lois E. Gibson
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