9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness-with good works.
Okay ladies – you heard the man – No braided hair. No gold. No pearls. No clothes that are expensive.
That’s what Paul says.
Take it at face value – if you braid your hair, wear anything with gold or pearls, or wear clothes that cost more than $20, you’re going to hell.
That’s what Paul says (okay, so maybe I am exaggerating a tiny bit).
But what exactly does Paul mean?
Certainly, the culture and context of the first century world was different from ours. No doubt.
But a reason women dressed nice then and a reason women dress nice today are – in many ways – similar: Women can be guilty of seeking their identity in their appearance, not in who they are in Christ.
This is what Paul is getting at here.
The purpose is NOT for us to get all legalistic and focus on what women should and shouldn’t wear. No, no. The purpose of these verses is to urge women not to seek approval from men and/or women by wearing nice and expensive and immodest clothing. These verses are to help us focus on and evaluate why we wear what we wear.
Are we trying to draw attention to ourselves, our bodies, our status? Or are we trying to draw attention to Jesus and what He is doing in and around us? Christian women are to clothe themselves so that others are attracted to the Christ in them, the One driving their good works.
Men, before we get on our “Pharisaical High Horse” – let’s recall what Paul said in verse 8 of chapter 2 (just before these verses): “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” Lifting up holy hands without anger or quarreling means living Christlike lives. Doing it without anger or quarreling means we don’t get in a wad when we don’t get our way. Translation: our lives and our reactions are to point others to the greatness of Jesus.
One way women do it is by identifying with Jesus in their good works.
One way men do it is by identifying with Jesus in their praying and reactions to circumstances.
So, what clothes are you wearing? Why do you wear them? Do people know you by your clothing or by your good works?
What about you, men? How have you reacted to circumstances and people recently?
Does your life point to your status and/or your “rights”? Or to the Jesus who is your status and the one who owns all of your rights?