My daughter is six. One day she will be sixteen, and I know what is coming. She will be caught in the middle of an argument I am having with the world about what she should be wearing, and I am determined to win her over to my side.
It may seem a little obsessive for a father to be thinking about what his six-year-old daughter will be wearing in ten years, but this is very important. You see, what you wear on your body says a lot about who you are and what you think about yourself.
This is what Peter wrote to women about their clothing:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Pet. 3:3-4)
Some Christians take this advice too literally and simplify it as a prohibition against earrings and hair braids. But notice that in addition to “the braiding of hair” and the “putting on of gold jewelry,” Peter mentions “the clothing you wear.” If we press his words too far into a literal interpretation, we find ourselves in the awkward position of banning clothing!
Peter wasn’t saying it’s wrong to wear jewelry or braids or clothing. He was emphasizing inner beauty over outward appearances. As one translation reads, women should not allow their adorning to be “merely external” (NASB). Rather, they ought to be noticed for inner qualities like a “gentle and quiet spirit.”
As my friend Steve Higginbotham once said, the question is, “Does the way you dress cause the opposite sex to think you are chaste, or does it cause people to think you want to be chased?” When you dress provocatively you send out a message to others that you are not a very interesting person, that there’s nothing below the surface, that everything there is to know about you can be learned by a passing glance. Instead of engaging others through conversation, you reveal yourself by the way you dress, because there’s really nothing else to you.
On the other hand, a young woman who refuses to be identified by her body is saying, “I’m interesting. I demand to be respected. There’s more to me than just my body, and I want to be noticed for who I am as a person.”
Look at the magazines in the line at the grocery store, or turn on the television set. The world is objectifying our children, telling them they must have a certain body and show it off to be important. The only way to battle this disrespecting influence is for parents to teach their children that they deserve respect. Clothing can’t make someone special. It’s the inner, imperishable beauty that counts.