The Bible tells us to separate ourselves from the world. It's obvious we shouldn't be drinking and doing drugs. But what about wearing pants and makeup and fingernail polish? Isn't that of the world? Where do we draw the line?
—Annette, Dayton, Ohio
Annette, the Bible does make it clear we're not to live by the same standards as unbelievers: "'Come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord" (2 Cor. 6:17); "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind … " (Rom. 12:2).
But what exactly constitutes "being conformed" vs. "being transformed"? How do we apply Bible verses that spoke to very specific cultural situations thousands of years ago to contemporary culture today? For years, some conservative Christians have pointed to Deuteronomy 22:5 and decreed that women shouldn't wear pants. But that scripture only says that women shouldn't dress like men and men shouldn't dress like women. In some cultures and eras, traditionally "female" attire would include pants. In others, it wouldn't. The point of the commandment is that the uniqueness of God's design for each of the sexes is to be respected and preserved.
We can't take a single verse out of context and either misapply it or dismiss it. We've got to look at the principle behind it. The Bible certainly has a lot to say about the importance of modesty. And some women choose not to wear pants—or certain styles of pants—for that reason. Out of respect for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we don't want to do anything that will cause others to stumble.
The Scriptures remind us that our outward appearance should not be a distraction from what's most important—who we are inside. True beauty comes from within (1 Pet. 3:3-4).
Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It To Heart, and the author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia (Crossway).
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine.
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