Tuesday, 28 November 2017
…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 1 Timothy 2:9
Paul is continuing his directives for public worship within the church, as they gather and meet together. He began in the previous verse with directions for the prayers of the men. He now says, “in like manner also.” In other words, “As I have directed for the conduct of men, I now direct the following.” He then immediately follows up with “that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel.”
The words here have been taken to unnecessary extremes, being applied to the women at all times. Some denominations have crept up where women are dressed in brown, blue, or black bags at all times. They look plain and dull with bonnets on their heads and nothing to highlight or accentuate their natural beauty. This is not Paul’s intent here. The word “likewise” is being used to direct women during church gatherings, not at all times. The idea is that when gathered in church, it is the Lord, not the women who are to be highlighted.
Just as the men are to lift holy hands to the Lord as specified in the previous verse, thus placing the attention on the Lord, so women are to have the attention of others on the Lord, not on their glamorous apparel. If a woman wants to be a plain Jane 24/7, that is her decision, but it isn’t something the church is being asked to impose on them. This is a directive for propriety within the church.
He next says exactly this with the words, “with propriety and moderation.” As Solomon says, “To everything there is a season.” There is a time for women to adorn themselves in glorious apparel and to wow their audience. Church is not the time for this. During church, they are to first have what Paul says in the Greek, aidós, or modesty. It is derived from another word which means “to be ashamed.” The idea then is that women are to be modest in their dress. To act otherwise would be to deprive the Lord what He is due – the attention of the people on Him, not on a glamorous beauty.
The second word, translated as “moderation,” indicates self-control or soundness of mind. The more a woman accentuates her own beauty in the church, the less soundness of mind there will be concerning where her attention (and that of others, certainly) will be focused. Again, the idea is that the Lord is to be focused on. To further define this, Paul then gives an example of what would be contrary to this by saying, “not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.”
Each of these things he has mentioned are not only acceptable on a female, they can be a wonderful highlight to her natural beauty. The problem is that in wearing such things in a church setting, she is indicating that this is what she wants people to look at. It becomes a self-centered state of mind when church is supposed to be a God-centered place. Later, Peter will discuss the outward appearance of women as well (see 1 Peter 3:1-6). His words, like Paul’s here, are intended to highlight a woman’s position in relation to her relationships. Paul’s speaks of that relationship in regards to the church. Peter speaks of it in regards to the husband. Neither forbids the wearing of beautiful adornments, and it would be contrary to other parts of Scripture where such things are worn by women. But the main goal of a female worshiper of the Lord, either single or the wife of a husband, is to be naturally beautiful – with a right heart and attitude.
Life application: At times in Scripture, women’s beauty is highlighted by external adornments. Isaiah 61:10 says that a bride is adorned with jewels. It is her moment to shine when the wedding day has come. However, when gathered to worship the Lord, it is the Lord’s time to be highlighted and exalted. Everything has a place, and each moment must be handled according to the appropriate situation.
Lord God, when we come before You as a congregation, are we there for others to see us, or are we there to magnify and glorify You? Help us to not attempt to be the center of attention through the clothes we choose to wear, the things we say as we gather, or how we act at such times. Instead, may we come before You with all of our attention and respect directed toward Your glory alone. Surely You are worthy of all our focus. Amen.