I love this topic! In case you have not read the title yet, we will be covering the holiness standards for what we Pentecostals wear. (Tomorrow I want to talk about our hair and our holiness standards for our actions because yet again I went on in this post for longer than I thought and I was not able to talk about hair!)
You may have noticed that us Apostolic/Pentecostal girls, and yes even the boys, tend to dress a certain trademark way. I want to lay out the Biblical reasonings for this way of clothing our bodies. :)
Note: We DO NOT HAVE TO DO THESE to be part of the church! It is our personal convictions and we have found them within the Bible to be true and we want to follow the Word’s teachings! They are not required for salvation, only those actions mentioned in Acts 2:38 are. We are NOT a cult, we are allowed decisions and free thought! :)
Now, a couple of the previous posts in this series (about Oneness and the way to salvation) are strictly set for the majority of Apostolics, but some of the upcoming posts (about hair and holiness standards) really differ with the beliefs of each church’s pastor and that person’s personal convictions. So I want to stress right now, what I am about to say may not be the exact same guidelines that your female Apostolic friend down the street follows. We may even be in the same church organization and differ widely in these standards.
For example, here’s a little story to show my point! A couple of years ago myself and the majority of my church’s youth group went to our organization’s National Youth Convention (where all of the organization’s youth from across the United States get together for about a week and hold church services and fellowship). My church is kind of known for having slightly stricter standards than the majority of the others. This is because it is what our Pastor believes, through researching the Bible and letting God lead him, and so throughout the year he feels it is his duty to teach us what he believes. Therefore, we learn why the Bible says that us ladies should not wear pants, show cleavage, wear makeup or jewelry, etc as listed below. However, other pastors at other churches do not feel the same convictions on the standards of holiness and will not teach them to their individual congregations as our church does. (This is of course only on issues that are not directly related to salvation, we all abide by Acts 2:38 for example.) So when we were at the National Youth Convention all of the churches across the country were there and after an emotional service with many tears shed, it became quite obvious what churches do not teach against makeup when my church’s group of girls saw another group with mascara and eyeliner smeared faces. Immediately one of our newly converted ladies turned to us girls, who were her friends and the same age as her, and gave us a confused look. Later in the hotel room the tight-knit group of the four of us had to sit down with her and explain that their pastor did not preach against it and that those girls were not purposefully disobeying the standards of holiness. Long story short, standards differ!
Check out this cool YouTube clip by Tiffany Hubba about Apostolic Holiness! http://youtu.be/hpKCzvNQYxM
Here are the standards I follow and when applicable I will list what my church does and then variations that may be encountered:
~Ladies wear skirts that end below the knee in public and men wear pants that cover their legs in public. (Skirt length differs. My church says it only has to be below the knee, but some churches require it to be floor length.)
~In public, ladies do not wear shirts that show cleavage or stomach, and both men and women wear some form of sleeves. (The sleeves issue is widely different across all churches. Mine personally just asks for a sleeve that covers the underarm and is not a cap sleeve. I have seen a range from any type of sleeve, to a sleeve that must reach down to their wrists. Again, it depends on the pastor.)
~Both men and women do not wear unnecessary jewelry or any piercings. (There is varying strictness on jewelry, my church allows one ring on each hand and watches because they have a function. Other churches do not even allow wedding rings! In general though, no necklaces or bracelets, etc. Piercings do not vary however.)
~Ladies do not wear makeup. (As my anecdote showed, this varies. My church is okay with clear lipglosses and a small bit of powder to cover blemishes if needed but it should not be overly applied. Others allow light makeup but no heavy cosmetics.)
~Ladies do not wear colorful nail polishes. (Some allow a french manicure, aka white tips. My church does, although many within my church have personal convictions that feel that only clear polish should be allowed.)
Now for Biblical and just plain life reasonings!
Deut 22:5 – “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.” ~Hence why we ladies wear skirts and men wear pants.
1 Peter 3:3 – “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel” ~This explains our lack of jewelry.
1 Tim 2:9-10 – “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” ~ We should be modest, and another reference to not wear jewelry.
In Biblical times Jewish men and women who were slaves were forced to wear earrings in their ears to show to the world that they were property! Egyptians wore makeup, and every woman mentioned in the Bible who “paints their face” aka wears makeup was labelled a harlot or, excuse my lewd term, a whore (ex, Jezebel). Up until relatively recently, only prostitutes wore makeup.
My pastor has also taught a couple of sermons about how when Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden God made them clothing from animal fur. (Gen 3:21 – “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”) This was symbolic for many things, but also, the original term for “coat” in Hebrew or Greek meant an outfit that covered from the elbows to the knees, hence our desire to cover a portion of our arms and wear skirts below our knees.
One of the main reasons for these guidelines are that we should strive to be modest! We should not wear clothes that will distract those of the opposite sex from their walk with God. I would not want to be the reason one of my brothers in Christ struggled or fell! I would feel horrible that I could have possibly prevented it! Also, as a woman I do not want to be looked at in a vulgar way; it does not make me feel sexy, instead it is extremely uncomfortable for me!
In the end, it mainly comes down to the fact that God made us the way we are, and if we were to try and alter God’s creation, it is almost like saying “sorry God, You didn’t do a good enough job, I know better than you what I should look like so I am going to change the beauty that you have created.”
By following my personal convictions I am proudly saying “God, You made me beautiful and I am not ashamed to live the way you want me to as a virtuous woman!”
I do this out of love and respect for God, not because I think it is necessary to get to heaven. This is one of my forms of submission to God. I have come to find that these things help to remind me throughout the day that I am God’s and it keeps me in a God-centered life.
God made us a “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) and we should embrace that. God did not want us to be part of the world but rather to be separate from the world because in the end it is not our home but just a temporary stop! We should not want to fit in with this world that is full of hate, hurt, crime, adultery, pain, and so much sin. Who would want to be affiliated with that when you could be recognized as a child of God?
I hope this helps you understand the Apostolics you know a little bit better. I promise we are not some crazies in a cult! ;)
<3 Passionate Pentecostal