The bare bones
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, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. – 1 Timothy 2:9-10.
TIMOTHY’S EXHORTATION on modesty and the appropriateness of dress for the Christian woman may have crossed Canon Austin Carrington’s mind last Sunday when he alluded to “young ladies . . . exposing too much of their bodies”.
But that’s what the goodly rector is going to get once he thanks God Almighty for Kadooment – the meeting ground for gold, silver, platinum, pearls, glitter, feathers, bikinis and a bumper.
To his credit, though, Canon Carrington did intimate that he did not always enjoy the end product of Crop Over. He lamented the “abuses of every sort and fashion” that came with it.
This topic of women’s dress is controversial because it has engendered so widely different views among professing Christians. We have seen the church’s Madonna wannabes, who generally ignore modesty and reserve and who imitate the clothing styles of the late Gianni Versace, or the very bold of the living Pauline Bellamy.
This is no assault on the canon, but I have seen nearly as much flesh in church as at Kadooment, and a skimpiness that left little to the imagining.
The pastors who permit it have given a whole new meaning to the reformed church. Miniskirts rival Eve’s fig leaf in the Garden of Eden, clinging tank tops simulate a twister frozen in space at the median of the mammaries, and skintight cotton pants walk devilishly with God.
The traditional church in a way must take some blame for this – by relaxing its dress code. There was a splendour and a certain classiness about one’s Sunday best. Then men came to pants and shirt and moved on to Bermuda shorts and polos; and women capitulated from the low-neck to the brow of the breast.
Methinks the prevailing argument was that it was better to “render” your heart than your clothes, a misunderstanding and misquotation of Joel 2:13: “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”
No wonder womankind with impunity continues to sashay between the pews slinkily and skimpily.
People of long ago used to tear their garments – often expensive wear – as a symbol of contriteness. But then it became so commonplace, it soon had little value and no meaning.
The Holy Father would have nothing less than a heart rended – metaphorically, of course. But tell that to the Japanese who went literally beyond the teaching of God’s Word for their own honour.
Methinks Canon Carrington will agree with me that not all these modernly fashionable professing Christians have self-consciously and deliberately set out to dress immodestly. Some of them are just following a trend, simply knowing no better, and ignoring example set before, or having none to emulate in the first place. They have little or no appreciation of place or time.
They are an abomination at funerals, when man’s thoughts should be far from the carnal and propelled to the ethereal. Paul did have a point about this dressing thing at worship and other solemn occasions.
We may thus conclude that our women are “exposing too much of their bodies” – and “not only at Crop Over time”, but at church. I confess, Canon Carrington. I have had glimpses of breasts, bellies and buttocks – and more –
as I lustily sang All Things Bright And Beautiful, O Happy Band Of Pilgrims, or Let All On Earth Their Voices Raise.
Still, if you will forgive me, Rev., you are right: we “cannot say that all we do with our bodies [and our eyes] will bring honour and glory to God, but that does not deny our basic dignity as human beings”.
Truth be told, modesty and class are the cachet of good breeding and taste.