The Godly Woman's Adornment
Instead of focusing attention upon clothes, jewels, and accessories, godly women should focus their attention upon the precious and imperishable qualities mentioned in the Word. They should be anxious to accumulate these graces and adorn themselves with them.
by Martha Goetzman
"And let not your adornment be external only" (I Peter 3:3).
Adornment is basically decoration. To adorn means to add beauty, splendor, honor, or distinction. YEHOVAH God wants to adorn or decorate Christian women, but His standard of beauty is much different from that of the world. It is important for every Christian woman to understand the biblical principles concerning adornment. She will then be able to move in the right direction and begin reflecting YEHOVAH's beauty, rather than the world's.
Adorning the Inner Woman with a Gentle and Quiet Spirit
One of the most outstanding passages of Scripture concerning feminine adornment urges women to be concerned with adorning the inner person. "And let not your adornment be external only...but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God" (I Peter 3:3-4). The most precious adornment in YEHOVAH God's sight is a gentle and quiet spirit. This is the type of beauty or splendor He would like to bestow upon Christian women. He is not interested in hanging decorations upon the outside of a woman, but would much prefer to transform and beautify her on the inside.
A gentle and quiet spirit cannot be purchased or manufactured. There is no imitation for it in the world; rather, it is the natural outworking of the spirit of YEHOVAH God in the heart. As a woman beholds the glory of the LORD, she is changed into the same image (II Corinthians 3:18).
A gentle and quiet spirit is precious in YEHOVAH's sight because it is the same spirit which characterized the Messiah. The Messiah said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light" (Matthew 11:29-30). Adornment of the inner woman begins when a woman takes the Messiah's yoke upon her and submits to YEHOVAH God through him. As she yields to YEHOVAH God, His nature is manifested in her. She is then made beautiful by the precious qualities of YEHOVAH's nature.
Instead of putting on outward decorations and apparel, women should "put on" inward graces and characteristics. The Scriptures exhort women to put on various qualities; but do not misunderstand the term "put on." This does not mean to imitate divine qualities, neither does it mean to concentrate upon behaving in a certain way; rather, it means to submit completely to YEHOVAH God so He can manifest these qualities in you.
"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Romans13:14). To put on the Messiah is to be led by YEHOVAH God through him. It means the self-life is reckoned dead so the spirit of YEHOVAH God can shine forth. It is the same as abiding in YEHOVAH God. You are in Him and He is in you. Your life is so absorbed in Him that it is His image which becomes evident. To put on the Messiah means to give YEHOVAH God first place in everything. Instead of putting on yourself and living for your own selfish pleasure, it means to give YEHOVAH priority and live only for Him.
"And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:14). Here again, this does not mean to work up love. It is not speaking of an artificial love. It means to put on YEHOVAH God who is love. Allow YEHOVAH to love through your heart. Be so led by YEHOVAH God that His responses spring from your heart. "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love and we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (I John 4:8 and 16). Abiding in YEHOVAH God is abiding in love; when this happens, a woman's life will be adorned by the precious fruit of love. "And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12). It is impossible for a human being to work up these qualities. They are the fruit of the holy spirit and can only be produced by the holy spirit. It is, therefore, imperative for every woman to be filled and led by the holy spirit.
Putting on a new dress or trying on a new hat is a simple matter, but putting on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience involves the process of sanctification. It takes time. It also takes exposure to the Word of YEHOVAH God and obedience to the Word. One does not try on compassion one day and work at it for awhile; and then try on humility the next day and work at it. The holy spirit must be allowed full sway in an individual's life so that these graces will be produced spontaneously. Those selfish tendencies of impatience, anger, bitterness and criticism must be dealt with at the tree and replaced by the life of the Messiah. "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). Since the old self died with the Messiah, it must be reckoned dead. The new life is hidden with the Messiah and will, therefore, allow the image of YEHOVAH God to be made manifest. It is then that a woman is "putting on" these qualities. As she yields to YEHOVAH God, He produces the results. He adorns her life with the imperishable qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Put on wisdom. "How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. For its profit is better than the profit of silver, and its gain than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her" (Proverbs 3:13-15). Outward adornment usually consists of silver, gold, and precious jewels; these things are considered treasures and are highly valued by the world. But the Word of YEHOVAH God indicates that wisdom is of far greater value than earthly treasure. Not only does wisdom bring pleasantness and peace (Proverbs 3:17), but it is a type of adornment. "So they [wisdom and discretion] will be life to your soul, and adornment to your neck" (Proverbs 3:22). Instead of collecting expensive jewelry to decorate the outer person, godly women should be desirous of attaining wisdom which will provide lasting beauty for the inner person. It is actually described as adornment for the neck. It adds a beauty and splendor to the woman who possesses it which far surpasses the fleeting beauty of diamonds or rubies.
Wisdom is one of the gifts we can request YEHOVAH for. The Scripture exhorts: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5). Isn't it wonderful that this precious quality is ours for the asking? While we might work hard for many years to buy an expensive piece of jewelry, the most beautiful and most valuable adornments possible are gifts bestowed upon us by the loving hand of YEHOVAH God.
Instead of focusing attention upon clothes, jewels, and accessories, godly women should focus their attention upon the precious and imperishable qualities mentioned in the Word. They should be anxious to accumulate these graces and adorn themselves with them. Peter's admonition is clear: "And let not your adornment be external only...but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God" (I Peter 3:3-4).
Women can spend much time acquiring, arranging and changing outfits. "What shall I wear?" is a comment frequently made. It is a subject which occupies their time, attention, and much of their conversation. But YEHOVAH God would like His women to be characterized by a different spirit, a different attitude. He would rather they be occupied with decorating the inner person. He would rather they spend time, energy, and thought in cultivating the lasting qualities of the spirit. Instead of thinking, "What shall I wear on the outside?" He would rather they be concerned with, "What am I wearing on the inside?"
What spirit do people encounter when they talk to you? Are they immediately impressed with your gentleness, kindness, love and wisdom? Or are they so preoccupied with your outer garments that they never notice you? Have you been so preoccupied with your outer garments that you have failed to adorn the inner woman? Is there any adornment on the inside? Those clothes and accessories will perish with time, but the inner adornment is imperishable. It will last for all eternity. Of what sort is it?
Adorning the Inner Woman with Good Works
Another outstanding passage of Scripture concerning feminine adornment urges women to be adorned with good works. "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness" (I Timothy 2:9-10). When the inner woman is properly adorned, the outward manifestation will be good works. True godliness will produce results in an individual's life. These qualities are not baubles to be heaped up and admired for one's own glory, but are channels of the spirit of YEHOVAH God. As YEHOVAH works in a life and manifests His character, it will be the means of blessing for others. Truly beautiful women will be characterized by a gentle and quiet spirit and by good works.
The Scriptures abound with examples of good works, so we will only consider a few. Hospitality is one. "Be hospitable to one another without complaint" (I Peter 4:9). "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2). Any woman can be given to hospitality. Most women like to invite friends into their homes to entertain them. But the implication of these verses is that a woman must love to entertain strangers, and be actively involved in pursuing strangers. This is the reason it is to be done without complaint. Perhaps it would be more enjoyable to just entertain friends, but the godly woman is to go beyond that and open her home to strangers. This is not primarily a "getting" ministry, but more of a "giving" ministry. While the fellowship might not be as much fun as that with her close friends, she will have an opportunity to share the love and kindness she has received from YEHOVAH God.
Visitation is another example of a good work which should adorn the life of a godly woman. "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27). Women have the advantage of having a little more free time during the day than their husbands. Some of this time can be utilized by visiting and encouraging those who are sick, bereaved, discouraged or elderly. Some of that compassion and gentleness with which YEHOVAH God has been adorning the inner woman can be allowed to flow out and touch the lives of others. Here is also an opportunity for ministering a word of wisdom or sharing something from the Word. The godly sister can encourage those who are in distress and pray with them. Here again, be on guard against gossiping. These visits could easily turn into gossip sessions and the concerned sister could turn into a busybody. Be sure that YEHOVAH God is front and center.
Simply doing good whenever the opportunity presents itself is an example of a good work. There are two women mentioned in the Bible who were known for this kind of ministry. "Now in Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did" (Acts 9:36). Evidently she used every opportunity available to do good and help someone. Although this type of service does not draw much acclaim, it is, nevertheless, noted by YEHOVAH God.
Phoebe also served YEHOVAH God as a helper. "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the LORD in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well" (Romans 16:1-2).
Some of the gifts of the spirit fall into the category of good works. Women should check to see if YEHOVAH God has given them any of these serving gifts. If He has, then they should stir up that gift and allow the spirit to use it. There is a gift of helps (I Corinthians 12:28), there is a gift of service (Romans 12:7), and there is a gift of showing mercy (Romans 12:8). All of these gifts lend themselves to the type of ministry provided for women. It seems likely that YEHOVAH would give some of these gifts to the women in the church. If He has, it is important that they be exercised for the common good. "Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all" (I Timothy 4:14-15).
It is important to know what your gift is and to exercise it. YEHOVAH God has given gifts to the church for the building up of the body. If you neglect your gift you are cheating the body out of some of the ministry YEHOVAH intended it to have. The gifts are not for self-edification or for self-glory, but for the common good. Each member of the body is to be a good steward of their gift. "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (I Peter 4:10). It is wrong to hoard your gift or to squander it. You must be a good steward of your gift and allow YEHOVAH to oversee its use.
Instead of decorating yourself with costly garments and jewels, decorate yourself with good works. Be willing to be used by YEHOVAH God to spread a little kindness and compassion. Be willing to forfeit a little "primping" time and turn it into serving time. It is a more beautiful adornment and its quality is lasting. The contrast between outer adornment and inner adornment in Scripture is the contrast between physical beauty and spiritual beauty. The one is easy to obtain, but is a shallow type of beauty and only fleeting in its value. The other is more difficult to obtain, involving a time-consuming process. But the results are profound and breathtaking. This spiritual beauty is a reflection of the life of the Messiah and can only be described as being exquisite. The process of obtaining this type of spiritual beauty involves complete commitment and devotion to YEHOVAH God and the Messiah. It involves time and effort, but is well worth it since the results are of eternal value.
Producing Spiritual Beauty
Producing spiritual beauty involves beholding YEHOVAH God and developing in character. "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the LORD, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the LORD, the Spirit" (II Corinthians 3:18). To behold YEHOVAH God means to be completely absorbed in Him. It is not a matter of conjuring up a mental image; rather it is dwelling upon His character as revealed in the Word of YEHOVAH God. It is a well-known fact that whatever we dwell upon and think about is what we are becoming. In order to be transformed into YEHOVAH's image we must put Him uppermost in our minds and yield our wills to Him. In this way, miraculously and effortlessly, His image is reflected in us.
Producing spiritual beauty involves putting down roots and growing in grace. "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, Christian love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Peter 1:5-8). It is not sufficient to have a shallow experience with YEHOVAH God. In order to be a healthy, fruit-bearing Christian, it is imperative to put down roots. As these roots go down, the moral fiber of your being will be improved and you will begin to grow in the right direction. Be desirous of having moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and Christian love evidenced in your life. When the opposites of these qualities appear, ask YEHOVAH God to bestow more of His spirit upon you. Ask Him to manifest Himself in your life. It is not sufficient to wish for these qualities, you must earnestly desire them and ask YEHOVAH God to produce them in you.
Producing spiritual beauty also involves abiding in the Messiah and producing fruit. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Once you have put down roots into the Messiah and have that vital connection to YEHOVAH God through his sacrifice, you must abide in his life -- which is a reflection of YEHOVAH God. All of your sustenance must come through him. Your spiritual health and vitality are dependent upon utilizing his connection to the Father as our High Priest. If you recognize your utter dependence upon him and draw heavily from him, you will begin to produce fruit. It is not a matter of working or striving, for he says, "Apart from Me you can do nothing." It is a matter of tapping the resource that is available to you. By opening yourself up completely to the Messiah you will become a recipiant of the holy spirit through him. As YEHOVAH's spirit flows through you, it will produce the precious fruit of righteousness which is adornment for your spirit.
The scriptural principle is that we should be primarily concerned with adorning the inner woman. The adornment which is precious in YEHOVAH's sight is a gentle and quiet spirit. We are also exhorted to adorn our lives with good works. When these things abound in our lives, they will produce a spiritual beauty which emanates from within and is of lasting value.
The difference between physical and spiritual beauty is similar to the difference between an artificial and a real flower. The one is easy to obtain and has a similitude of beauty, but attracts only fleeting admiration. The other is difficult and time-consuming to obtain. It must be planted, watered and cultivated. It must be exposed to the sunlight so it will grow. It must send down roots to obtain nourishment and then it must be allowed to grow into a full-blossoming flower. But when the flower is produced it is a delight to behold. It is a thing of exquisite beauty and obtains lingering admiration. The delicacy of its beauty and fragrance is a testimony to YEHOVAH's creative genius. Only He could make such a treasure. Likewise, in a woman, only YEHOVAH God can produce that precious and eternal beauty of spirit which glows from within. No cosmetic can imitate it, and no adornment can compare with its splendor.
Adorning the Outer Woman with Modesty
The basic principle of Scripture concerning outward adornment is modesty. Regardless of a woman's taste or culture, she should be guided by this cardinal rule of modesty. Her selection of clothes should be in keeping with YEHOVAH's standard of holiness. The dictates of fashion have no bearing upon a Christian woman. Her guideline should be YEHOVAH's Word and His standard. Anything that is not becoming to holiness must be rejected.
"Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments..." (I Timothy 2:9). The word here translated "modestly" means "orderly" or "of good behavior." It implies more than just adequate covering (although that is important). It implies that the garments worn must be suitable for a woman making a claim to godliness. They must cover the body adequately and also convey the message that this woman is living according to YEHOVAH's order. Her good behavior is demonstrated by her adornment. She is not aggressive, loud or domineering, so she does not wear loud, flashy clothes. She is dressed in a subdued manner because of her submissive attitude.
Modesty also implies humility. Instead of showing off, a godly woman desires to remain in the background. She does not want to push herself forward or attract attention. She would prefer to be a little shy and retiring. Her clothes should reflect this attitude. Modest apparel is indicative of her humility and shamefacedness.
A godly woman must not be sensuously attired. Modesty precludes any expression of sensuality. It is important for every Christian woman to understand the male tendency to be sexually aroused by sight. Touch is unnecessary to stimulate a man; he can be aroused simply by looking at a woman's body. For this reason, women should take care to dress modestly and cover themselves adequately. Far be it for any Christian woman to cause her brother to stumble by dressing in a sensuous or provocative way. "It is good not to...do anything by which your brother stumbles" (Romans 14:21). Let love be the key here. Dress in such a manner as to demonstrate love for YEHOVAH God and love for your brothers in the Messiah. Do not let fashion take a higher place than Christian love. "For if because of [fashion] your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your [fashion] him for whom Christ died" (Romans 14:15).
Adorning the Outer Woman with Discretion
Christian women should also be guided by the scriptural principle of discretion. I Timothy 2:9 admonishes a woman to be both "modestly and discreetly" attired. Discretion essentially means to be dressed carefully. It means thought and care should be given to the selection of garments so that they convey a proper image. Godly women must dress in a manner that is becoming to holiness. Discretion also conveys the idea of "fitness" or "taste." There are certain types of clothes and accessories that are not "fitting" for a Christian woman to wear. Perhaps they do not reveal the body, but their appearance carries the message of the world, rather than the image of YEHOVAH God. The importance of this kind of taste is expressed in Proverbs: "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion" (Proverbs 11:22).
A godly woman should be dressed in a subdued manner. She should not deliberately draw attention to herself by her attire. She should not be ostentatious. "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments..." ( I Timothy 2:9). Christian women should not be characterized by the extravagant, costly outfits they wear. Attention should be attracted immediately to inner qualities, not outer.
If the first impression and the most lasting impression you create is one of being stunningly and impeccably clothed, you have given top priority to the outward adornment and ignored the inward adornment. It is worldly and extravagant to try to keep up with fashion and always be found wearing the most up-to-date outfit. Your attention should be going in the opposite direction. You should strive for a subdued, almost neutral appearance. Rather than attracting attention, your attire should be scarcely noticed. The lasting impression you make should be that of a gentle, quiet, godly woman.
Just a note here about color: a quick glance at nature reveals YEHOVAH's appreciation for color. He did not create a drab, monotonous world. Instead He splashed it with vibrant colors. However, it is all done in perfect taste. There are no clashes or excesses in nature. Accordingly, it seems unreasonable to assume YEHOVAH God would want Christian women to dress in a drab, colorless way. A tasteful use of pretty colors seems quite in keeping with the character of YEHOVAH God. It is the excess which should be avoided. Loud, clashing colors which scream out for attention might not be suitable for a godly woman, but do not forbid the use of colorful accents or bright colors when they are worn with discretion.
A Christian woman should also not draw attention to herself by being too dowdy. A deliberate attempt to be "unworldly" by being shabby or slovenly dressed attracts as much attention as being flashy. If the flesh cannot satisfy itself by being extravagant, it will go to the other extreme and become ascetic. Drawing attention to the great sacrifices made for YEHOVAH God is simply pride in reverse. Dressing in an eccentric way in order to demonstrate Christian devotedness is to advertise one's own spirituality. There is no need for this. Dress simply, modestly and discreetly, and the holy spirit residing within will manifest the image of YEHOVAH God effortlessly.
A Christian woman should not draw attention to herself by being too heavily decorated. "And let not your adornment be external only -- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, and putting on dresses..." (I Peter 3:3 ). I believe the spirit of this passage is that a woman should not be characterized by the decoration she wears. Her adornment should not be so lavish as to attract attention. There are some who feel this literally means a woman should never wear any type of jewelry. I respect this, and would never argue with them. I believe it is always safer to be too literal with the Scriptures than too liberal. However, I do not believe a wedding ring, watch, or simple piece of jewelry is taboo for a Christian woman. The emphasis is on the extreme. Do not be heavily or noticeably adorned with jewelry.
Here is an example in Scripture which gives the extreme in ornamentation which is displeasing to YEHOVAH God: "In that day the LORD will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans, and veils" (Isaiah 3: 18-23). This kind of extreme is certainly not in keeping with holiness. But a simple pin or necklace does not seem to me to be in this category.
Covering the Head
A godly woman should be adorned with submissiveness. The outward evidence of this attitude is the head covering. The scriptural teaching concerning YEHOVAH's order is given right within the context of the teaching concerning the head covering. These two teachings have a vital connection. The woman indicates her submission to YEHOVAH's order by covering her head. "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head; for she is one and the same with her whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head" (I Corinthians 11:3-6).
The woman's hair is her glory. "But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her. For her hair is given to her for a covering" (I Corinthians 11:15). A woman's hair is a covering in the sense that it is a mantle thrown around her. It is given to her for her glory and should be long enough to tell she is a woman. The woman is the man's glory. "For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God but the woman is the glory of man" (I Corinthians 11:7). When a woman is praying or prophesying she should shield her hair so that the glory of her hair does not outshine the glory of the man, which is herself. This is a voluntary act of submission. It indicates that the woman is willing to humble herself and take the lower place. She is not going to outshine the man.
A woman's attitude should be submissive. The head covering is simply a symbol of her heart attitude. It is a mockery for a rebellious woman to wear a head covering. She is saying one thing by her attitude and another by her covering. Since the Scriptures indicate that a woman should cover her head when praying or prophesying, it is imperative that she first get her heart attitude straightened out. She cannot use rebellion as an excuse for not covering her head because continuing in rebellion is far worse than neglecting the head covering.
When a woman's attitude is submissive and her head is covered, she is ministering to the angels. The covering testifies to the angels that she has voluntarily taken her place in YEHOVAH's order. "Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels" (I Corinthians 11:10).This means she is wearing a symbol of the man's authority and is not trying to usurp his authority. She is to wear the covering when praying or prophesying so that her ministering is not misinterpreted as insubordination. Although she is speaking or taking a leadership role, she is not trying to seize the man's authority. She is still submissive and is covering or protecting herself to indicate that submission. The question naturally arises: "Should a woman cover her head every time she prays?" Basically, yes. Whenever a woman knows she is going to be praying, she should take some sort of covering with her. If she is at home in her prayer closet, she should slip something on her head. If she is going to a prayer meeting or Bible study where she knows she will be praying, she should take a covering with her.
Every woman knows there are unexpected times and unplanned situations in which her heart turns to the LORD and she is moved to prayer. When she is standing at the sink washing dishes, when she is driving down the highway, when she is taking a shower, her heart turns to the LORD and she wants to pray. Should she stifle herself because she doesn't have her head covered? I think the spirit of this dilemma is handled in a passage of scripture concerning circumcision: "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God" (Romans 2:28-29). Also Jeremiah 4:4: "Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart." These passages indicate that the heart attitude concerning circumcision was as important as the physical act. YEHOVAH God wanted men to be circumcised in their hearts as well as in their bodies. This did not mean they were to ignore the literal circumcision -- YEHOVAH commanded them to be circumcised in their bodies -- but He also wanted their hearts to be right.
It is a similar situation with the head covering. YEHOVAH God wants women to have their heads covered in their hearts. This does not mean they ignore the literal head covering. It means they are to have their heads covered both in their hearts and on their bodies. But if a woman is caught in a situation where she did not plan to pray and does not have a head covering, she can appeal to YEHOVAH God that her head is covered in her heart and then go ahead and pray. If a woman's attitude is right and her head is covered in her heart she will want to cover her head as much as possible; she will not use this as an excuse for neglecting the head covering. If she shrugs off the literal head covering and says her head is covered in her heart, this is a good indication that her head is not covered at all. She still has the wrong attitude. Real submission will want to obey.
In connection with the head covering, it is important to remember that our obedience in these matters must spring from a loving and responsive heart. We are not to put ourselves under bondage. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). There is always the danger of becoming legalistic. Instead of demanding that women obey, it is much better to encourage them in love. If there are women who are not submissive or who do not understand the head covering, be patient with them, love them, pray for them, and teach them the scriptural roles. But do not be critical or judgmental. True submission will want to obey, so it is most important that the attitude be set right.
YEHOVAH's Love Brings Unity
When it comes to adornment, dress, and the type of head covering, the basic rule to follow must always be love. Every individual must obey YEHOVAH's commands in these areas, but must not judge others. It is up to each woman to work out these principles in a way that is most suitable for her, under the direction of the holy spirit. She must come to a solution according to her tastes, convictions, lifestyle and budget. If her solution is different from yours, you must respect her decision, love her, and esteem her better than yourself. You cannot be critical of another woman because she dresses differently from you. It is up to her to follow YEHOVAH's guidance and it is up to you to follow YEHOVAH's guidance. Then you must love each other, cooperate with each other, and unite with each other. You are members one of another.
It is a very simple thing to create unity out of conformity. That is the old "birds of a feather flock together" principle. But YEHOVAH God is doing something more wonderful than that. He is creating unity out of diversity. Although the members of His body are different (having different tastes, backgrounds, and personalities), He is giving them a supernatural love for each other that will amaze the world. It is simple to love someone who looks and acts just like you, but it is divine to love someone who is completely different from you, especially if he thinks he is right and you are wrong. That takes grace. But "God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed" (II Corinthians 9:8). This kind of love is a testimony that will shake the world.
The godly woman's adornment is to be, first of all, inward. She is to adorn herself with a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in YEHOVAH's sight. She is also to adorn herself with good works which are the outworking of a beautiful spirit. These qualities will provide such splendor and beauty that outward adornment will scarcely be noticed. They will draw attention to YEHOVAH's spirit indwelling the woman. In addition to this, the outward adornment should be neutralized so as not to attract attention. It should be modest and discreet; it should be in keeping with holiness. The godly woman's primary objective in adorning herself should be to bring glory and honor to YEHOVAH God and the Messiah.
-- Edited by John D. Keyser.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God Here On This Earth!
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