(Charles Ebert Orr, Food for the Lambs; or, Helps for Young Christians" 1904)
Even if you could be humble when you buy rich apparel (which I flatly deny) — yet you could not be as beneficent, as plenteous in good works. Therefore every dollar that you needlessly spend on your apparel, is in effect stolen from the poor! For what end do you want these expensive ornaments? To please God? No! — but to please your own desires or to gain the admiration and applause of those who are no wiser than yourself. If so, what you wear — you are in effect tearing from the back of the naked; and the costly and delicate food you eat — you are snatching from the mouth of the hungry. For mercy, for pity, for Christ's sake, for the honor of his gospel — stay your hand! Do not throw this money away. Do not lay out on nothing, yes worse than nothing, on vanities — what may clothe your poor, naked, shivering fellow creatures.
Many years ago, when I was at Oxford, on a cold winter's day, a young maid (one of those we keep at school) called on me. I said, "You seem half starved. Have you nothing to cover you but that thin gown?" She said, "Sir, this is all I have." I put my hand in my pocket — but found no money left, having just paid away all that I had. It struck me, "Will your Master say, 'Well done, good and faithful steward. You have adorned your wall with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold'? O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures, the blood of the poor maid? See your expensive apparel in the same light; your gown, hat, shoes!"
Everything about you which costs more than Christian duty required you to purchase, is the blood of the poor! Oh, be wise for the time to come! Be more merciful; more faithful to God and man; more abundantly clad (like men and women professing godliness) with good works.
It is stark, staring nonsense to say, "Oh, I can afford this or that!" If you have regard to common sense, let that silly word never come into your mouth. No man living can afford to throw away any part of that food or clothing into the sea, which was lodged with him on purpose to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And it is far worse than waste to spend any part of it in mirthful and costly apparel. For this is no less than to turn wholesome food, into deadly poison. It is giving so much money to poison both yourself and others, as far as your example spreads — with pride, vanity, lust, love of the world, and a thousand "foolish and hurtful desires" which tend to "pierce them through with many sorrows." O God, arise and maintain your own cause! Let not men and devils any longer put out our eyes and lead as blindfolded into the pit of destruction.
God demands of his people, that they dress modestly as befits people who profess holiness. The putting on of apparel for mere adornment, and the wearing of costly jewelry, are not consistent with Christian modesty. The lewd art of dressing which is becoming so prevalent among professors of Christ, is an abomination in the sight of God, and a practice which no virtuous man or woman can countenance. If professors would stop and consider the character of women who invent popular fashions of the age, they might well blush with shame at their eager attempts to follow the modern styles of dress invented by the wicked leaders of fashion in London and Paris, whence the latest styles of this country generally emanate.
It is indeed sad to behold the young of today making themselves unfit to fulfill the sacred functions of wife and mother, by the use of the modern corset, as well as laying a foundation for years of misery, dragged out in this life by diseases brought upon them by catering to the creed of millions who worship at the shrine of Fashion. The pride of their hearts, pampered and fed by the foolish practices of the age, blinds them to their obligations to God as a Creator and Savior; and amid the whirl of earthly vanity they hasten to the awful doom that awaits all who fail to obey the gospel of Christ.
The Word of God gives plain directions to Christians as to how they should dress. In olden times God permitted his people to wear some jewelry; that is, there was no law against it; but there came a time when he promised that he would cleanse the hearts of his people from all pride and vanity, and they would find no pleasure in putting on ornamental dress and jewelry, and costly array.
In Isaiah, we have a clear prophecy of the gospel age, and how God was going to have his people dress modestly in accordance with their profession. "The Lord says: Beautiful Zion is haughty: craning her elegant neck, flirting with her eyes, walking with dainty steps, tinkling her ankle bracelets. So the Lord will send scabs on her head; the Lord will make beautiful Zion bald. On that day of judgment, the Lord will strip away everything that makes her beautiful: ornaments, headbands, crescent necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and veils; scarves, ankle bracelets, sashes, perfumes, and charms; rings, jewels, party clothes, gowns, capes, and purses; mirrors, fine linen garments, head ornaments, and shawls. Instead of smelling of sweet perfume — she will stink. She will wear a rope for a sash, and her elegant hair will fall out. She will wear rough burlap instead of rich robes. Shame will replace her beauty." Isaiah 3:16-24
We shall now quote from the New Testament: "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety; not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." 1 Timothy 2:9,10.
"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self — the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight!" 1 Peter 3:1-4.
The wearing of feathers, artificial flowers, frills, flounces, unnecessary tucks and trimmings, is not in harmony with the gospel standard of modest apparel. Queer-shaped hats, such as we see worn by the people who follow the fashions of the world, should be avoided by the saints as they would, every other thing unfitting to a Christian; not fashioning themselves according to their former lusts in their ignorance. "But as he who has called you is holy, so be holy in all manner of conversation." 1 Peter 1:15.
The all-wise God who gave these commands, knows what is for the good of his people, and if we love him, we will obey. When the heart is cleansed from all pride — there will be no difficulty in measuring up to the gospel on the matter of modest apparel. We trust all who read this may realize it is truth.