The answer to this question can be very controversial. You will get a wide range of answers depending on who you ask. Even within the Christian community there is quite a spectrum of opinions. We could debate the wearing of shorts, long skirts, makeup, hair length. and a variety of other matters.
Although this could lead to a very interesting discussion, I do not intend to head down that path right now. That’s a big discussion that can be entered into another time. Instead, I’d like to keep it simple and briefly discuss a different type of adornment. I’m referring to the adornment that we read about in 1 Peter chapter three. That’s right. Back to chapter three! :)
Regardless of what decisions we make about what to wear on our bodies, Christian wives have been given a very clear answer as to what is proper adornment for our behavior and spirit. Here are the verses that give us that answer.
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 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. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”
1Pe 3:1-6 (NASB)
I see a number of adornments for Christian wives in these verses. The first are submissiveness and chaste and respectful behavior. They are presented as very powerful as they could have a profound effect on husbands who are disobedient to the word. That’s pretty amazing. The next is something that comes from within our hearts. It is a gentle and quiet spirit. This is quite a list; but unlike a selection of outfits to choose from, we need to endeavor to wear all of these at the same time.
When I think about the external adornments that Peter wrote about – braided hair, gold jewelry, and dresses, the thing that strikes me is that these are all things that can be easily seen. Working off that, I believe the other adornments that he refers to should also be easily seen. I believe that means they should be obvious to our husbands. This bears out in the case of husbands who are disobedient to the word because they are said to “observe” chaste and respectful behavior. I believe we should seek to have them be as obvious as the clothes or jewelry that we wear. How wonderful it would be if our husbands could describe us with these good characteristics as easily as they could describe an outfit that we’ve worn repeatedly.
I know that doing well in this area can be difficult. There are many challenges to adapting and maintaining these characteristics. In my writings I will attempt to address those challenges. I will also attempt to address how we can make these characteristics more visible.
Because of the challenges that come up, I am very grateful that there are things in these verses that provide great encouragement. They help me to adorn myself properly. The first is a glimpse into how God views these thing. Peter writes in verse 4 that the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit is precious in the sight of God. I find it amazing that something that I can do can be considered precious in the sight of God. There is no doubt about it. This would be very pleasing to him. I want to be pleasing to him. (The fact that a gentle and quiet spirit is called imperishable is something I really want to write about later.)
The second encouragement comes from a reference about hope in God. The holy women of old had their hope in God and in that hope were able to live in submission to their own husbands. Being submissive sometimes feels risky as we do not know the outcome. Having our hope in God can give us the right focus to move forward and do the right thing without fear. God is good and trustworthy; and in his strength, I can prayerfully seek to adorn myself properly.