Last updated on October 9, 2020
According to biblical definitions, what is vanity? Is it sinful to have an interest in being fashionable? Is being concerned with one’s appearance sinful in nature?
Vanity is something that is useless. The classic illustration is standing outside and blowing into the wind to change its course of direction. It would be a waste of effort.
It is not wrong to want to look good, but it can be used against you. It can become a matter of pride, where you think you are better than others if you dress better. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain” (Proverbs 31:30) — meaning that handsomeness and fashions have no real value since they don’t last and don’t reflect who you are as a person. Putting a lot of effort and money into fashions is not where your focus ought to be.
When discussing clothing, Paul stated, “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” (I Timothy 2:9-10). Even though it was directed toward women, it can equally be applied to men. Three words are used to describe proper attire:
- komois (translated as “modest” in this verse) refers to something that is orderly, of good behavior, or respectable.
- aidos (translated as “propriety” in this verse) means with a sense of shame or bashfulness, or even a sense of reverence.
- sophrosune (translated as “moderation” in this verse) means with sobriety, showing a soundness of mind, good sense, self-restraint, or with moderation.
In considering these terms, we realize that Christians are not to be fashion trendsetters, especially in the realm of pushing the limits as to what society finds acceptable. We must remember that Christians represent God to the community. If the community finds fault in our attire, it will interfere with our ability to spread the gospel message. Our duty to teach the world about Christ is far more important than demanding rights to dress in outlandish ways. If a Christian is notice is should be because of who he is and not because of what he wears.
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