How important is grooming? Is God concerned about your dress and appearance? Can you be spiritually clean and at the same time be physically unclean? Here is what the Bible says about it.
HAVE you ever been revolted by the appearance or dress of another person? Did you ever see a woman with unusual makeup, hairdo and garish clothing that caused you to almost shrink back in terror? She may have looked like a witch. Have you seen fat women in tight shorts or slacks, revealing every ugly roll and bulge? Sure you have, and you probably couldn't understand why someone would have such poor taste or unconcern for others to appear in public like that! And, you have surely seen a creature in long hair walking down the street. You probably had a hard time making up your mind whether the person was a male or a female, or an "it." Our streets and public places have an increasing number of people on display who are oddballs in appearance. You can see them almost any day. Such sights are unpleasant to the cultured person. Surely these sights are revolting to you, too. Are you concerned about how YOU look? You may easily see the faults in the dress and appearance of others, especially when they are extreme. But, how do you appear to other people? More important, how do you appear before God? Is He concerned? God most certainly does care about how you look. If you are a true Christian you are one of the few lights in this dark world (Mat. 5:14). What kind of a light are you? You are the salt of the earth (verse 13). If there is no salty or distinct flavor, different from the rest of the world, of what value are you to God? What you are, how you conduct yourself, how you appear, are things that determine what kind of a light you are and how "salty" you are. You need to have the mind of God on this subject. His mind is expressed in the Bible, so let's see what He says in the Bible about grooming and dress.
God Gives the Example
When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden He commanded them to dress and keep the garden (Gen. 2:15). Herein is a great principle. What God gives us, we should properly care for. We should not let it grow up to weeds and thistles. It should be kept in good condition, neat and orderly. This includes our property, our homes, as well as our person. It includes how we dress, keep our hair, how clean we are. God has given us a body that is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 3:17). Our bodies are holy property to God. He expects us to take care of that property. Can you imagine God's holy temple as described in Ezekiel 40-47 in a dirty, filthy, unkempt condition? Of course not! When Adam and Eve first decided to make clothing for themselves, they selected materials that could be easily put together. They took large fig leaves and sewed them together (Gen. 3:7). Too many people are like that today! They make only a little effort to properly clothe themselves, and just "throw something together." Or they may use some cast off, worn out, poorly designed or shoddily constructed garment to wear. God does not do things this way. When He made clothing for Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21), He made outer garments of skin and also "clothed" them. He did not make loin clothes out of animal skins like some people think, but He made coats. The outer garments He made for them were of the finest, most durable material available. You ladies would appreciate fine quality mink or suede coats, wouldn't you, but most of you cannot afford such quality.
God Commands Cleanliness
When God established His law with ancient Israel He gave them certain physical laws that regulated their relationship with each other and with the community. Among these laws were regulations concerning cleanliness and sanitation. If a person sinned or became ceremonially unclean, it was necessary to go through a certain ritual which usually included bathing in water. Those laws were intended to teach them obedience. The washings pictured the spiritual cleanness that would later be available through the sacrifice of Christ. The laws relating to these carnal or physical washings are no longer religiously obligatory today as the apostle Paul explained (Heb. 9:10). Yet those people who obeyed the physical laws of cleanliness were different from the Gentiles around them. The Gentiles did not have such laws that caused the people to learn physical cleanliness. Imagine if you will, state laws that commanded people to bathe frequently! This is one of the reasons why the modern Israelitish nations are generally cleaner than the Gentile nations. The parents of those early Israelites surely taught their children to be clean, too. Some of this has been handed down from generation to generation to the present time. God was particularly concerned about His priests. They were commanded more strictly concerning cleanliness than the lay people. It was necessary that they be physically clean when they ministered in the tabernacle or temple. The whole subject of cleanness of person and dress for the priesthood was summed up by Isaiah: "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord" (Isaiah 52:11). When God came down to speak to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai He gave Moses specific instruction about how the people should appear before Him. They were commanded to wash their clothes (Ex. 19:10). Their forefather Jacob also knew that it was important to appear before God with Clem bodies and clean clothes. When he and his family were going to assemble before God, he gave them the following instruction: "Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise and go up to Bethel [which means House of God]; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered mc in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went" (Gen. 35:2-3). God did not permit His ancient people to appear before Him physically dirty with unkempt clothing, with stinking, filthy, fly-ridden bodies, as many Gentile religious people appear before their gods! We know God requires spiritual cleanliness today — but those who really are developing clean, spiritual character will automatically be producing the fruit of physical cleanliness (Rom. 1:20). God is still particular about how His people appear before Him today. But some people have not learned this yet. It is time to put away ignorance, disrespect, and filthiness. God will not permit us to inherit His Kingdom if we have not been spiritually washed and clean as a result of Christ's great sacrifice, and unless we also learn how to appear before Him respectfully, humbly, with appropriate clothing, and CLEAN!
Jesus Christ Is Our Example
In the 16th chapter of Ezekiel you will find a description of how God provided for and cared for ancient Israel. In this simile, Israel is likened to a woman, and Christ the husband. One of the first things He did when He found Israel was to wash her and make her clean (verse 9). Notice how lavish God was with His gifts of clothing and jewelry for His bride. Only the finest clothing and jewels were given. God is no cheapskate, nor is He a tightwad. He is not out of touch with reality. The best is none too good for God. He expects the best from His servants and in turn will pour out blessings which we are not able to contain (Mal. 3:10). God will prosper the faithful servant who obeys Him. It is His desire that we all might prosper and be in health (III John 2). God calls the weak and poor of the world (I Cor. 1:26-31; James 2:5) but He does not expect us to stay that way. He expects us to prosper after we obey Him and change our ways. This will make it possible to improve conditions that are not acceptable to Him. Jesus showed that different occasions require different kinds of clothing. This is shown by His parable of the wedding supper (Mat. 22:1-14). There was an appropriate garment for the occasion and 120 other was acceptable. Regular street dress, work clothes or the like would not do. How would you dress for a wedding? Would you ladies come in your old housedress and you men in old work clothes? Of course not! You dress for the occasion. And yet many people are less concerned about how they appear before God on His Holy Sabbath, than they are at a wedding or funeral. We are more concerned about what people in the world think than we are about what God thinks. The Bible says that white clothing is a symbol of righteousness. Clothing that is really white is clean. The Angels are described in many places in the Bible as appearing in bright and white apparel. They are clothed in righteousness. One example is John 20:12, "And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain." The saints are promised that if they overcome they also will be clothed in white. This clothing will be fine linen, clean and white (Rev. 3:5; 19:8). God will not give His own born sons ill-fitting, worn, or filthy clothing. He does not want His begotten sons to appear that way now.
Are You a Shameful Example?
But some of God's begotten sons are not concerned about culture, proper dress and cleanliness. People have appeared before God at His services in conditions that are shameful. They have come to His annual Holy Days, Bible studies, and church services in all manner of improper clothing. I have seen women wearing hair curlers, children barefoot, people in tattered clothing, dirty clothing, and some with unmatched or clashing colors and other kinds of improper clothing. Men have come with sport shirts and no tie. Some people come with body odor so strong that you can hardly keep your mind on the conversation. Brethren, we should be clean when we appear before Almighty God. We should be wearing appropriate clothing that is cleaned and pressed. I do not mean that we should be overdressed, or try and imitate the very latest fad or fashion. Can't we have balance and propriety in our clothing and dress? If you were going to have a private audience with Queen Elizabeth or President Johnson, how would you dress? Would you wear dirty, unpressed, ill-fitting clothes? Would you men come with sport shirt, no tic, unshined shoes, etc.? Would you ladies wear the same housedress that you had been wearing the rest of the week? Of course not! You would probably take more pains and be more concerned about how you would appear to one of this world's rulers than you now are concerned about how you appear before God! What a shame!
Cleanliness Is Not Expensive
Some have the weak excuse that they are poor. It doesn't cost money to wash your clothes and press them or to mend them. But it does take work! Of course it does cost money to have clothes dry cleaned. After they have been cleaned and worn once you may find it necessary to hand press them before they are worn again. Some people come to church with rattle-trap cars or trucks, ill-fitting and improper clothing, who really appear "run down at the heels." They appear like "oddballs." Yet some of these same people have good incomes. Sometimes they make more money than people who do present a good appearance. The concern and effort made are more important than how much money a person has. People who should have known better have appeared at our college commencement exercises with clothing that should only be worn at casual occasions such as a picnic or family outing. Commencement is a very special type occasion where suits and ties are expected for the men and nice dresses for the women. This is no time to appear in everyday housedresses, or in sports clothing.
God Will Supply What Is Needed
Jesus told us that we should seek His Kingdom first and then He would supply the physical necessities, including clothing. "Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" (Mat. 6:30.) How does God go about clothing as? He no longer makes fine leather or fur garments for us as He did for Adam and Eve. IF we seek God's Kingdom first and are diligent, He will make more readily available to us (by increased income, lower expenses, better "breaks") the materials, or money to buy proper materials or garments. God has made a wealth of fine materials available for clothing. He has made cotton, linen, silk, wool, furs, and synthetics for us to use. We can have inferior, poorly designed, ill-fitting clothing that doesn't take much work to construct. Or we can select better quality pieces, design them well, and as a result have a superior garment. Most people are the products of their environment and the culture they were reared in. They are too lazy or indifferent to improve themselves or their environment or change. We must change! If we are used to shoddy things we should change. If we are used to filth and squalor, we must change — or we never will grow enough to enter God's Kingdom! God is now giving us time to change and grow to be more like Jesus Christ. He had quality clothing (John 19:23). He was neat and orderly in His personal habits (John 20:7). He is the author of order and beauty, not confusion, chaos and filth. If you cannot improve conditions because of low income, take your problem directly to God in fervent heart-rending prayer. Remind God of His promises (such as Mat. 6:30) and your faithfulness in seeking His Kingdom first. If you do, God will hear and answer in remarkable ways. Also, don't hesitate or be ashamed to counsel with God's ministers about this personal problem — at any time. Here are some simple guidelines you should follow at all times and not just on the Sabbath. You should bathe DAILY. Start the day with your clothes clean and pressed. You should wear appropriate clothing for the occasion. Proper work clothes for work, and appropriate dress for each occasion. Your hair should be clean and well groomed. Men are instructed by God to have short hair and women long hair. If you do not know what is appropriate in dress for God's Sabbath, look to the elders and ministers of God's Church and their wives. I am sure that you will find that they generally set a good example to follow. They have been taught at Ambassador College about proper grooming. Mr. Armstrong has instructed the ministers on many occasions about this important subject and sets a very high example for all of us. God's way is to change, to work hard and improve in every way, physically and spiritually. Are you going this way? Are you improving in your grooming? Do you wear proper clothing for each occasion and keep yourself clean? If you are a husband you should try to increase the amount of money or materials you make available to your wife and children. Wives, familiarize yourself with Proverbs 31:19, 21, 22, 24, which shows that a good wife will be supplying appropriate quality clothing for her family. Grow toward the perfect example that Jesus Christ has set for us. The next time you appear before Jesus Christ in His services and in His festivals, show your respect, admiration and love by dressing and preparing properly for the occasion. Be clean, wear your best appropriate clothing, cleaned and pressed. GLORIFY GOD IN YOUR BODY!