Not this world's standards

There is a micro and a macro side to 1 Timothy 2:9-10. Paul has laid out the micro aspect quite explicitly, but we have to dig deeper for the macro principles.

The Maria Clara: Filipino simplicity and modesty are
captured by our national costume for women.
How should women present themselves in public? The conservative context of the Philippines agrees to some degree to what Paul recommends. Ladies must "dress modestly, with decency and propriety." As much as possible, women must be simple in their accessories, hairstyle and clothing.

The traditional "Maria Clara" outfit comes to my mind considering these standards. Our national costume for women promotes simplicity and decency with the long skirt that reaches to the ankles, a blouse that does not emphasize the body's contour and sleeves that hide the elbows.

We read about Paul's recommendation for clothing, but he does not answer the "why" part. Is he concerned with fashion? I doubt it. The key is in v. 10.

9I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
He does not only enumerate what must not be worn by women, Paul also recommends what must be worn-- good works.

But how can women wear good deeds? Now we begin to see that Paul is concerned about something else, more than fashion. He is in effect saying,

When you go out in public, do not display extravagance in clothing and accessory. Instead, display your good deeds, evidences of your changed lives in Christ.

Paul calls women to be set apart. He calls them to shun the ways of their time and culture because such ways belie the regeneration and change promised by the cross. The primary concern is God. When His people speak of Him, preach Him and share Him but have not Him in their lives and conduct, God is blasphemed.

If we zoom out, there is a continuing call to live out Christianity for the glory of God. Secondary is to live out Christianity for unbelievers to see His workings in the lives of people with the hope that they be moved to believe that God is alive and He can transform lives.

Paul used the way women presented themselves in public as illustration. But because God is always the center of a Christian's life, we look beyond the externalities and analyze why we should do what the Bible says.

The best verse to sum up this passage is Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
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