“Do all things for God’s glory.”—1 CORINTHIANS 10:31.
1, 2. Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses have appropriate standards of dress? (See opening picture.)
A DUTCH newspaper described how church leaders were dressed at one of their meetings. It said: “You saw a lot of casual clothing, especially when it was hot.” However, the same newspaper said that this was not how Jehovah’s Witnesses were dressed at their convention. It reported that the boys and men wore jackets and ties and that the girls and women wore skirts that were modest in length, yet modern. Jehovah’s Witnesses are often commended for the way they dress. The apostle Paul said that the clothes Christians wear should show “modesty and good judgment,” which is proper for God’s servants. (1 Timothy 2:9, 10, footnote) Although Paul was speaking about women, the standard is the same for Christian men.
2 Good standards of dress are important to us as Jehovah’s people, and they are important to the God we worship. (Genesis 3:21) The Bible makes it clear that Jehovah, the Sovereign of the universe, has standards for the way he wants his servants to dress. So, what we choose to wear should please not only us but, more important, our Sovereign Lord, Jehovah.
3. What can we learn about clothing from God’s Law to the Israelites?
3 In the Mosaic Law, there were rules that protected the Israelites against the very immoral way of life of the nations around them. The Law showed that Jehovah has strong feelings against clothing that does not show the clear difference between men and women. Today, the style that does not make the difference clear is called unisex fashion. (Read Deuteronomy 22:5.) From the Law, we learn that Jehovah is not pleased with clothing that makes men look like women, that makes women look like men, or that makes it hard to see the difference between men and women.
4. What can help Christians to make good decisions about how to dress?
4 Bible principles can help us to make good decisions about how to dress. These principles apply no matter what country or climate we live in or what our culture is. We do not need a long list of what is acceptable clothing and what is not. We just need to follow Scriptural principles, which still allow us to wear things we like. Let us consider some Bible principles that can help us determine “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” when we are deciding what to wear.—Romans 12:1, 2.
“WE RECOMMEND OURSELVES AS GOD’S MINISTERS”
5, 6. How should our clothing affect others?
5 The apostle Paul was inspired to mention the important principle found at 2 Corinthians 6:4. (Read.) The way we look sends a message to others, and many people will form an opinion about us based on how we look. (1 Samuel 16:7) Because we are God’s servants, we need to do more than just wear what is comfortable or what we like. When we apply Bible principles, it should help us to avoid wearing clothing that is tight-fitting, revealing, or sexy. This means that we would avoid clothing that exposes or highlights private parts of our body. Nobody should feel uncomfortable or forced to look the other way when they see how we are dressed.
When we are neat, clean, and well-groomed and our clothing is modest, people may have more respect for us as servants of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah
6 When we are neat, clean, and well-groomed and our clothing is modest, people may have more respect for us as servants of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. And they may be more interested in the God we worship, have more respect for our organization, and be more likely to listen to our lifesaving message.
7, 8. When especially do we need to wear appropriate clothing?
7 We owe it to our holy God, to our Christian brothers and sisters, and to the people in our territory to dress in a way that honors Jehovah and the message we preach. (Romans 13:8-10) What we wear is especially important when we go to our Christian meetings or when we preach. We should dress in a way that is proper for people who worship God. (1 Timothy 2:10) Of course, some clothing that is appropriate in one place may not be appropriate in another. So no matter where we live, as Jehovah’s Witnesses we should avoid offending others by the way we dress.
8 Read 1 Corinthians 10:31. When we go to assemblies and conventions, our clothing needs to be appropriate and modest. We should not imitate the extreme styles of clothing common in the world. Even before and after the convention program and when we are checking in or out of a hotel, we should make sure that our clothing is not overly casual or sloppy. That way we will be proud to identify ourselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we will feel ready to give a witness at any time.
9, 10. Why should Philippians 2:4 affect what we wear?
9 Read Philippians 2:4. Why should we think about how our clothing affects our Christian brothers and sisters? One reason is that God’s people work hard to follow the advice: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are on the earth as respects sexual immorality, uncleanness, uncontrolled sexual passion.” (Colossians 3:2, 5) Some of our brothers and sisters gave up a sexually immoral life, but they may still be fighting against wrong desires. If we are not careful, the way we dress could make it even more difficult for them to follow the Bible’s counsel and fight against those desires. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) We would not want to make their fight more difficult, would we?
10 When we are with our brothers and sisters, we are safe from people who promote immorality. The way we dress should add to this clean environment, whether we are at a meeting or in a casual setting. Although we have the freedom to choose what to wear, we also have the responsibility to wear clothes that make it easier for others to keep their thoughts, words, and conduct clean in God’s eyes. (1 Peter 1:15, 16) True love “does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests.”—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.
THE RIGHT CLOTHING FOR THE RIGHT TIME AND PLACE
11 When God’s servants have to decide what to wear, they know that “there is a time for every activity and every action.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 17) Different climates, seasons, living conditions, and circumstances may affect what we wear. But Jehovah’s standards are always the same.—Malachi 3:6.
Jehovah’s standards are always the same
12 In warmer weather, it is more challenging to make sure that our clothing is respectable and modest. Our brothers and sisters appreciate it when we do not wear clothes that are so tight or so loose that they are revealing. (Job 31:1) Also, when we are at the beach or at a swimming pool, our swimwear should be modest. (Proverbs 11:2, 20) Even if many in the world wear revealing swimwear, we should be sure that our choice brings honor to our holy God, Jehovah.
13. Why should the counsel found at 1 Corinthians 10:32, 33 affect our choice of clothing?
13 There is another important principle that should affect our choice of clothing. We need to be careful that we do not offend the conscience of others. (Read 1 Corinthians 10:32, 33.) It is our responsibility to avoid clothes that may offend our brothers and sisters as well as those who do not serve Jehovah. The apostle Paul wrote: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Paul added this reason: “For even the Christ did not please himself.” (Romans 15:2, 3) Like Jesus, we should view doing God’s will and helping others as more important than our personal preferences. So we will choose not to wear styles of clothing that we like but that might prevent people from listening to our message.
14. How can parents train their children to glorify God by the way they dress?
14 Christian parents have the responsibility to teach their children to follow Bible principles. This includes making sure that they and their children make God happy by their modest style of dress and grooming. (Proverbs 22:6; 27:11) How can parents train their children to respect our holy God and his standards? Parents should set a good example for their children. And they should lovingly teach their children where and how to find appropriate clothes. Children should not choose clothes just because they like them, but more important, they should choose clothes that honor Jehovah, the God they represent.
USE YOUR FREEDOM WISELY
15. What should help us to make wise choices?
15 The Bible is a practical guide that can help us to make wise choices that will honor God. Even so, what we wear reflects our personal taste. The styles we like and the clothes we can afford may be different from those of others. But our clothes should always be neat, clean, modest, appropriate for the occasion, and acceptable locally.
16. Why is it worth making the effort to be well dressed?
16 It is not always easy to find modest and appropriate clothing. Many stores sell only popular fashions. So it may take more time and effort to find modest skirts, dresses, and blouses or to select suits and trousers that are not too tight. But our brothers and sisters will notice and appreciate our efforts to wear clothing that is attractive and appropriate. And the satisfaction we have of bringing glory to our loving heavenly Father more than makes up for any sacrifices that we may make to dress so as to glorify him.
17. What are some factors that may affect whether a brother wears a beard?
17 Is it appropriate for brothers to wear a beard? The Mosaic Law required men to wear a beard. However, Christians are not under the Mosaic Law or required to follow it. (Leviticus 19:27; 21:5; Galatians 3:24, 25) In some cultures, a neatly trimmed beard may be acceptable and respectable, and it may not at all prevent people from listening to our message. In fact, some appointed brothers have beards. Even so, some brothers might decide not to wear a beard. (1 Corinthians 8:9, 13; 10:32) In other cultures or locations, beards are not the custom and are not considered acceptable for Christian ministers. In fact, having one may prevent a brother from bringing glory to God and from being “irreprehensible.”—1 Timothy 3:2, 7; Romans 15:1-3.
18, 19. How does Micah 6:8 help us?
18 How grateful we are that Jehovah does not give us long lists of what is acceptable dress and grooming and what is not. Instead, he has given us the freedom to make reasonable personal decisions based on Bible principles. So even when we make decisions about our dress and grooming, we can show that we want to be modest as we serve our God.—Micah 6:8.
19 We modestly recognize that Jehovah is pure and holy and that his standards are the best guide for us. If we want to be modest and humble, we will follow his standards in our life. Modesty will also help us to respect the feelings and opinions of others.
20. What effect should our dress and grooming have on others?
20 Our clothing should show very clearly that we are Jehovah’s servants. Jehovah has high standards, and we are happy to follow them. Our brothers and sisters in general are to be commended for their appearance and good conduct, which attract sincere people to the Bible’s lifesaving message and bring glory and joy to Jehovah. When we make wise decisions about what to wear, we will continue to bring glory to the One who clothes himself “with majesty and splendor.”—Psalm 104:1, 2.