Repairing the Breach

"between God and man ..."

Headcoverings & Modesty

Until I was fifteen I attended [and was confirmed] in the Episcopalian church, where every Sunday I wore some sort of headcovering, usually a hat chosen to compliment the best clothing I had and styled to reflect my age. When I became convinced of the Sabbath and began to attend services in the Radio Church of God, which later became known as the Worldwide Church of God, no women wore head coverings of any kind; therefore, neither did I, but I always felt something was missing. I missed my hat.

Later as a member of the Worldwide Church of God, I watched the leadership wrestle with issues of dress and makeup, with makeup being the foregrounded issue. Women threw out all cosmetics--everything but soap and water. Then as new changes came, they went from being very plain to edging back to normal, to garish, and settling on being somewhat plain as a cultural norm. Women in the church seemed willing to obey Scriptural mandates in this context, understanding the issue of modest apparel and feminine style but not being garish in appearance is an aspect of culture—no hard guidelines for dress and headcoverings can be dictated.

A woman needs to examine the Scriptures for herself and do what her conscience tells her would satisfy them. For some women this will be something that looks like a business suit and hat [The late Lady Diana’s dressmaker suits and matching hats for one example]. For other women this will be something much closer to a modern or modest plain-dressing Quaker. But each must be convinced in her own mind as to why she does it and how she does it. In all cases, modesty is mandated by God, even though the culture itself is not of God.

The Sabbatarian Churches of God have no historical precedent to include or exclude a particular style or pattern; therefore, today’s fellowships will be forming models for future generations.

By Carolyn Smith-Kizer

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Quaker Jane has an excellent site on coming to plain dressing. Her links include several seamstresses and pattern sources.