Written by Mrs. Sue Olmstead.
Today we are seeing a progression in increasingly immodest wedding dresses worn by our Christian brides, seemingly with their grooms approval. There is a tremendous temptation to copy the world, especially when it comes to our wedding day. The world mocks at purity, and Proverbs 14:9 says, “Fools make a mock at sin…” the Institution of Marriage is under attack, and so many are failing. We are called to be the “salt of the earth”. Our marriages need to be the world’s salt to help them see the Saviour!
When God brings a couple together and purity marries purity, there are heights of joy that the world knows nothing of. It is a joy without the cloud of guilt or wrong thinking. When Darlene Deibler Rose received the last letter her husband wrote before his death in a Japanese POW camp, she wrote, “Pure love always leaves behind a legacy of undefiled memories without regrets.” Today we have a visual symptom of Christian couples already in trouble. The spiritual wells of their lives are already polluted and the contamination has today we are seeing a progression in increasingly immodest wedding dresses worn by our christian brides, seemingly with their Grooms approval. There is a tremendous temptation to copy the world, especially when it comes to our wedding day. Hearts are being lifted to the heights of wonder at God’s plan for marriage, people are distracted by the sensuality of the scene before them.
This approach on the wedding day firstly and most seriously pollutes the analogy of Christ and the church. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, his Bride – Revelations 19:7-9 “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelations 21:2 “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Secondly, we have a pollution of ceremony and congregation. As the congregation awaits what should be reverent and Christ-honouring, and hearts are being lifted to the heights of wonder at God’s plan for marriage, people are distracted by the sensuality of the scene before them.
I Thessalonians 4:3-7 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not and called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”
Here the Scripture is linking fornication with defrauding. When there is sensuality in the wedding, the Spirit of God is greatly grieved and sober-minded people walk away from the ceremony with a mixture of grief and joy. Why is this happening, and where are we headed? The following article, I pray will give some answers and help.
I. Guidelines to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Dress.
a) The Lordship of Christ. Make your Saviour, Lord of what you wear. Ask yourself the question – Am I prepared to submit my will to his will in the matter of modesty? If he is Lord of every area of your life, then you can submit the modesty area.
b) Prayer. Pray about every aspect of your day, including the dress you will wear. When you pray, what paradigm are you coming from? Is it cyberspace, movies, TV, Hollywood? If your mind is full of Hollywood’s images, when you pray, God cannot hear you. Can you hear God’s still small voice? Do you have a clear unpolluted channel in prayer to your Lord Jesus christ? If your mind is full of polluted imagery, how are you going to pray about your wedding dress?
c) Represent our Saviour’s Righteousness.
d) Beautify holiness. Pray that the Lord would lead you to a wedding dress that would fulfill that prayer.
e) Be a righteous influence in the lives of others, especially your peers.
f) Don’t provoke covetousness. How do we do that? Some girls are gifted with stunning beauty. Others are very homely, or even unattractive. Some have impediments that cause them grief. By making your looks the focus, you can provoke another woman to covet, or be bitter that she wasn’t born with better looks. (Any woman can be beautiful with the Spirit of Christ showing.) Men too can be given to comparison and provoked to covet this bride versus his bride.
II. Clothing and bible Marriages
T he theme that comes through these Bible passages is beauty, purity, holiness and reverence. That is how God views marriage.
a) Adam and Eve were the first couple to be married. When sin entered into their home, they knew they were naked and made themselves “aprons” of fig leaves. When they went into hiding from God and he had to call them, he made “coats of skins and clothed them.” That was because when sin entered into the world, they needed to be covered for physical and moral protection.
b) Isaac and Rebekah – When Isaac received his bride, Rebekah in Genesis 24:65c “…she took a vail, and covered herself.” It is interesting to note that she wasn’t motivated to uncover, but to cover herself out of a reverence for the seriousness of marriage. It appears they were very happy as Isaac was comforted by Rebekah after the death of his mother.
c) Esther and king Ahaseurus – Esther was not depending on outward adornments for her beauty, but rather submitted to the 12 month’s beauty preparation required by the court of the Persian king. She did not request anything, but rather relied on her inner beauty
d) ezekiel 16:8-13 “Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.” these verses give a very interesting series of actions that made the Bride “exceeding beautiful” – washed/cleanliness, anointed/perfume, clothed, shod/footwear, girded, covered/not uncovered, decked/jewellery.
III. History of the wedding
throughout the 1800s brides wore their best suit. My Great Grandmother was in a double wedding, and she and her sister wore identical wedding dresses. My Grandfather’s older half- sister was married in the bedroom of her dying mother, so that her Mum would at least see her daughter married. In the 1800’s, WWI and WWII many brides wore their best suit. over the centuries, royalty wore white as a picture of purity. one of the most famous royal weddings was Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert. her white wedding dress set the pattern for brides in europe and north America. (Queen Victoria had her famous lace wedding dress re-styled for later use.) After WWII increased prosperity made it possible for more and more brides to have a special one-time wear, wedding dress. there have been famous royal Weddings that have influenced brides, like Princess diana’s marriage to Prince charles in 1982. hollywood is greatly influencing Weddings today, from the styles of the whole wedding party, to the program, to the modern vows, to the music.
titus 2:1-3 gives a list of the qualifications of those we go to for counsel. Maybe hollywood doesn’t qualify??!! I lived next door to my cousin and his wife for ten years, and nearby for several more years. It was one of the happiest homes on the face of the earth. Pastor and Mrs Western’s spiritual unity was such that I wanted to be married and have a marriage like theirs. God was first in their lives. they believed the Bible was the living Word and relevant to every area of life today. our wedding day should be one of the happiest days of our lives and it is an important foundation stone for marriage. the perfect dream, magazine style wedding is not a firm foundation. May the lord help us to reverse the downward trend of the sensual wedding.
IV. Modern Culture – Are we under its grip?
a) I have recently done some research on wedding dress fashions. As I looked at all the examples of Bridal gowns and their bare shoulders,figure hugging and low cut dresses, I couldn’t help but feel that Brides are being marketed. Brides are encouraged to show off their figure.
exodus 20:17 “…thou shalt not covet thy neighbour‘s wife,…” that is not a very nice thought that with our wedding dress, on the day we marry the man of our dreams, we may cause our brother to be covetous.
hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” If we decide to look for beauty and not immodesty we will provoke others to love and good works. the facts are that the low neckline, strapless, low back, figure hugging dress all promote the figure, not the inner beauty.
Modesty does not mean ugly. I went to one wedding where the Bride looked like she was dressed in a nun’s habit! her countenance was sweet, but her counsellors had led her to wear what was not beautiful. What we wear on our wedding day, should beautify holiness and be a frame, like a picture frame for the beauty of our inner life.
b) concerning Bridal Attendantswhen putting others first we need to choose what is appropriate dress for our bridesmaids to wear. If it is the middle of summer in a hot climate, we don’t choose winter clothing. conversely, a winter wedding should not cause our bridesmaids to suffer bare arms, low backs (for fashion sake) and have a day of misery in the cold. Some bridesmaids won’t wear the bare look. My niece, esther ramm bought a jacket to wear for one wedding she was in.
c) Another question to raise in today’s Bridal fashions – Will the dress draw the whole day to holiness or will itlook ready for the Bridal Waltz and the sensuality that promotes? the dress should be representative of his righteousness.
d) In the hymn “the Sands of time are Sinking”, the fourth verse goes, “the Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face, I will not gaze at glory, but on my Saviour’s face…” this hymn shows marriage lifted to the noblest heights. here the focus is on the Saviour’s face. today’s weddings focus not on the Groom, but on the figure of the Bride. today’s weddings are more like pageantry. how wonderful to focus on the Groom and the face of the one we are committing to for life.
V. How to go about finding a modest wedding dress.
a) Start with a spirit of thankfulness for the freedom we have to prayerfully choose to say yes or no to marriage. In so many cultures, the marriage depends on the ability of the man’s parents to pay money for the bride. In some places in PnG, the best bride is the one who takes the best beating?!
We are so privileged to live in a country with a christian heritage and know nothing of what it is to be sold to the highest bidder, irrespective of his or her age, without ever having met him.
Pray about the wedding dress as you have prayed about the lord’s leading in your relationship.
b) online – I searched “Modest Wedding dresses” and found a lot that weren’t modest, but some that were. they were very beautiful too. one search was “Moslem Brides”. how sad that a religion that knows nothing of God’s love, does a better job of modesty than thosewho claim to know and serve the Saviour who died in our place.
c) Wedding patterns
I checked at Spotlight all the current dress pattern books, and most had a good pattern that could be made modest.
d) I have visited some Bridal Shops in July 2013. In one shop, there were very few dresses that were not skinny straps, or strapless. those dresses require a low back or backless and lower front. the sales lady said that they do a lot of alterations and it is quite simple to sew a jacket into the dress and make it look like it has not been added. not a few Greek orthodox brides do this. At another shop, there were only two dresses (out of hundreds) that had sleeves. But, of those dresses had such see through sleeves that they didn’t make them more modest. That sales lady said they don’t have modest wedding dresses because that is not what the brides want. You have to choose your shop, that is all.
It is God who ordained the institution of marriage in the Garden of eden - Genesis 2:24 “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” My heart’s prayer is that the lord would raise up some unpolluted couples that would halt the downward trend. May the lord raise up some marriages that are not just “Me” marriages, all about “My” happiness marriages, but ones that are truly God ordained. I pray that these couples would live powerful christian lives that will see souls radically saved and transformed out of the slave market of sin. these are the kind of powerful marriages that by God’s Grace will raise a Godly seed.