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A Little Grace

or
Looking at Appearances
An Essay for Short Discussion
by Eugene Prewitt

Disclaimer: This is not a balanced paper. That is that has done a few hours of study in the Testimonies on
because it is a short paper. It is not possible to be this topic. (i.e. This paper does not work to prove that
balanced and accurate and brief at the same time. Since our clothes should be clean.)
something has to go, I have chosen to let it be balance.
So this paper does not well explain the gospel. It does Disclaimer concluded.
not adequately lift up the cross as the only reason to
dress well. In it I do not take significant pangs to show So what is this paper intending to do? To present ideas
that dress is not to be the big issue in life. Nor do I and thoughts perhaps not yet thought of by the reader.
address the jewelry issue. Yes, you read that correctly. And what is the goal? To bring members of Christ’s
church more into line with dress that would be pleasing
Disclaimer continued: This paper does not pretend to to Him.
exhaust the arguments. Nor does it well represent the
other sides of the issues that it discusses. Nor does it Dangers: It is entirely likely that you already have your
make the important point that pride, selfishness, and a mind made up on this subject. That is dangerous on any
critical spirit are more harmful than poor dress. Which topic at any time. Critical thinking, well done, is to
means that there are people that dress not best and are follow the thoughts of the presenter, refusing to make a
most precious for their sweetness. Nor does the paper conclusion while significant data has not yet been
present itself as the final authority on the issues. Nor evaluated. It is, in the same vein, to rethink conclusions
have I, as the author, tried much to show how dearly and that were made before the data was in.
truly I appreciate many of my fellow-workers who may
not (yet?) see these issues as I. Nor am I as certain that I Critical thinking is ill done when it refuses to consider
am correct on these issues as I am sure that I am right on new data on the basis of a previously-made conclusion.
whether or not we should keep the Ten Commandments. (Disclaimer: This paper is not a balanced presentation
on critical thinking.)
So now maybe you don’t want to read the paper since it
does not say any of the things a good and balanced paper Now the paper is half done and I will get to my point.
on dress ought to say.1 But I am not done with my
disclaimer. God has presented several ideals to His children
regarding dress. Our dress is to be:
Disclaimer continued: This paper is written in a
colloquial style. Every sentence of it excepting that Neat (and in this sense, attractive)
funny sentence just before this one that used the word Clean
“colloquial.” So the grammar should be perfectly Durable
accurate for conversational English. This is intended to Healthy
ease the feelings of tension that tend to fill with hot air Modest (not revealing)
and start rising when the issue of dress is touched. If you Modest (not strange)
do not understand how dress could be a hot issue Feminine or masculine
without discussing jewelry, then you should probably
not read any further. This paper assumes that you think On the last point, there is the familiar verse:2
wearing jewelry is not best or appropriate for Christians
living in the time of the judgment. So this paper is The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth
written for a very few people. If you want to copy or unto a man, neither shall a man put on a
distribute it, please do so only with the disclaimer woman’s garment: for all that do so are
attached. This paper does not offer much evidence or abomination unto the LORD thy God. De. 22:5
proof for ideas that will be readily believed by anyone
And the somewhat less familiar paragraph:3
1
I have written many other papers on such topics as faith,
grace, love, salvation, history, the Testimonies, and such like. If 2
you want a balanced perspective, there are other authors that It is important to read familiar passages very slowly lest the
write better than I that have addressed each of these issues. If Living Word of God become a dead letter.
3
you want to know if I have a balanced perspective, you may It is important to read unfamiliar passages very slowly less the
want to read those papers. Write me at thoughts of the Inspirer be lost in the mixing of what we are
canvassing@canvassing.org for info on how to find them. reading with what we are thinking. Selah.
Look at the statements again. Which of the following
[Some ladies]4 will imitate the opposite sex, propositions is closer in truth to the intention of the
as nearly as possible. They will wear the cap, inspired young lady that wrote the testimonies?
pants, vest, coat, and boots, the last of which is
the most sensible part of the costume. Those 1. “Pants on women” was a bad idea in 1880 because
who adopt and advocate this style of dress, are women at that time almost all wore dresses.
carrying the so-called dress reform to very 2. Women’s Pants were being advocated and this was
objectionable lengths. Confusion will be the offensive to the morals of the times
result. Some who adopt this costume may be 3. There was a movement to have women wear pants
correct in their views in general upon the health as part of a larger plan to have men and women
question, and they could be instrumental in dress more healthfully without regard to keeping a
accomplishing vastly more good if they did not significant distinction between them. This was
carry the matter of dress to such extremes. abominable.
{2SM 477.7}
In this style of dress God's order has been If you answered the last question too quickly, you may
reversed, and his special directions disregarded. have done it by feel rather than by fact. Options one and
Deut. xxii, 5. "The woman shall not wear that two are popular views, but are they really able to be
which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man drawn from the text? There was a prophecy attached to
put on a woman's garment for all that do so are this testimony. There would be a significant increase in
abomination unto the Lord thy God." This style crimes (moral crimes by inference) if there was a change
of dress, God would not have his people adopt. in dress.
It is not modest apparel, and is not at all fitting
for modest, humble females who profess to be Ladies, I write to you for a moment. St. Paul is not alive
Christ's followers. God's prohibitions are lightly to utter a rebuke. But let your heart be broken for the
regarded by all who would advocate the doing persons who have suffered as the victims of incest, rape,
away of the distinction of dress between males and sexual abuse brought on by the breakdown in
and females. The extreme positions taken by distinctions between feminine and masculine dressing.
some dress-reformers upon this subject cripple
their influence. {2SM 477.8} I can not prove it to you, but I will tell you, a lady
God designed there should be a plain dressed modestly and femininely has an atmosphere
distinction between male and female dress, and around her of wholesomeness that represses wickedness
has considered the matter of sufficient in men. The feminine presence reminds them, by way of
importance to give explicit directions in regard contrast, that they are men and not brutes. It awakens in
to it; for the same dress worn by both sexes them a longing for something that their worldy life does
would cause confusion, and great increase of not offer.
crime. St. Paul would utter a rebuke, were he
alive, and should behold females professing So perhaps it can not be argued today that society views
Godliness with this style of dress. pants as “man’s” clothing. If the message of
Deuteronomy 22:5 beckoned us to adhere to accepted
There is an increasing tendency to have norms regarding gender and dress, this would be a more
women in their dress and appearance as near like significant observation. The tendency of society is to
the other sex as possible, and to fashion their diminish the differences. In some circles, the effort is to
dress very much like that of men, but God abolish them. The message of Moses’ admonition is that
pronounces it abomination. "In like manner also, God’s people should stand against these movements.
that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, Can we stand against the movements today and be
with shamefacedness and sobriety." 1 Timothy consistent with ourselves while adopting the changes
2:9. {1T 421.3} those movements brought into society fifty years ago?

WAIT! You aren’t done reading. To a second point:

Dressing similar to the world does not increase our


influence with them at all.
4
The ladies mentioned here were secular reformers that were Many dress like the world, in order to have
courageously working to reverse unhealthy trends of society. an influence over unbelievers; but here they
Other ladies of the time were generally wearing far too much
clothing, were restricting their bodies in horrible ways, and
make a sad mistake. If they would have a true
were gathering “filth” from the streets with their heel-length and saving influence, let them live out their
skirts. These noble reformers, on the other hand, advocated profession, show their faith by their righteous
shorter attire and enough clothing for warmth rather than works, and make the distinction plain between
enough to start a Dorcas society. Some of them thought that the Christian and the worldling. The words, the
men’s pants were more practical and warm than the lady’s dress, the actions, should tell for God. Then a
clothing and began to adopt them. Society as a whole was holy influence will be shed upon all around
unready for this innovation.
them, and even unbelievers will take knowledge The lives and teachings of Christian parents
of them that they have been with Jesus. If any should be in marked contrast with those of
wish to have their influence tell in favor of truth, unbelievers. Worldlings teach their children to
let them live out their profession and thus love display, and to bow to the idol of fashion.
imitate the humble Pattern. {CH 598.1} They sacrifice themselves and their children
upon this altar of Moloch. But Christians who
I saw many traveling in this broad road who profess to be seeking the heavenly Canaan,
had the words written upon them: "Dead to the should obey the instructions of the Bible. We
world. The end of all things is at hand. Be ye urge modern Israel to lay aside their ornaments,
also ready." They looked just like all the vain their jewels of silver and gold and precious
ones around them, except a shade of sadness stones, to put off their costly-apparel, and to
which I noticed upon their countenances. Their seek for the inward adorning, even the ornament
conversation was just like that of the gay, of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight
thoughtless ones around them; but they would of God of great price. Let children be educated,
occasionally point with great satisfaction to the not to become devotees of fashion, but to be
letters on their garments, calling for the others to servants of God. {ST, May 26, 1881 par. 23}
have the same upon theirs. They were in the
broad way, yet they professed to be of the So that is all. We want to win the world. I conclude from
number who were traveling the narrow way. the data above and lots and lots more that if ladies would
Those around them would say: "There is no dress ever so wholesomely that they would be amazed at
distinction between us. We are alike; we dress, the increase in their witnessing effectiveness of men. If
and talk, and act alike." {1T 128.2} they would make a stand that they would not bow at the
idol of fashion, they would take a step that would make
Notice the worldly wisdom in the last sentence. Our it more difficult for the world to say “they dress like us,
dress, though a little issue in our own Christian life, may they can’t be that much different, why change?”
be a salvational issue of huge proportions in the lives of
those who know us. I didn’t address the modesty issue really at all. Maybe I
will after writing another long disclaimer about being a
WAIT! There is something else… man and writing about sensually dressed females.5 That
is an awkward activity. But as a hint in the meantime…
I was in an airplane some years ago reading a magazine. teasing outfits (that almost reveal or make almost
I found an article about Calvin Klein clothing. Before possible to see…) are to most men what a free cigarette
that point I had not really noticed Calvin Klein items. I is to a struggling tobacco addict. Less shear, less tight,
mean, I had seen them, but didn’t think much about more careful, and you would be dressing kindly.
them. The article explained the advertising theme of the Beautiful and sensual, these are not synonyms.
man himself. There was a full-page add that implied
incest, others highlighting child nudity, and the theme of Review: The changes in what society regards as clothing
all the CK advertisements was sex. This theme of the for females and males are arrayed against the plain
company is published widely. One writer indicated that statements of God. The changes have diminished the
you can open any magazine and find an erotic add from distinctions. This is the very movement forbidden by
Klein’s marketing department. Calvin Klein himself has God though Moses in De. 22:5. Changing society may
worked to glamorize homosexuality in his advertising. dictate what “pertains to a woman” but never can dictate
how similar that may rightly be to what pertains to a
Would Jesus wear Calvin Klein? If a trim of blue was to man. In other words, the Jesus-pleasing woman may
be a message to the world that the Jews kept the law, choose her “pertains to a woman” attire from among
what do the letters CK say to the same world? My those items society labels as feminine. But she must let
opinion…Christians should not wear items that are conscience dictate which of those “feminine” articles are
associated with lust. We have a different message to the result of a societal slide towards neutrality. These are
carry to the world. to be avoided for reasons mentioned above and to
boycott the Devil’s cruel trick that is causing so much
And a final item: pain today in solemn immoral crimes.

Our clothing should be constructed for durability and Respond….let me know how you react to this paper.
practicality. It should be well-fitting and warm in cool
weather. Does this require following fashion? Adopting The End
a style of dress that is in keeping with our faith is good
regardless of whether or not the world may wear it. But Appendix Only
fashion is an idol and I am afraid that more people put
money offerings before Molech than would admit to
doing it. 5
One point perhaps must be made. Form fitting jeans and pants
promote evil thinking. And loose jeans and pants look
masculine. It is a lose-lose game that I suggest not playing.
Item: If a hoop skirt turned sideways, revealing 20 on steps to the altar? It wouldn’t be modest to wear
lbs. of flannel coverings is an immodest revealing of the their special clothing there.” That question would
female form, what does that have to say about modesty? be backwards thinking. Forward thinking would
Before you answer, remember that cultured society reason like this, “Neither should they go up on
accepted the flannel viewing as a reasonable necessity steps to the altar since that would be immodest
when ladies were entering and exiting passenger trains. with the clothing that has been proscribed.” The
first question leads logically to situational ethics
Item: I do not mean to say by this paper that pants where what is right is based on what is happening.
are an abomination for women. (Did I just confuse you?)
It is the slackening in the difference between the sexes So now to the ladies in the trees. What should they
that is an abomination and that is defiant of the Bible wear? If indeed ladies should wear only feminine
rule. Indian ladies wear “pants” of sorts that are very clothing, then it may be that they will need to be
distinct from Indian men’s clothing and can be at the creative in regard to tree climbing. Maybe they
same time modest and healthy. The modest Indian could do it only when the boys are away? Or when
female outfit still has its western cultural counterpart in they are wearing pants underneath? I think it has
the most wholesomely feminine unmasculine-like been a long time since I have seen a lady in a tree.
clothing around…dresses. (To get a dead cow on the altar would be a lot
easier if there were only steps leading up to it.
contact me at canvassing@canvassing.org Think about that for a minute or two.) Maybe the
confusion that was prophesied to come from a
Frequently Asked Questions blurring of distinctions between men’s and
women’s clothing has included a confusion on the
Q. What about when a lady is climbing trees? roles that God intended women to fill in the family.
A. Before we get to the question, we need to get to the If there is a tree that must be climbed, and if there
root of the problem that it implies. Let me illustrate are men around, is it possible that they ought to be
with a different proposition and question. the ones to climb it?
Proposition: We should not frequent taverns where
strip-dancing is practiced. Question: But what Q. Is a woman a witch if she wears pants?
about the man who evangelizes in the strip-tease A. This is not a frequently asked question. However, it
taverns? Answer: Oh, that is a hard question. did happen once upon a time that a young female
Reply: Why? Answer: Umm, it confuses my student of mine called her mother and told her that
epistemology6. If a man, according to Inspiration, I said that if a woman wears pants that she is a
is not to frequent such places, then isn’t the witch. In case that rumor has spread, I would like
question a way of changing the source of authority to lay it to rest. I never said that or anything related
from Inspiration to experience? I mean, if God to it. It is a silly proposition at best. But
says “don’t go there” then isn’t the question “what furthermore, I would like to answer the unasked
if I go there?” a type of hardening the heart? question behind it. That question is a FTQ
(frequently thought question). “What do you think
Now the Bible does not forbid ladies climbing about me since you believe a lady should wear
trees. It does place prohibitions on some seemingly dresses and I am a lady that wears pants?”
harmless activities (like eating fruit from a certain
tree that looks like all the rest in the garden) on the If you are reading this, then I probably think very
basis of unforeseen problems. But climbing trees, highly of you. I do not gather from the thought-
if one does it carefully, appears even to me to be a question that you will base your conclusions upon
harmless recreation, and in the case of Zacchaeus, my evaluation. But perhaps it is right that you
even a practical solution to some problems. would inquire whether or not I condemn you for
not conforming to my opinions. I do not. There was
In the same chapter that we first find the Ten a time in my life when I thought the very ideas in
Commandments we find another little verse that this paper were fanatical. I was as truly consecrated
helps us with the principle we are discussing: to Jesus then as now. I was growing in grace and in
the knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Ex 20:26 Neither shalt thou go up by Unless there is some other reason that I cannot, I
steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness will suppose the same about you. I appreciate your
be not discovered thereon. devotion and service, your warmth and efforts. I
trust your judgement and respect your reason. If
The priests were to dress a certain way when you read this prayerfully and conclude that I am
ministering in the sanctuary. Someone might have wrong, I will not be sure that you are wrong in that
asked “But what should they wear when they go up conclusion, however much I may think you are.
6
“my epistemology” means “my idea of how one can find the None of these facts are reason enough to suppress a
truth.” Our source of authority defines our epistemology. Is it word of truth.
scripture? Tradition? Authoritative spokespersons? Reason?
Experience?
Q. What about culottes?7 Love of truth is most certainly a salvational issue.
A. See disclaimers above. This paper is not intended Idolatry of dress, not a rare ailment according to the
to do your thinking for you. Evaluate culottes in Testimonies, is also. It should be a matter of church
the light of the statements. I think they may be discipline.8
perfectly sensible and appropriate. If you think not,
I am not sure you are wrong. If you think that I am But if you love truth above all else and want to make
so obviously right that the question is silly, I am Jesus happy by your dress and demeanor, if you
not sure that you are wrong either. cherish love for your brethren and refuse to fall to
bickering, if you resist bitter thoughts and do what
Q. Is this a salvational issue? ever you can to meet the needs of the dying world,
A. Why do you ask? Let us face a few facts before you are acceptable to God and to all that are His.
answering this directly. There are Bible issues that Even if you are a lady wearing pants. No one can be
are causing a significant amount of controversy (or should want to be) conscience for you.
over theories. What you believe about Zechariah
14, Revelation 4, or about the identification of the But if you asked the question because you do not
daily may make you a target of others that feel want to seriously consider what God has said on the
differently about the same. The last sentence of the topic, quibbles will not avail in the judgement.
following paragraph is particularly helpful in Trusting God enough to believe Him is a salvational
answering the question if we understand the issue.
sentences before it.
Q. What about when I am swimming or riding horses
It is often the case that the customs and climate or climbing mountains or repelling or working in
of a country make a condition of things that the garden?
would not be tolerated in another country. A. See “climbing trees” above. We would not want to
Changes for the better must be made, but it is reason backwards. We should keep the
not best to be abrupt. The truth received into the seventh-day Sabbath. “But what about if I play on
heart sanctifies the receiver. The power of the the NFL?” “Oh, that would never work. Muslims
grace of God will do more for the soul than keep part of Friday. Maybe you should be one of
controversy will do in a lifetime. By the power them instead.” Can you see the fallacy in the
of the truth how many things might be adjusted, question?
and controversies hoary with age find quietude
in the admission of better ways. The great, grand But regarding the working in the garden and
principle, "Peace on earth and good will to riding horses, for most of the last 1,000 years
men," will be far better practised when those ladies did these things a great deal. During that
who believe in Christ are labourers together with time they all wore dresses. During the last sixty
God. Then all the little things which some are years they have spent much less time in the garden
ever harping upon, which are not authoritatively and on the horses. Now they wear pants. Ironic,
settled by the Word of God, will not be isn’t it?
magnified into important matters. – Testimonies
to Southern Africa, pp. 79-80. Q. Why do spiritual people in leadership not believe
this way?
Theories that are not authoritatively settled by the A. Some do. Some do not. Some have been taught,
Word of God should not be magnified into important some have not. But is the question implying some
issues. But even these theories become salvational deviant source of authority? Leaders' thoughts are
issues when controversy over them brings bitterness, like your thoughts. What they do not believe today
dissention, alienation, and thus, a withdrawal of the they may well advocate tomorrow.
Holy Spirit. You might say that it is the bitterness
and dissention that are the salvational issues. Q. I don’t want to. I don’t want to. I don’t want to!
Perhaps you are right. Dress can also become a A. Oh.9
salvational issue under the same circumstances. A
hardening of the heart, a distancing of one’s self
from one’s brethren, will have an impact on one’s
relationship to God.

Dress might also be a salvational issue to those with


whom we associate.

8
7
Culottes—“A dress for each leg.” Or, “A split skirt.” These 4T 647
9
vary a great deal. The fullest of them look like dresses until the This is intended to inspire thought, not to be humorous, and
wearers take large steps. especially not to mock those struggling with conviction.
Q. This isn’t supposed to be a big issue.10 It is a sacrifice their idols, and heed the
mistake to notice people’s dress and then to counsel of the True Witness.—2SG pp.
evaluate their character accordingly.11 Why then 224-226.
did you write this paper?
A. God noticed these things and that is reason Q. Do you realize that I feel hurt and a
enough to notice them. “We, by the law, are dead little angry that you would teach these
to the law.” In other words, when we become things?
obedient, the counsel or command that we are A. I am sorry if you are hurt. I was
obeying ceases to sound in our ears or to burden nervous about writing it just because I
our consciences. Dress is to be a small matter was afraid you might be. I was
indeed. A few hours in a lifetime will suffice to worried that you might become bitter
study the principles and determine a course of and feel that your freedoms were
action that would harmonize with them. The larger being taken away. If what I write is
issues may well absorb thousands of hours of true, then those freedoms were not
study and mediation. really freedoms. If I am wrong, oh! I
do want to know it! I want to know the
But the little issues12 can not be well ignored better way to understand these
while we give proper attention to the larger ones. statements. Believe I am sincere in
For ourselves we know not which issue may this and help me before I lay a
prove to be the largest one as the Holy Spirit needless burden on the backs of many.
probes our lives for idolatry. Teaching it is a burden. But if it is true
(as I believe) then it is a light burden
God leads his people on step by step. He and I am happy to bear it.
brings them up to different points which
are calculated to manifest what is in the Q. So you are saying that there is an
heart. Some endure at one point, but fall eleventh commandment? “Ladies
off at the next. At every advanced point don’t wear pants.”
the heart is tested, and tried a little A. No. There is a second principle. “Love
closer. If the professed people of God your neighbor as yourself.” The
find their hearts opposed to the straight question is not “What may I get away
work of God, it should convince them with?” But “What can I wear that
that they have a work to do to overcome, would be, beyond a doubt, pleasing to
or be spued out of the mouth of the Jesus?” You may answer that for
Lord. Said the angel, "God will bring his yourself. The statements in this paper
work closer and closer to test them, and may help you if help is what you are
prove every one of his people." Some looking for in Inspiration.
are willing to receive one point, but
when God brings them to another testing Q. Didn’t you say this was going to be a
point, they shrink from it and stand short paper?
back, because they find it strikes directly A. Oops. I hope it was a blessing. The
at some cherished idol. Here they have end.
opportunity to see what is in their hearts
that shuts out Jesus. They prize
something higher than the truth, and
their hearts are not prepared to receive
Jesus. Individuals are tested and proved
a length of time to see if they will

10
“Jesus has noticed the care and devotion given to dress, and
has cautioned, yea, commanded, us not to bestow too much
thought upon it. It is important that we give careful heed to His
words. Solomon was so engrossed with thoughts of outward
display that he failed to elevate his mind by a constant
connection with the God of wisdom.” 4T 628. “Satan invented
the fashions in order to keep the minds of women so engrossed
with the subject of dress that they could think of but little else.”
4T 629.
11
See Letter 4, 1861. The recipient of the letter was a lady
whose “burden” was to “notice a person's dress and thus decide
in regard to his character.” 19MR 34.
12
In speaking upon the great subject of health, [I] mentioned
the dress reform as one of the items of least importance which
make up the great whole. RH 10-8-1867