Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, ~~Titus 2:3 (NASB95)
My mom dated a few men after Daddy died, which was definitely understandable. She was only 49 when she began dating — much too young to forget about romance. My sister and I correctly sensed that the first one didn’t like children, which was undoubtedly why we didn’t like him.
But we absolutely adored his mother! At age 75, she had flaming red hair, which she styled in one of the trendy short cuts so popular in 1965. I still remember her leopard print mini skirt and her thigh high brown leather boots. Why couldn’t our own grandmother dress like that? Best of all, she shared our enthusiasm for the Beatles! Mom taught us the word “flamboyant,” using it to describe her. And I so hoped that I would be as flamboyant when I got that old.
That lady amused us. We’d laugh at her obvious attempts to appear young and with it, aware of the incongruity between her age and her demeanor. As much as we delighted in her mini skirts and embrace of our music, something deep down told us that she wasn’t behaving with the dignity befitting an elderly woman.
Now I’m about six years away from 75, and I don’t want to dress like a teenager or have people describe me as flamboyant. Rather, I want to be reverent in my behavior, obeying the instruction that Paul asked Titus to give older women. And while reverence certainly includes dressing appropriately and in keeping with our age, it goes well beyond outward adornment. So let’s begin by defining reverence.
I looked at a number of Greek dictionaries, all of which defined reverence as that which befits holy living. At first glance, you might not think that definition is very enlightening. That frustration happens because our 21st Century culture rarely thinks about reverence, even in Christian circles. For that reason, we expect a more detailed explanation of reverence. How, we wonder, does a Christian woman adopt reverent behavior?
The apostle Peter supplies some practical guidance to women, even without using the word “reverent.” As you read this short passage, notice his movement from a woman’s external appearance to her internal attitude.
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. ~~1 Peter 3:1-6 (NASB95)
Without condemning outward adornment, Peter cautious women against placing all our confidence in how we present ourselves physically. He echoes Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:10 that women should dress modestly and discreetly. And while modesty includes avoiding sexually provocative attire, both Peter and Paul want us to be careful not to draw unnecessary attention to ourselves. I seriously doubt the 75-year-old woman in the leopard print mini skirt incited men to lust after her, but I know for a fact that her flamboyance made her the center of attention! Peter and Paul didn’t want Christian women to dress with the purpose of showing off.
As an aside, let me add that dressing in ways to show off your “modesty” can be just as indiscreet. If the Lord has convicted you to wear headcoverings to a church that doesn’t require headcoverings, for instance, it’s best to choose modest (but fashionable) hats that don’t scream that you’re covering. Such advertising smacks of self-righteousness, becoming just as sinful as scanty clothing.
Reverence is directed toward Christ. It exchanges the goal of flattering ourselves for the desire to please Him and make Him known to those around us. Older women in particular must cultivate reverence since we teach younger women through our example. Therefore we have the duty to model holiness in our words, but also in our appearance and behavior. Having a sense of humor is fine, but building a persona of an outrageously funny clown doesn’t show younger women how to live holy lives. Nor does it respect the Lord.
And isn’t respect for the Lord really the epitome of reverence? We revere Him precisely because we see His holiness in ways that both make us tremble and cause us to take awe in His grace. As our understanding of Him grows and deepens, we find ourselves wanting to respect Him by developing lives of holiness. We fear doing anything that might offend Him or misrepresent Him in front of others. Respect for the Lord motivates us toward reverent behavior.
Quite different from flamboyance, reverence remains quiet and gentle, wanting to direct attention to our Savior. Whether you’re an older woman or a younger one, please aim at reverence.
One thought on “Leopard Print Mini Skirts On 75-Year-Old Women Don’t Exactly Depict Reverence”
As always you hit the nail on the head. Your writing is so easy and good to read. Thanks.
Last Sunday I spoke to an elder in our church about men wearing baseball caps in church and especially when they come on the stage to play music, read a passage or speak about the business of the church. He responded, that he would speak to the mens group, but that women don’t wear head coverings in our church, so he didn’t see a big deal about it, although he didn’t like the hats in church either. I was taken aback by his response to me. I was kind and respectful, just asking a question.
We have a very casual church and us older women, do dress conservatively and not one of us is a show off. But there are a couple of younger mom’s that really need to learn what conservative dress is. We are a doctrinally sound church as far as the leadership and teachings from our pastor, but I feel like the camel has his nose under the side of the tent. And no one wants to address these younger women or the men with hats. This is not easy.