It was 190 A.D.
Christianity wasn’t yet two centuries old. The Apostle John, the last of the disciples, had died only 90 years before. And Christianity was in the middle of turning the Roman Empire upside down.
To be fashionable, a Roman woman used many of the same items women of today use. She made up her face in the morning by painting her eyes, putting rouge on her cheeks, dusting powder on her face, applying paint to her lips, attaching false eyelashes, and making up her hair in elaborate fashions. She was even inclined to wear a wig some days or dye her hair.
However, the hair was not to be outdone by the body.
This fashionable Roman lady wore multiple costly jewels, sometimes a ring on every finger. She donned her gown of imported silk that quite often was transparent and clung sensuously to her figure.
Clement of Alexandria was a philosopher who became a Christian during this time period. In his writings, he mentions these women:
“Luxurious clothing that cannot conceal the shape of the body is no covering at all. Such clothing, clinging close to the body, takes the body’s shape and adheres to the flesh. It outlines the woman’s figure, so that the whole shape of her body is visible to spectators, even though they cannot actually see the body itself . . . Such clothing is meant for looking, not for covering.”
It is 2013 A.D.
If you walk down the street today, you will find women in various stages of undress. And ironically, almost 80% of these women claim to be Christians.
There are many debates about what is modest and what is not. Maybe we should simplify it by asking ourselves this question:
“Is it meant for looking or for covering?”
We’ve strayed so far from where Christianity started in many areas. Modesty is one of them. We like to debate it from all angles, placing blame on everyone but ourselves. Maybe it’s time we each accept the responsibility of modesty.
Could we say with confidence that the Early Christian Church would accept us as part of them . . . or would they hide their eyes in shame?
Dressed as we are, could God Almighty say “Well done?”
* Information regarding Clement’s writings and Roman fashion taken from “Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up?” by David Bercot.