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Relativism, Immodesty, Evangelism

February 29th, 2008 | 4 min read

By Anodos

The Sword and the Shaving Brush

Towards a Biblical understanding of fashion

by Timothy Bartel

Part IV – Relativism, Modesty, Evangelism

It is here that contemporary Christians bring a unique and needed element into the cultural climate, for we ask that clothes be not just practical, but also moral. The moral issue of modesty, then, becomes the second major problem that Christians face in their considerations of fashion. Such an issue is complicated further by the divorce between practical and aesthetic concerns within the discussion. Both the exposed midriff of the sports-bra and the scooping neckline of the prom dress cause the modest dismay, but for opposite reasons. We worry about the minimalism of the running outfit because it largely ignores the factor of physical attractiveness. We worry about the prom dress because it ignores everything else. This concern for modesty in clothing seems to be a unique contribution of conservative religion to the discussion of fashion; it is, consequently, indispensable. Unfortunately, this concern has acted the tyrant, and dispensed with all other concerns. Modesty, for many Christians, has become the only consideration in matters of dress. Fashion is purchased, worn, and discussed with primary regard for modesty of cut or logo.

A dissatisfaction with modesty as the only concern has led some Christians to reintroduce a bastardized aesthetic to the fashion they design, and the problem of Christian branding is born. The genuine desire of the contemporary Christian to evangelize is, for better or worse, applied to the Christian’s fashion concerns. A crew neck t-shirt is both modest and practical, but a crew neck t-shirt branded with a Bible verse or religious slogan is modest, practical, and evangelical. It seems to present Christ to the world through the medium of fashion. While sometimes both commendable and appropriate, this mentality does not actually “preach with fashion.” What is does is reinterpret fashion as a frame for verbal or visual communication and aesthetic activity, rather than seeing fashion as the actual medium of communication and aesthetic activity. Such a reinterpretation threatens the very existence of fashion as an art form. It sacrifices clothing on the altar of evangelism.

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