The Sword and the Shaving Brush
Towards a Biblical understanding of fashion
by Timothy Bartel
Part V – Solving the Three Problems
While it may be possible to tackle these three contemporary problems individually, I believe that the first problem is the root of the second two. As suggested before, it is because of the difficulty that Christians often have in articulating a robust aesthetic theory that the dual problems of modesty-obsession and fashion-as-propaganda arise. It is when our philosophy of art is underdeveloped or non-existent, that we cease to treat art as art. This should not be surprising, for we have done it with every other art form, from painting to poetry. Yet where may we find a robust aesthetic theory that will not clash with Christian doctrine? Further, where may we find an aesthetic theory that is not only a “Christian alternative” to mainstream theories, but more complete, dynamic, and powerful than any yet articulated by our opponents? We may find it, in a rather surprising plainness, in the scriptures. In Exodus 28, for instance, we discover that God cares for beauty and artistry. The Psalms are full of the characterization of God-as-artist, heaving the heavens above us to tell of His glory, weaving our bodies and lending them His continual strength. Beauty is not only an attribute possessed by God, but also one desired by Him for His creation. This fact alone leaves no room for the Christian to reject the study of aesthetics. It also directs the Christian away from any overly skeptical aesthetics, which would describe beauty as unrecognizable or illusory. Beauty is real, and God cares about it. This is an unavoidable principle of a Biblical aesthetic. This truth should not, however, lead one to believe that the search for or articulation of beauty’s nature will be easy or immediate.