Thursday, December 4, 2014

My 1800s-Style Dress Makes Me A Christian

That title sounds so ridiculous... bear with me here.

According to many, many people, your clothing and the way you wear your hair is what you believe. If you're a Christian, you have to be sharply dressed and completely covered at all times. If you're an atheist, you have tattoos all over your arms and wear lots of black. Basically, the clothing worn by men and women in, say, the 1800s was about as chaste and godly as one could get.

Didn't you know that in the Bible it says that if you wear formal clothes all the time, you're a Christian?

Oh wait...

Yeah, that isn't actually in the Bible. Sorry about that.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...
~ John 1:12

"To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name"... they became children of God. There are also numerous passages that say 'you must be born again'.

I could list many verses, but I'm willing to bet that most of my readers have 'what makes a Christian a Christian' verses memorised. If not, feel free to let me know in the comments and I'll provide some verses.

Nothing in the Bible says that what a person wears is what makes them a Christian.

I'm going to post quite a few photographs here now, of myself. They're being put here to make a point, so please bear with it. I don't typically like uploading more than one or two photos of myself in a blog post, but this time, it has a meaning. 

So, I look quite different in all of those photographs, yeah? Sometimes I'm wearing a skirt and a shirt, sometimes I'm wearing black leather and a beanie, sometimes I'm wearing a bandanna on my head and a cross pendant around my neck, sometimes I'm dressed like a pirate.

There is something that these outfits don't change. Do you know what that is?

Who I am on the inside doesn't change because I'm wearing something different. I am a Christian when I'm wearing a skirt and chilling out with Boba Fett. I'm a Christian when I'm masquerading as a pirate. I'm a Christian when I'm dressed all in black. I'm a Christian when I'm dressed as a necktie-and-trench-coat-wearing, blue-eyed angel. 

Why? Because my heart doesn't change when my outfit or my hairstyle does. 

I'm still me, regardless of what I'm wearing. Maybe the clothes I wear give me a boost of confidence, or make me feel less vulnerable. But overall, I am still the same person I was before I donned the fedora and the wrist bandannas.

Several people on Facebook a few weeks ago saw a photograph of two young men who were wearing grungey-looking clothing and had their hair styled into these fabulously crazy mohawks. Someone argued that there was no way they could be Christians, even after two others kept trying to explain to them that these two guys actually went to a church in their town quite often.

Every few days, I see people insisting that a person can't be a Christian because of the way they dress, or that a person must be an atheist because of the way they look.

It doesn't work like that anymore, guys. A modestly-dressed woman in a dress could just as much be an atheist, as the guy with the mohawk and tattoos could be a Christian. 

Stereotypes don't exist anymore. 

Christians are supposed to be sweet, kind, gentle, and loving people who never get in trouble. And yet I know quite a few very ugly-hearted, self-professed 'Christians' who love to cause trouble and hurt others. 

Atheists are supposed to be harsh and closed-minded, and yet I've met some quite well-mannered and often open-minded atheists in my time.

People of the LGBTQ community are made out to be rude, perverted, and disgusting monsters who have no manners. And yet, I have met and am close friends with young men and women who identify as gay or bi, and they are possibly some of the kindest, gentlest, and most polite people I've ever met. (Bonus stereotype - folks in the LGBTQ community are 'unable to be Christians', and yet 95% of the ones I know are, in fact, Christians.)

Stereotypes have been shattered, guys. Things aren't as clean-cut as you want to think. The heart is what matters to God. Not the clothing, not the hair; nothing like that. The tattoos, the mohawks, the leather... it's not what makes the person a Christian. It's their heart and soul that does.

Sometimes I want to chop all my hair off, and dye it in a vivid shade of green, or perhaps lavender, or maybe a mixture of orange and yellow and red. I want to style it into a mohawk, and wear bandannas on my wrists. I want to wear jackets and hats and jewelry of all kinds, and draw people and scrawl quotes onto my arms with ink pens. 

I would still be a Christian.

Sometimes I want to dye my hair in the colours of the rainbow and style it in an intricate braid, and wear a t-shirt proclaiming my stand for human rights boldly on the front.

I would still be a Christian.

Sometimes I want to don a leather jacket and jeans, pack a duffel bag, and run away from home to learn how to ride a motorcycle, and spend evenings riding towards the setting sun. I want to just keep riding and keep running and not stop til I find that elusive place that feels like a haven.

I would still be a Christian.

Sometimes I want to climb onto the rooftops of buildings wearing a pair of angel wings, white jeans, and an Irish sweater, and sit there with the sun against my face, smiling at anyone that walks past encouraging them or complimenting them.

I would still be a Christian.

Sometimes I want to get dressed up in a green-and-gold floor-length dress with a tulle skirt, blare Celtic reels out in the woods, and dance and sing without anyone there to laugh at me.

I would still be a Christian.

None of my hairstyles or outfits or even lifestyle choices can take away from me what God has given me - His love, His grace, and His forgiveness. I could dress in all black grunge-style clothing, get a lip piercing, cover my arms in tattoos, and style my hair into a purple mohawk... and I would still be His daughter. Perhaps I wouldn't be making the best of decisions in my style choices - but I would be breaking no laws and I would not automatically become an atheist.

I am me. Nothing I wear will change that.

And just because someone doesn't dress neatly and by your standards of modesty does not mean they can't be a Christian. Because what matters most is their heart... and even if you claim to be able to, you cannot see a person's heart as well as God can.

God bless,
Theodora Ashcraft

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