Modest Brides, Modest Women, The Best of Hospitality

I don’t think we can expect young women (and some older ones) to suddenly decide that they are modest after all, just because they are getting married. “Raise them up in the way that they should go.”  And if we, their elders, have not given them much of an example (and I shake my head when I think of my past) then why do we demand it now? So, physician, heal thyself!

To me it is more than a matter of physical modesty; an expensive stylish outfit that shows no leg below the knee or doesn’t accentuate the bosom, paired with gold jewelry, a flattering haircut and a bit of colour to hide the grey, is still not saying to the world that a Christian woman is standing before them. Of course, the Plainest of Plain dresses, the severest of headcovering, and a sharp temper with a rough tongue doesn’t either. Modest, simple, headcovering dress and a meek temperment tell the world that thee is a Christian!

I know many will disagree with that, that they don’t think headcovering is required, that it is oppressive and outdated. I say it is back in date, even if it dropped out for a while. The world needs the Christian witness more than ever, and if we do not make that witness, if we are not living martyrs to the ways of the world, then we are not listening to what the world needs, which is the Way of Christ. We are called to be prophets of a different sort, living out our faith by example rather than words.

Nor is it enough to marry in a modest dress, live modestly and covered, and never give of our hearts. Marriage is more than the binding of two into one and the establishment of a household. It is also living out the mission of the little family church that you have become. Marriage is a mission to the world. It is a way to show how God loves us, how Jesus saves us. It is a place of extravagant hospitality in the humblest of settings.

This does not mean that the wedding reception has to be an extravagant waste of money and resources, the most expensive of everything in order to impress one’s friends. The party can be quite modest in budget, and simple in taste, while providing the guests with a wonderful time of food and fellowship.  It can be as simple as cheese, fruit and lemonade, a barbecue of burgers and sausage and salads, or a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and juice. The wedding cake should be good cake, and if it is homemade, all the better, without the over-the-top decorations of the expensive cakes we see on television. (Not that I don’t love seeing the artistic creations, but what used to be ordered only on the corporate level for huge business parties is now expected at little suburban weddings.)

That’s the beginning of family hospitality. I don’t believe in head tables, special wines for the wedding party, or the horrid habit of numbering the tables for the buffet line. Have two buffets set up or have waiters, or keep the meal so simple that there is not a backup at the buffet. The food should be well-prepared, and most multi-item buffets just don’t meet that standard. It used to be a custom in some places for the wedding attendants or the bride’s family to serve the tables, and special aprons were made by the bride for that purpose.

And that’s just the beginning. Christian hospitality is not about entertaining friends and family every Sunday, though.  It goes well beyond that. The new family – this little church – has a mission in the world, to serve the hungry, provide for the needy, to reach out and love as Christ has loved us.  Activity in outreach, the food bank, the soup kitchen, the homeless shelter, or raising money for and even serving in mission beyond our own walls is part of the Christian family life. We will have no trouble practicing modesty if that is the mission we fulfill, because we will have little time for mirror gazing and contemplation of our own desires.


14 thoughts on “Modest Brides, Modest Women, The Best of Hospitality

  1. I have always thought of these great wedding parties as not for me, for a few reasons. First I think its a waste of money. I cannot imagine spending 10s of thousands of dollars or 10 thousand, or 5 thousand, etc on a wedding. I can only think of all the things I could do with that money that would contribute to a good start in a marriage – settling debt, for example. Secondly I find it a complete invasion of privacy. Just my opinion of course, but I’ve always joked with my friends that in that situation I’d marry on the weekend, tell thee on Monday and maybe have a barbecue. Thirdly, such spectacle is far too much pressure on a relationship that is going to require all your attention and determination as the years pass. I think the spectacle is a set up for failure in a sense. Just my opinion as an unmarried, and not potentially marrying person.

    • Yes, i agree completely – I’m defintiely the ‘got married this weekend, hey, come over for pot roast!’ kind of gal myself. besides, if you haven’t been queen for years, it’s hard to learn how to be queen for just one day, and many couples end up ruining “their special day” for themselves. As for the expense! It’s more than enough to start a fund for the down payment on a house.

  2. I respect the whole “Christian witness” perspective, but as someone who lives and works daily in the secular world, to most people I encounter the physical appearance you describe would not be perceived as a good Christian example, but instead would be perceived as odd, weird, and if by chance associated with Christianity, requiring far too much change than most people would want to attempt.

    • I live and work in the secular world. I’m not in a monastery somewhere in the mountains! I like people to ask why I am dressed the way I am, and I tell them. I don’t really care how I am perceived by the world, as long as God sees my heart. I do what I do as a discipline, a witness and a sacrifice. Christianity DOES require “far too much change” for the world, which is why we are called out of the world to live in Christ. Still, we need to move in that world and dressing as an identifiable Christian means we take the Kingdom of God with us – we have the “protection” of the church on our heads.

      • I’m really glad you are happy living in the manner you do, but for the people I know, dressing as an “identifiable Christian” in the manner you describe is pretty off-putting. As in “If that’s how Christians dress, I don’t want to be one (and I don’t want to be looked down on for not dressing that way).”

        It happens with other requirements too: I was raised Southern Baptist and part of the rationale for not drinking is that it was a “bad witness”. But as I got older and talked to more non-Baptists, I realized that it really only made people on the outside think we were stuffy, boring, and judgmental – and for sure they did not want to be one of “us”.

        I absolutely do think God requires a lot of us, much more than we can ever anticipate to imagine, but I don’t agree so strongly that what’s on my skin or not is truly indicative of what’s in my heart.

  3. As I told you, Jack and I ran off to Oklahoma to get married. Then a couple weeks later we had friends and Jack’s mom over for a little celebration with snacks, punch and good conversation. I am so happy we did. You know Jack and I heard the other day that many wedding cakes for 150 people cost around 1500 dollars. That, to me, is a waste of money! We attended a very expensive wedding not long after we ourselves were married and that wedding lasted less than a year. Or you see people go horribly in debt for a wedding and be paying for it for many years. Not the way I would want to do it. I am a simple gal, with simple tastes.

  4. My wedding wasn’t what I wanted, but I try to put my energies into being a modest wife! Though, Magdalena, I had to cut my hair off. I tried to just take it up to my neck and have smaller, lighter buns and ponytails…the headaches are just getting to much. I may need to see a doctor. I wrote about it on my blog.

    • Yes, I think you need to find out why you are getting headaches. It may just be eyestrain, or it may be that your whole system is run down. It’s the place to start. Are you doing any strength training? It may just be weak neck and shoulder muscles.

      • I didn’t think of it being weak muscles. I’ve had pretty bad headaches since I was a freshman in college. They have become progressively worse as I’ve gotten older.

      • I had wicked headaches as an undergrad. I think now that it was overwork. I have learned to slow things down now, but it was impossible in univeristy.

  5. As a Christian who covers and has over time journeyed organically and gradually towards Plainness, I have received no perceivably negative feedback for the way in which I move through the world around me. Though I am not quite ‘Austere Plain’, I’ve found my niche, as it were. I’ve found what some would term ‘Identifiable Christian Dress’ to be an unexpectedly useful witnessing tool. Living in a high Muslim populated area, there is an unspoken bond; they understand, and for many Muslim sisters, to know that Christianity and current Western Mores are not joined at the hip has allowed, and continues to allow for meaningful dialogue, disolving commonly held misconceptions and opening pathways of mutual respect (though my current surrounding demographic is by no means the prime motivator behind my attire). Whether on campus (as a mature age student just shy of 40, studying theology at a Catholic university), going about my business in my local area, visiting with family or holidaying in the country with my husband, folk happily come up and talk. I’ve had questions, but never criticism of my semi-plainness, and people are generally genuinely open to learning, and put at ease when their own false assumptions are put to bed. I am finding that, increasingly, a smile, friendly disposition, not to mention Aaron (Magdalena, a guide dog breaks all manner of ice) quickly dispells any fear that the way I present myself is the template that others are to follow to the nearest stitch and seam. Within a few simple guidelines that are workable transculturally, from the tropics to the Arctic Circle, Modesty and headcovering form a broad church indeed, so to speak. Some will be drawn to the ‘Austere Plain’ path, others’ plainness will be slightly different, and still others will embrace modesty and covering that is not wantonly luxurious or slavishly wed to ‘fashion’ (which, in itself is just the means by which the multi-national clothing giants turn a buck each year)

    An additional element to bear in mind is that of sacramentality. Most of Christendom has forgotten the notion of following a discipline or engaging in a sacramental act/behaviour/rule of life as part of one’s faith. Over the past 50 years or so, faith has been reduced (particularly the Christian faith) to ‘an activity carried out in secret, behind closed doors, between conscenting parties’. the notion that such faith may be manifest in the outward, physical life of the individual has become an alien concept to most, attracting comments ranging from legalism, to puritanical behaviour, to judgementalism, exhibitionism, possessing an ‘holier than thou’ attitude and many more. When it is borne in mind that at its heart, a sacriment (sacremental behaviour in this instance) is the outward manifestation of an inward reality, such charges become rather misguided and impotent. Some use Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew regarding fasting (and not letting it show) to indicate that ‘modesty and covering’ in this case, is contrary to Jesus’ teachings as it causes one to ‘stand out’ from the rather skyclad crowd around us. This is a misunderstanding of jesus’ directive to His disciples. Furthermore, others consider the Biblical exhortation that calls Christians to be light and salt to the world around us to call for comformity. However, if we do not make a noticeable and impactful difference, how can we be savour to the surounding culture? if we are identical, we are not savouring – and we all know Jesus’ follow-up comments, both as salt, and as a light hidden beneath a basket, bowl, under the bed (depending upon one’s translation)… Christianity is an all-of-life faith. It transforms, it ‘separates in clear sight’, it offers an alternative to the madness around us and, at the heart of its foundational tennants, preserves, protects and upholds the dignity and respect of the human being, created in God’s image, not as a figure for public display and visual consumption (among many, many other things that are distructive within our post modern society).

    Read Frances Fischer’s article over at along with the numerous articles written by the ‘Quaker Ranter’; This is pertinent to men as equally as it is to women.

    We are the only bible many will ever read, so, it makes sense to follow the various Biblical injunctions regarding attire and comportment; thus offering an alternative to the dissatisfactory norm about us that ‘fears neither God nor man’.

    Just a few thoughts,



    • I could probably write a whole post on the phrase, “Get used to me, I ain’t gettin’ used to nobody.” I stole it from James Cone, I believe, an American liberation theologian. Translated, it means that what I am, I am, and I am not changing under cultural pressure. Without this attitude, our cutting edge theology gets dulled by the world. Don’t accommodate! I believe that being Christian means renouncing “the world, the flesh and the devil,” as our old baptismal rite puts it, and the world is not going to dictate to me.

  6. Preach it, Sister!!

    Anything else is, at the end of the day, a mad dash hurtling to the lowest common denominator, and nothing more…what a few far more strident than I within my theology class term ‘circus church’ (and by extension, circus Christianity. Yes, Christ IS liberation – liberation from a fickle pointless post-modern culture ( from the word ‘cultis’ {magdalena, please feel free to correct lousy spelling], meaning, ‘religion” – Culture devoid of faith-based moorings will eventually devolve into anarchy), for His purposes for and with a starving, crushed, hurting people trapped within it.



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