As I heard the above words coming from the “leader” of the church, I sat in amazement. Then it all came forcibly down, “..and knoweth not that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-.” (Rev. 3:17)
I had been invited to one of our local churches for the Sabbath. Some new friends whom I had recently met invited me to come worship with them so I took them up on their offer. I was excited to visit one of the churches where I had never been before.
I found it small yet very clean and simple. I arrived early enough to enjoy the bible study. One of the first things I had noticed upon entering was several young women, some as young as 13-14 I suppose, wearing very short mini-skirts. Some with high heels as well. If I didn’t know better I would have thought I was entering a youthful discotheque. This was not good in God’s house. The place where His word said that He calls His “temple”. His holy place.
Keep in mind I was not there to “snoop” around. I was there to worship our Lord and enjoy the fellowship. But when something is right in front of you, we must not shrink back from ignoring it and start whistling a happy tune, looking away as it were. It should genuinely bother us. Remember what we have learned about “sighing and crying” for the abominations in the church?
“The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. ” (Test. for the Church, vol. 5, p.211)
Our prophetess also said –
“While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse
the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honour and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favour of any. Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous.” (Test. for the Church, vol. 5, p.210)
As I have noticed this poor dressing in my own church on occasions, I was hoping to see God-fearing people showing a higher standard and proper reverence in “His house” in this other church. Sadly, what I saw was a real need for better shepherds to lead the flock there.
So I stayed for the rest of the service and had a chance to mingle with some of the members after, as they invited me to their lunch next door. I had been impressed with one of the young men there who had spoken in the Sabbath class. So I handed him one of the business cards I carry showing this blog site. So all was not fruitless I pray.
But as I got home the Lord had impressed upon my heart to say something about this. I had received the church program and noticed that the church leaders phone numbers were listed. So I decided to talk to the main shepherd, the head pastor.
I picked up the phone and gave him a call. After pleasantries I told him how I enjoyed the service for the most part, however, I told him that the Lord had placed upon my heart to let him know that I saw some things that were not right in his church. He responded “and what was that?” Then I spoke about the several young ladies dressed with short mini-skirts and high heels.
He was caught off guard for a moment and there was silence. Then he said, “what other criticism do you have?” At this it was my turn to get caught off guard. I thought quickly and said that there was quite a bit of loud unnecessary talking in the Lord’s sanctuary. “What else?” he said again. At this point I told him “that’s all for now”.
Then he proceeded to say that maybe those were visitors. The rest of the conversation was one of denial. The attitude was one of indifference. Although he did invite me to come back again. Will I see a change? The Spirit of Prophecy gives us many warnings of the wrong attitude.
“The prejudice which has arisen against us because we have reproved the wrongs that God has shown me existed, and the cry that has been raised of harshness and severity, are unjust. God bids us speak, and we will not be silent. If wrongs are apparent among His people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner, and are alike guilty and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God; for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty.
In vision I have been pointed to many instances where the displeasure of God has been incurred by a neglect on the part of His servants to deal with the wrongs and sins existing among them. Those who have excused these wrongs have been thought by the people to be very amiable and lovely in disposition, simply because they shunned to discharge a plain Scriptural duty. The task was not agreeable to their feelings; therefore they avoided it.” (Test. for the Church, vol. 3, p. 265-266)
So we see from the above that we have a duty to speak up. And that in so doing we are letting , first, our ever watching King and Savior, and secondly, our beloved brethren, know that we care for their souls and don’t want them to be cut down in the soon to come church judgment.
Scripture also gives us a clear picture of the end-time cleansing of His house. “In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; finger rings, nose rings,the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; mirrors, fine linen garments, head ornaments, and shawls.
Now it will come about that instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction; Instead of a belt, a rope; Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp; Instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth; And branding instead of beauty” (Isaiah 3:18-24).
This describes the very terrible day known as the “dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5) and the labeling and branding of those who defiantly did not reform in the dress. Now is our time to reform and get our dress in simplicity and compliance with the honor due our King.
“Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority as if the acts had been our own.(Patriarchs and Prophets, p.578)
“There are ever those who will despise the one who dares to reprove sin. But when required, reproof must be given. Paul directs Titus to rebuke a certain class sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. And how shall the reproof be given? Let the apostle answer: “With all long-suffering and doctrine.” The one at fault must be shown that his course is not in harmony with the Word of God. But never should the wrongs of God’s people be passed by indifferently. Those who faithfully discharge their unpleasant duties under a sense of their accountability to God, will receive his blessing.” (Signs of the Times, Sept. 16, 1880)
” God expects us to impart to others the knowledge that He has given us. It is His purpose that divine and human instrumentalities shall unite in the proclamation of the warning message.
So far as his opportunities extend, everyone who has received the light of truth is under the same responsibility as was the prophet of Israel to whom came the word: “Son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” Ezekiel 33:7-9. (Test. for the Church, vol. 9, p.19)
In closing, let us remember that the church is not a country club. It’s the place where the Lord has promised He’d meet us corporately every Sabbath. When we dress carefully and modestly, we show Him holy reverence, for after all we are in the presence of the maker of the universe! So let us not shrink back from doing our God-given duty, when the Spirit leads us, to reach out and warn those who are heading for disaster. This is indeed -true Christian love.
For more specific counsel on dress reform see Ellen White’s chapter on “Simplicity in Dress” in volume 4 of the Testimonies.