Monday, October 13, 2008

Stylishly Religious, or Religiously Stylish?

In response to an editorial, critiquing women who dress more modestly, including wearing a head covering, only for special occasions, especially religious Holy days. The article appeared in the Jakarta times, but is no longer available on line.

Women who dress modestly and reverently, covering their head and private parts, are abiding by a higher spiritual code than a list of rules. But it is the list of rules in any culture which is just that: cultural. When it becomes a list of do this/don't do that, then those who follow the strict "letter of the law" will mix head coverings with immodest or flashy styles, because, to them, they're still following the basic rules. All it says it pull your headcovering over your chest, right? But this is true with all religious backgrounds - Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu (and probably more). When men and women don't understand the reason behind the rules, the're not going to dress or act as if they understand the purpose (of course), and merely do the least they can get away with, otherwise trying to blend in with the world. I have heard the other rules that are listed here for women's clothing, such as no accessories, makeup, or showing curves. Are these actually commands, or are they culturally adapted rules given for people who don't understand the reasoning behind dressing modestly (and therefore need a list, because they can't figure it out on their own)? Modest and reverent apparel can be fashionable, I think, when the heart is right, and not just trying to "get away with" something. If you want more women to dress reverently and respectfully, then they need more explanation than just a list of do's and don'ts - teach them the "spirit of the law". If all you want is for them to follow a list, then you're going to have to make a very long and extensive list. But that list cannot be found in any of the Books. Only the Spirit.
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