27 February 2014

Clothing: Vanity or Actually Important?

Sub Tuum.

The Christian faith teaches modest and promotes a path that brings people away from vanity. It's difficult to think about vanity without clothes coming to mind as one way in which vanity, a form of the sin of pride, may manifest itself. People struggle to keep up with the latest fashions and trends. Yet I do not suggest we pay no attention to the clothes we wear. Rather, I say that clothes are important. We spend most of our lives wearing some form of clothing. It is difficult to imagine that something that is so much a part of our lives can be of no importance. And, if it were not important, then there would be no dress codes and no fashion industry, and people would not debate whether certain types of clothes are appropriate. 

I say the people should dress modestly and conservatively, but should also dress well. General Patton found that soldiers who dressed slovenly, even though they were in uniform, performed poorly as soldiers. They didn't look like soldiers, so they didn't act like soldiers. When he changed them from the outside by requiring them to look good, they began to change on the inside. This in turn was reflected by their continued and voluntary good outward appearance. 

Another related good quote by General Patton is that pride in self begins with pride in appearance. Now, this pride is not, or at least should not be, the type that falls in the realm of the sin of pride. Rather it is the type of pride such as pride in a job well done. This type of "pride" necessarily involves a profound humility for the source of one's talents, for it is those God-given talents that were developed by human will to result in the job well done in the first place. 

Put another way, taking appropriate care in one's appearance shows respect for the temple that one has been given, the temporary earthly dwelling-place of one's soul. It also shows respect for those with whom one interacts. (Remember, even in the Bible those who were not properly attired were turned away from the wedding celebration.) Self-respect and respect for others are sorely lacking in today's society.