God to Hosea to Gomer: “Tell her to take off her garish makeup and suggestive clothing and to stop playing the prostitute.” (Hosea 2:2) The American Standard Bible gives a more literal translation which goes as follows, “And let her put away her harlotry from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts.” We tend to know when a girl or woman dresses to seduce. A couple of country songs come to mind. Kenny Rogers had a big hit with “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” One line says, “You painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair. Ruby, are you contemplating going out somewhere?” The singer of the song is a Vietnam vet confined to a wheelchair. Another song was made famous by Reba McEntire. The song was named “Fancy”, about a mom who couldn’t take care of her kids and prepared her young daughter to become a prostitute. One line is “Mama washed and combed and curled my hair and then she painted my eyes and lips, then I stepped into a satin dancin’ dress that had a split on the side clean up to my hip,” Is this what Hosea is describing? The New Living Translation’s word “garish” means brightly colored usually with a negative connotation. Imagine Hosea watching his wife getting “all dolled up” to go out for another night on the town while he was left at home taking care of someone else’s child? “Gomer, don’t take your love to town.”
When I was a teenager miniskirts became more and more common. One summer I served as a youth minister in my home congregation in Georgia. There was a beautiful girl in the youth group who started wearing the new styles which revealed more than I thought she should. The boys were having trouble paying attention in class. I confronted her and asked her to dress more modestly in class. The next thing I knew her mother was visiting me to tell me to mind my own business. The lessons we learn in ministry can be quite challenging. Miniskirts are mild compared to how teens and their moms often dress these days. I am not saying that dressing provocatively means one is inviting sexual advances, I am not saying that the male admirers have no responsibility in keeping a relationship pure. Jesus tells us men not to look at women lustfully. (Matt.5:28) I am saying that the way we dress makes a difference. Styles come and go, but sexual attraction does not.
In the context of 1 Timothy 2:9-10 Paul focuses on more than clothing. He goes after the accessories of gold and pearls too. Do you ever wonder about the word “alluring?” Right in the middle of it is the word “lure.” Fishermen know what a lure is and why it is used. There is usually a hook in a lure. Paul recommends this: “For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.” (1 Tim.2:10) What a difference this would have made in Gomer’s life. What a difference this would have made in Israel’s life. Peter had a similar message: “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) I am not a young youth minister. This might be a good thing. I am sure I would be in conflict often with kids and parents regarding the dress code. What is the point? How one dresses matters.