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Question 104

Q: I was raised in a religious home, but I wasn’t saved until 1979.

The people who led me to the Lord were “Old Fashioned Pilgrim Holiness”—a very conservative denomination. My husband, who had a very rough life, was saved in the same church. He became a pastor among this group, serving for 18 years. We sent our seven daughters to a similar old-fashioned academy where long sleeves, long skirts, and very long hair are a must.

Now I’m crying as I write to you. My daughters and I are very modest, but I let them wear baggie shorts and pants for gym in the public school, and we don’t always follow our denomination’s dress code. Though my husband is okay with this, the Pilgrims say I’m backslidden and lost.

I don’t believe “once saved always saved.” I do believe we can miss it.

My conscience bothers me when these people visit. Am I worldly to want to look pretty with simplicity? Why can’t I let this dress issue go? Why do I worry about what they think? Am I condemned? Am I not walking in the light? Am I really lost? The enemy has used this on me for years. I don’t want to miss heaven for trying to look nice.

Asked by: Teresa, Indiana

A: Teresa, thank you so much for writing to me, because I think that I can help you and shed some light on this difficult situation.

You know these dear people who pressure you to conform to their standards? They’re putting the emphasis in the wrong place. Of course, women should be modest, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about some very legalistic restrictions, and because you had some exposure to them throughout the years, your conscience actually has been tuned on their wavelength, and I think, wrongly so. You know, I believe that even in the Old Testament where the Bible says that women should not wear the dress of a man, I think that has much more to do with cross-dressing than it does with the question of whether or not it’s appropriate for a woman to wear a pantsuit.

It’s not wrong for a woman to want to look beautiful. She should not look sensual, most assuredly, but the Bible praises beauty. You need to be delivered from the harsh legalism of these people. You know, I was in some of the countries of the old Soviet Union where there is so much legalism that some women are told they shouldn’t brush their teeth because if they did, they might appear attractive. How far are you going to take this?

Also, by the way, I do have a disagreement with you. I don’t think that you can lose your salvation. These dear people would love to hold you in their bondage using that and by this emphasis on outer dress and the codes they say that you must follow. But I’m very optimistic, because you say in your letter that your husband tells you to mind God and not mind these people, that’s wonderful.

I think what you should do is to simply say that you are under the authority of your husband and not under the authority of these people of these churches that want to impose this on you. Meanwhile, can I suggest that you attend a different church? A church that puts the emphasis on the right place, rather than these legalistic technicalities. Be delivered, my sister, from the false condemnation that you feel because of some wrong teaching.

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