Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Modesty: Inside and Out

To Christian modesty, it is not enough to be modest, but must appear modest also. For modesty should be so great in measure that it flows out from the mind to the clothes. It should burst out from the conscience to the outward appearance; so that even from the outside it may be seen what is furnishing the inside.

For those delicacies that tend (by their softness and effeminacy) to “unman the manliness” of faith are to be discarded. Otherwise, I doubt if the wrist that has been used to wearing a pretty bracelet will endure wearing handcuffs! I know not whether the leg that has rejoiced in the anklet will permit itself to be squeezed into the leg shackle! I fear the neck, surrounded with pearl and emerald nooses, will give no room to the broadsword!

Wherefore, blessed sisters, let us meditate on hardships, and we shall not feel them. Let us abandon luxuries, and we shall not regret them. Let us stand ready to endure every violence, having nothing which we may fear to leave behind. It is these things which are the bonds which hinder our hope.

Let us cast away earthly ornaments if we desire heavenly. Love not gold; the substance in which are branded all the sins of the people of Israel. You ought to hate what ruined your fathers; what was adored by them who were forsaking God. Even then we find gold is food for the fire.

But Christians always, and now more than ever, pass their times not in gold but in iron: the scarves of martyrdom are now preparing: the angels who are to carry us are now waiting! Do you go forth to meet them already arrayed in the “cosmetics” and “ornaments” of prophets and apostles; drawing your whiteness from simplicity, your ruddy hue from modesty; painting your eyes with bashfulness, and your mouth with silence; implanting [as earrings] in your ears the words of God; fitting on your necks the yoke of Christ?

Submit your head to your husbands, and you will be enough adorned. Busy your hands with spinning; keep your feet at home; and you will “please” better than by arraying yourselves in gold. Clothe yourselves with the silk of uprightness, the fine linen of holiness, the purple of modesty. Thus painted, you will have God as your Lover! ~
by Tertullian (c.160 – c.220 AD)