I didn’t watch the 2013 BET Awards show this year, but I read the comments about the show on my Facebook newsfeed. When I saw several comments about actress Meagan Good’s dress—how inappropriate it was for her, a preacher’s wife to wear—I decided to check it out. My Facebook friend Michelle Johnson, a pastor’s wife, even blogged about it (Black & Married with Kids).
I appreciate Michelle’s take on the matter, which was not judgmental in tone. Instead she suggested that one day, as most women do, Meagan will probably look back one day and think, “What was I thinking?” I’ve had those moments—mostly bad fashion. But, I can also recall a time when my outfit reflected my spiritual immaturity.
I attended Howard University, a Historically Black College/University (HBCU). At Howard, a student would not feel out of place if she were to throw on jeans and a sweatshirt or looked like she stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine. The summer after my sophomore year, I was sharing pictures from the year with my family in Kansas City. To my mother and aunt’s horror, they stumbled across a picture of me with a black double-breasted jacket and a pair of long flowing pants. That was not the problem. The problem was what was under the jacket which nothing but a black tube bra. I would venture to say that I was and still am fashionable, but conservative. So, this outfit was a major step outside of my box. But, I knew I was cute—so, I thought. I was feeling confident that I had found my fashion sense. I simply could not understand what the big fuss what about. I even was so bold to wear the black tube bra with a black vest (which of course showed even more skin) and shorts to class one day! Ridiculous now that I think about it 20 years later. What made me do it? I don’t know. Male attention? Maybe. Finding my own sense of fashion? Possibly. Immature? Most definitely.
I accepted Christ at 13-years old. Twenty years ago when I wore that outfit, I was a professed Christian. What did that outfit say about my Christian witness? What strikes me about the comments about Meagan Good are that the focus was that she is a preacher’s wife, which says to me, if she were not, fewer people would have an issue with the dress. We have a different standard for preachers, pastors and wives than for other Christians, which to some extent we should. However, that doesn’t let the rest of us off the hook in being ambassadors for Christ. I am a pastor’s wife. I am fashion savvy. I enjoy getting regular manicures and pedicures. I wear make-up and love jewelry. By no means am I saying writing essay Christians should not be fashionable or engage in whatever other beautification enhancements they enjoy. However, when our style of dress becomes a distraction, we have fallen short of glorifying God.
Instead of compartmentalizing our faith, we must act in a way that demonstrates that Christian living reflects every aspect of our lives, and yes, that does include our dress. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 6:3 “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” Whether our stage is big or small, preacher, pastor, pastor’s wife or lay person, we all have a ministry and others are watching.