“Marriage is one of the closest ties that can bind any two humans together.”
“Our wedding day turned out to be exactly what we hoped and prayed for – a witness that God may be glorified”
“However, after the wedding ceremony I realize the fruit of the sacrifice I made”
The Bling Compromise
by: Akilah Ballard
For a modest bride, the task of finding a beautiful wedding dress presents an additional challenge with the prevailing fashions of today: the plunging necklines, the unclad limbs, the splits, the see-through fabrics, and the list goes on. I personally could not find everything I desired in one dress, so I was very thrilled when my aunt offered to have my dress made at a fraction of the cost of a regular priced dress. I was very fortunate to be able to customize my dress, having it not only beautiful, but also true to my convictions on modesty. I was equally pleased with the finished look: sleeves, modest boat-neck neckline; beautiful, rich and unembellished lace overlay on bridal satin!
Yet there was still one test. My aunt, who does not share the same convictions as me, suggested I get a little bling, a small broach for the sash, to help enhance the dress. She happily conceded to all my requests thus far, but the dress looked too “plain” in her esteem and needed something to make it look more attractive. Her suggestion was accompanied by one word to induce my compromise: “little”. It would only be a little bling; in other words: nothing over-the-top or gaudy, but simple and elegant. I hesitantly agreed, being comforted by the thought that it would only be a little embellishment.
In hindsight I realize this test of a little transgression was a common thread throughout many aspects of the wedding planning. Satan was tempting us to transgress in even the smallest way. I’m reminded that in this fearful time, right before Christ comes again for the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to carry an even more pointed testimony than John the Baptist. A favorite quote says: “Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times” (1) The emphasis these quotations place is not on being even a little lax concerning principle, but to the contrary Christians would bear an even greater witness for truth than had ever before seen at the end of time. Yea, to the world we would be perceived as odd, singular, and straight-laced extremists.
God mercifully did not leave me to that ill-made decision: a denial of my faith, however small the compromise would have been.There was a little agitation in my mind from time to time, awakening the fact that this broach, small as it may be, is still jewelry. The thought increased until it was finally pressed to the forefront of my mind one morning during devotion. As I paused to meditate, the Holy Spirit began to prick my heart. In self-examination I asked: why would I assent to wearing jewelry? The answer of my heart was shameful, but undeniable: to look better and not “plain” as was previously advised. When principle is compromised the only reason is self; self-interest above the clear teaching of the Word.Again, the Holy Spirit brought a contrast to my mind of my self-denying, unselfish, meek and plain Lord, Jesus Christ, with that of the self-exultant, self-glorifying, prideful character of Satan. The question was posed: who do you want to be like? Whose example do you want to pattern? You Lord, I want to be like you was the answer of my heart.
“Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created… Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty” (Ezekiel 28:13, 17). Arrayed in these precious jewels, Lucifer began to glory in himself, wherein his pride was fostered. His self-exultation lead him to covet God’s position and rightful worship, (Isaiah 14:13, 14).
In our fallen sinful state man no longer fully reflect the Father’s image. We have the same pride that originated with the enemy. As such Christ calls us to not nurture that pride by glorifying self, but rather to starve it by self-abasement: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1Peter 3:3, 4). Let’s take a close look at this text, because it has been quite controversial. One might say surely this text is not literal; am I not to plait my hair or put on clothes? The “plaiting” used here is translated in the Greek as emploke, which is a single word representing the phrase “elaborate braiding of the hair”1.
Here Christ is saying we are not to cause undue attention to ourselves with elaborate hairstyles, but the principle of simplicity is implied. Again, the phrase “putting on” is the translation of the Greek word endusis; which means: investment with clothing. Quality should be sought for yes, but the excessive outlay of means to pet our vanity with expensive clothes should not be done. Since the examples in the text, with its proper understanding are literal, the not wearing of gold mentioned can be understood as literal as well. Furthermore, how can one figuratively not wear gold?
The principle is consistent: to refrain from indulging attraction to self with clothes, hair, or any part of our appearance. Our attraction (or adorning, as used in the text) should be the hidden man. What is the hidden man? A couple character traits follow to explain: a meek and quite spirit. It is God’s character people are to admire of us, because by it we are told souls are won where otherwise our words would have no effect (1 Peter 3:1,2). This is an important teaching that should not be overlooked. Where preaching has no persuasion, our conversation (or in the Greek anastrophe, meaning behavior) is a witness for the conversion of souls. Words people can debate and dispute, but a Godly character places conviction they cannot so easily gainsay. A compromise in any degree is a compromise of our witness.
As God reminded me of all these things, I asked myself how can I go all the way with God, endure persecution and even laying down my life if need be, if I can’t honor Him in even the little things? Yes I would look beautiful to man, but how would I look to God?Would I be pleasing or look beautiful to Him? Disobedience is never beautiful. And with that conclusion I resolved to be bling-free. “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” Psalms 119:10. “I never knew what a Christian bride would look like until two days ago” was one comment shared some days later by one of our wedding guests. Our wedding day turned out to be exactly what we hoped and prayed for – a witness that God may be glorified. After the ceremony family shared they were going home to “do better” as a result of the example presented.
The main features that struck a chord with many people were our faithfulness to God in reserving our first kiss for the marriage altar and our personal vows. However, as evident by one of the comments made, modesty was another aspect that left a lasting impression on minds and hearts.Getting ready amongst my bridesmaids that day presented another opportunity to die to self. As I admired the beauty of some who wore make-up– my face bare save for moisturizer and some natural lip balm – I thought of how my appearance would look so plain in comparison to theirs. It was a self-denying moment as every bride desires to look beautiful on their wedding day.However, after the wedding ceremony I realize the fruit of the sacrifice I made; I was abased and Christ exalted. My lack of embellishment and commitment to modesty allowed His beauty to be seen through me. I was happy to be able to be used by the Lord in such a small, but mighty way!
(1) Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1888), 464