One of the biggest political arguments in the world today is about Muslim women and what they wear. Some countries, mainly in Europe and Africa, have banned or restricted Islamic female clothing. In Canada, the province of Quebec has introduced a law with some restrictions.
There are many variations, but in general, women in conservative Muslim societies cover up, and I don’t think this is voluntary. It’s part of a religious lifestyle.
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This is not a big issue where I live, I think because we have cold winters and everyone covers up. Also, we have large numbers of Hutterites, German Christians who live on farming colonies, and Hutterite women wear long dresses and cover their heads. Now, large numbers of conservative Mennonites, similar to the Hutterites and with similar clothing styles, are moving into our country districts.
Also, I live near an Ethiopian church and the older women often walk in my neighborhood in traditional clothes, and they might be confused with Muslims. In my church, I have often seen the same styles on older Christian women from South India.
A few years ago, we were traveling in Arizona, and we went to a United Pentecostal church in Tucson. I remember the building had huge windows behind the preacher, and during the service we had an amazing view of a desert mountain range. I also remember that everyone wore formal clothes, except for us. The men wore suits and ties, in the Arizona heat, and the women wore long skirts and long sleeves. And many of the members were Latins, from Mexico or Central America and I don’t think those people dress like that, outside of that church. I remember blue jeans everywhere in Mexico
That’s a long way of saying that I am used to women covering up because of conservative religion. Most of the restrictions on religious clothes are in secular places where religion is not important anymore, like France and Norway. Secular people are uncomfortable with “in-your-face” religion that controls how people live. I grew up in a strict Christian family, and these things don’t surprise me or bother me much.
But when I was young, I made a decision to follow Jesus. I became a Christian by my choice, and not because I wanted to follow my family traditions. That has made me different from some of my religious relatives and friends, and some of them are no longer in my life. The decision to follow Jesus cost me something.
My decision to follow Jesus also gave me some benefits. When I see religious people and all their restrictions, I am so happy to be free in Jesus. I can live any way I want, and change my mind any time, except for choices are are immoral and bad for other people. That leaves a lot of possibilities.
You never want to see me dance, but sometimes I feel like it, with all this freedom, in a world where so many others are prisoners.
So, what is the best lifestyle for a Christian, and what should we wear? I believe God does not care. Our Father in Heaven is focused on the inside of me, and you. The outside is variable.
A few years ago, I lost my important job and career, so for a while I drove a bus, and I was surprised when that disaster became one of the happiest times in my life. Over time, my menial new job led to other jobs where I am now, and where I could use my skill set. The end of my important career now looks like the day I walked out of prison.
I am very sure that the most important part of my life did not change, unless it became better. God did not leave me.
Let your lives be without love of money and be content with the things you have. For He has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” I will never leave you, nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13: 5 and 5)
Also, at that time, I needed a new car and I decided that I really liked pickup trucks, so I bought one. It’s getting rusty and old now, but I still like it, and I listen to country music on the AM dial. If that is your picture of a personal hell, maybe buy a Lexus with a high-end stereo and listen to something more refined.
On any Sunday you can park beside my rusty grey pickup and walk into the church. You are welcome to sit beside me as we worship Jesus together, the one who made us free. Wear a burka, if that is important to you, and maybe sit with those Christians from South India, who look just like you.
If we stay with Jesus, we can be, and wear, and drive, and work at anything; and we can change any time. And we should not judge each other.
So really, what is the best lifestyle for a Christian? Contentment.
Restrictions are normal in human nature, we like to think that God loves us better if we put ourselves in a prison. But good parents love to see their children happy and free, and I believe God is my good father.
This is not a new idea. Restricting our freedom was a huge debate among the first Christians, two thousand years ago:
… some so-called Christians there, false ones, really. who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you. (Galatians 2: 4 and 5)