A number of years ago while in Atmore, Alabama, I went into the Post Office to secure some stamps and do some mailing. While I was addressing and stamping some envelopes a native of the community came to my table to also put the last touches on her envelopes for mailing.
As I looked up I saw something about her appearance that reminded me of "that which becometh godliness." (I Tim. 2:10) Her dress was modest in color and was near ankle length. (This was before the maxi-skirt was even thought about in circles of fashion.) Her apparently uncut hair arrangement and her head covering gave evidence of meekness and quietness of spirit. Her skin was dark, and although her race was discriminated against, her countenance seemed to indicate an inner peace.
After an exchange of "Good Morning's" I commented on how differently she looked from women in general and asked her if this was a personal taste of hers to appear in this manner or if there might be some religious significance to the modesty of her attire. "Ah," said she, "there's religious significance to and in her particular manner of speech testified how their little church group in studying the Word of God was led to the practice of modest apparel and with her face beaming declared that "the Bible teaches it, and we practice it," and with added emphasis concluded, "and we love it!"
This was about the time when, in the church group most familiar to me, the Mennonite Church was beginning to challenge the doctrine of modest apparel. We were still understanding the Bible to teach it, we were still having strong messages promoting it, and we were practicing it but large numbers of the constituency, including many church leaders, were beginning to hate it. And when we hate that which we practice, however Scriptural it be, it loses its significance to us and its power of appeal to the enslaved souls about us. What a testimony the Mennonite Church might been to this present immodest generation she remained stable and consistent in her practice of Biblical nonconformity and really love that practice.
But alas! in very truth the church has descended the slope of indecency and immodesty even more rapidly than the wicked world has and alas she has now caught up with the world in earthly, sensual, and devilish practice of immodest dress.
To those faithful remnants of the Mennonite Church who yet believe in and practice Biblical nonconformity may we continue to teach it faithfully, practice it consistently and love it dearly, just the same as we love all the rather simply and clearly stated principles of Word.
Floyd Mallott's book on Brethren History concludes his chapters on how the Brethren Church lost out on modest dress with these words:
“Even in 1950 there walked among us individuals and surviving companies who are living witnesses of nonconformity to the world. Their presence is a blessing for it is a reminder of dedication to God."
We believe our God wants this kind of a reminder of dedication continued in the world.
Aaron M. Shank