One of my longest-held misconceptions about Christianity was recently debunked by a single, rather unimpressive word: silly.
It is not that I hadn’t heard the concept before–Solomon uses the word meaningless and vanity to describe the same idea; it was that all of my previous encounters with the concept slid down easily. The word silly stuck to the roof of my mouth and left me reaching for water.
Forget what you’ve heard. Most sin isn’t scary. It’s just silly. It’s a waste of my time, a waste of my energy, a waste of my talents, youth, beauty, and love. It’s ridiculous. In the end I will have gained nothing from the moment of being applauded, envied, desired, or uninhibited. What will I have 10 minutes after that?
The truth? I’ve spent more money on clothes for myself in the last 6 months than at any other time in my life. All of this money has been spent on clearanced out items at Kohl’s or used items at the Bargain Nook, so the grand total wouldn’t even be all that shocking to your average American shopper. But I’ve been feeling guilty. Not about the amount of money or even the amount of time I’ve spent sifting through racks of only marginally desirable fashions. I’m feeling sheepish and embarrassed because it seemed so wrong to even care about what is fashionable.
I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. I know it’s silly. Meaningless. Vain. It doesn’t add up to anything.
The fact is, I wasn’t buying clothing. I have lots of clothing. I was buying envy. I was buying confidence. I was buying admiration. (It’s highly debatable whether my efforts were even noticed!) And what will I have in a few years? A closet full of clothes that my daughters will think I look ridiculous in a few years from now. They will be right.
My previous thinking was that if I got it all on sale, for a really good deal, and I didn’t spend too much money on clothing, it was perfectly okay to keep up with the fashions as best I could on my limited, self-imposed budget. The word silly somehow took all the luster out of the idea of fashion. Suddenly it didn’t matter if I find a full wardrobe for a penny a piece… it’s a foolish pursuit.
When I had it in my head that fashion was selfish and wrong, I spent all my mental energy justifying how I don’t spend nearly as much money or buy nearly as many new things as so-and-so. When fashion became just silly… well, then there is no justifying it except to admit that I believe in a silly idea and its silly judgments matter to me.
It is to my shame that I pursue anything that is of such temporary, fleeting value. I try to be a good little economist and weigh the opportunity cost. I ask myself the question Paul poses in Romans 6:21: “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?” If I’m being honest with myself, the answer is “Not much.”