The silliness of sin

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.”






4 thoughts on “The silliness of sin

  1. Hey Laura,
    First I love your writing style (partly b/c you blog in complete sentences and use appropriate punctuation, which I find particularly compelling). Second, you communicate your heart so clearly here, and it is always beneficial for me to read your life lessons.

    I read this post 1.5 weeks ago (when you posted your letter to R), and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I read more blog posts in a week than I can count. Don’t be too impressed by that; I’m terrible at counting. Most of them are fairly deep, about adoption, sex trafficing, social justice, with a handful of thifty living, DIY home design, parenting, and fashion trends thrown in for good measure. (You really want to know all this, right?) All that to say, that it is this blog post that has been rattling around in my head more than any of the others.

    I still haven’t decided if I agree with you on several points. How I wish you were in Denver and we could go out for coffee to chat!

    All sorts of idioms and sayings about fashion come to mind as I think about your post: the clothes make the man; put your best foot forward; dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I think my views on clothing are very telling of my southern roots. I grew up thinking that one way you show respect for yourself and for someone else is by wearing clean, pressed, appropriate-for-the-occasion, even modest clothes. It’s the same upbringing that makes me want to use my best dishes when I entertain, even it it is just a day with moms and preschoolers over for lunch, and even when my best dishes are from Goodwill. I want people to know they are valuable enough to me for me to serve them something pretty.

    ….OK, I’m posting this now so I don’t lose it b/c my internet is acting wonky…I’ll be back

  2. As for appreciating fashionable clothing, I might disagree with you here too. I think there is something God-given in us to appreciate excellence, beauty, color, creativity, balance, harmony, pattern. These things seem lofty when we praise God for His creative work in the natural world. But I believe He created in us a drive to notice and praise excellence, and we put that ability to use when we we appreciate good design in fine art, architecture, literature, food flavors, and even in fashion.

    Surely there is a difference between appreciating design and obsessing over wanting to look a certain way to please man, but there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    …posting now… I’ll be back….

  3. Ok, now, approaching fashion from a Christian worldview: I don’t want clothes to become an idol, and there are definitely days I devote more energy to looking cute than to being holy. I believe I should be more concerned that God is pleased with my heart than that others are pleased with my outward appearance. I know that I currently have too many material possessions, and even as I write this I have concrete plans to acquire more. (yikes!)

    In so many ways, I am reflective of my consumer, throwaway, instant gratification, visually ADD culture. Recently, my attempts to combat this include letting go of clothes that I make idols by cleaning literally out my closets and hosting a clothes swap. I am also learning to shop differently and more intentionally, directing my clothing budget toward artisans here and abroad who receive a living wage (or better) for their work. I am also enjoying buying scarves from widows in Guatemala, shoes from young women paying for their university education in Uganda, and jewelry from Noonday Collection where my $ is going toward orphan care.

    So if true religion is caring for widows and orphans and my purchases do just that, I should buy more stuff, right? 😉 j/k sorta…

    Also, I do want to look good for my husband, a desire I believe is healthy and appropriate and validated in scripture. For what it’s worth, I think the Proverbs 31 woman dressed well.

    Ok, there’s so much more I want to say about fashion, but both children are awake and one is naked and ironically needing a little clothing instruction. I should probably go do some parenting before talking about fashion actually does consume my morning.

    Thanks for putting up with me invading your blog, Laura! I’ve had a lovely morning here!

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