Most people have no clue what this even means any longer. Thus, I am going to spell it out in plain words, first by quoting from the Holy Bible.
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
“Quench not the Spirit.
“Despise not prophesyings.
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.
” And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18-24)
In 1973, when I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-saints, I had no idea what that scripture in Thessalonians meant. When my bishop called me into his office to let me know he had to have those who had introduced me to the Lord transferred, because others had gossiped, I was livid. He said it was the “appearance of evil.” Those Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-saints could no longer teach others in that particular area due to the gossip.
That made no sense to me back then. God knew we had done nothing wrong. The missionaries knew we had done nothing wrong. I knew that we were only studying the Lord’s truths and having meals together. We never went into the back areas of my home. I mean, I had come from a world full of evil, so I knew what evil really looks like. It took me many years to discover what the “appearance of evil” really means.
Examples make a large difference in how the world behaves, and thus I share two with you.
Cherilyn Sarkisian born 20 May 1946 in El Centro, California is best known as: “Cher”, part of the Sonny and Cher who recorded “I Got You Babe” back in 1965. She was not then, nor is she now a religious person. I remember when she was about 14 or 15 years old, before she first got into show business. She always kept her body covered. She was very shy, in fact. Then, she met an older man and they got together. When she was first asked to wear revealing clothes for a publicity photo, she wore body tights underneath to cover her nakedness, even though she appeared almost naked. Young girls wanted to dress like her and act just like her.
However over the months that followed, her then boyfriend, Sonny Bono encouraged her to be more relaxed and just “go with the flow”. The money was incredible and that allowed her to accept what she previously had not felt comfortable doing. She and her husband (they married in 1969) became very famous, mostly because of those photographs as well as their music. During the 1960s, times were changing for those us in California.
The reason I share this with you, is so you can know how things started and how they ended up for someone who does not know God. When a person does not have knowledge of God in their life, they have no anchor to hold onto. In the world, then, as well as now, others take charge and try to determine what we wear and do. They assume you will do anything for money.
Now, allow me to give you another example.
Lindsey Stirling born September 21, 1986 in Santa Anna, California is an American violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She presents choreographed violin performances, both live and in music videos found on her YouTube channel. She is also a person of faith in Jesus Christ and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-saints.
When she was sixteen, she joined a rock band in Mesquite High School in Gilbert, Arizona, with four friends, called “Stomp on Melvin”. She was also a member of Charley Jenkins Band for about a year. Miss Stirling attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah to study film making. She went on to perform missionary work in New York City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A story that she wrote about her mission was later published in the compilation “Do Not Attempt in Heels: Mission Stories and Advice from Sisters Who’ve Been There.”
Recently (2015) she made headlines for a piece of clothing she was wearing at one of her performances. Thus, I am using her as a modern example of why the “appearance of evil” is so important.
When those who wanted her to wear that dress were told she would not dress that revealing, I have been told she prayed about what to do. She covered her nakedness so she knew she was decent, thus she has no guilt and was able to do her job and earn a living.
The only problem being that those who saw her felt that she had given into the “modern” way of dressing. Because she is a good girl, she had no clue the “appearance” she gave was just like Cher did so many years ago. The good news is, she is still young, and loves the Lord. She has those who love her in a clean way, and will not strive to influence her the way Cher’s people did.
The bad news is, the designers of today do not make clothing that is modest and decent. They highlight parts of a woman’s body to make money. While those dresses might be “stylish”, the fact that they cause others to look at areas they have no business looking at is the “appearance” that lust likes. Most of those who might be willing to create modest clothing charge more than most people can afford. God has asked us to “abstain from the appearance of evil”. So what does this mean to you?
Personally, I feel we need to go back to sewing our own clothing, or hiring a seamstress or tailor to make our clothing to meet our own standards, not the world’s standards. That way we can make a difference by abstaining from the “appearance of evil” rather than just covering up. We need to not only respect ourselves, but other people as well. What we wear and what we do sets the tone for those around us.