Jehovah's Witnesses continuously invite the public to their meetings, so they expect that people of all sorts and styles may enter through the doors of a local Kingdom Hall -- the place where Witnesses worship. No one will be turned away for their choice of clothing. However, women who are mature Jehovah's Witnesses dress in a way that they believe dignifies them and the God they worship, Jehovah.
Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians, so they consider what the Bible teaches when deciding what to wear to their meetings. A primary influence on such decisions are the principles found in the apostle Paul's letter to the young man Timothy, at 1 Timothy 2:9, 10. The verses encourage women to dress in a way that is well-arranged, modest and that reflects soundness of mind. In other words, they strive to dress in a way that doesn't draw undue attention to themselves, by looking sloppy, ostentatious or provocative.
At the same time, though, Witnesses embrace a diversity of dress styles, recognizing that each person has her own taste and personality. Therefore, you won't find a uniform way of dressing among the women at Witness meetings. Furthermore, you won't see an absence of jewelry among Witness women. While some Christian groups claim that the previously cited verses in Paul's letter mean that women shouldn't wear jewelry at all, the Witnesses disagree. They claim that those verses simply mean that a woman's dress shouldn't be the main focus, and point to the fact that in the Hebrew Scriptures, God praised his city Jerusalem and compared it to a pretty woman wearing bracelets, a necklace and earrings.
Since the Witnesses are a global organization with members in over 230 lands, they recognize also the difference among cultures in how women dress. Regarding these differences, they believe the same aforementioned principles apply: modesty, soundness of mind and being well-arranged. They also recognize that what would be considered ostentatious in one culture might be considered decent in another culture. A Witness woman, then, would consider how the local community and members of her congregation view her dress, and then, displaying modesty and soundness of mind, would adjust accordingly so as not to offend anyone.
Mature Witness women run through a sort of mental checklist when deciding what to wear to their meetings. They might consider if they'd wear an attire to a job interview or before prominent officials; if their outfit remains modest when bending over, sitting down and crossing their legs; or when a bright lit hits them; and if they feel comfortable in the clothing. Also, Witness women do not wear pants to their meetings, but wear loose skirts or dresses. And, in general, they strive to wear skirts that are at least one or two inches below the knee.
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- JW.org Online Library: Showing Respect For Our Sacred Gatherings
- JW.org Online Library: Should Women Hide Their Beauty?
- JW.org Online Library: Good Personal Appearance
- JW.org Online Bible: 1 Timothy 2:9, 10
- YouVersion Bible: Ezekiel 16:11-13
- "Watchtower" Magazine; Fig Leaves, Fashions and Figures—From a Woman’s Wardrobe; November 22, 1984
Aaron Charles began writing about "pragmatic art" in 2006 for an online arts journal based in Minneapolis, Minn. After working for telecom giant Comcast and traveling to Oregon, he's written business and technology articles for both online and print publications, including Salon.com and "The Portland Upside."