Outward holiness

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Outward Holiness, or External Holiness, is a Biblical conservative dress and conduct requirement for Christian churches. The requirement was prevalent during the revival movements for early Lutheran Pietism and Methodism, and during the Holiness Movement and Pentecostal Movement. Some Apostolic and traditional Holiness-Pentecostal denominations continue to observed outward holiness. It is taken from 1 Peter 1:15: "He which hath called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation."


  • Modest clothing (1 Tim. 2:9), which is defined as loose covering from the neck to below the knee in all normal body postures (Exod. 20:26; 28:42-43). This would also include the strict prohibition of mixed bathing or public swimming.
  • No use of jewelry or ornaments of gold, silver, and jewels for personal adornment (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:1-6); some denominations will only allow the use of a wedding band or ring.
  • A distinction of the sexes in clothing, forbidding such style as slacks and pant suits for women (Deut. 22:5).
  • Christian men are to wear their hair short and Christian women must never cut their hair, wearing it long (1 Cor. 11:14-15).

Outward Holiness can also include the following which reveal an inward character:

  • Impeccable honesty (Prov. 11:1; Rom. 12:7)
  • Civil obedience (Rom. 13:1-7)
  • Subjection to parental authority (Eph. 6:1)
  • Submission to the spiritual authority (Heb. 13:17)
  • No profanity or vulgar joking (Eph. 4:29; 5:4; Col. 3:8)

Outward Holiness is almost extinct in theology and practice. Assemblies of God says, "[If] a Christian has strong convictions against wearing jewelry, that conviction should be honored."[1] Denominations that still practice Outward Holiness are Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, Church of God, Church of God of Prophecy, Church of God (Restoration), International Pentecostal Holiness Church (few), The Apostolic Faith Church, United Pentecostal Church (oneness), Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Wesleyan Holiness, True Jesus Church, Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, Independent Fundamental Baptist, the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sabbatarian), Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Christ Jesus (Spanish oneness), Netherlands Reformed Congregations, Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, New Testament Christian Churches of America, House of Prayer Christian Church, Independent Holiness Church (Canada), Calvary Holiness Church, Charity Christian Fellowship, and the Pentecostal Fire-Baptized Holiness Church.Emmanuel Holiness Church, Full Gospel Tabernacle of NC (Lumberton, Coats, Fuquay-Varina, Graham, and Dillon, SC)


  1. ^ Modesty in Physical Appearance, Assemblies of God, Retrieved on April 17, 2008