Wearing Shades of White
Updated: Aug 2
I’m wearing white today. Granted the white is a $5 t-shirt from Target, and on it is a small unknown stain that originated from one of my five children and said stain refused to respond to the stain remover I applied to it the other day. Maybe a round of bleach will work? Stain or no stain, I chose this shirt today because I wanted to remember the significance of being clothed in white. Nineteen years ago today, I wore white. It cost a great deal more than $5, and was not in the slightest bit as comfy as today’s t-shirt. It was my wedding gown. I had searched magazines and boutiques for months before finding what I believed to be the perfect dress for the perfect day. I knew I wanted it to be grand, and it sure was. The dress was made of gorgeous thick silk, form-fitting at the top, gathering at the waist then bursting out and down to the ground so wide that I couldn’t enter a single doorway without some compression assistance. The top had beautiful lace cap sleeves detailed with glittering gems. The bottom seam of the skirt was bordered with crystals, and the train, oh the train! It was long enough to lay nicely over several altar steps at once, also boasting a crystal hem. It even had the perfect bustling option for the reception. I remember my only hesitation in the bridal shop. Up close, it wasn’t stark white. It was more of an off white, but looking in the mirror, I decided it was close enough.
Why did I want a white wedding dress? Where did that assumption come from? As you likely know, a white wedding dress has been the traditional wedding attire for brides since the trend-setting wedding of Queen Victoria in 1840. She chose to break the tradition of her time which consisted of ornate gowns complete with rich colors, heirloom jewels, and exotic furs. Instead, Victoria wanted to proclaim through her dress, that she was marrying Prince Albert as a woman in love, not a queen in arrangement. She chose a simple white gown accented with delicate laces from local artisans complimented with a floral wreath for her hair. The dress made a statement of her purity, and from then on, the white wedding dress became a symbol of purity for a bride. It became the go-to vision in most minds, from little girls to adult women, as they dreamed of their wedding day.
Of course, Victoria didn’t invent the association between white wedding clothing and purity. For that, we can look to Scripture. Revelation 19 describes the wedding supper of the Lamb. There is a great multitude roaring out praise to God, and in verse 8 it says, “It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” The wedding attire of the Bride of Christ is bright and pure. Earlier in the same book, Jesus says, “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5) These white wardrobes reflect Jesus’s own attire during the Transfiguration as described in Mark 9:3, “And his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.” No stain remover, bleach, or magic solutions can get a shirt “Resurrected Jesus” white! I remember those Clorox commercials when I was a kid. They would show a white shirt that had become dingy from use and wear, dip it in a bowl of Clorox water, and, boom! When they put the new shirt next to the image of the old one, I would think, “Man! I didn’t know white could get that much whiter.” But, somehow, it could.
Time and experience have taught me that my whitest white is a lot more dingy than I realize. Like my off white wedding dress of 2003 and my stained white t-shirt of 2022, when compared to “Resurrected Jesus” shade of white, I’m not “radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach…” My sin runs deep, staining every layer as it goes. I look back on my wedding day with so much gratitude. Not because I was the pure bride my husband deserved. No, I recall a woman in (off)white who thought she was bringing her husband a neatly wrapped gift of purity, while in reality, she was bringing him a pile of brokenness she didn’t even know she had. Her self-righteous stench should have cleared the room. Yet, through Christ, her groom accepted it. Why? Because, Christ, in some mysterious way, had already but not yet redeemed that woman’s brokenness. He had covered her sinfulness. According to Ephesians 1, Christ had blessed her with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, as he chose her in him before the foundation of the world, that she should be holy and blameless before him. At the same time, Christ, in his grace and mercy, allowed that groom to see his bride through the lens of the gospel (it also helped that he is color blind, but that’s a very minor side note). The zoomed in color matching of my dress, nor the side by side embarrassment of the before and after t-shirt pictures don’t apply anymore. The woman walking down the aisle at my wedding was and is one who conquers because she has placed her identity in Christ, the One who Conquers. Therefore, she has been clothed in white, “Resurrection White.” The person she was walking the aisle to and still clings to in marriage has placed his identity in Christ. Therefore we have matching outfits. Yes, we’re that couple.
So, on this nineteenth anniversary of my wedding day, I think back with overwhelming gratitude for God’s amazing grace in joining together what no man can separate. Our marriage union is “Resurrection White” because of the power of our Savior. It is a picture of two sinful people who have been redeemed and given new names and new shades of white. You know, in hindsight, there are a few little things I would change about my attire on my wedding day, and of course, I am going to do my best to get the stain out of this comfy white t-shirt in the near future, but today, I am just spending extra time thanking God for clothing me in His righteousness yesterday, today, and forever. That's the brightest shade of white imaginable, and it can never be threatened by the sloppy drippings of my sinful nature.