I installed a new door this weekend. And after some debate I painted it red… and laughed because everyone would expect a nice, conservative white door at my house.

This morning, driving away from my house, enjoying the fall colors and my new red door, the memory of a statement popped in my head. “What are you doing, advertising?” A red door, a sure sign of a Jezebel. I’d been labeled for less. I rented a duplex on a dead end street. There was an office next door, and the administrative assistant was a church member. I kept my curtains drawn, but the curtain caught on the bedpost. The next time I saw Sister M, she stopped me. “What are you doing, advertising?” I had no idea what she was talking about, but after some flabbergasted questions, I discovered that for whatever odd reason, being able to see my bedpost meant I was advertising availability. On a dead end street, with my curtains drawn. What kind of response would a red door bring?

I’m not worried about my red door now. I like it. None of them will ever know. Their eyes and their judgments are six hours’ drive from where I am now. But I do remember the ludicrosity of the thinking there. It’s followed me through several decades and met me again at my new red door…

  • Slips were required. Full slips, summer and winter. No part of a skirt should be translucent…. guess who got rebuked because an eighth inch of slip showed one night when she got a drink at a water fountain?
  • One teen dangled a lacy high heeled shoe off her toes in the aisles, and no one said anything. Another was called out in service for wearing a scarf — a scarf was too flirty.
  • Animal prints were banned. The pastor got up one Saturday at outreach and said they were suddenly OK. There was more animal print the next day in service than there would have been at a small zoo… where did it all come from, and so quickly?
  • Christmas lights were OK, but not trees and not nativities. And barely the celebration of the day. Such a pagan event, with all it’s idolatry. But lights were fine.
  • A teen was reported for wearing clear polish on her toenails. She had on hose. How did the person see her toes, much less polish?
  • Makeup and jewelry were banned because we should be natural and like ourselves as God made us, but hairstyles could be very elaborate, with plenty of hairspray. Similarly, perms were banned, but hours of curlers and curling irons were perfectly acceptable.
  • We were supposed to win our lost loved ones, but didn’t always get permission to go home, even for major holidays. What a wonderful witness…
  • The pastor got a small pool and put it in his driveway. I got one and was warned to “be very careful with that”. The concern was not how I dressed in it, but that it was there at all. It was in my backyard, and not visible from the street.

A bed post showing through a closed curtain on a dead end street was advertisement. I’m sure a red door would be as well. The rules made no sense and they varied from person to person. Many were annoying and most made no sense. I definitely didn’t need a public rebuke for a bedpost, a hint of a slip… or a red door.

Tonight I’m thankful for the liberty to make my own decisions, not based on what other people might think. There isn’t any longer the constant worry of what someone might say or think. It’s there, but the voices are fading. It took me nearly 20 hours to realize what they’d have thought of my pretty, new, red door.