Biblical Cosplay

Cosplay is just makeup and costumes, but the Bible speaks of one ensemble that we should wear at all times.
on Jul 15, 2015 · 6 comments

I have to confess something, and it will probably rub some people the wrong way, but I have to say it anyway. I don’t get cosplay. I don’t understand how someone can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and perhaps as many hours, dressing up like a cartoon character or superhero to go take a bunch of pictures. Since I follow several people that are inclined to the geekier side of things, my social media feeds have been packed full of Comic-Con snapshots. Some are pretty impressive, some are darn near perfect, and some make me think, “That person shouldn’t be wearing that outfit…”Cosplay-Photographers-Best-of-Labor-Day-Weekend-Dragon-Con-2012-Judy-Stevens

I’m not bashing cosplay; I just don’t understand the appeal. And I know many people would say the same about things that I love (spending months and years writing books that only a handful of people have read, for instance). Many people would also consider my appearance to be a bit dramatic, especially for a writer. With my preferred after-work outfit of a sleeveless tee and cargo shorts, I would fit right in at a gangbanger/prison convict cosplay convention. In my defense, I was going more for a rock and roll vibe, but like most cosplays, reality rarely lines up with our imagination.

Everyone loves to dress up, often starting as soon as we can walk. We wear different costumes throughout our day – some by choice, others by command. But if you asked anyone if they could change the way they looked, I would be surprised if a single person said “no.” I’m not talking about body image; I’m talking about what Morpheus alluded to in The Matrix: “the mental projection of your digital self.” In that movie, the tired, hungry, burlap sack-wearing crew of the Nebuchadnezzar became ultra-spiffy Goth models when they enter the Matrix. And in real life, who wouldn’t want to jazz up their image if they had the time, money, and social permission? Humans across cultures are innately drawn to masks, costumes, and jewelry, and the same excitement that blazed through the masquerades of Venetian carnivals in centuries past continues today with cosplay and customizable avatars in MMORPGs and other games like The Sims and Second Life.

Yet no matter how real it looks, no matter how perfect the outfit, no matter how dramatic the pose, it is just a costume. It is displayed for a few hours, then it is taken off when the wearer goes home. But there is one outfit mentioned in the Bible that we should wear at all times, and it is described with dramatic flair.suit-of-armor

I’m talking of course about the armor of God in Ephesians 6. Paul exhorts believers to don the full protection of God and His word to defend against and attack the devil. He could have used more straightforward language, but he chose to use vivid imagery that appeals to our imaginations. It is not only an external metaphor but an internal one as well. Some of the pieces of armor, such as the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, come from God Himself, since He is the author of truth and the source of our righteousness through Jesus Christ. But others, such as the shield of faith, and having our feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace, are forged by our own convictions and the strength of our will.

The armor of God is not a costume. It should be as much a part of us as our own skin. If we take it off or let it fall into disrepair, we will be defenseless. And unlike the world of costumes and imagination, the enemies we face – the powers, the principalities, the rulers of the darkness – are very real.

Mark Carver writes dark, edgy books that tackle tough spiritual issues. He is currently working on his ninth novel. Besides writing, Mark is passionate about art, tattoos, bluegrass music, and medieval architecture. After spending more than eight years in China, he now lives with his wife and three children in Atlanta, GA. You can find Mark online at and at Markcarverbooks on Facebook.
  1. Lisa says:

    Hah. I don’t get the cosplay thing either. I think because I’m haunted by years and years of Halloween dress-up, where my costume was NEVER as cool or good as anyone else’s. And added to that years and years of trying to make/purchase costumes for MY kids which, again, were NEVER as good or as cool as anyone else’s. The whole thought of putting on a costume which I know will look lame makes me break out in hives. However…..if anyone ever wanted to dress up like characters from my books, I would think that would be pretty cool. But I’m not doing it. Nope. Not.


    But the armour of God? It’s a little rusty here and there and pretty sure I need some stronger steel in places, but I’ve got it. Just glad no one can see it.  🙂

    • Mark Carver says:

      I think perhaps some of the appeal of cosplay is the pursuit of exactness. Precision and efficiency are essential to beauty, amd when a fan who is just an average person can replicate something that they saw on the big screen and was built by an army of specialists, that has to be a satisfying feeling.

      For me personally, if I was going to spend a lot of time and money on something that fit together perfectly, I would want it to actually do something. A car, a gun, a machine with a function, not simply a costume that would earn me envy and attention. But everyone has their jam, and I have seen some cosplay outfits that were awesome.

      • Leanna says:

        That seems like a funny argument coming from a writer. After all, what function does a story have that a costume does not?

        • Mark Carver says:

          It’s all subjective. I’m just saying that if I spent a lot of time on a physical creation, I would want it to have real-world capabilities (drive, shoot, etc.). But that’s just me. And you bring uo an interesting point – like a story, a costume’s power lies in the imagination.

  2. notleia says:

    Speaking as someone who owns a Renaissance dress, a kimono (technically a yukata), and a leather corset, no, I don’t understand why I bought those things, except they were cool. Especially when I can’t get over my self-consciousness enough to wear them and therefore justify their purchase. Well, actually I have worn the kimono around the house. It’s pretty comfortable.

    But as a crafting-type person, I can understand the appeal in making the things, and I think crafting-type people make up a solid portion of cosplayers.

What do you think?