And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
The subject of wearing immodest clothing seems to be a never-ending problem with some brethren, both men and women. There are at least two problems we wish to address here, 1) The problem of dressing without a full complement of clothing, thus being immodestly dressed, and 2) The problem of accepting and defending immodest clothing.
One would think Christians are not being taught what it means to dress in “modest apparel, with propriety and moderation” (“shamefastness and sobriety”, ASV, 1 Tim. 2:9). Could it be that elders, gospel preachers, Bible class teachers, parents and grandparents, older men and women are not teaching God’s word on this subject? Yes, indeed.
One would think that Christian men are unconcerned that their wives, sisters and daughters are dressing immodestly in public. Men should not want the women and young ladies in their lives to be “eye candy” for someone’s lust. Yet, immodest clothing does precisely that, and some Christian men seem pleased that it is so.
One would not expect Christians to become offended by Bible teaching on modesty (1 Tim. 2:9-10; Rom. 12:1-2). Such teaching is designed to caution us against sin and instruct us in making godly choices (Eph. 4:1; 1 Pet. 1:13-16). Yet, many do indeed take offense at God’s word on the subject. They get mad at the preacher for preaching on the sin of immodesty (so, some preachers stop preaching on it). They get mad at the elders for reproving the sin in themselves or in their children (so, some elders remain silent). They get mad when a loving brother or sister tries to admonish them about immodest clothing. One’s heart is not given to truth and righteousness when it is dedicated to defending sin. God is not pleased with us when we try to defend ungodliness.
Some Christians object to the teaching that clothing is a commentary on a person’s character and values. The Scriptures definitely teach that clothing helps describe a person. In Proverbs 7:10 we read of the association: “And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.” The provocative clothing associated with harlotry is referred to here; otherwise, the passage is meaningless. Yes, clothing says something about us!
Some Christians complain when specific articles of clothing are identified as immodest (like bikinis and swimming suits, halter tops, mini-shirts and short shorts). Yet, the Bible is clear that such “coverings” are not modest. In Genesis 3:7, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together to wear as “coverings” because they “knew that they were naked”. We deduce that what was not shameful prior to their sin (their nakedness) was now deemed to be so, for Adam and his wife “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord” when they heard His voice (Gen. 2:25; 3:8-9). Adam explained why he hid himself: “I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10). It was not until God “made tunics of skin” that Adam and Eve were “clothed” (Gen. 3:21). It is evident from the Scriptures that only covering one’s loins is insufficient clothing to remove shame before the eyes of the Lord. If they were already decently clothed, why then did not “clothe” them? God does not consider you as being “clothed” when you are wearing a bikini or other similar skimpy attire. The penetrating question is, “Do you?”
Some Christians protest when the preacher, the elders or other concerned Christian teaches that modesty is not determined by the activity in which one engages. They believe actions dictate morality and decency. For example, the modern cheerleading uniforms are immodest since they expose the thigh and other parts of the body. Yet, there are Christians who see absolutely nothing wrong with their children wearing such attire before a crowd of people at a football game.
Lest someone thinks this is an arbitrary judgment, we turn your attention to the priestly tunics of the old covenant (Exo. 28:40-43). The priests were instructed to wear trousers “to cover their nakedness; they shall reach from the waist to the thighs” (the expression “from...unto” designated a range of coverage, that is, both waist and thigh were to be covered). When Christians engage in an activity that potentially exposes their “nakedness”, clothing should be worn that covers the thighs as well as the waist in order to prevent immodest exposure.
In Isaiah 47:2-3 the shameful sins of Babylon are laid bare before the nations as Jehovah announces His judgment against her pride. Notice how Babylon’s shame is described: “Remove your veil, take off the skirt, uncover the thigh...Your nakedness shall be uncovered, yes, your shame will be seen...” Her shame was seen when the skirt was removed and the thigh revealed. Revealing the thigh shamefully exposes one’s nakedness. Shall a Christian defend such shameful conduct? Does the activity in which one is engaged change the nature of immodest clothing? We know of no Bible passage that teaches such a thing.
One cannot Scripturally show it is acceptable for saints to dress immodestly because the “standard clothing” of the activity approves it. (With that logic we could go to the nudist beach and be considered “modest” as per the commonly accepted standard of said beach!) Immodest clothing does not become modest based on what one is doing. Dress modestly, or do not engage in the activity (whether cheerleading, gymnastics, swimming, or anything else).
We must pause and also warn against the current fad of yoga pants and other skin tight attire. Such clothing exposes the curvature of the body in revealing ways that ought not be exposed. Do not become a stumbling block to yourself and others (Matt. 5:28-30; 18:6).
Some Christians protest that we are being legalistic and judgmental, and binding opinions. Yet, we have offered Bible reasons for these objections and warnings (1 Pet. 3:15). We advise the objector to show us where and how we have misused the word of God. If that is demonstrated we will correct it. But, if our reasoning from God’s word is sound, will you correct any and all clothing that does not agree with God’s standard of modesty?
Why should Christians be concerned with such things as what we wear and whether it is modest and decent? Because Christians are to have a sense of shame rooted within our character. That is what “shamefastness” means in 1 Timothy 2:9: “a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfulness” (Thayer). Clothing must be well-arranged in order to be identified with decency and a sense of propriety.
Here is the fundamental problem: Many Christians have lost their ability to blush or be embarrassed over sin. The sense of shame has been seared along with the conscience (which should warn of sin’s dangers). “Were they at all ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; in the time of their punishment they shall be cast down, says the Lord” (Jer. 8:12; cf. 1 Tim. 4:2).
Fellow Christians, we must reshape our hearts into the image of Christ, including His holy, decent and modest decorum (Col. 3:10). Our words must be honorable and our actions must be pure. The clothing we wear reflects what is in our hearts. Be sure your clothing expresses your sense of shame and self-control. A well-arranged heart is reflected in modest (well-arranged) clothing.
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-33
1. OT predicted a king ruling over kingdom, Psa. 2:6-7; 110:1-3; 132:11;
Isa. 9:6-7; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14. Fulfilled, Lk. 1:30-33.
1. Jesus announced the approach of the kingdom.
2. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom.
3. Jesus identified His kingdom.
4. Jesus identified the nature of His kingdom.
5. Jesus prophesied establishment of the kingdom.
6. Kingdom was proclaimed as present.
7. Remission of sins is obtained in the kingdom.
8. Salvation depends on entering the kingdom.
9. Our daily purpose and priority must be the kingdom of God. Matt. 6:33; Lk. 9:62