CLOTHES SHALL I WEAR?
1. "What shall I wear?" is a question many people ask.
a. As they dress for work, to relax, etc.
b. Usually weighing such issues as fashion versus form, style versus substance
2. When Believers ask this question, other issues should come into consideration...
a. Is it modest?
b. Is it proper for those professing godliness? -In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.1 Timothy 2:9-10
3. The challenge is that which constitutes modesty is constantly changing...
a. At one time, it was immodest for a woman to expose her ankles
b. Today, even the most modest of dress would have been consider scandalous
4. So the question remains, "What Shall I Wear?"...
a. Should men, in public, be concerned about modest apparel? Swimwear or no shirt?
b. Should a woman, in public, wear shorts, bathing suit, bikini, leggings, yoga wear, excercise wear, mini-skirts, low-cut blouses, tight skirts, jeans?
c. What effect might this have on sport or swimming activities?
[This is not to propose some easy answer, or simple guideline (such as "a dress, higher than an inch above the knee"). Rather to encourage prayerful consideration of what the Scripture has to say, which provides basic principles that can help one discern between good and evil.]
I. IS IT SHAMEFUL TO EXPOSE ONE'S NAKEDNESS?
A. CONSIDER THE EXAMPLE OF ADAM AND EVE...
1. After they sinned, they made "coverings" for themselves - Genesis 3:7-10
a. Hebrew, "chagorah", meaning a garment which covers the mid-section
b. Despite such coverings, they still felt naked!
2. The Creator made "tunics" for them - Genesis 3:21
a. Hebrew, "kethoneth", a garment commonly reaching to knee
b. Evidently Alohim was not pleased with the brevity of the coverings they had made
B. IS IT SHAMEFUL TO EXPOSE OR DRAW ATTENTION TO PRIVATE PARTS OF THE BODY?
1. Exposure of such parts was often a form of judgment intended to shame the wicked Isaiah 3:16-17; 47:1-3
2. Paul alludes to the fact that some parts are "unpresentable" and should be covered - And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but Alohim hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:1 Corinthians 12:23-24
[At some point, then, there needs to be a line where it is a shame to cross, there are parts of the body that should remain private. Perhaps we can begin to determine what these may be as we consider another principle...]
II. WE MUST NOT PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FLESHLY LUSTS
A. THIS IS CLEARLY CONDEMNED IN THE SCRIPTURES...
1. Look at Romans 13:13-14 : Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
2. Can the way we dress excite fleshly lusts? Consider the following:
a. "An astonishingly great number of men are of the opinion that women are more attractive partly dressed - than nude. They prefer to see women partially disrobed to the sight of complete nakedness." - Theodor Reik (Of Love And Lust)
b. "Mini-clothes are symbolic of those girls who want to seduce a man..." - Mary Quant, London fashion designer; creator of the miniskirt
c. When asked where it (miniskirts, etc.) was all leading to, Mary Quant replied with one word: "Sex."
d. During the hijacking of the Santa Maria in 1967, the women on board were concerned the rebels might have designs on them, so they left off wearing "enticing clothing"; i.e., they stopped appearing in shorts and halter-tops, and quit swimming in the ship's pool.
-- If the "women of the world" know what is capable of stimulating the lust of the flesh, why not the "daughters of the Creator"?
B. MESSIAH WARNED ABOUT "COMMITTING ADULTERY IN THE HEART"...
1. Is there not a two-fold responsibility here? - Matthew 5:27-30
a. The man is responsible to guard his mind from impurity - Philippians 4:8
b. Is not the woman to help prevent the lustful stare?
2. Though lust is inexcusable on the man's part, if the woman by her apparel or conduct has encouraged it, she shares in the guilt! - e.g., Proverbs 7:6-27
If the clothing we wear encourages the arousal of fleshly lusts in others, then we have clearly crossed the line. Of course, this requires honesty and objectivity on our part; we must be willing to be true to
ourselves and to our Father in Heaven.
To help us toward
that end, consider another basic principle from our Father's
III. CLOTHING MUST BE CONSISTENT WITH GODLINESS
A. CONSIDER CAREFULLY 1 TIMOTHY 2:9-10...
1. "modest" (kosmio)
a. "Orderly, well arranged, decent, modest" (akin to kosmos, in its primary sense as "harmonious arrangement adornment"; cf. kosmikos, of the world, which is related to kosmos in its secondary sense as the world) - Vine's
b. "The well-ordering is not of dress and demeanor only, but of the inner life, uttering in deed and expressing itself in the outward conversation" - Trench
-- In the context, this word applies not so much to brevity of clothing, but to gaudiness of clothing
2. "propriety" (aidos)
a. Translated "shamefacedness" in the KJV
b. "a sense of shame, modesty, is used regarding the demeanor of women in the assembly," - Vine's Expository Dictionary
-- This word applies more to the issue of brevity of clothing:
Can it be said that those who display their bodies so as to excite lust in others have the quality of "shamefacedness"?
3. "moderation" (sophrosune)
a. Translated "sobriety" in the KJV
b. "denotes soundness of mind" - Vine's
c. "it is that habitual inner self-government, with its constant rein on all the passions and desires, which would hinder the temptation to these from arising..." - Trench
-- Will not a sound mind take into consideration the affect one's apparel has on another?
4. "not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing"
a. Excess, rather than actual adornment, is what is being condemned here - cf. Isaiah 3:16-26 with Ezekiel 16:10-14
b. This is an example of the comparative use of "not" found frequently in the Bible:
1) "Not" is sometimes used absolutely - Exodus 20:14
2) "Not" is sometimes used conditionally (not...if) - Galatians 5:21
3) "Not" is sometimes used comparatively (not...but) - John 6:27; 1 Colosians 1:17; 1 John 4:10
-- Outward adornment is not wrong absolutely, but in comparison to the adorning of the inner person by good works, it is to be of lower priority and lesser importance
5. "proper for women professing godliness"
a. That which is fitting, seemly, suitable, becoming - Ephesians 5:3; Titus 2:1
b. For women claiming to be reverent, pious - Titus 2:3-5
-- Would a woman who professes to be righteous knowingly adorn herself in a way that excites lust in another person?
B. CONSIDER ALSO 1 PETER 3:1-6...
1. Note first the potential value of chaste conduct - 1 Peter 3:1-2
a. Good behavior can influence one for good
b. Likewise, improper behavior (e.g., immodest clothing) can
have an adverse effect!
2. In verses 3-4, we have another example of the comparative use
a. The emphasis should not be one's adornment (arranging the hair, wearing gold, putting on apparel)
b. Rather, it should be adorning one's inner person
3. The adornment that greatly pleases Alohim - 1 Peter 3:4-6
The incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit
-- When a person disregards the effect their apparel may have on another, can it be said they are adorned with a gentle and quiet spirit?
1. As noted in the beginning, it has not been the goal to establish specific rules for what is modest apparel...
a. To do so would be to do what Scripture itself does not do
b. Rather, to offer the general principles that can help Believers who desire to please the Father rather than self or man.
2. When faced with the question "What shall I wear?":
a. Prayerfully consider whether your adornment in any circumstance reflects your profession of godliness, and the principles found in Scripture.
b. Seek counsel from those who are mature in the faith, whose senses have been exercised to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
Do this, and one is more likely to fulfill that goal set for us when the apostle Paul stated, that we be...
"...blameless and harmless, children of Alohim without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" Phillipians 2:15