Ah, summertime. That great season of the year when the Lord gives us more daylight hours; and when we go on vacation, plant gardens, enjoy warmer days, shed the winter coat, wear lighter clothing, wear less clothing, show more skin, wear really short shorts, wear really short skirts, show some cleavage, show some more cleavage, wear bathing suits that look like underwear – wait a minute, back up. Do I really want to mention some of these things? Especially in an article that might be (hopefully) read by believers? Actually, no, I would rather not mention the latter part of the above list and especially not to believers. But, frankly, they need mentioning. And they need mentioning to believers. Ok, so if you are still reading this article, first of all, my point in writing it is not to slam anybody for their choice in clothing. My purpose for this article is to hopefully open up the eyes of young ladies, young men, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands to the camel that has made its way into the modesty tent and that has wrecked havoc. And then, having had our eyes opened, encourage reform where it is needed.
Actually, let’s not blame the camel. There is another animal, whom we all know, who should be mentioned in relation to lack of modesty (and all other rebellions against a just and merciful God) in the world and in the Christian church. Satan embodied this animal and through him spoke the biggest lie of all time. Here it is: If we would follow Satan’s direction instead of obeying God’s clear commands, we would become like God Almighty. And becoming like God Almighty would mean that we would know what was good and what was evil – just like God does. This, in turn, would mean that we would not need to listen to, obey, or follow God anymore, but rather we could live autonomously, listening to and acting upon our OWN wisdom. And, furthermore, if we were just like God, our OWN wisdom regarding situations would equal HIS in terms of how we respond to them. So, who needs God anymore after that? Not us. To take it further down the path of logic, if we, in our god-wisdom, thought it was best (because, remember, we are as wise as God now), we could listen to and act on the wisdom of OTHERS, if we thought that was the wisest thing to do. Boy, we would really have it made in the shade on a hot summer day.
Well, the lie was believed, and if the above description of the fall of man makes you shudder, as it does me, let me remind you of our gracious Heavenly Father who loved Adam and Eve (and us) when they (and we) were yet sinners.
Our gracious God will not have His glory shared, even by those first humans He created and on whom He bestowed His love. When Adam and Eve behaved like sheep, and went their own way, creating a path to the hell that they now deserved, the just and righteously offended God lovingly turned His unmitigated wrath away from them and aimed it fully and without repentance toward His Beloved Son. His Beloved Son then bore this wrath in the place of God’s children, freeing Adam and Eve (and us) from eternal punishment and separation from God. His Son’s ordained work for His people also brought us back into intimate fellowship with His Father, making Him, once more, our Father as well. The fount of blessings that this restored relationship gives us truly is manifold. God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in us – He who causes us to understand and follow God’s Word, gives us peace in our hearts and a confidence in the reality of a heavenly home waiting for us, and gives us joy in the Lord and in all His ways. God, graciously and over time, works in our hearts so that He and His ways become our one desire. It is a hearkening back to the relationship Adam and Eve had with God in the garden before the fall. But with an added layer of a new kind of love – redeeming Love, unconditional Love.
But back to the issue of modesty or lack of it. As you may have already surmised, I am purporting that the camel’s nose regarding lack of modesty started to come into the tent when Adam and Eve fell. This might seem strange to some as, really, mankind started covering their bodies after they fell. Before the fall, they were naked and not ashamed. Adam and Eve, in response to their recognizing their new sinful nature, covered their bodies with fig leaves in hopes of hiding their now sinful nature from God. They thought they could take care of their sin against God their own way, by hiding. God, with loving persistence, revealed the layers of sin that accumulated in the short time after their disobedience and then graciously re-clothes Adam and Eve with the clothes that would be heavenly appropriate to their sinful condition – clothes made from the skin of an animal who had been slain by God just for that purpose. You can clearly see the holy picture of Christ’s death on the cross in order to clothe His children in His righteousness in this genesis act of God. There is also a very interesting fact regarding clothing and its purpose seen in this picture of redemption. God, in His wisdom, covers our bodies. After the fall, a body uncovered was not pleasing in God’s sight – because it represented sin – so He covered it. The theological discussion regarding the difference in motivation behind Adam and Eve clothing themselves and God clothing them is important. Adam and Eve were seeking to hide their sin from God, and God was graciously bestowing His forgiveness upon them for the sin they were trying to hide.
The question we need to ask now is – why do we want to uncover? Adam and Eve wanted to cover their bodies as a means of hiding from God. When we uncover, does that mean that we are no longer seeking to hide from God? I would say that the answer to that is a definite “yes”. The Bible speaks of mankind becoming more and more blatant in manifesting its rebellion against God. Does it also mean that, by nature, we still believe the lie of Satan? I would again answer in the affirmative. By nature, we believe that we are like God – knowing good from evil. By nature, we believe that it is good to uncover. By nature, we believe that God is silly for wanting us to cover ourselves as He did in the garden. What is wrong with showing more and more of our bodies to each other and to the world? Nothing, we say. Furthermore, in our god-wisdom, we think that the wisdom of the world has something to offer to us in regards to clothing. If the world’s style is to show more skin, then we, in our god-wisdom that we acquired in the process of believing the devil, show more skin. If the world’s style is to show some cleavage, then we in our god-wisdom, show cleavage, even in advertisements for Christian colleges. If the world’s style is to wear skin-tight tops and pants, then we in our god-wisdom wear skin-tight tops and pants. If the world’s style says to wear bathing suits that we wouldn’t be caught dead in at church, but would wear at the pool either around our church family or around other folks, then we in our god-wisdom wear these kinds of bathing suits. These are hard-hitting statements. But they address the old nature that rises up against us, even while we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. And thankfully, we ARE the temple of the Holy Spirit because as such, we can confidently look to Him and to the Scriptures for guidance regarding these issues – 1 Timothy 2:9; Exodus 20:14; Mathew 5:27ff; Matthew 19:18; Romans 13:19 – to name just a few. Do these passages tell us specifically what to wear? No – but the import of the verses are clear. Be modest and do not be a part of why your brother falls into sexual sin.
I have had conversations with young girls who do not understand the temptations for young boys and men they encourage by the way they dress. I have tried to explain to them that a man is prone to thoughts that are best not fed by what they see, hear, read, listen to, and I have thought that explaining this reality would help young girls to make wise choices regarding clothing. But why have these types of conversations become necessary? And why do young girls and even older women seem to have seared views regarding what modesty is and why modesty is absolutely necessary in the Christian life?
I was born in the 60’s. It was the age of questioning authority which led to, among many other things, clothing that was rebellious in obvious ways – skin-tight body shirts, shirts that were designed so that a girl MIGHT look pregnant even if she wasn’t, (and therefore would give the impression that the girl MIGHT be sexually active), tight hip-hugger jeans, and certain articles of female underclothing being omitted. Later on, halter tops, mini-skirts and other types of immodest clothing became the accepted and desired styles. Though I wasn’t a Christian until I was in my senior year in high school, I was raised in a fairly conservative family. However, the world’s styles readily found a place in my wardrobe because…well, because everyone else was wearing these styles. Even after my conversion, I continued to embrace some of the world’s styles, even wearing them to church and Bible studies. As I left the teenage years behind and joined the work force, my choice of clothing was still not always appropriate. It was several years after I became a Christian that I realized that my choice of clothing needed to honor God and show a love for my neighbor. So, do I blame the rebellious 60’s for my ungodly dressing habits? In a sense, I do -just like we can point the finger at Satan in the garden for his part in our fall. But I wonder if it isn’t more than that. How is it that the world, then and more so now, is able to garner a grand hold on the church and Christians in terms of lack of modesty? Why do conversations with ladies, young and even some older, regarding modesty seem to fall on deaf ears? Why is it necessary to explain to women what their immodest dressing does to men? Why does Satan and the world have such a stronghold today on the women of the church regarding modesty? Strongholds do not develop overnight. It takes a while to build strongholds. Strongholds become strongholds through the absence of resistance.
Have we not resisted? Historically, I believe we can see that the church had her days of resistance. But does the obviously growing disregard for modesty in the church mean that we have stopped resisting? And have we stopped resisting because in our god-wisdom, we feel confident that we can tell good from evil? It is my hope that this article will raise awareness in the church of God for the need to begin to resist this evil called good that we have almost fully embraced over the past few decades. We need to hear loving instruction and rebuke from the pulpit regarding this runaway sin problem. We need to frankly talk about this issue in our families and in our fellowship. We need to be very careful when we choose clothing for ourselves and for our girls. The camel IS in the tent. Satan DOES have a stronghold in the churches today in this issue of lack of modesty among our sisters. Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment as we seek to be in the world, but not of it. 1 Peter 1:4