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A Columnist's Opinion? WND (Numerous older people agree with his assesment.)
This study includes biblical examples that have to do with the subject of proper dress.
(Before we get into this article I would like to mention that in just the last 20 years there has been a terrible decrease in modesty and an obvious disregard for propriety. Since 9-11 the Muslim's extreme views of modesty have become widely known in this country and yet it appears to have promoted an further increase in immodesty here. I find this especially true in most of the Christian fellowships that I have been involved with. It is my understanding that the increase in pornography, venereal disease and skin cancer, and divorce, are inseparable from the effects of immodesty. The fun cities in Nevada are said to now be going back to their hard core sin city beginnings for business has fallen off. This may be a good sign.)
First we will peruse several scriptures that portray proper clothing as being used for specific situations, and we have no countermanding examples.
Proper attire is repeatedly portrayed in the Bible in analogy with righteousness. It would not be wise to do this if there was to be a time when proper clothing would no longer be respected by righteous people.
Some Clothing was specifically related to glory and to beauty.
In contrast; the judgment of God was portrayed when these niceties were taken away and their nakedness revealed.
God arrayed His people in costly apparel and jewelry. Should a good husband, not also aspire to do the same for his wife?
Christianity has went to both extremes. They have taught their women to be very plain and then they have taught them to over dress and then to un-dress or under dress. Women get the brunt of the nonsense when it comes to proper dress and have been neglected, relative to what God has taught. This nonsense has caused the Church to be far less then an efficient witness for the glory of God. All of these nonsensical variations are produced by our not esteeming the word and the examples it contains. The Bible has numerous references to clothing and they are very often tied to shame and or beauty and glory.
Since clothing is essential, there must be established ethics or absolutes pertaining to apparel.
(Or, is this just Vern's opinion? You be the judge - See If I make any sense.)
Clothing protects us and our bodies from -
The elements. Heat, Cold, Physical damage to our bodies, such as cuts, bruises, abrasions and premature aging of our skin. Which also involves the following -
1. Insects bites.
3. Unwanted sexual advances..
4. Promoting loose sex.
5. Promoting deviate and disgusting behavior.
6. Deviate and disgusting display of the base parts of the human anatomy.
7. The shame produced by the display of our own unflattering anatomy.
Clothing can build self esteem and encourage the respect of others by -
1. Enhancing our appearance.
2. Promoting our pursuit of good character.
3. Directing our attention away from our pervasive base human desires.
4. Allowing us to concentrate on who the other person is, rather then what they are.
Many schools, academies, businesses, courts of law, and even local bars have strict dress codes. However, many Churches now have none and this is becoming painfully obvious.
You ask why?
Some of their active members would not be allowed to enter a court of law, and even some bars would ask them to leave, and not come back until they put on more clothes.
When a generation of people gravitate toward immorality they always become lax about covering themselves. (The debased condition of the Roman Empire is a well known example.) They eventually rebel against all restrictions, or moral law, and move toward wanton flesh pleasing activities. In a sense they become addicted to tickling themselves. They then become so enamored with their loose life style that they will attack anyone or anything that gets between them and their fun.
In the case of clothing they cite how beautiful the human body is and that it is a shame to hide such an exquisite piece of art. Of course art is but one more of their many tickles and so it too becomes one of their many gods.
Christians, are necessarily obligated to obey the moral law as it is portrayed in the Bible. Unfortunately, too many professing Christians do not know what the Bible teaches and do not really care. They want the benefits of Christianity, but they do not want to comply with its absolutes.
I have written this article as an outline for those who want to know something of what the Bibles teaches on this subject and who do care.
Before sin came through the acts of Adam and Eve's disobedience it was not a shame to be unclothed. We are born into that same state of innocence. But, as we grow older we are either taught or learn that it is a shame to be unclothed around other people.
The reason nakedness is a problem is because of sin. There are groups of people who think we should live free of shame of nakedness. They espouse nakedness as a way to get rid of sexual sin and as being a healthy way to live. It is said that to wear clothing tantalizes and so increases curiosity and so increases temptation and sexual sin. It is also said that the dedicated Christian can handle any temptation that would come from skimpy clothing. So, anyone who has a problem needs to get their filthy mind out of the gutter.
This sounds so simple and righteous. However, these arguments are void of objectiveness.
We all must face reality. If we fail to deal with reality we will suffer more from its negative aspects. Negative results are most often multiplied by our ignorance. The adverse effects of nakedness is a given in the Bible. As far as the Bible is concerned the obvious results of people living in unkempt nakedness should be evident to all but the most pagan of people.
The Bible portrays wanton nakedness as being a shame.
There are still tribes of people who wear little if any clothing and they have problems with sexual promiscuity and sickness. As a result they have a very short life span. They also live on the bottom of the scale relative to civilization. They live closer to the level of animals. Millions and millions of people in Africa are dying because of their erroneous approach to sexuality. AIDS!
Proper clothing at its basic level has to do with hygiene. Health is negatively affected by nakedness. The excretions of the human body are breeding places for bacteria.
Chairs become contaminated by our nakedness. Clothes can be washed, chairs are seldom washed.
If you wear clothes and always wash your hands after you go to the bathroom you will prevent sickness. Toilet seats are not known to be germ free. This is an understatement. Venereal disease can be transmitted by setting on one. Flushing a toilet or a urinal creates a mist of water vapor that is often filled with germs. Some of this vapor settles on you.
If you are habitually naked or if great portions of the area near your private parts, or your legs, are uncovered and you go to the bathroom you should wash more then your hands. Again, - Clothing that covers these areas reduces the spread of germs. Your body has oils and perspiration that are carriers of and breading ground for bacteria, whereas clothes are usually dry and do not spread germs or bacteria as easily.
Clothing reduces exposure to insect bites and their bites can spread disease.
Those less civilized tribes of people who wear little clothing always suffer from higher incidents of disease. There are many doctors who believe AIDS can be contracted from an insect bite.
In the more civilized communities you will find it is among those who wear the least clothes who have the most skin cancer. They also have the fastest aging skin. Of course this is also affected by the kind of skin people have. Some are able to stand more exposure then others.
Melanoma, which is a deadly skin cancer is killing people frequently and I have known numbers of older people who have repeatedly had to have serious surgery and some have even died - all because of cancer that was promoted by over exposure to the sun.
Again, those people who love to fish, swim and sun bathe while wearing skimpy clothing have more skin problems and they appear to age faster then those who do not. The tanning parlors are in now. They are well attended by those who want that good looking tan and this also helps hide varicose veins. But, -
Doctors are constantly telling us on TV and in articles that we are not only ruining our skin, but are also increasing the odds of getting frightening and vicious types of malignant skin cancer.
If we would observe those older people who have had a lot of exposure to the sun we would see people who looked many years older then their age.
The reverse is true of those who have kept themselves covered. Many, careful, older women have very youthful looking skin.
Many older people can remember when their parents warned them to keep themselves covered so they would not get sick. They also told them to always wear a hat or a bonnet while they were working outside so they would not hurt their eyes and skin. Many ethnic groups, historically, have covered themselves completely as protection from the elements. "Muslims are an example."
There is ample proof of nakedness being a problem. Nature, itself, teaches us we should clothe ourselves.
Now let us further examine some of the examples of clothing that are portrayed in the scriptures. They hold the answer.
They covered themselves with the equivalent of short shorts or an apron.
How was it that they were able to live naked yet without disease? I do not know? There may not have been any terrible diseases at that time and the rays of the sun may have been more filtered by the atmosphere.
God covered them with coats. This was a garment that came from the shoulders to below their knees.
Sin had appeared and so, in some manner, their environment changed. Now they needed extra protection, both from their own sensual desires and also from the environment.
We think of sin as being a form of pollution. The resulting negative effects of sin may also pollute more then the soul of people. It may have since affected microbes. It's results may have started mutations in other forms of life? Who knows? We do know that Aids is a problem that has been produced by deviant promiscuity.
Something unethical happened when Shem saw his father. His peering at his father involved more then an accident. To stumble into a situation where someone is getting dressed or relieving themselves is excusable. However, Shem was cursed for what happened here. He may have unashamedly peered and made fun of his father.
Here we find that God endorses the use of clothing to enhance our appearance. People who have attained a special position of honor can rightfully, and in good taste, wear clothing that distinguishes then from other people.
We can use clothing to distinguish those of high office or those who have other special positions. This sets them apart and reduces confusion. They were said by God to be more presentable, glorious. I accept this as it reads. Do You?
Here we have the use of pants, or under-clothing being described. The reason for there use is revealed here and in the following scripture. Also note Exod 20:26, below.
These scriptures give insight into the use of under, beneath, decent, clothing. The term thigh here refers to the area of the leg below the buttocks.
The Bible does not go into all of the details as to why we should keep ourselves covered. Neither does it give us the reasons for all of the washings that it proscribed for certain types of sickness. However, we now know that good hygiene is essential to good health. Remember - Proper clothing is a basic part of hygiene.
God demanded that the people wash in certain situations and then demanded they wear under garments in other situations. Superstition is not what God wants. He wants us to be protected and healthy.
There is/are scriptures that mentions our being clothed with robes of righteousness, white robes, etc. This phrasing is associated with both decency and beauty.
Again - Robes have always been associated with or used as being descriptive of holiness and righteousness.
Remember the angels with their robes?
In this space I will approach the principle of an analogy again and try to get across the necessity of having an established ethic for proper or decent dress.
The phrase white robes and the like are used in an analogous way, or they are used in some sense, that is comparable to our being presented properly, as a means of revealing to us how we are effected or protected, or covered, by being righteous.
So, to be naked is one extreme and is the least protected and least decent appearance. The robe is the other extreme and provides the best protection and represents the most decent appearance.
It is also obvious that various offices or stations in life were and still are designated by specific forms of attire.
There is also the extreme of over dressing, which is to set about to draw attention to ones person for self gratification and pride.
The analogy here has eternal life as being properly clothed, while being unclothed is to be rejected or is to fail to gain life.
Michal did not approve of the way David had dressed himself. Note, David did not dance in the nude as so many have mistakenly believed. He had only taken off the clothes that distinguished him as being the King and replaced them with a linen ephod. Note verse 14 above.
The linen ephod was a short jacket or coat made for the priests and it came down to the thigh.
He had dressed down and so appeared to Michal to be undressed relative to his position. Her father had been king and she despised David for lowering himself. In doing this she showed disrespect for both her husband and for God. There is a time and a place for all things.
Some think that here David made a statement that provides us with a reason for not worrying about dress. Note, he says I was doing this - "before the Lord." He also said that he would even become more vile then this, but in doing so he would be honored by his woman servants.
If this is taken out of context it can support one's doing any number of indecent acts. However, here, the Ark was being returned to Israel. David was not going shopping or working in the garden or entering the temple.
If something of tremendous spiritual significance happens and one is rejoicing before the Lord that would be very different then just being laid back and actively rebelling against biblical and historical examples - by wearing skimpy and unprofessional appearing clothes every time one feels like it.
There is such a thing as portraying and maintaining a professional appearance, proper decorum, etiquette, and respect, for one's self, and others, and especially respect for a position. As for a position, one does not have to be extravagant, but instead plain, as a servant.
It is thought by many Bible students that this nakedness was not total nudity. They dressed down. Stripped down to their underclothes?
Note, they asked the question - "is Saul also one of the Prophets?" He had taken off the clothes that distinguished him as the King and so looked like a prophet. If he did strip down he still was wearing a small patch of material that covered a persons private parts. Such as a small narrow loin cloth or comparable to what is now called under-clothing, shorts, panties, etc. In addition it is thought that the equivalent of an undershirt that reached to the thighs was common.
Isaiah still had his private parts covered. Note, "even with their buttocks uncovered." This interpretation can be argued against. However, because it mentions buttocks, it would seem to imply that it was only their back sides that were bare.
The term naked is used here (above), in the King James version. This nakedness is again referring to being improperly dressed.
If proper clothing is not essential or if it has nothing to do with righteousness or proper decor, in any specific situation, then all of these analogies are just so much nonsense.
This man was not properly dressed for the occasion, still he was not naked or stripped. This is still another analogy where proper clothing is used to put across a spiritual point.
Again - The scriptures speak of the uncovering of the body, or nakedness as being a shame. It was humiliating to these people to be stripped down and to have their naked or nude bodies paraded before their enemies.
Loose living drinking revelers still like to do this to people. They like to get someone so drunk they are not able to keep themselves decent. Then they make fun of them and make vulgar remarks about the way they look.
Many men want a woman to undress or put on skimpy clothes and numbers of them will then turn and call them a slut when they do it. The discreet woman, the careful and fully dressed woman has most always received more respect.
In modern lingo, the modest, discreet, or conservative woman, is lumped in with the plain, homely, un-elaborate, and the dry person. These are the politically correct definitions. However the following is what the dictionary says -
This is the opposite of the following -
A person can dress well with colorful clothing and wear jewelry and still be in keeping with good taste as per the scriptures.
I will elaborate on this in another place. However, skimpy clothes in public is always an exhibition.
These scriptures do a good job of portraying sick morality. Unfortunately this is the state of many of our leaders. Including many of those in the Church. They lie and think nothing of it. Our Churches, communities and nation are reeking with this nonsense and our lack of good judgment. People who are caught up in justifying this sickness, dress and act accordingly. History has before and will again prove them wrong.
In verse six it speaks of people not being able to cover themselves with their nonsensical acts. In other words they will not be able to justify what they have done by what they have accomplished.
As it is now, many people defend those who have poor character by pointing to their great accomplishments. This is situation ethics.
Whenever the Bible speaks of robes of righteousness it is speaking of actions and results that prove people right or proper. All of this is pointed to through the analogy of proper dress. (Being properly covered, not shamed because of revealing oneself.)
The wicked are always naked before God. However, the righteous are covered because they have obeyed God.
In these scriptures Paul and Peter give a recipe or a formula for proper adornment. They are emphasizing the adornment of good character.
They are not saying, do not wear jewelry, rather they are saying, do not try to use jewelry as a substitute for good character. The point being that the poor woman who has good character is, already dressed up and, beautiful to behold.
However, if you are into outward adornment, beware for it will not make up for a lack of character. Remember, your good character will make you attractive to both your husband and God.
So, if you have good character and your husband adorns you with fine things, they will not detract from your character. Fine things are not a sin.
This text portrays a women who is dressed in good character on the inside and this is revealed by what she does. However, she is also dressed in expensive garments. Notice - Her outward appearance does not detract from her goodness, though she is dressed in expensive clothing.
The following analogy must also be based on something sensible and proper, otherwise it would cause confusion and detract from God's integrity.
In this setting God is telling how he found Israel and what he did for her. (Note, God put his comeliness on her.) This is an example of how a husband can treat their spouse.
We must understand that God is not using an analogy that is based on impropriety.
Again, we have another example of what is right. This father put the best robe on this son. He also put a ring on his finger.
There will always be people who God calls to a special walk with him. Some individuals are set apart for a special ministry. Because of this they are not bound to wear jewelry and fine clothing. However, the majority are not called to walk in such special circumstances. We must make allowances for such callings and in either case not pressure anyone into being something they are not.
In these last two scripture settings we find Christ addressing the life style and appearance of the Pharisee's. He first says woe to them.
He was setting out to warn them. But in the middle of his exhortation he mentions that as whited sepulchres they also looked good. However, inside they were also full of dead men's bones. As an ornate decorated burial vault they did look good.
People do not go to the expense of preparing an elaborate tomb that is ugly. They did look righteous to other people. Jesus gave them a back handed compliment on the way they looked, however, he also ridiculed them for they way they lived. They lacked character.
Do the following have anything to do with a reflection on being properly clothed? Does our approach to dress support or distort these verses?
The ethics of proper dress are detailed in these scriptures. We need to take note and dress appropriately.
No, this is not the point of these scriptures. However, we would do well to note the example, and again - the analogy evidently was expected to be ageless and so always appropriate and easily understood in every age. This necessarily means appropriate attire is an ageless order among humans.
Generations of people have used Bible examples as a way of determining good taste and modesty.
There are also examples of work clothing portrayed in the Bible. In many cases work demands the wearing of clothing that is not appropriate for other activities.
Again: In this case Peter did not even have his work clothes on. He may have thought that even with this coat on he was not properly dressed for being in the presence of the Lord. As the military would say - He was out of uniform.
Christ took off his outer garment and stripped down to his under clothes when he washed the disciples feet. He was in a room eating, so he should have been warm. It is not necessary to argue that he stripped down to his shorts and T shirt.
However, it is clear that he did something note worthy when he took off his outer garments. He properly prepared himself for the job at hand. He did something practical.
If we are necessarily stripped down for work, such as loose short sleeves and loose pants this is in keeping with biblical examples. (Ask some woman who has worked around a lot of conveyor belts while sorting in a packing shed. It would be dangerous to wear certain kinds of long loose clothing.)
They either girded up their clothing while they worked or wore appropriate work clothes.
If we are under dressed in public for no necessary reason we are, again, breaking the analogy. If we cannot afford anything but work clothing we do not have to dress up, however we should be properly covered, neat and clean.
If we dress so as to appear near naked yet clothed we are also destroying the analogy.
Again, Those Christian men and women who take off their clothes or are under dressed when there are no necessary reasons for doing so are undermining a moral absolute.
There are numbers of professions that still demand professional looking attire.
There is to be a distinction between men's and women's apparel, yet their clothing can be made from the same basic pattern. Biblical men wore skirts and robes, etc. So did the women. Yet their clothes were still either distinctly feminine or distinctly masculine.
Some of the results of improper dress can be seen in the abortion Mills.
Why is it that so many women, daily, insist on revealing so much more of their bodies then men do?
We know why street walkers do this. However, now it appears that seemingly descent women are trying to compete with them.
David was enticed into sin by seeing a woman bathing.
There are numbers of Christian men and women who laugh when the topic of clothing is mentioned.
Pornography is rampant, more and more children are being molested for money, fatherless children are, either being born or, aborted, at an hideous rate, yet the majority of Christians still laugh and deny there is any connection between clothing and license.
Many men are excited by seeing women's legs and knees and the higher the hem line the better they like it. Still Christians laugh. Women are paying to see men strip, and men have been doing this for ages, yet Christians just laugh when proper clothing is said to be a moral issue. Cars and many other articles and things are portrayed in advertisements that are embellished with pretty models scantily dressed with a lot of leg showing, plus. Still the Christians laugh. A US President has a problem with pretty, shapely, revealingly dressed woman, but most Christians just keep on laughing. They think that any man who is enticed just has a dirty mind and so has nothing to do with a woman's responsibility. "Stumbling block?"
Muslims and most other eastern religions have very strict customs for dress, especially for women. That difference is being portrayed here more as these religions prosper in this country. Their modesty is readily apparent and reveals the sloppy approach most Christians have to dress when in public. Their discipline and modesty attracts people. The same goes for the conservative Jews. Their women are modestly dressed and yet are very well dressed. Again - many people are attracted to those who portray their beliefs openly by their actions.
(Check the advertisement, of a book written by a young Jewish woman, following this article.)
For nearly two thousand years, Christians modesty in apparel influenced every community where they have resided. Today, many of the younger set - go about insulting their heritage through the immodesty portrayed in the way they clothe themselves. They are supposedly kings and priests unto God and this should prompt them to dress accordingly, especially as they present themselves before the public. Yet, they act as if they are being asked to sin if anyone suggests that they should be more careful about their appearance. It never has been a sin to cover ones body, yet they act as if it is. In the hottest regions of the world religious Muslims, Jews and Christians have always clothed themselves and by doing so influenced their communities into becoming more civilized.
Christians can lose their sense of shame.
If we set out to allure someone of the opposite sex by the way we dress we may get what we deserve and may even get more problems then what we deserve.
Some Christians dress very provocatively and do so in their ignorance. Though they may do so in innocence they can still reap severe situations and a married life of misery.
Many people are attracted by what they see and will act in what ever way it takes to get what they want. Then when the vows are over, in walks the real person.
In many cases, it is better to be less attractive, more conservative and less provocative, so as to only attract those who are willing to search out true character. Even then there are those who are looking for good character, yet have little of their own.
The Jews of the first century were aghast at the nakedness displayed by the Greeks and the Romans and in a great part they despised their games because of this. There is no mention of any of the Jews ever despising the early Christians for the way they dressed. In fact the history of that period reveals that the Christians were despised because of their plain dress and conservative ways by the Romans, but they were not despised by the Jews for these reasons.
Adam and Eve found themselves naked before God. Since that time, and as a rule wanton nakedness has to do with sin. There is nothing left to say. There are no tenable arguments against the Christian etiquette of wearing proper clothing.
Those people who rebel against this absolute make a lot of noise but they are not objective and they are portraying both a lack of discretion and rebellion.
The literal dress styles of the Bible are not binding on us, but their sensibleness and propriety, or the underlying principles that are revealed by how the Godly dressed, are to be imitated. These things are to be approached thoughtfully.
Loose, simple, clothing that covers and protects is the definition of the basic principle. Beyond that there is such a thing as being properly dressed for the occasion. Underline the word "dressed."
The history of a persons life has no equal when it comes time to find out who they really are.
It is only their history that tells us if they really have on robes of righteousness.
No one can fake good character for years at a time.
We are to always be examples of sensible propriety. We should not be drawing attention to ourselves by either over- dressing or by being under dressed. (Men or women.) Yes, there will be times when we cannot dress properly for an occasion without drawing attention to ourselves. In that case, we are to dress properly and then do not be self-conscious or ashamed.
We are to be relaxed and friendly. Do not hide yourself or be tense and so be thought of as being stuck up. We need to understand proper dress and be able to give reasons for what we wear and be relaxed while doing so.
Please understand that this article is only for those who believe the Bible has the answers, and yes I am a very biased person.
To - An Advertisement- This book has to do with a young Jewish lady's views concerning proper decorum, dress, etc.
"A Case For Modesty." Just read the review - it is good.
Compiled by Vern Manson
06-12-94 --- 02-09-01 - 04-28-02
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