Modest Apparel: Getting Practical
(This post is part of a series. You can start at the beginning HERE.)
In Genesis chapter three you can read the account of how Adam and Eve forfeited a wonderful life in the Garden of Eden, choosing to go their own way and disobey God's command. This was the first sin, and immediately the two "knew that they were naked" and instinctively tried to cover up their bodies. But their flimsy leaf "aprons" were not satisfactory to God, so He clothed them with coats (not aprons) of animal skins before driving them from Eden. God was particular about what they were covered with.
Now we are getting down to where the rubber meets the road. While God did not assign us a uniform to wear, He did put some guidelines for us in the Bible. Christian women are not to look to the world for our dress standards. If we would please the Lord with our lives, we must look to His Word, see what His will is, and simply obey.
I want to share here some practical Biblical principles which will help guide today's Christian woman in her wardrobe choices.
I. We are to cover our "nakedness".
Nakedness, in short, means something is lacking; something that ought to be covered, isn't, and it is shameful when it is not. A brief study of the word "naked" in the Bible will reveal a standard altogether foreign to modern society's modesty standards.
When discussing the clothing of the priests in Exodus 28, God said, "thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach." From this we know that God considers uncovered thighs to be naked.
Another interesting passage is found in Isaiah 47.
1 Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. 2 Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. 3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.
So if the thigh is nakedness, then bathing suits, shorts and miniskirts are out, as well as anything else that would reveal the thigh under any forseeable circumstances. A dress that covers the knee while a woman is standing, may show thigh when she sits. Why sit struggling with her hemline, when she can simply put on a long skirt? Also, long skirts with slits can reveal nakedness.
I personally feel that showing the shape of certain body parts is equally revealing nakedness, even if the bare skin is not exposed. A woman can "cover" herself from neck to ankle with a skin-tight body suit, but common sense will tell you that she is not modestly dressed! Clothing that clings to the body, revealing the shape of breast, buttocks or thighs is also immodest, and is perhaps even more enticing than bare skin.
II. Women are not to put on men's apparel (and vice versa).
I am sure I'm going to say something here that a lot of people will disagree with, but I will be careful to include scripture as needed to back me up.
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)
It is quite clear that women are not to wear things that pertain to men. The question is, what pertains to a man? In the day that this was written, both men and women wore long, flowing garments. The main difference was that men girded their loins, whereas women did not.
I Kings 18:46 "And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel."
Job 38:3 "Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me."
To gird is to bind up. When a man girded up his loins, he took the hem of his long garment, pulled it up between his legs, and tucked it into his belt, thus making it easier to run, or do whatever work he needed to do. Women never did this, as it was considered improper.
There are many more references to girding the loins, but only one that referred to a woman doing so. That reference is Proverbs 31:17, "She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms." It is not a literal girding of her loins, but a figurative girding with strength, bracing herself to accomplish a difficult task.
Now, what modern garment girds the loins? That would be anything that has a crotch. According to the Biblical dress standard, there is no such thing as "women's pants". I realize that pants made for women are found in the women's section of every department store. But I am not talking about what the world says, I am talking about what the Bible says.
There are also certain styles made for women that mimic masculine styles. That is too much to go into here, but if a Christian woman desires to dress in a way that pleases the Lord, and prays asking for wisdom and discernment, I think she will be able to perceive that which is feminine, and what is masculine.
I think this post is long enough now! More in the next post. Until then, I welcome your comments.
Read Part Five HERE.