Monday, February 2, 2009

What is Modesty? Part IV

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.


Kate said...

Hi Tammy,
I'm new to your blog, but have really been enjoying reading about Modesty. I do have two question; you say that anything with a crotch is a man's garment, but what about ladies' underwear and hosiery? It is considered very improper to go out without the proper under-pinnings, no mater what the length of the skirt? Also being feminine and appealing to our husbands is also something we are called to do. How do we achieve this without being distracting to other men? Or what if a woman's husband wants her to dress a bit more 'modern' or 'alluring'? I have noticed that a man may sometimes suffer from pride over his wife, and wish to 'show her off'. Thank you.

In Peace,

Bro. Daniel said...

Mrs. KAOS,
On regards to husbands. Being Tammy's husband and a man in general I must say the tendancy of many to want to "show off" his wife if true. We do take great pride in the wife or as the Bible says the "good thing" (Proverbs 18:22) we have found. A wife is a gift from the Lord (Genesis 2:22).
I do fell though that a husband who "cherishes" his wife, would allow her to reserve her 'more alluring' outfits for at home only (Hebrews 13:4). I fell my wife is very beautiful and can be alluring in her dress/outfits when it allures only me (Song of Solomon).
I do not believe it to be harmful to request an outfit be reserved for the eyes of the spouse only and not to be worn out in public so as to not be 'distracting' to the opposite sex. Especially, when one believes it to be not quite "Modest". And that this could apply for both the husband or the wife.

Kate said...

Thank you, Bro. Daniel. A husband and man of God's opinion is very helpful.

Unknown said...

Hello Kate,

Thank you for your comments, and I am happy to answer your questions!

Regarding your first question, I do not think modesty standards apply to undergarments, since we are concerned with what others see. No one should be able to tell what underthings you wear or do not wear. Underthings are useful in that they add layers to what we wear, so that nothing can be seen-through.

In answer to your second question: We are indeed to be attractive to our husbands, and some husbands do not see anything wrong with his wife flaunting her comely parts. But there is something extremely alluring about a woman whose body is for "his eyes only". If your husband is this way, and you would like to dress more modestly in public, let him know how you feel about it, that your body is just for him. Wear modest & pretty dresses that look becoming on you, and wear a little less when it's just the two of you. I think he will start to come around to your way of thinking.

"A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed....Awake, O north wind; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits." Song of Solomon 4:12, 16

...Whew. Is it hot in here?? ;o)

Anonymous said...

Great post! I just skimmed it for now but I shall want to read all of them, and perhaps feature them on feelin' feminine, with your premission.

I am going to be writing on women and singleness. I think it sorta goes in line with men being able to show off their wives and wives complimenting the masculinity of the man.

Miss Jocelyn

Tori Leslie said...

Great series of posts Tammy! You have a wonderful way of writing, must be a gift. I'm going to link to this series. I was thinking you need a link graphic for this, maybe I'll work on one.

have a great day!

Elizabeth said...

I've enjoyed reading this modesty series. Thanks! The Lord spoke to me about 10 years ago (maybe less) about modesty. As I mentioned in another comment, the Christian life was 100% foreign to me. I was still learning elementary Sunday School lessons the same time the Lord was teaching me about modesty. By His grace, I eventually went to long dress/skirts only.

I said all that so say this: when the Lord enabled me to leave my old wardrobe behind, I was mildly concerned with the "what if's" What if people think I've gone crazy? What if my family disapproves? You get the idea. I want to say that the pure joy that the Lord gives by knowing that you're making HIM happy in something as simple as what you wear can never touch anything people could say, think, or do. The Lord gives puts such joy in my heart when I look like an ambassador for Christ.

Unknown said...

Miss Jocelyn and Mrs. Tori, you are more than welcome to use these posts as you see fit. A link back would be most appreciated :o)

Tori, if anyone can come up with a nice link graphic, it would be you! I'd love to see what you create.

Elizabeth, Praise the Lord! That is wonderful that you yielded your manner of dress to Him. I think your struggle was the same that many others face - "What if..?" and "What will (***) think?" And what is funny is that many times people don't react the way we worked it up in our minds, after all. What matters is that we obey God, and leave the rest to Him, no matter what others think.

Lynne said...

Mrs. Tammy,

Your modesty posts have been very informative, thank you. =) About six months ago, the LORD had convicted me in areas of modesty as well. I do have a question: In the Isaiah passage, which you quoted to support the idea the showing the thigh and hair is nakedness, it also mentions the woman's legs being made bare. Does this mean that women are not only supposed to keep their thighs covered, but their shins as well? If not, what causes you think otherwise?

I don't mean to challenge your beliefs; I'm just curious. I've made it my determination not to wear skirts that reveal my thighs, but wasn't concerned with showing my shins. But when I reread that verse, I thought: "Hmmmmm . . . wait a minute . . ." Thank you, and may God continue to bless you and use you for His will.

Unknown said...

Lynne, that is a very good question! I don't know if I can answer it adequately. Other passages show us that uncovered thighs are nakedness. The shins would logically have to be uncovered before the thighs, though, right? So it might be just the spacial order of uncovering, starting from the feet, up.

I will say that those skirts that hit the leg just below the knee make me uncomfortable, and mid-calf skirts, well... I just don't prefer them. I like the freedom of a long, ankle-length skirt, because I don't like wearing clothes I have to adjust or worry about!

...Just my own opinion. :o)

Lynne said...

Mrs. Tammy,

Your answer does make sense---I shall continue to ponder the matter. Either way, thank you for doing your best to answer my question.

I tend to lean towards mid-calf length skirts, but I see why you prefer ankle length skirts. I own a few of them myself and can say they are quite comfortable. I also feel more like a lady in them. =D