Proper Christian Attire
Proper Christian Attire
Modesty, decency, virtue, chastity, wholesome, proper, etc. are terms that have been used by parents for centuries as they attempted to teach their children moral excellence. These terms are likely still used as many parents continue to teach their offspring proper standards. This is no surprise when parents seek to bring up their children by biblical criterion. However, the idea of modest behaviour that is taught in the Bible has somehow taken on a relative meaning by worldly standards. But then these words (modesty, decency, virtue, chastity, wholesome, proper, etc.) have always had a relative point by which they obtained an established meaning. The Word of God gives the definition and the level of requirement established by God if the condition of modesty, decency, virtue, etc. are to be achieved. The world today, as always, has set a different standard for modesty, decency, virtue, and chastity. And once again the church has picked up on the standard set by the world and are busy defending their position on action and appearance not only in the world but also at worship services.
Legalism is generally cried out when this subject is approached. However, strict adherence to the law is not an undesirable quality. Law is an established rule that must be observed if society is to have any resemblance of a high quality of life. Even civil law is established by our all wise God and is beneficial not only for those who observe and respect the law but also for the disobedient (Rom. 13:1-7). Just as surely as God required Israel to follow the ceremonial law in their worship, just that surely the moral law of God was given not only to Israel but to all mankind and His requirements have not been repealed. God does not haphazardly introduce His commands. Each command of God has it’s own divine purpose and morality and decency is a divine requirement.
Several months ago there appeared in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal a photo of a woman in the nude standing partially hidden behind what appeared to be a pulpit stand in a church. Enough of her body was exposed to reveal she was totally naked. Both the caption and the article was to draw attention to make the religious gullibles believe that she could be as spiritual in her nudist church as anyone else and could fellowship with God feeling neither restraint nor remorse. The first woman that found herself naked ran and hid in the trees and there were no other folks around at that time other than her husband. Of course her Maker was watching and her awareness of that caused her embarrassment and fear. Wouldn’t it be great today if those who bare their bodies would as quickly take steps to get out of sight of public view. Yet hiding from God remains impossible. Now as before it should be an embarrassment to be seen even partially naked. However, carnal eyes have a way of adjusting to the dark and it seems that society no longer has the propensity to feel embarrassed. But God has not changed!
Even when the ceremonial law was being follow and sacrifices were being offered in their proper order and for specific purposes God did not ignore decency. When the blue-print for the altar of stone was given not only was the proper material required but also the manner in which it was to be constructed. One of those requirements was for the purpose of decency. They were to approach the place of worship in a proper manner. (Ex. 20:26) “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.” If decency did not matter why would the Lord direct them to be careful about their approach to the altar. Not only was the approach to be proper for the sake of decency, their attire was for the sake of modesty. Aaron and his sons were to wear proper clothing as they ministered to the Lord. One of the requirements of the priest’s garment included modesty. (Ex. 28:42) “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:…” It is obvious that the God of heaven was taking care that His stand on modesty apparel would not be neglected. The act of worship they were performing was ceremonial…but their appearance as they worshiped was moral. Although the act of worship for believers in Christ is much different than then the believer’s moral appearance in worship has not lessened in the least. The sad conclusion of the church today seems to be that Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services are not as demanding spiritually as Sunday morning services and casual (often immodest) apparel is in order.
God was concerned about the moral issue of nakedness outside the ceremonial worship of Israel. Outside of marriage the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus explains the rule of modesty to be followed by the closest of relatives and the nearest of friends. The end result of disobeying these moral rules is the severe displeasure of God. He calls such disobedience an abomination in His sight.
The stupidity of arguing that the Gentile church is no longer under the law in an attempt to exempt so called Christian activity from moral excellence is so full of holes that it wouldn’t even get damp at “Wet and Wild” in Dallas. To say we are no longer under the law but under grace only enhances responsibility. Hear our Lord on this matter. (Matt. 5:27) “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Why would any Christian want to give another person a reason to commit adultery in their heart? Yet many men and women of all ages who call themselves Christians `unclothe’ themselves donning modern swim attire, that only the most worldly can possibly call modest, and bathe together without any apparent shame. It is immoral in the sight of God! Once again listen to the inspired Word. (1 Tim. 2:9,10) “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.”
One of the requirements for the bishop (pastor) before those who look to the man in that position as an example is “good behaviour” (1 Tim. 3:2). Those words are translated from the same word as is translated “modest apparel” in (1 Tim. 2:9). God is as interested and His requirements are as noble concerning the modest appearance and good behavior of men as that of women. Few if any would argue that a pastor has no responsibility to keep the requirement of good behavior. (However, some that claim to hold the position of pastor will strip to a modern swim suit and bathe with the boys and girls they should be setting a moral example before.) By inspiration from God Paul gives this bit of advice to the Corinthian church: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). What a mockery it is of the word of God to claim the sacred position of leadership and throw modesty aside.
Modern swim suit attire cannot be called modest dress by any stretch of the imagination. Yet many church and denominational leaders plan fun trips for youth that includes donning skimpy swim suits that leave little to the imagination. This is true whether it is men/women or boys/girls. The Bible does not give the size or shape of the garments Adam and Eve invented but I am sure it covered more than the garments many church members wear today even on the streets of America.
No pastor or preacher can expose his views on the matter of modest apparel without being aware of opening himself up for criticism. The opinion of man amounts to nothing at all apart from the direct command of God. However, when God leaves no doubt concerning His feeling about modesty it would do all of the human race good to heed His word and do His will. Especially those who name the name of Christ. God’s word does indeed direct in the area of modesty, decency, virtue, and chastity. It would do every believer good to examine their appearance in the light of God’s word. This is doubly true for all with the responsibility of leadership whether they are called of God or chosen by the church. May God help us as believers today and members of the body of Christ to separate ourselves from the world in appearance and apparel; in fashion and fellowship. Paul was not simply passing the time of day when writing this corrective message to Corinth: (2 Cor. 6:17,18) “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”