Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Modesty in an Immodest World

~Erin Blair

“7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” – Genesis 3:7-10

When we read about the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, we automatically think of and talk about the sin of disobedience. Absolutely they sinned via disobeying God’s command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. But what about the second sin that was committed? I’m sure you are thinking, “Whoa! Wait a minute! Second sin? What second sin? Where are you getting that?”

So, what was the second sin? Look closely at the text from Genesis 3. It was immodesty.

Soon after they ate of the tree that they were told not to, they knew they were naked and used, or tried to use rather, leaves to cover themselves. Well, we all know leaves are not the best items to use for clothing. They are thin, sometimes transparent, don’t knit well together so they gape, and quite frankly, depending on the leaf, you would have to use a lot of delicate leaves to patch together anything resembling clothes. Yet, for all their efforts, when God came into the garden, they still thought they were naked and hid in shame. They felt guilt from being immodestly dressed and they knew that it was wrong.

My how things have changed!

Take a look around. The world we live in is covered, or rather uncovered, in immodesty! Immodesty dominates much of what is watched on TV, seen on the streets, in schools and even in the workplace. What’s more is our nation has an entire industry devoted to immodesty – the porn industry. So, with all the immodesty around us, how can we remain modest in a world that glorifies the bikini, shorts that aren’t much longer than underwear, men walking around shirtless, and see-through sundresses?

We need to know God’s standard for modest dress! After God cursed Adam and Eve, he made “coats” for them (Gen. 3:21). Why did God do this? He deemed the clothing they made for themselves was not sufficient and thus better, more dignified clothing was needed. The word “coat” in this passage, kthoneth, indicates that they were covered from their shoulders on down. So therefore, logically, we can infer that this includes the upper and lower portions of the torso.

God also made sure that the Israelites understood what needed to be covered. “Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.” Exodus 20:26. “For Aaron’s sons you shall make tunics, and you shall make sashes for them. And you shall make hats for them, for glory and beauty. 41 So you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him. You shall anoint them, consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to Me as priests. 42 And you shall make for them linen trousers to cover their nakedness; they shall reach from the waist to the thighs.” Exodus 28:40-41. God made sure they were covered to the degree that their nakedness was not exposed. What the priests wore was what we would call a robe, or a dress/skirt. God commanded them to have undergarments worn that covered them “from the waist to the thighs.” I think of basketball-type shorts (or something similar) when I read this description. Could this be applied to today’s fashion? What about those skirts or dresses that are see-through and you can see everything up to where no one but the woman’s husband should see? Or skirts or shorts that are so short that they expose the majority of the thigh? Or expose your backside when you bend over?

Basic morality has not changed from the Old Testament to the New. After all, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Christians are all priests of God (1 Peter 2:9). We have no right to serve God immodestly today than the priests under the old law. What’s more is, women are commanded to be modest! “…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.” (1 Tim. 2:9) The point Paul is making here is that women are not to draw attention to themselves by their attire, whether from lack of clothing or excessive clothing and jewelry. If a woman walks in clothes from neck to feet, but has 5 rings on each finger, 3 gold necklaces, huge jeweled earrings, jewel pins, etc., are you eyes not drawn to her automatically? It is no different if a woman walks in in skimpy shorts and a skin-tight top that looks painted on, leaving nothing to the imagination, but screams “look at my body!” Both scream “look at me!” God’s standard for modesty, as we can see, is to cover ourselves, our most private places that are meant for our husband only (the places from the shoulders to the knee – breasts, hips, back, thighs, and vagina/crotch area) and to cover ourselves in a way that won’t draw unnecessary attention to ourselves.

After all, if we are dressed immodestly, whether via over-excessive “bling” or exposed legs and cleavage or skin tight clothing, while trying to study with a man in a Bible class, are we not possibly tempting him? (Matt. 5:28) We need to remember Matthew 18:6 “Whosoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” I don’t think any of us would want to be the cause of someone else’s sin! Especially if there is something we can do to prevent it!

As Christians we are to reflect Christ. What are we reflecting if we dress in a way that promotes our bodies in a sexual manner? We need, rather, to dress in a way that is blameless and harmless and draws attention to God rather than ourselves. (Phil. 2:15).

Erin resides in Ben Wheeler TX with her husband Jordan as they await the birth of their first child, Judah. Erin has been involved with preparing and organizing the work of the church since she was a teenager by teaching all ages of Bibles classes, helping prepare and organize Ladies Days, Prom Alternatives, Youth Rallies and VBS.  She is currently works as a paralegal for a law firm. She and her husband also spend their time enjoying their garden, dogs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, quail…etc.  Life is never dull at her house. 

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