The Truth About: Modesty

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This is a production of World Video Bible School.

This is a production of World Video Bible School.

To God be the glory!

"Now, let's see. What am I going to wear today?"

You know, that's a question that each of us has to ask ourselves everyday.

And there are several factors that help us answer that question.

One factor would be, "What am I going to be doing today?"

I'm not going to wear a suit

if I'm going to be doing yard work.

Another factor would be, of course, the weather.

And I'm not going to wear short sleeves if it's going to be very cold outside.

But you know, there's another factor that we need to consider every time we go to

our closet and

that is the "modesty" factor.

If you've been to the mall recently, or turned on the television, or looked at

billboards as you've driven down the highway,

then you know that our country has a serious problem with the way that we

clothe ourselves. Sexually provocative is the way of the day.

And it would certainly be an understatement to say that the world is

confused with regard to how we should clothe ourselves.

I want you to notice this cartoon that a friend of mine drew.

In the cartoon, the doorbell rings and one girl says, "Oh dear, that's the

doorbell and here I am in my underclothes."

The other girl, who's actually wearing far less says, "I'm dressed, I'll get it."

I like the cartoon because it illustrates,

very well, how confused our society is

with regard to the clothing issue.

And, it's gotten to the point that

people are really not even embarrassed about the exposure of their bodies.

In fact, it's encouraged.

There's a commercial that I've seen, I think it's about dieting. But the whole

theme of the commercial is to lose enough weight so that this woman

will be able to wear this

little bitty bikini and to show off her body at the beach.

And she's not embarrassed about it.

You know, in Jeremiah, chapter 6,

Jeremiah says that the people of his day had lost the ability

to blush.

Listen to the words of Jeremiah 6:15:

"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?

No! They were not at all ashamed;

nor did they know how to blush."

And you know, we live in a world just like that today.

Many people today have lost the ability to blush over the exposure of their

bodies. They're just like the people of Jeremiah's day.

They're not ashamed.

I know a man in his seventies, and he told me that

when he was young, girls blushed

when they were ashamed.

He said but now they're ashamed when they blush.

One preacher said,

he said, "I would like to find out what kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate that made them

realize they were naked..."

He said, "...Because I'd like to pass it around again."

He said that tongue-in-cheek,

but he's right. Because many people need to have their eyes opened

about what is appropriate

and what is inappropriate.

Because again, the world is very confused with regard to this matter of clothing.

But a Christian

isn't like the world.

A Christian can't be like the world.

We're different. We've been called out of the world. 1 John 2:15 says:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world.

If anyone loves the world,

the love of the Father

is not in him."

Romans 12:2 says:

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

But, very sadly, this problem of immodesty, lack of clothing,

has affected Christians

and it's crept into the church. You know, there are some places were men don't

want to serve on the Lord's table because of young ladies who are dressed

immodestly

in worship.

And there are wives

who don't want their husbands to teach the teenagers

because of the way that some of the young girls are dressed; or maybe I

should say, the way they are not dressed.

And you know, this is a very unpleasant subject to teach about.

And sometimes it's embarrassing both to the one teaching it

and also to the hearers. And

sometimes, people who like to dress immodestly get angry because they feel

like they're being insulted.

And sometimes when teachers teach on this subject,

people will accuse them of having a dirty mind.

And I guess that, along with the anger, has caused some to just avoid the subject

altogether.

I guess they feel like it's not worth the grief.

But you know, if we're going to be pleasing to God,

we have got to discuss it. We have got to be right about this matter.

Whether or not we want to admit it,

when a woman goes into public in modern-day swimming wear, or

she's wearing short-shorts, or a short skirt, or with her midriff exposed, or

wearing clothes that are too tight,

she's doing something that's sinful.

She's taking the sexual impulses that God has instilled in men

(to draw husbands and wives together)

and she's corrupting them. She's allowing them to be cheapened.

Now, she might not know that she's doing it, but she's distorting sex as God

designed it.

Now, why is it the case that

man is sexually impressed by the woman?

You know, it's not an accident. It's because God made us that way.

Now, why did He do that?

Genesis 2:24 says:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his

wife, and they shall be

one flesh."

The reason man is sexually impressed by, and attracted to woman, is because of

God's design.

But you know, there's a big difference in the physical attraction of a husband and

a wife

and that of a man who is physically attracted to a stranger on the beach,

or at the pool, or at the mall.

First, let let's talk about the husband and wife.

The Bible says: "Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of

your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you

at all times;

And always be enraptured with her love." Proverbs 5:18 and 19.

Now, that's a husband and a wife.

Now listen to the difference. Here's a man and a woman to whom he's not married.

Matthew 5:28 says: "But I say unto you

that whoever looks at a woman to lust after her

has already committed adultery with her

in his heart."

Someone might try to rationalize and say, "Well, so long is nothing physical happens

there's nothing wrong with it."

I heard someone say, "It's alright to look,

so long as you don't touch."

But you know, that's not right.

The Bible teaches that God is concerned not only with our actions,

but also with our hearts. Matthew 5:28.

In Job 31, verse 1, Job said:

I have made a covenant with my eyes;

Why then should I look upon a young woman?"

You see, Job understood

that it would be wrong even to look on a young lady in a lustful manner.

Alright, this matter of properly clothing ourselves is certainly important

and the world's very confused about it.

And so, what I want to do is to list some considerations to help guide us in

knowing how we ought to dress ourselves.

Number one. The first consideration should always be:

"What God said, God's law."

You know, sometimes people will say, "Well, the Bible really doesn't tell us how to

dress ourselves."

But that's not true. The Bible does tell us.

Some of it's very specific,

and some of it's in principle.

But, the Bible does tell us.

Now, I want to begin in the book of Genesis,

Genesis chapter 2 and verse 25.

The Bible says about Adam and Eve:

"... they were both naked, the man and his wife,

and they were not ashamed."

Now, why were they not ashamed?

Because apparently, they weren't aware of the fact they were naked, according to

verse 7.

But, after they ate of the forbidden fruit, "... the eyes of both of them were opened..."

and they were made aware of their condition;

"... and they sewed fig leaves together, and they made themselves aprons."

The New King James says "coverings."

Now, this word means: "A girdle

or loin cloth."

One version says: "They made themselves loin coverings."

Another version says: "They covered themselves around the hips."

But, what's very interesting is that the clothing they made was apparently not

adequate,

because verse 21 says:

"Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made

tunics of skin, and clothed them."

Now this word for

"coats of skins"

is a "tunic," "a long shirt-like garment." Strong's Concordance even gives the

definition of "a robe."

It was a garment

that started at the shoulders and flowed down like a long shirt.

Now, they had made themselves "loin coverings,"

but the Lord made them "robes,"

and clothed them.

Now, the implication seems to be that they were not adequately covered.

And notice that when God came into the garden,

Adam said, "... I was naked; and I hid myself."

Now, he had fig leaves covering him, in his loin area, but still he refers to himself

as being naked.

And God doesn't argue with him. God says,

"Who told you that you were naked?"

Now secondly, I want to consider another passage, this one from the book of

Exodus, chapter 28.

Now, the section of the chapter that we're going to be looking at is dealing

with the making of the priest garments under the Mosaic system.

Now, beginning in verse 40,

the text says, this is from the New King James version:

"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.

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..." Now listen to verse 42: "... And you shall make for them linen

trousers

to cover their nakedness;

they shall reach from the waist

to the thighs."

Now, notice especially this phrase "they shall reach from the waist to the thighs."

One version puts it this way,

"... reaching from the hips

to the knees..."

Now, what was the purpose of this garment? The text says, "to cover

their nakedness."

Thomas Eaves, in his tract on modesty, he wrote:

"In the Old Testament it was considered nakedness

when one had his thighs uncovered."

And he cites this verse as proof.

So, what do we have so far?

In order to be covered adequately,

a garment started at the shoulders and it went down to the knees. Now, the third

passage I want us to notice,

is from 1 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 9 and 10.

It says this:

"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,

but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works."

Now, there are three things I want us to notice in this passage.

The first one is "modest."

The word "modest."

Now this word means: "Orderly,

well arranged,

or decent."

The idea is that she's to adorn herself, or beautify herself,

in a way as to not draw undue attention to herself. Now, in the immediate context,

what he's discussing is a woman who's overdoing it, that is she's over dressing.

She's wearing

flashy clothes and a lot of make up and expensive jewelry.

But you know, there's another way in which a woman could draw undue attention

to herself.

And that's by under-doing it.

That is, by wearing too little. By wearing clothes that are too tight, or too low, or

too short, or too thin, or

too revealing. Now,

the second word I want us to notice

is "propriety."

Now, the King James version uses the word "shamefacedness."

The word "propriety" is actually closer to our modern-day word "modest"

than the other one.

The Greek word for "shamefacedness" or "propriety"

means: "A sense of shame,

modesty."

It's used regarding "the demeanor of women in the church."

Now, the third phrase comes from verse 10:

"... But, which is proper for women professing godliness..."

Now, let me introduce one more thing and then we're going to put all of this together.

This is from Titus, chapter 2. It says that

the older women are to teach the younger women to be "chaste."

Now that word means: "Pure from carnality,

modest,

perfect, or

innocent." Now that's the definition of

Strong's and Vine's combined.

Now, let's put it all together.

A "godly woman" then is to "dress in such a way so as to not draw undue attention to

herself."

"She should have a sense of shame, or modesty, about her."

"She should be innocent and pure from carnality." "And she should dress as a

woman whose most important thing in life

is to be pleasing to God."

I'm sad to say that

modern-day swimwear

doesn't fit that definition.

And a person who wants to please the Lord has no business being out in public

in modern-day

swimming attire. Now, that would include both

bikinis and one-piece bathing suits. And these

cutoff shirts that expose the midrift, they don't fit this description, this

Biblical definition of modest.

Most modern-day cheerleading uniforms

don't even remotely come close to fitting this description.

A large deal of athletic wear and

shorts and form-fitting clothes don't fit this description.

And a sporting event doesn't change "immodest" into "modest."

And a wedding doesn't make "immodest"

into "modest."

Being near water doesn't make "immodest" "modest."

Hot weather

doesn't even make "immodest"

"modest."

On one occasion, a woman had come in to speak with President Woodrow Wilson

about some matter.

And when the woman left the office, another man in the office said something

about her being an intelligent and attractive woman.

President Wilson replied, "She was a well-dressed woman."

The man said, "I didn't notice what she was wearing."

President Wilson said, "That's how I know she was well dressed."

Now, you might be thinking

you're talking a lot about the woman. Isn't modesty

applicable to the man?

And certainly it is.

But you know it's interesting,

when you read the Bible,

generally, the principles of modesty are applied

to women. And passages prohibiting lust

are applied to men.

Now, is that because women never lust or because

modesty doesn't apply to men? In both cases the answer is "no."

It's because of the way we're designed.

Lust is generally a bigger problem for the man

than the woman.

But all of these principles of modesty also apply to the man.

If a man goes into public with his shirt unbuttoned half-way down his chest,

or wearing no shirt at all, or wearing skin-tight jeans, he's doing something

that is sinful;

and no doubt, something that could be a stumbling block for women.

That leads us to our second point. Our first consideration with regard to our

clothing

must be God.

A second factor to consider when thinking about how to clothe myself,

a second principle to guide me when determining how to dress,

should be other people.

If I'm living so as to please the Lord,

then I don't want to do anything that would cause someone else to sin.

I don't want to be a stumbling block in other people's path.

And, it is the case that the way I clothe, or don't clothe myself,

can be a stumbling block for other people which may lead them into sin.

In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said:

"... Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her

has already committed adultery with her

in his heart."

Did you realize that

I can commit a sin in my mind

that can cause me to lose my soul?

That's exactly what the Lord says in this passage.

Now with that in mind, when I'm purchasing clothing, I need to think about other people.

I need to think about what effect

this clothing may have on them.

One author wrote: "The leading fashion designers admit that the reason behind

the short skirts and bare skin

is to seduce men." And

Christians

certainly don't want to do that.

Listen to Luke, chapter 17, verse 1. It says: "...It is impossible that no

offenses should come,

but woe to him through whom they do come!" One version says:

"... How terrible for him

for whom they come!"

I don't ever want to be the cause of another person stumbling.

Some years ago, there was a survey that was done among high school boys.

And they were asked the question:

"Can a girl tempt a boy by the way she dresses?" 98% of the boys

said "yes."

They were asked the question: "Does fashion use sex appeal?"

96% of the boys said "yes."

They were asked:

"Do you believe that boys are more stimulated by sight than girls?"

92% said "yes."

"Do you believe the passions of boys are:

a) More easily aroused than girls? b) Less easily aroused? or

c) the same?"

87% answered: "a) More easily aroused."

They were asked:

"Do you feel that girls really understand the problem of immodest apparel?"

50% of the boys said, "No, we don't think so."

They were asked, "Which part of the female body, as seen in public, most quickly

arouses your emotions?"

60% of the boys answered "legs."

They were asked:

"If you were married,

would you want other men and boys to lust after your wife?"

96% said "no." Then they were asked:

"If she dressed like most girls do today,

would most boys be tempted to lust after her?"

77% said,

"yes."

Now, what does this survey tell us?

Well, for one thing, it should tell us that the way we dress can

and does affect those around us.

You know, sometimes people will say,

"Well, it doesn't matter how I dress or how I don't dress.

People are going to sin or they're not going to sin."

I want you to think about 2 Samuel, chapter 11.

Here's King David and he's walking on the roof of the king's house and he sees

Bathsheba washing herself, evidently unclothed, at least to some degree.

And the Bible says "she was very beautiful to look upon."

And you know the story, how

David sent for her and committed adultery with her.

Now, do you think that she would have had the same effect on David

if she had been completely covered in a godly manner?

I think we know the answer to that question.

It is a fact that the way that we dress can tempt individuals in ways that they

would not otherwise be tempted.

Well, sometimes people will say:

"Well, it's the person lusting who's sinning, not me." "Evil is in the eye of the beholder."

Well first,

that's not true.

Secondly, it shows a very low regard for the souls of other people.

And thirdly, it's not even logical.

If evil is only in the eye of the beholder, as people say,

then it would be okay for a person to go out in public totally nude. And the only one

doing wrong would be the person who was the beholder!

If a person has concern for the spiritual well-being of others,

then that person should be careful about how they dress.

I saw an excerpt from a church bulletin that had these words:

"Dear Sisters, On behalf of and for the benefit of men who are seeking to live

in accordance with the will of God and to keep themselves pure and holy,

to the end that you do not encourage them to lust, and for your own eternal welfare,

please do not call undue attention to yourself or expose yourself by wearing

immodest apparel. Godly men do not want to see your thighs (or more) in

clothing that is too short,

your cleavage in tops that are too low, your navel in

tops that are too short, your undergarments in clothing that is too thin,

nor the curves and characteristics of your body in clothing that is too tight.

Please look in the mirror at yourself (front and back)

and ask yourself if your attire is becoming one professing godliness. You

may need to make some changes."

Remember that the Lord said:

"... Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her

has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Now in light of that,

we need to consider other people

when we're choosing our clothing.

Now, a third consideration when we're thinking about how we're going to dress,

should be the church. For people who are members of the church

this is especially important.

Because people who wear the name "Christian"

are representatives of the Lord's body.

And the way that I conduct myself reflects on the precious church

of God.

You know, there's a very interesting passage in 2 Corinthians 3 and

verse 2.

It says:

"You are our epistle

written in our hearts, known and read by all men."

Now, what's Paul saying there?

He's saying that

Christians are walking Bibles,

you are living examples of our teachings.

Now, what happens when Christians dress immodestly?

Christians need to realize that they are a holy people, 1 Peter 1,

15 and 16.

And as Christians, we need to set our mind on things

that are above, not on things on the earth.

We need to guard ourselves

and not be conformed to this world, Romans 12:2.

When other people know that I'm a member of the church of Christ,

and they hear me stand and defend the plan of salvation and what the

Bible has to say about baptism, and the proper type of worship, and

then they see me dressed in provocative clothing or

publicly engaging in practices that much of the world even views as sensual,

how are they going to view the church?

Now listen to this description what Christ thinks about His church:

"Husbands, love

your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

that He might sanctify and clense her with the washing of water by the word,

that He might present her to Himself," now listen, "as a glorious church, not having

spot or wrinkle

or any such thing,

but that she should be holy

and without blemish." Ephesians 5:25-27.

Now, for just a minute I want to talk about some of the false ideas that people

have

about immodest clothing.

One idea that some people have is that: "Immodest clothing is acceptable

if you are involved in a sporting event."

Now, we've already mentioned this briefly,

but the Bible doesn't lay aside principles of modesty so that I can

swim faster,

or so that I can do gymnastics, or

even to be a cheerleader.

If you've ever watched the summer Olympics, you know that in some of the

sports, the clothing is nearly non-existent.

And for some strange reason, even people who would normally oppose

95% nudity,

don't seem to have a problem with it because they say, "It's a sporting event."

You know, it's a false idea and God doesn't make exception for this.

In the marriage relationship, it's appropriate to see each other so

scantily clad.

1 Corinthians 7:4 says, "The wife does not have authority over her

own body,

but the husband does.

And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body but the

wife does."

But there's no verse that makes exception for sporting events.

Number two.

Sometimes it's argued,

"People see so much nakedness these days that they just really don't pay any

attention to it anymore."

But you know, that's simply not true.

I might eat my favorite food until I'm sick of it and I might lose my hunger

for it.

But God hasn't made us that way with reference to sexual desires.

And besides, if that's the case, explain to me why cheerleaders wear those skimpy

little uniforms even in the dead of winter.

One preacher was talking about mixed swimming and he wrote this.

He said, "There is not an ordinary man who can look at a woman, clad in nothing but

a bathing suit, for a long time

without entertaining evil thoughts.

But some will say, 'It does not bother me.'

One who says that may be so young that his passions have not arisen, or he may

be so old that they have subsided, or he may be so ignorant that he doesn't

know what is going on,

or he may not be normal,

or he may be lying. He fits into one of these five categories,

or

he is a spiritual giant;

but spiritual giants don't spend their time at mixed swimming parties."

I think that's well said.

Another false idea relates to our children.

A parent might think, "But my daughter is just a child.

Certainly she is not the object of lust." Well, certainly she's not to you. But what

about a person of her own age?

And you know what happens

is, our little girls so very quickly turn into little women.

And that's when daddies need to step up and

take the spiritual lead that God has assigned to them.

You know, sometimes people have the idea that if a girl dresses immodestly,

she is intentionally dressing

so as to entice men.

Now while that may be true for some girls, it's certainly not true for all of

them.

God has made us different.

Men and women are wired differently with regard to sexual desires.

And many times, I think especially with young girls,

they truly don't understand the effect that their clothing has on those of

the opposite sex.

And that's when daddies need to take the spiritual lead with reference to

what's worn

by his wife and by his daughters.

How we clothe ourselves can have eternal implications,

both for us and for those around us.

It can glorify God, or it can

bring reproach on His church.

And so, our number one consideration cannot be:

"Is this in style?" or "Is this comfortable?" or "Is this cool?"

Our number one consideration has to be:

"Is this godly?"

Because eternally,

none of those other things

are going to matter.

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