By Karl Diestelkamp
Warm weather is here again and already the public "peel" has taken place as men, women and children go about scantily clad. Every year some Christians seem determined to debate the issue of "what is modest?" seemingly hoping that God's word may have changed somehow. I don't want to sound unkind or impatient, but it gets discouraging to have to go over the same ground every year with essentially the same people who almost never come with an affirmative argument to defend clothing that does not cover the body.
No one disputes that 1 Tim. 2:9 mandates "modest apparel" and that the "adorning" under consideration is to be "with shame-fastness and sobriety" (ASV). Shamefast-ness is "with a sense of shame" and sobriety is "sound judgment." What is so hard about that for someone who wants to practice things that are absolutely right and cannot be wrong?
No one disputes that Matt. 5:28 teaches that "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Some will say that this is the man's problem in such a case. Certainly he has an obligation to control his eyes and his thoughts. But what Christian, would want to dress in such a way to encourage such lustful "looking" by anyone?
After we have discussed the near nude environment of the public beach and mixed swimming, the lustful appeal of too tight, too low, too short, and too revealing clothing, someone invariably asks, "But, what about shorts?" After all of that, my answer is, "Why do you think they call them shorts?" Is there a "clue" somewhere in that word? Are shorts "revealing" to others or not? Now someone says,"But what about long shorts?" If they are "long" why are they "shorts?" Maybe words don't mean anything any more!
By David Diestelkamp
Advertising this spring and summer's bare fashions, a popular magazine's cover reads, "Skin is In!" Of course, public exposure of skin has always been "in" with some, but it has rarely been so socially acceptable. Bare and revealing styles have, in fact, now become expected. Today, social pressures are compounded by the difficulty of finding decent clothes in the stores.
Are we thinking? Most people act as though they are not thinking about decency. Maybe this is to be expected of the world, but even some Christians act like God doesn't care what we wear. Have we forgotten that Jesus is Lord both of our bodies and how we clothe them? God has spoken, "women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works" (1 Tim. 2:9-11). Is this the foundation of our thinking while shopping for our wardrobe and getting dressed in the morning?
Are we searching? I am well aware of the fact that some Christians struggle with the above verse in determining exactly what is modest. Unfortunately, the question "Where do you draw the line" has turned into a worn out excuse for having no objective line at all. This question should drive us, hungering and thirsting (Matt. 5:6), into a daily search of the Scriptures to find out what is right (Ac. 17:11). In all other areas we say, "Stand still--don't act--until you know you can do so in full faith that it is right!" How can we allow ourselves to wear clothing that we are not 100% sure is modest?
What is our standard? Everyone has a "line"--a point of propriety and decency for at least some situations. The world derives its clothing standards from things like what feels good (pleasure, comfort, sexual appeal, etc.), what looks good (style, attractiveness, etc.), and popularity (fashion, fad, etc.). Note that these are based in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. John warns us that this "is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (1 Jn. 2:16-17). As Christians, we are looking to a much higher rule. It is God and His Word which are our standard in all things. Does what we wear appeal to the standards of God or men? Stop wearing it if it cannot be justified by God's Word!
It is disturbing that many Christians act as though we need authority for everything we do, except for what we wear. They reject lessons on modesty and propriety, as well as suggested biblical "lines," but then offer nothing as a substitute standard. The rejection of an interpretation or proposed standard does not free someone to act lawlessly--it obligates them to find the truth!
What do our clothes say? We are speaking to God, not just men, by what we wear. Do our clothes say that we are "professing godliness, with good works"? Of course we won't always be dressed like everyone else--they aren't professing the same thing we are! In fact, we are going to stand out "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15).