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Dressing for the Glory of God
When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them coverings of light. They lost these coverings when they sinned. In the coldness and darkness, they realized that they were naked, and they immediately felt a need to cover themselves.1 In fact, nakedness in the Bible became a symbol of emptiness, of sin, of apostasy, and of attempting to save oneself.2 Scripture does not talk about nakedness in a positive way.
Fig leaves were flimsy and rather disposable. God made the first durable garments, and clothing became a symbol of God’s willingness to cover our emptiness and destitution with Himself.3
In several places, the Bible gives careful instructions about covering the body so that nakedness does not appear.4 Yet body exposure is a prominent feature of today’s fashions. Designers seem determined to show off the body in an infinite variety of ways. And even conservative styles that are tight or sheer can be as immodest as something short or low-necked.
Today we hear a lot about sexual harassment. Whose fault is it, anyway? If a woman wears suggestive clothing, is she at fault, or is it totally the problem of the harasser? Often women are naive to the way clothing affects men. Short skirts attract attention to the legs; slits in the skirt or blouse are suggestive and play “peek-a-boo.” Low necklines leave little to the imagination. Possibly a few Christian men may be able to resist lustful thoughts, but men of the world do not even try. Yet we women sometimes do not take responsibility for the lust we create in their hearts.
A man writing in the Washington Post, a secular magazine, said he could not understand “why a woman would say wearing a miniskirt makes her feel more like a woman yet not expect me to feel more like a man.”5
He has a point, doesn’t he? He went on to write, “I believe that women have the right to wear anything they want, wherever they want, but help me understand why I am still supposed to look them in the eye. In this age of the ‘new man,’ let it be known that just because a woman does not hear lewd and obscene utterances does not mean that men aren’t thinking lewd and obscene thoughts.”6
This is a serious matter for us as Christians! Jesus said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”7 A woman’s clothing can actually encourage a brother to sin! Then, who harasses whom?
True modesty certainly includes covering our bodies adequately, in a neat, pleasant, and decent way. But modesty must include even our behavior. We can be modest in our clothing and immodest in our actions, by flirting or encouraging playful small talk.
As Christians, we should be kind, friendly, and helpful, but we also need to keep a careful reserve. This type of modesty is not only Christ’s will for us—it is a blessed protection.
1. Genesis 3:7. 2. Exodus 32:25; Deuteronomy 28:48; 2 Chronicles 28:19; Job 1:21; Hosea 2:3; Matthew 25:36; Revelation 3:17, 18. 3. Ezekiel 16:8; Matthew 22:11, 12; Revelation 3:18. In Christ’s Object Lessons, page 312, Ellen White shows fig leaves to be a symbol of human works and God’s clothing as a symbol of the righteousness of Christ. “When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united to His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.” 4. See Exodus 20:26; 28:42. 5. Courtland Milloy, “A Lecher’s Prayer,” Washington Post, September 29, 1987, page B3. 6. Ibid. 7. Matthew 5:28.
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