Lucia's Blog: September 2015
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, September 25, 2015

CONTENDING FOR MODESTY - PART TWO

"And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah."  
(Joshua 24:15)



Any disciple of Jesus can see that we have a serious problem today with the way most people dress in public.  In our first study of modesty, we addressed several issues governing how the child of God ought to dress (cover oneself) to honor our Lord.  In this second study, we are going to consider some of the underlying causes and motivations of immodesty.  We are standing at a great crossroads. We need to understand which road to take but also why.  Let's take a few moments more to meditate on the perennial issue of modesty.


III.   THE HEART OF THE MATTER

Joshua's command to the nation of Israel is combined with a professed commitment to serving the LORD.  It should be a reminder to us as Christians.  Since the beginning, God's people have lived in the land of the "Amorites."  We, like the Israelites, are challenged to live in a foreign land, a land that "lieth in wickedness," yet without becoming like the foreigners (those living in darkness).  As professing Christians, we must be willing to swim against the stream and not behave as the world does but rather behave in a manner worthy of our Lord and our calling. This ground rule must apply to all issues of modesty.  

All children of Light, are called to live, not just to a higher standard but to the highest standard. Christianity is not a subculture but a counterculture, whose primary goal is to walk worthy of the Lord and be pleasing to Him in all respects, bearing good fruit in good works and increasing in the knowledge of God (His Word).  (Colossians 1:10).

The apostle Paul admonished the Corinthian brethren saying,
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."  (I Cor. 6:19-20)

  • The Impact of the Media
"I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes."  (Psalm 101:3)

Many of today's preachers were "raised on TV."  In one way or another, we have all been influenced by Hollywood, whether we had TV or not.  The apostle Peter states:

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,  but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy."  (I Peter 13-16)

The mind is where all of the lust of "the old man" originates.  Sadly, although many know very well that Christians must crucify the works of the flesh, they hold tenaciously to the idea that television and movie watching are totally neutral, and that Hollywood produces entertainment that can be rated as  "Christian liberty."  Hollywood is not neutral at all!!   Hollywood indeed utilized its liberty in the early days and found out that what sells is nakedness and nothing else.  Someone once said,

"As early as 1914, when Mack Sennett recognized the box-office appeal of parading bathing beauties on the silver screen, the cinema began to carry on a passionate love affair with the swimsuit.  Film stars watched their careers take off like rockets on the strength of publicity shorts showing them in swimsuits."

Hollywood's role in undressing our people cannot be overstated.  Today with the new technology of moving pictures, Hollywood is constantly bombarding our eyes with seductive images, enticing or luring the eager eyes and minds of our culture with varying degrees of public nudity.  Did you know that during the Depression, the cinema was an inexpensive form of entertainment that drew multitudes into the theaters?  Nearly all could afford to go to the movies.  They offered an escape from the overwhelming and pressing difficulties of that time.  Therefore, Hollywood emerged as a principle force in the fashion industry.  Moreover, their connection with the swimsuit business was exceedingly profitable for both.  

"The basic concept, from Jantzen's point of view was, 'I'll sell your movie star, if you sell my bathing suit.'  There was no end to the ingenuity of the linkups between the manufacturer and local movie theaters and retail stores. The Hollywood connection lent mass-produced suits an enticing cachet of glamor and high style that translated into hefty sales figures."

So, there was no limit to the ways that Hollywood exploited the human body for profit.  After all, the body could now be minimally and skimpily clothed (covered), erotically packaged, projecting and promoting dazzling, larger-than-life images for all to see.

"[The] erotic bather was being promulgated by swim-wear manufacturers, beauty-pageant promoters, and the Hollywood glamour machine.  Submerged chorus lines and splashy synchronized swimming became one of the soft-core pornographies of that decade and the next... Hollywood realized that though movies could talk, few conversations equaled the unutterable sex appeal of cinema flesh."  

Indeed, Hollywood became a primary source of worldly style ideas.  Sadly, this has eluded some leaders in the church.  The media's impact in selling nakedness in our culture is enormous.  Cinema and television have flamboyantly eclipsed the power that the Bible once exerted over the minds of men. What was once just abstract fantasy (in the obscured, darkened minds of men) became the new reality for our culture.  Their gods of fashion spoke to them through images on the large and small screens, laying hold on the collective imagination like no other media phenomenon has ever done in history.   These gods of fashion have overwhelmingly influenced our women, especially the young, since the 1950s.   It is indeed a culture that bows to the voice of Hollywood and not to the Word of God.  The media, especially television, transformed the minds and hearts of our young people.  Why?  
  • Because of its powerful and seductive images.  
  • Because idolatry subtly and forcefully transfigured from silent images of stone and precious metals into living images, icons, that bared more and more flesh.  
Alas, our culture bowed at the altar, surrendered, and followed suit!  Many pulpits have simply acquiesced.  

One example of Hollywood's most shameful and astounding influence over the minds of our culture is not just the seducing of women to strip naked but the seduction of MEN!  Paul tells us that Eve was deceived first and that Adam followed her with his eyes wide open.  Like Adam, our men have followed the "Eve" of Hollywood into public nakedness.  This following disclosure should humble every male reader.

During the 30s "the upper torso became the new focus of concern, and male swimmers who bared their chests in public not only forfeited respectability but faced the penalty of arrest as well... the 'nude look; in swimsuits made a mockery of the laws.  Apparel Arts in 1932 reported that 'many of the bathers of this year... swam shirtless, wearing only a pair of Trunks.'"

Swimwear designers "fashionably" pressured men to go topless, offering them two-piece swimwear. This "Depression Suit," as it was called, had a removable shirt that could be tucked in, buttoned or attached to the torso, upper body, with a zipper.  This was no small challenge, battle or contest in the war for modesty. 

"For nearly three decades, a battle of decency, decision, and decree were fought at the water's edge.  In the fourth decade, women's bathing attire changed little in terms of decency, but men's bare chests became the new field of battle... Hollywood's men went topless in the  1930s (though airbrushed into the 1950s to avoid the brutality of body hair), and the nation-wide trend, expressing physique while suggesting sensuality, followed with alacrity."

Strictly speaking, when Hollywood and swimwear designers pressured men into the strip show, they eagerly threw away their tops along with their manhood.  Why?  Merely because they followed their heart's desires rather than the revealed Word of God.  It is what they wanted and chose to follow.

Therefore, the guilt for this decaying and perverted (wicked) culture and its condition must not be laid only at the feet of women, as it frequently is.  The problem lies squarely with the men in many of our pulpits and homes.  With the near disintegration and cessation of manhood among Christians in our culture, our men have become feminized flesh-worshipers who do not lead but are led.  To their shame, they have chosen to follow their silver-screen icons into nudity rather than the purity of Christ.  Had they followed the God of righteousness and holiness and allowed the Word of God to instruct their eyes and hearts, this present lascivious culture would not and could not exist.  Men of God, take heed, and start bearing good fruit, good works for the glory of God!!  Otherwise, great judgment is coming!

Yet, anyone who dares to speak against public nakedness is often and quickly denounced and labeled “legalist,” "Pharisee," or worst of all, "fundamentalist."  In modern times women are leading the men deeper into the swamp of indecency.  How pathetic that so many of our pulpits and youth groups today are governed by the desires of the women and children of our congregations and not by the Word of God, His Law.  Listen to what the prophet Isaiah had to say about this in his day,

"For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of Jehovah; that say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits, get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us."  (Isaiah 30:9-11)
"As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they that lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths."  (Isaiah 3:12)

The "liberty" that is preached today leads me to the following questions:

  1. Does not the Word of God condemn adultery?
  2. In the Law of Moses, what were the duties imposed by the seventh commandment?  They were required to be chaste in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior.  They were to preserve chastity in themselves and others.  They were to be watchful over the eyes and all the senses, keeping chaste company, modest in apparel... shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations.
  3. What are the other sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?  Adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts.  Of course, that would include all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes and affections, corrupt or filthy communications, immodest apparel... unchaste company, lascivious songs, books, pictures, dances, stage plays and all other acts of uncleanness.
  4. That being said, how would a Christian's understanding of Scripture line up with modern Christianity's retreats to the beach or similar settings?  
  5. When we expose ourselves to one another in clothes designed for sexual attraction, are we honestly preserving chastity in our body, mind, and affections, both our own and those of others?  
  6. Do we at all cost avoid provoking others to sin?  
  7. Are we encouraging watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses?

Today's “modern” Christians just don't want these worldly practices condemned for what they are. Yet, what many Christian men commonly wear to retreats was considered indecent exposure only sixty or more years ago!   YES, the laws of our nation declared that public swimming in trunks without a shirt was nudity.  What stuns me is to see the standard practice of many Christians who simply take their children to the beach (an erotic environment), leading them in baring their bodies to one another.  Is this how we parents ought to bring them up in the Lord?  Take heed my brethren!

This present generation has slavishly bowed to the discipling of Hollywood's effeminate, air-brushed men, nurturing and encouraging itself at swimming pools and beach movies.  Shame on us!  

The “Baby-boomer” generation grew up with movies that portrayed young bodies in swimsuits. They watched Elvis Presley in Hawaii on the beach with “bathing beauties” or Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon on beach blankets having a great time while utterly shameless about their state of undress.  Unfortunately, that same generation still behaves like teenagers when it comes to the flesh.  And many of them are filling a significant number of our pulpits today.  It is not surprising to me to hear this issue addressed as "a matter of indifference" since the minds of these men have been shaped and molded by Hollywood's dark world view and the images of naked men and women since the days when they were children.  No wonder our churches are in decay!  Our pulpits are filled with men who are very much desensitized to nakedness.  They proclaim with conviction that this nakedness is "our liberty in Christ"!

Hollywood has continuously and increasingly seduced generation after generation into nakedness, worldliness, and wickedness, with its explicit portrayal of fornication. My question is:  What man or woman has not been saturated with the sensual images of bodies dressed in immoral swimwear?  Such images are seared permanently into the minds of both men and women through television commercials, magazine ads, billboards, and a significant number of media.  Additionally, these seductive images have encouraged and enticed their lustful hearts into total surrender to pornography.

Alas, many of our pulpits remain enshrouded by deathly silence!  Or what is worse, some pulpits cheerfully declare that Jesus shed His blood on the cross to purchase us this "liberty."  These people need to repent for being "conformed to this world" and instead be "transformed" by the renewing of their mind.  Men of God, let this sink deeply into your hearts!

On that great day of Judgment, all will see the extent of damage that the media has done to today's leaders.

  • "Glorify God in Your Body"  Vs. "Glorify Your Body"

Fashion retailers explicitly use “sex-appeal” in their advertisements.  They promote controversy as their marketing strategy.  Controversy and popularity go hand in hand, especially with a "fashion-lovin' public."   The fashion industry has complete power and influence over the buying public; from crib to coffin.  Fashion designers are revered as seers, knowing all about how we ought to adorn ourselves.  Our naive young people advertise their products free of charge, for the pleasure as well as the privilege of being seen wearing their logos.  We are indeed "slaves to fashion."  Image is king.  In many ways, we are just trying, at all cost, to fit in with that which is popular.  It is like a treadmill that is moving faster and faster, gathering up younger fans as it moves.

There was a time when diamonds were a woman's best friend, along with clothes and cosmetics. Today the roles have changed since cosmetic surgery has taken its place at center stage.  Not just among showgirls but also businesswomen, homemakers, and teenagers as well.  There seems to be a widespread discontent as well as a competition (keeping up with the Joneses) in our society.  Our people can only find satisfaction when they can create a brighter, lighter, tighter, and sexier self.  Take, for example, what a young professional woman (the participant of a TV fashion makeover show) said:

"In this dress, I feel like a present; I'm going to walk into the party and I won't be ignored."  

Now, for the Christian woman, dealing with the demands and expectations of a world that is obsessed with fashion, it can be an intense battle since our culture's lure is to "glorify your body."  The Word of God calls us to "glorify God in your body."  

We must stop glorifying our bodies by immodesty, impurity, and indecency in the way we dress!  It is always too much, too little, and too tight.  

"Too much" is flamboyant or ostentatious (dressing like a hooker).  Her immodesty consists in what she is offering to do later.  Her clothing speaks that language and delivers that message.

"Too little" means cleavage, the vast exposure of thigh and midriff or something else.  It is made worse by short skirts worn by girls who do not sit “like a lady.”  They expose themselves “fore and aft.”

"Too tight" is the most popular mode of disobedience.  The whole world is invited to gaze at the topographical evidence of where her undergarments start and stop along with other things that I don't want to mention.  The most pathetic, deplorable thing is that Christians (men and women) in worship are dressed in a manner that would have gotten them thrown out of a bar sixty or more years ago.  Ah, Christian liberty!

Speaking of "too tight," ankle-buster high heels have but one purpose, to alter a woman's posture, accentuating her backside and chest.  Modest heels make a woman look like a lady with good posture.  While high heels make a woman look like a baited hook.

It is vital to teach our sons and daughters about the dangers of self-deception, for our hearts are deceptive.

Brethren let us be honest:  if the world loves you, you must be of the world.  Let us commit ourselves with all of our mind, heart, and soul to the divine standards of God's Word.  Let us sanctify our bodies that we may glorify our God.  Let us show the world and the church the difference between a life of light and a life of darkness.  Let us not abuse our "liberties" of dress.  They are not from the heart of God but rather the heart of Satan.  Do not shame your Lord!

It is our "true liberty" in Christ to clothe with robes that picture the church, His bride, that He purchased with His blood.  We are free from the bondage of Satan (who whispers that a woman or man may show his nakedness).  Let us stand fast in the liberty by which Christ made us free, not be entangled with the yoke of bondage.  (Galatians 5:1)

  • Modesty Begins at Home
Our men must teach their wives and daughters the proper principles of modesty and decency.  Fathers and husbands are responsible for what the women in their homes wear.  It is up to us parents to set the guidelines and standards for our children.  If we do not want the hassle of raising our children well before God's eyes, then repent!  Period!  All Christians need to study this subject carefully and pray fervently for wisdom.   As parents, we have all the tools that we need to raise a godly generation for the glory of God.  We have the obligation and the authority to train, instruct, and discipline our children as well as model Christ in our way of living before them. (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4).  Likewise, children must obey and honor their parents (Eph. 6:1-3).

God promises to bless all children who are obedient to their parents.  Therefore, all parents ought to be strongly motivated to train, teach, and discipline their children.  Sadly, we live in a culture where parents give in to their children's desires rather than instructing and training them.  They spend a lot of time and energy negotiating with their children, often lowering their standards in the process.  Indeed, many parents have been seduced by self-esteem propaganda (e.g., "my son is student of the month.....") and the liberal concept that a family should be a mini-democracy.  As a result of this, we now have a child-centered family relationship that has more in common with anarchy than with the Biblical order. The children are more influenced by peer-oriented counsel than mature counsel.

What is even worse is the muted work of discipline, especially "spanking."  This lack of discipline (God ordained) is connected to the confusing and contradictory counsel from psychologists, therapists, and other professionals.  As if their counsel were better than God's.  Don't be deceived. God's counsel on discipline is unmistakable: 

"He that spareth his rod hateth his son; But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."  (Prov. 13:24)

As mothers, we have an enormous responsibility to protect and train our daughters in the principles of chastity and modesty. We are our daughters' example.  As they are growing up into young ladies, they are watching us.  They are trying to find out how to become godly.  If my daughters see me dressing provocatively in clothes that reveal or accentuate what should be very private, or perhaps, putting on clothes that are skin tight or low cut to attract the attention of men,  then they are likely to follow my example.  Let's be good examples to them and not stumbling blocks.  Our little girls want to be just like their mothers!   What an honor!   Please, let's make sure we are pointing them to Christ: 
"Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ."  (I Corinthians 11:1)

Dads are not off the hook!  Dads, do you know your daughters are watching and listening to you also?  If their hero, Daddy, is attracted to sensuality in other women, they will likely become this kind of woman.  Our sons also learn this type of behavior.  They notice what kind of movies, books, entertainment, magazines and so on that their dads enjoy.  These boys are observing what their fathers value most in women, and this is critical because eventually, they will be affected by whether or not Dad respects, protects, or is faithful and honors their mother.

Although the world does not have, or care about having, a fixed standard for modesty. Parents do.  It is crucial for parents to set rules with principles behind them.  The father is to take the active role of protecting his children.  This is an essential God-given role to him.  The father must understand that the way his children dress around others sends messages about him as the head of their household. He must be aware of how young men and women think when they see immodesty. The father and mother must be united on the importance of modest attire in their children.  As parents, it is vital to be in the same team on this subject.

Joshua declared before all the people, "but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  For Joshua to serve the LORD, faithfully was a family affair.  His was a right side view of family. Therefore, parents must stand together that they may teach respect for God's holiness in every aspect of their life, even when it is not welcome.  As parents, we must model and enforce Biblical and ethical morals steadfastly in our homes, that we may protect our children from all worldly influences. We must set standards of thought and conduct that will help our children to be anchored both spiritually and socially as they mature.

  • Double Mindedness
As those who claim to love the Lord, we must show our discernment and obedience in the way we dress or cover our bodies.  We must not put our reputation and integrity at risk.  The Word of God is crystal clear about those who are "double-minded."  The Lord warns us that they are "unstable" in all their ways, receiving nothing from Him.  (James 1:7-8).  What is worse, they are (the double-minded man) a distraction and a stumbling block for many.  Moreover, the Bible warns us that if a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart, he commits adultery in his heart (Matt. 5:28).  Do not be deceived!  Why?  Because temptation and lust form a deadly alliance.  James said,

"But each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.  Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death.  Be not deceived, my beloved brethren."  (James 1:14-16)
  • Willing to Err
Some who claim to be men of God have not been regenerated, transformed according to the Spirit of Christ.  They fight persistently to clothe fleshly pleasures, desires in the robes of their faith.  These men are not able to lead because they themselves are led and influenced by the desires of their women and their "youth group."  Others, are sincere but fight fierce battles in other areas, so that they simply have not reflected on, nor have they studied, this subject.  Finally, there are those who have indeed considered and examined the issue of nakedness and modesty over the years but have concluded that this is a matter of  "Christian liberty."  My question is:  Why this dichotomy among the men of God?   The truth is that there are a significant number of men in the body of Christ who are quiet and desperate since they struggle with impure thoughts.  It is evident that an alarming number of men are playing a game that they can't possibly win! 

"Stolen waters are sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; That her guests are in the depths of Sheol."  (Proverbs 9:17-18)

Adam did not get away with it when he blamed Eve for his failure.  Likewise, men ought not to blame the indecent way some women dress for their voyeur habits of wrongdoing.  The Bible is clear: it is fundamentally a matter of discernment, self-control, and self-discipline. (Mark 9:47; Rom. 12:2; I Thess. 4:3-8; Titus 2:6).  
  • A wise man will do his best to avoid situations that invite his heart to impure thoughts and lust. (Luke 9:23; I Cor. 6:18).  
  • His faith is unshakable, and he knows that the power is in the Word of God to help him against temptation. (I Cor. 10:13; Eph.3:20; Phil. 4:13).  
  • He can overcome temptation because he fears God and does not want to sin against Him. (Psalm 51:4; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:2-5).  
  • He is aware of the tragic consequences of disobeying his Creator and not taking heed to His discipline.  (Heb. 12:9-11; James 1:13-15).  
  • He heartily guards his integrity because he knows that lust is not a private matter (Pro. 22:1; Eccl. 7:1a).  
  • He is considerate of others.  (Eph. 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:6, 5:22).
Men of God, why not follow the statement that Job made, as a badge? Job made this statement against any accusation of hypocrisy as a way of defense:  

"I made a covenant with mine eyes; How then should I look upon a virgin?"  (Job 31:1)

Job understood well  God's nature, His righteousness.  Therefore, men of God, why not develop a strong safeguard against ever having to seek defense?  Let these words sink deep into your hearts!

  • "If You Love Me..."

God expects and demands that His children live under His moral authority (His rules and moral standards).  He has always been concerned with modesty and nakedness.  

"Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered thereon."  (Exodus 20:26).  

It is interesting that one's "nakedness" could be easily exposed even when he had clothes on. The Levitical priests had to avoid going up steps where their private parts could be seen by those below. Later they were instructed to wear linen trousers that covered their nakedness from the waist to the knees.  Modesty is evident in God's coverings for Adam and Eve; in the holy garments of the high priests (Ex.28:2) and the regulations that governed the dress and conduct of the priesthood (Ex. 20:26, 28:42).  It is seen in the Law of Christ that contains essential, necessary instructions on modesty for women and men (I Tim. 2:9-10; Luke 17:1-2; Matt. 5:28).

Modesty is an enduring moral principle rather than one's preference or opinion.  Yet why is it, that so many Christians wring their hands and grind their teeth when it comes to modesty?  As Christians, we must examine our standard of dress carefully for the sake of  Christ's cause.  When the Law of Christ is written in our hearts (2 Cor. 3:2-3), it is not a burdensome task at all.  It is not wise nor good to follow the crowd and bow down to the trendy and changeable gods of our culture.  Why is it that the church seems to lack the heart of obedience to draw guidelines?  It is undeniable that immodesty like "leaven," will increasingly have its way. (I Cor. 5:6; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).  So, why be negligent and complacent and give the devil opportunity?  (Eph. 4:27).  Why turn away willfully from God's blessings? (Matt. 5:3-12; Psalm 1).

Jesus has commanded us to be "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world."  (Matt. 5:11,13-14).  Therefore, it is our responsibility, duty, purpose, and blessing to obey Him and serve Him.  If we love Him, let us then obey His commands (John 14:15).  Modesty is the command of Scripture. The chief desire of those who have tasted of God's grace, and whose hearts have been regenerated is to honor the Lord's lordship, bringing Him glory by keeping His commands.

"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him...  He that loveth me not keepeth not my words: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me." (John 14:21, 24

The principal motives for everything we do or say must be to glorify our God and love Christ, and that includes the way we dress or cover our God-given bodies.


CONCLUSION

There is definitely a moral decay in our culture today:  in our government, schools, entertainment, modesty, sensuality, gender and especially in the home, etc.  We cannot deny it!  When the church that the Lord purchased with His blood is no longer “counter-culture,” it tragically loses its relevancy.  The church can be relevant only when it stands for the culture of Christ, believes it to be right, opposing at all cost the ways of sin and lawlessness.   When the church willingly engages in all the tactics of the world, compromising all righteousness, Satan sits on his throne being the winner. As Christians, we must shine our light so that others may see the difference between a life of righteousness and a life of lawlessness.  We must be followers in word and deed and glorify God by our good works.

I believe that Satan has won in drawing many Christians into the sin of uncleanness by the embellishment and spangling of beautiful clothes, more than he ever could have won without them. I ponder the question of what was the attire of the married woman of Proverbs 7.  She was not a harlot, but the Scriptures speak of her dressing like one.  Her motives were to entice men with her attire. Surely her attire was not as captivating and tempting as are the garments of many professing Christians today!  So why is it, Christian, that you dress the way you do?  Examine your heart!!

However, some women are perhaps just a little naive, and they dress in a way that's provocative or sensual without any sinful intention.  It is said, that just as men have the sinful tendency to lust after women; likewise, many women have the same tendency to lust after being lusted after. Still, remember the old saying,  "Don't advertise what is not for sale!"  

Today, we have a significant number of feminists in our culture, crying out, "it is my body, and I'll do what I want."  We also have many modern Christians who cry out the same, "it's my liberty, and I'll do what I want."  Nevertheless, the Word of God declares:  

"Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body."  ( I Cor. 6:19-20)

Christian, you are not your own.  Your whole body and soul belong to the Lord since He purchased you and paid a cruel price for your body:  His own broken one.  Therefore, you are His property, and your body belongs to Him.   Don't forget that!  Reflect upon how you adorn His blood-bought property and cover your nakedness

"And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me."  (I Cor. 11:24; Matt. 26:26)

Our outward appearance communicates a message of love for Christ and our neighbor.  Why not examine your heart and reflect upon your conduct?  Why not ask yourself:

  • Do others who meet me ever act surprised when they find out that I am a Christian, because of what I regard as important to me? They see my affection for a worldly subculture of dress!
  • Does the way I dress and behave communicate a message of chastity and modesty or would others assume I am trying to look just like the world?  
Remember that everything matters!  Every bit of it!  And the foundation for all of this is found in the words of our Lord:   

"And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)

It is all about loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength as well as loving your neighbor as yourself. One way that I can express such love for Jesus, our Lord is by honestly representing Him well. It is our duty to God to be prepared to act like godly men and women.   What that means is that we must be careful to appear holy before a world of darkness. Our lives as Christians must be open Bibles, that represent Christ and saves souls. But we must be careful not to become stumbling blocks by the way we dress and behave.  Take heed!

I leave you with these questions to reflect upon so that you may be stirred up or provoked to love and good works: 

  • If Jesus should return today, what would He think of the clothes you wear?   
  • Would you wear the same clothes that you usually wear in public if Jesus was with you in person?   
  • Are your clothes causing others to sin by lusting after your body?  
  • Do you dress like the world just because it is popular and is what our culture dictates?   
  • Are you aware, brother or sister, that when you go in public wearing tight and revealing clothing, or shirtless, you are provoking others to sin, and you are not representing Christ well?  
  • Are you fiercely guarding your reputation before your God and those around you?  
  • Don't you know, we are commanded by our Lord to guard His reputation as well as our own? 
  • Don't you know, that you are clothed with Christ, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."  (Galatians 3:27)  
  • Are you aware at all, that the way you dress, speak and behave, represents the purity of Christ, whether it be honestly or dishonestly?   
  • Do you want to leave doubts about your chastity and modesty? 
  • Do you want to appear as contradicting or blaspheming the WORD of God?  

The same questions need to be faced concerning wedding gowns.  Delicate sisters, who would never dare to appear in public showing so much skin and nakedness as the typical wedding gowns uncover, give themselves permission to do so, even in a sacred setting.  Please, guard your influence carefully and go the second mile to avoid the possibility of leading someone astray!

To be a true follower of Christ demands maturity of character and virtue. (Col. 1:9-12; 2 Peter 1:5-11).  The Gospel is ultimately about pleasing and obeying God.  It is the life that gives testimony of God's righteousness, holiness, love, and sufficiency.

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."  (Eph. 5:15-17)
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."   (Matt. 5:16)

One day, we all are going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, "so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."  (2 Cor. 5:10-11)

May we never cause the Word of God to be reviled among the unbelievers by the way we live and behave, that is counter to what is described in the Word of God.  May we repent of our worldliness and ungodliness of heart.  May we live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.  May we also adorn the doctrine of Christ in all things.  (Titus 2:10-14).  May we live a life that is consistent with the WORD of God, lest we give the unbelievers an opportunity to slander God because of our hypocrisy.  May we never deny God's precious Truths by clinging to the forms and fashions of this present evil world and its sinful nakedness.  May we always glorify our God in our bodies which are His, returning to modesty, the modesty that Christ teaches.

Luci




Friday, September 18, 2015

CONTENDING FOR MODESTY - PART ONE

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works."  
Hebrews 10:24


Temperatures are rising with the summer heat and we tend to seek relief by dressing in cooler fashions. If our standards have drifted a little toward what is permitted by our worldly friends, we may allow ourselves a little more nakedness than we used to. We have been desensitized by what we see everywhere, but God's thinking has not changed. Now don't get defensive. We need to constantly school ourselves in what the Bible calls "the fear of God." Let's refresh our memories on the teachings of the divine oracles that guide us on dress.

As much as I enjoy the summer break from the burdens of home education, it is such a relief to anticipate the cooler weather of Fall because everyone will have a reason to put away the skimpy summer clothing and start covering the shame of their nakedness.  Seriously, can we not give a little more thought to the way we clothe our God-given bodies?  The Lord has written that our bodies are the Temple of God!  What does our temple look like to the world?

Modesty is definitely a controversial subject regardless of how one approaches it.  So often when one embarks on this subject, one has to do it with caution since it is always costly and challenging for him to speak against it.  It is unavoidable.  There is nothing that provokes a head-on collision more than this thorny issue of modesty. However, my desire is not controversy but rather to stimulate us as Christians to love and good works for the glory of God.  My goal is edification through God's Truth.  

Frankly, immodesty is a very common concern in the Lord's church today.  Many Christians hesitate to say anything about it because they are afraid to appear immodest by the very words that they use. Others are willing to speak against it but are unable to approach it from a Biblical point of view.  It is undeniable that modesty is a lost virtue.  We have good reason to be concerned.   Consider the reasons for this concern.


I.  REASONS TO BE CONCERNED
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."  (Matthew 5:8)

We live in a culture where nudity or the “clothing-optional” lifestyle is becoming a big business. Nobody is blushing anymore.  There was a time when our people would be embarrassed by public indecency.  A culture that worships nature and sensuality is prone to dress immodestly.  Likewise, those who make idolatry out of material possessions often fall prey to a foppish and vain enslavement to high fashion.  However, a culture that embraces true Christianity will seek holiness as its standard for personal dress (covering).  The godly dress code will emphasize biblical principles such as distinction, functionality, and modesty.  How we dress (cover) our bodies is not a morally neutral question.  

Moreover, dress standards and dress codes are unavoidable and inevitable.  Why?  Because we all follow a dress code either by design or by default.  (In other words, you have examined and considered moral and philosophical implications for your dress code or that you have allowed others do the thinking for you and have, in fact, accepted their judgment).  The reality is that you will have a dress code.

  • Fashion Reigns

Most Christians have well understood that dress standards are inevitable.  That is, until the 20th century.  Unfortunately, we have seen three trends in thinking:  
  1. The rise of antinomianism (the rejection of God as Lawgiver).
  2. The resurgence of Gnosticism (the belief that God is not concerned with physical things).
  3. And the general acceptance of neutrality (the notion that the Lordship of Christ only applies to human action in "spiritual" matters).  
Many Christians have been carried away by the course of this world, surrendering to the prince of darkness rather than God, walking in pure disobedience.  They would rather be taken captive by our culture's inclinations, rather than obey the admonition to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.   As Christians, who obey their Lord, we must honor the rules of our Lawmaker concerning our clothing.  Otherwise, we are refusing the Lordship of Jesus.  Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we are in reality saying:  "My dress standard is a neutral zone.  Jesus does not speak to this issue."  So, who is the Lawgiver?  Man or God?  When someone claims to be a Christian in word and deed, he must discern how to reverence wisely the Lordship of Christ and apply all His revealed principles to our standards of dress.  

You can be absolutely assured that the revealed Word of God is sufficient for us as to how we ought to dress in a Christ-honoring manner concerning our gender and our situation in life.  Therefore, it is crucial that we apply the unchanging principles, precepts, and normative patterns of Scriptures to the every changing facts of our cultural circumstances.  One of these vital issues is nakedness.  The revealed Word of God has much to say about this matter.  

Alas, today more and more professing Christians have come to think of nakedness as normal and acceptable, even preferable.  Somehow, they believe they have permission to remove the "restraints" of modest dress following the trendy pagan fashions that are physically revealing.  As a terrible consequence of all this, otherwise, sober-minded people have been publicly undressed.  NO! As professing Christians, we must speak the Truth against this modern trend toward nakedness and its consequences.  We must start raising sons and daughters to remain morally pure in an idolatrous culture that worships the flesh.

Today, nudism packages itself as cutting edge leisure and entertainment.  It coincides with the trend in fashion toward nakedness.  Our fashion designers seem to be stuck on the idea that less is more, forcefully promoting styles that uncover more skin.  Successful designers market the concept that what is sensual and revealing is actually the modern trend.  Their marketing is most attractive, and persuasive among our teens and young women.  It is all about wearing what is attractive and fashionable regardless of whether is a suitable fit or style for the one who is wearing it.  It is not a surprise to me that our culture accepts these styles, but it is unsettling to see our sisters in Christ join in.  
"Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged."  (I Cor. 2:14).  

Is anyone actually listening to the Holy Spirit’s inspired words?  What is troublesome for me is that so many professing Christians are willing to bow the knee to the delusive enticements of provocative fashions as if to say:  "What I wear is my business."

When one dares to speak of modesty or the standards of modesty today, it is risky.  Why?  Because one is marking oneself as naive, impractical, out-of-date, old-fashioned, a prude and even worse a meddler!  Whether we accept it or not, the principles of modesty are woven convincingly throughout the Scriptures.  One of the character traits that marks God's people is modesty.  Modesty is related to the godly character traits of humility, discretion, purity, and self-control.  Yet, it is a subject that remains largely ignored and neglected in our sacred instruction and admonition.  Let us consider the following points that we find in the Bible’s teaching.

  1. Modesty is addressed in both the Old and New Testaments as being vital to understand the holiness of God.
  2. Biblical modesty is not a matter of law but rather a state of mind or disposition that fundamentally reflects the "hidden man of the heart."
  3. A careful thought of modesty should be given to control how Christians speak, behave and adorn themselves, especially in public and mixed company situations.
  4. Parents who are prone to be indifferent to their boys’ and girls’ desires to dress in many of today's fashions are putting their children at risk both spiritually and socially.

Christians must take heed to the teachings of the Bible correctly that they may live by the divine standard which is the highest standard of purity and holiness. 
"And be ye holy; for I am holy."  (Lev. 11:44; I Peter 1:16).  
"Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children."  (Eph. 5:1).  
Let these sobering words sink deep into our hearts.  They bear serious biblical significance that connects us distinctively to our Creator.

God's ultimate intent for His children is that they be different, set apart from the world, set apart from our modern culture, in the way they think, speak and conduct themselves. 

"Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  (Matt. 5:16). 
  1. We are to be a "peculiar people."  (Titus 2:14; I Peter 2:9).  We see this Truth in the earliest pages of Genesis.  The Bible proclaims God's righteous standards and defines limits to our liberty.  
  2. As Christians, we are to regard ourselves as "strangers and pilgrims." (I Peter 2:11).  
  3. We are not to love the world nor the things of this world (I John 2:15).  
  4. We are not to conform to this world but be transformed, regenerated (Romans 12:1-2).  
  5. We are not just a subculture on cruise control, but a counterculture that cautiously marches to the beat of a different drummer, our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Modesty:  A Small Word With a Big Meaning

So what is modesty?  The mid-16th-century view of modesty, defined by its parts gives us a helpful perspective:
  1. Humility:  Unwillingness to draw attention to your own achievements or abilities.
  2. Sexual reserve: Reserve about nudity or sexual matters, mainly a preference for clothes that keep much the body covered.
  3. Shyness:  Lack of confidence when speaking to others or stating opinions, and the tendency to be uneasy or embarrassed in company.
  4. Simplicity:  Lack of grandeur or ostentation
  5. Moderation:  Moderation in size, scale, or extent.

A Modern Dictionary defines the word "modesty" as:
  1. Placing a moderate or low estimate on one's own merits; not forward or boastful.
  2. Evincing, or arising from lack of boldness, presumption, display, etc.; moderate, unpretentious.
  3. Observing the properties of sex; chaste; decent.

Formal definitions of modesty have remained relatively unchanged.  Noah Webster adds, 
"In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is also used as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners.  In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle.  Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor."

So, according to the definitions mentioned above, modesty is a broad concept not limited to sexual connotation.  It is a state of mind or the disposition to express a humble evaluation or examination of one's self before God.  Modesty like humility is then the opposite of arrogance.  It does not seek to draw attention to itself (show off).  Chastity is linked to modesty (moral purity in thought and conduct).  Both moral purity and humility do not exhibit sensuality any more than ostentation.

At the turn of the 20th century, modesty was taken seriously, being at the heart of the Christian concept of "decent" clothing.  The first swimming suits for women consisted of black stockings and bloomers which covered them from their necks to their ankles.  Alas, styles continued to change giving us the bikini and reducing the practice of modesty for nakedness without shame.

Excess and sensuality bear on modesty.  It is imperative for the Christian woman to consciously control her heart and passions instead of being carried away by elaborate, expensive and sensual fashions.  If her heart is pure and modest, she will have no room to draw attention to herself in a way that is not holy and righteous.  Her clothing will not send the message:  sex, pride or money but rather "purity, humility, and moderation."

Ladies, as Christian women who profess godliness, let us not forget that the church is "the pillar and ground of the Truth." (I Tim. 3:15).  Therefore, let us allow those divine principles taught by the revealed Word of God guide our daily living to glorify God.  Let us not forget that we must dress modestly and discreetly in the presence of men and God.  When the heart is right with God, it will govern itself in purity and humility, expressing itself modestly.  Christian modesty will at no cost expose itself publicly in sinful nakedness.

  • God the Originator and Designer of Clothing

It is an undeniable reality that clothes came in with sin.  As those who profess to be born of God's Spirit agree that we must not conform to sinful nakedness but rather reject it by practicing modesty. Does the Bible offer an objective standard for each?  Definitely, YES!  The truth is that modesty rests firmly in God's nature, His grace, and His will.  The Word of God describes God as Creator of all things as well as the Originator and Designer of clothing.  We see this in the Biblical account of the origin of clothing, and its later examples of dress revealed as a principle or rule of conduct.  

When there were no clothes, 
"And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."  
It is important to understand that in the beginning before Adam and Even disobeyed God, nakedness was not shameful.  In fact, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." (Gen. 1:31).  

Even though Adam and Eve were naked, they felt no public disgrace.  God created them that way without the need of clothing.  You see, nakedness was good until both Adam and Eve rebelled (sinned) against God.  When they both recognized that they were naked, they were afraid and tried to hide from God.  They were ashamed and tried to cover themselves by sewing fig leaves together, making aprons to cover them, but that still was not enough.  
"And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons...  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself... And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and clothed them."  (Genesis 3:7, 10, 21).  
As a result of their disobedience to God, God covered Adam and Eve's nakedness.  The knowledge of their sin changed what was "good," nakedness, into humiliating shame.  Therefore, blushing and disgraced, they entered history.  In His great mercy, God provided a gracious covering.  He covered both Adam and Eve, providing coats of skin to graciously "cover" both, even though they tried to cover themselves with "aprons" made out of fig leaves.  This wonderful kindness of God's mercy (grace) was later fulfilled in the propitiatory sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

God replaced Adam and Even's loincloths with "tunics of skin."  Even though Adam and Eve tried to cover their loins, it was not acceptable to God.  God had to cover them from their neck to their knees.  God covered their bodies completely with coats (a tunic-like garment).  In Genesis, the Hebrew word for "coats" is "kuttonet" meaning to cover.  The "kuttonet" was the garment worn by man and woman as seen in the tunics of skin.  The important thing to acknowledge is that this was God's design for covering Adam and Eve's nakedness and shame.  Strictly speaking, God did not give Eve a fur bikini to cover her but a full body covering.

Some argue that since the word "modest" does not appear in Genesis, any principle of modesty cannot be drawn from it.  What they don't want to accept is that biblical principles and biblical truths are often revealed and demonstrated through literal events.  When God covered Adam and Eve, He established a moral principle that was reinforced throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, this moral principle is to be our moderating pattern, standard, regardless of cultural trends or changing times.

When God ordained the priests to their holy office, He designed their holy clothes as well.  He said to Moses, 
"And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise-hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron's garments to sanctify him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a coat (kuttonet) of checker work, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office... For Aaron's sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty. 41 And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 42 You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs; 43 and they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they go into the tent of meeting or when they come near the altar to minister in the Holy Place, lest they bear guilt and die. This shall be a statute forever for him and for his offspring after him."  (Exodus 28:3-4, 40-43).  

Here we see God, the Original Designer of Clothing, covering their bodies as He had done with Adam and Eve before.

  • Modesty in Action
While the word "modest" appears only once in the King James Bible, different words related to modesty are often used.    How it is used concerning modesty is seen in their Greek meanings: Consider for example the words "kosmios" "kosmos" and "kosmeo."  The word "modesty" comes from "kosmios" which means orderly, proper, decent, modest, respectable.  The root word "kosmos" from which the words "kosmios and kosmeó" are derived, refers to order, adornment, decoration.  It also applies to the world, or the universe, as that which is divinely arranged (Matt. 13:35; John 3:16; I John 2:15; James 1:27).  We see these terms used in both the epistles of Paul and Peter.  Consider them.

"In like manner, that women adorn (kosmeó) themselves in modest (kosmios) apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works."  (I Timothy 2:9-10)

The word "shamefastness" in the above verse gives us the idea of an innate moral quality that causes blushing or a sense of embarrassment, shame concerning that which is dishonorable (nakedness, immodesty).

"This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour (kosmios), given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil."  (I Timothy 3:1-6).

Here, Paul is reminding those who desire to lead in the church to be mature in Christ that they may portray the high standards or qualities as men of God so that they may not be judged strictly.  It is hard not to note modesty principles.  "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment."  (James 3:1)

Although Paul is speaking mainly to the church leaders, Christian men, he is telling them that those qualities that make a man of God strong must be evident and increasing (growth) in every Christian man, though his culture idolizes the kind of man who is independent, bold, daring, seductive and alluring. 

"In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives; beholding your chaste behavior coupled with fear.  Whose adorning (kosmos) let it not be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."  (I Peter 3:1-4).

The apostle Peter is exhorting Christian women, i.e. wives, to be modest in the way they dress and in their demeanor.  He is also emphasizing that what is really important in a woman's adorning (kosmos) is her inner heart, her life, the "hidden man of the heart."  It is the character of the inner life that is portrayed in the way we speak, our demeanor, and our clothing preferences.  In other words, the way we speak is an indicator of the condition of our conscience and our good works toward God.  
"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"  (Hebrews 9:14; I Peter 2:19).
  • Contending With Moral Indifference

Today, we are living in times of moral confusion.  Our culture appears to be indifferent to everything that is moral and it is obviously being reflected in the way they dress.  Likewise, we are also living in a pornographic society that is drowning in the ecstasy of a sensual debauched culture.  To say the least, many leaders, among them preachers and elders, contemplate an endless parade of sensuality, concluding that swimsuits, short skirts, tube tops, tanks, sheer blouses, low rise jeans, dresses with low cut fronts and backs and skirts and dresses with side slits and so on are not so bad after all.  That they all are okay.  Among these leaders (including the so-called "youth ministers") in the church, some have the audacity to encourage our women (especially the young) in their congregations to wear "modest, one-piece" swimsuits before they go to the beach.  It is undeniable that our modern one piece suits are but a masterpiece of sensual camouflage.  Why?  Simply, because most women's bodies just cannot quench the public's thirst for the perfect figure.  A one piece is mainly designed to make the best of  "what a woman has."  Nevertheless, the children of God are called to purity and holiness.

We, Christians, have the responsibility to be concerned that many of today's styles, fashions, especially for women, are harlot-like and promote public undress.  Both the cut and the fabric extremely expose and emphasize certain areas of the body.  These fashions or styles have but one purpose for the wearer, to arouse an unholy interest, mainly lust, in the minds of male onlookers…instead of being valued for her well-ordered taste, chaste and feminine beauty, her "adorning."

Today, it is disgusting and discouraging to see this problem permeating the Lord's church which He purchased with His blood.  So many times I have to shake my head when I see older women not being good examples in the way they dress and in their demeanor.  I have seen this problem among the wives and daughters of our preachers and elders.  Many of these leaders have the audacity to post pictures of themselves with their women dressed (or undressed) with indecent clothing (they themselves in shorts and shirtless) in the public arenas such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and so on.  I refuse to hit "like" on such messages!  
  1. Where are our godly men, our leaders in the Lord's church?  
  2. What are you men doing with the Lord's church?  
  3. Are you destroying the work of God or are you building it for future generations?  
  4. Aren't you afraid of the wrath of God?  
  5. And you Christian women why do you behave in such a worthless manner?  
  6. Don't you know, Christian woman, that "your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid."  
  7. Don't you know "that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own."  
  8. Don't you know "you were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body."  
So, as Christian men and women, let us stop being like the Pharisees of Jesus' time and start bearing good fruits that you may not be strictly judged by the Greatest Judge of all.  "Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?"  I sincerely hope I am not!

Indisputably, this is a problem that is making the Lord’s church bleed.  She is hemorrhaging souls.  It is serious because it is sinful, distracting, and compromising the cause of Christ.  The church that remains silent on the issue of modesty and chastity is diminishing the blood of Christ, His cross and the work of the church.  Moreover, it deprives, cheats and deceives God's children, leading them into false doctrine and wrong doing.  Why not correct, instruct, and teach God's righteousness to those who are disobedient and walking disoderly?!  Let us take heed to God's Word!
"Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.  That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work."  (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Do not be deceived.  Modesty is a "God thing."  It is this character trait that aids us as a weapon of defense against various forms of immorality (fornication, adultery).  As those who profess to be followers of Christ, we are responsible to be growing as Christians in our character and virtue.  We are also responsible for rejecting everything that is not in harmony with the Word of God.  The apostle Paul admonishes us saying, "prove all things; hold fast that which is good."  (I Thess. 5:21).


II.   LOVING THE THINGS THAT ARE IN THE WORLD
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."  (I John 2:15-16)

The Word of God is crystal clear exhorting us that we are not to love the world nor the things of the world.  As Christians, we ought not to conform to this world (Romans 12:2) but rather be light and salt even though we live in a world that "lies in the power of the evil one (wickedness)."  (I John 5:19).

Though God grants us great freedom through His Son, we are not to love the world and everything in it.  The word "world" in this context is the whole human scheme of things, arranged regarding human wisdom (to achieve a human goal), without reference to God, His Laws, His moral standards, and His ultimate judgment.  The world, by nature, is hostile to God and His everlasting Word.

Ironically, this is the same world in which Jesus wanted to build His church, (Matt. 16:18).  The day will come when we as living stones that are being built as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood will come to an end.  Until that day, we are to live steadfastly according to God's Word even though our world, our culture, seems to be more influenced by worldly ideas, standards, or practices.  Of course, this includes the way we dress, what we wear.  Most of today's fashions, including our modern swimwear, are obviously designed to the world's standards, not those of Jesus Christ.  The fashion industry caters to pride, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, but not purity and holiness.  Its primary target is to sensually package or uncover the body instead of covering it.  The world does not deny this.  Should we, Christians, deny this?   It seems to me that the world is more honest about this issue than many Christians who only desire to fill our churches and our pulpits.  Our culture, especially our nation, has moved from a biblical worldview that once claimed, "The devout Puritan maiden found beauty in prayer and self-discipline rather than in the wearing of pretty clothes and jewelry."  To a carnal worldview that says, "It is glamorous and exotic."  Men of God, what then is it about?  Sisters, what is it about?

The consequences of this popular trend in fashion against modesty is the public "nakedness."  This ought to be a primary concern for the Lord's church.  Why?  Because these revealing and provocative styles assail not only every public venue but often strut in the church as well.

Our fashion industry's goal is to be creative, colorful and dynamic, radiating popularity and glamor. Our television and Hollywood industry is a stronghold of self-interest and self-expression that has no regard for Christian moral standards, modesty, righteousness and the fear of God.  Moreover, the fashion industry does not believe, refusing at all cost the principle purpose of covering the body. Their principle motive for clothing is sexual attraction.  This is the opposite of godliness, purity, and holiness or Christian modesty.

Therefore, our women must be cautious and aware of how their clothing impacts men.  Why? Because men are more visually oriented than women.  Sadly many women don't grasp that they are lit candles walking among kegs of gunpowder.  They are stumbling blocks with the way they dress and carry themselves.
  • Signs of the Time

The windows and walls of many of our clothing stores leave little to the imagination when they market their fashion displays as explicitly "very sexy, very now" and "fun and flirty."  Take for example Victoria's Secret who has for a long time been targeted for boycott by the American Decency Association (ADA) because they "aggressively use eroticism in marketing their product." Another one is Abercrombie and Fitch, who even go further in displaying barely-clad college-age youth in many of their catalogs.  By the way, they are also on the ADA boycott list.

On the ADA's Website, they question the Christian community for their lack of concern.  They ask, "Where is the outcry," "especially from those who claim to be Christians?"  Alas, many times those in the body of Christ live no differently than those outside, in the world.  The ADA goes further adding this warning:
"The marketing tactics used by Abercrombie & Fitch, are beginning to be followed by other companies.  If A & E continues to its push, with little public outcry, expect a deluge of pornography in the marketplace in the not so distant future."

Although, there is a considerable number of fashions and styles that do not honor God, there are still some beautiful, stylish and complimentary choices that do.   Unfortunately, it is always the daring, on the edge choices that most often tend to capture the public's eyes. 

The attire of a harlot (prostitute) has a peculiar look that is designed mainly to draw attention and stimulate fleshly desire, lust (Proverbs 7:10).  Consider many of today's fashions that succeed in bypassing modesty in many ways, whether it is for street wear or dress-up.  These are constant reminders of the attire of the harlot. 

  1. Halter tops
  2. Tube tops
  3. Tanks, tees, and camis
  4. Spaghetti straps
  5. Sheer blouses and dresses
  6. Low-cut shirts and blouses
  7. Mini-skirts
  8. Low-rise jeans
  9. Short shorts
  10. Dresses with low-cut fronts or backs
  11. Skirts and dresses with side slits


As Christians we are commanded to "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good."  (I Thess. 5:21).  Therefore, we must examine all of our garments and see if there is any problem that should become self-evident, determining everything about its design or use "appeals to the flesh."  Did you know that the camisole, a short negligee jacket for women, was originally an undergarment?  Clearly, as a short and lacy outer garment, it offers an opportunity to look seductive, alluring, and desirable.  Dressing to look alluring, seductive or desirable is an invitation to lust.  Lust, of course, is a sin that men are cautioned in the Bible to avoid.  "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  (Matt. 5:28).

Let us take heed as Christian women and not cause our brothers in Christ to stumble because of our immoral way of dressing.  I am aware that some Christian women might object to this by saying, "But I am not trying to be seductive or sensual or tempting to men!"  I hope this is the case.  The truth is that if you expose yourself to the gaze of men wearing provocative and sensual clothing, you are not promoting chastity, no matter how hard you think you are trying.  Our actions speak louder than words.  And in this case stretchy, skin-tight clothing designed to emphasize or highlight your “assets” speaks much louder than your heart's desire.  The same principle applies to other garments that expose and advertise the body rather than covering it.

The world and its gods of fashion must not be the Christians’ standard of dress (covering), nor do they have any authority in the standards of what is godly beauty.  Let's follow God's standard, rules and not the world's. Let us carefully examine whatever we wear and our motives as children of the Almighty God.  Paul admonishes us saying, 

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."  (Colossians 3:17).  

We glorify our God by the way we dress and not by "playing up our assets."  Let us examine our heart, sisters.  Playing up our assets and flattering our figure is more suited to a pornographic, immoral society than the society of God's children.  Let this sink deep into your heart.  Let us not forget that we are living among the spiritually dead and that we as Christians are indeed lit candles walking in a dark world.

  • Fashion Extremes and Dangers

Despite the condemnation of "nakedness" in both the Old and the New Testaments, many fashion styles tend to confirm that what is popular is not necessarily stylish.  One example of that is the bare mid-riffs, a combination of the short tee shirt or cami and the low-rise pants that often reveal unflattering tummies, navels, and unbecoming tattoos.  Many of these styles make a myth out of the idea that one style fits all.  Likewise, dyed and bleached jeans may not be revealing, but many of their patterns often accentuate the private areas.  Instead of honoring and respecting the God-given feminine beauty, they expose the wearer's naiveté.

Most of our stores cater to pre-teens, teens and college-age customers whose primary goal is to appear "sexy."  Take for example Express that features a pant line called the "sexy, low-rise, slim-fit fashion story" as well as "recklessly sexy jeans."  Limited, the store, that punctuates its wall décor with artistically scripted slogans such as "smart, modern, sexy;" "casual, sexy, cool;" "sexy sweater;" and "I love sexy pants."  Undoubtedly this kind of marketing has been effective in turning heads and stirring emotions, especially among our youth and young women whose world revolves around Cosmo Girl and many Hollywood celebrities.  Other stores like Rampage, The Gap, and Miller's Outpost market the same styles but seem a bit more restrained in featuring the word, "sexy."

Men's fashions are not usually as revealing.  However, some pre-teens to college age boys have adopted the hip-hop style, insisting on wearing their pants very baggy and low off the hips that one wonders how they can stand up and stay up.  This is mostly prevalent among the inner-city youth. Though they are said to be "cool," they quickly turn to vulgar (in female fashions as well) when they intentionally want to show off their underwear (and something else I refuse to mention) as they lean over or sit down.  This must be of great concern to parents since these fashions cannot be separated easily from the influence of a Hip Hop culture and the explicitly sensual lyrics that permeate many of its stage events and music videos.

One area where modesty is mostly ignored is the beach attire for women.  The norm for many sun-worshippers, water enthusiasts, and beach athletes is wearing as little as possible.  As I mentioned earlier in Part I of this study, modesty was at the heart of many women at the beginning of the 1900s and was taken seriously.  Women's styles were designed to cover a woman's figure from neck to ankles.  It had a lot to do with the prevailing view of "decency." This is so contrary to today's skimpy attires.

  • It is Not Just About Clothes
"Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."  ( 2 Tim. 2:22)

Though nakedness is displayed publicly at the beach or the pool and not just in a programmed or published medium, it is done so in real time.  Yet, Christians want to join happily in looking even though many of them diligently avoid certain movies, television programs and reading books because of their offensive content.  Someone said,
"Swimwear not only legitimized nakedness but its Siamese twin, voyeurism.  The female form was no longer a fantasy hidden under layers of cloth and petticoats.  It was now a stark, sensual reality for all those who wanted to look."

So, what is a voyeur?  It is one who finds satisfaction in looking at sexual objects, acts, or scenes. Voyeurism is most commonly associated with the sexual perversion of "Peeping Toms" who seek to watch through a partially open bedroom window as a woman undresses.  Today through the magic of television cameras, men and women can stare shamelessly into the bedrooms of strangers.  With the shame removed from nakedness, men commonly stop and stare at women walking in the marketplace in various stages of undress.  This voyeurism portrays the antithesis of purity of mind and conscience. A God-fearing Christian will not succumb to such shameless behavior.  Christians ought not to underestimate our inclination toward voyeurism that is provided by constant exposure to all forms of indecency.  Those who engage in impure thoughts and all forms of impurity will eventually numb their conscience.  Take heed!

Many of our world wide web, magazines, television programs, movies, books and so on encourage voyeurism without any boundaries.

  • God is Almighty and Over All

In the days of the nation of Israel, God commanded Israel saying:  

"And now, Israel, what doth Jehovah thy God require of thee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of Jehovah, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Behold, unto Jehovah thy God belongeth heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that is therein."  (Deut. 10:12-14).

God had ordained Israel as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."  (Exodus 19:6).  God laid specific standards regarding faith and conduct.  Matters of purity and rites of purification were major issues for His people, the nation of Israel.  In like manner, the apostle Peter reminds us that we bear the stamp of God.  We have a duty and position as priests.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...  Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation." (I Peter 2:9, 11-12).

This being said, moral purity will proclaim itself in forms of modesty.  Purity in thought and modesty interrelate as a way by which one can "abstain from fleshly lusts."  Together they reflect a "heart" that desires to please God alone and be considerate and mindful of others (loving your neighbor).  Modesty is not so much about dress as it is undress (uncover).  Fashions or styles have been a characteristic among pagans or unbelievers.  Christians were often noted for their modesty. Today, it 's hard to see the difference because the distinctions are so blurred.  The Lord's church, to her shame, is imitating the world in matters of purity and modesty.  Although moral purity (virtue) is a personal issue, it is a Biblical issue that must not be open to private interpretation.  "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation."  (2 Peter 1:20).

  • Who Are We to Please?

The Word of God is entirely clear about modesty and modern fashion.  Today’s fashions or trends depict an opposing worldview.  Biblical modesty is of God while popular or trendy fashion is of the world of darkness. God's Precepts are intended to instruct our minds and consciences in righteousness and holiness.  All the principles of modesty embedded throughout the Bible must rule our opinions and preferences.  To us as Christians, everything that involves dress (cover) and undress (uncover) boils down ultimately to the question,
  1.  “Whom do we want to please, God or man?”  
  2. "Who is the One Who sets the standards by which all Christians are to live, God or man?"  
  3. "Who said, 'ye shall be holy; for I am holy,' God or man?'" 
The answers are simple and easy.  Putting them into practice is not.

The apostle Paul warns, 
"Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals.'"  (I Cor. 15:33).  
Christians are in bad company when they are apathetic or self-satisfied toward all the worldly influences that revolve around them.  Let us take heed to the Psalmist's vital insight which is still important for us today:
"Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.  With my whole heart have I sought thee: Oh let me not wander from thy commandments.  Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee."  (Psalm 119:9-11)

At this point, we are going to pause our discussion.  In the second part, we will return to the heart of the matter.

Luci