Choosing and wearing clothes fits into the general label of “whatsoever you do.” Thus, as a member of Jesus’ body, I am supposed to approach the matter of wearing clothes with this attitude: “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
As a Christian, the Lord wants me to be holy and refrain from imitating the ways of the world (Romans 12:1,2). Such a task is not one in which we succeed easily. Why? Because fleshly lusts “war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
Recently, as I waited on my food, a woman walked up to the neighboring food stall. The operator of a third food stall looked her over from head to toe. Up and down his eyes went as he “checked out” her body and the dress on it that stopped less than halfway down her thigh. She had his attention.
There are some men who would lust when looking at a woman even if she had every portion of her body covered except her eyes and nose. The Bible says that some folks have “eyes full of adultery” (2 Peter 2:14). What did Jesus say about looking and longing? He said, “. . . whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
We cannot control the minds of others. But, we can and must dress in such a way that our clothing does not cause others to lust. The Master said that there will be stumbling and offenses. He also said that “woe” is to the one through whom such offenses and stumbling come (Luke 17:1,2). If I dress in such a way that I cause others to have inappropriate thoughts, then, yes, those persons sin by having such lustful desires, but I am guilty of contributing to and stimulating that lust.
Sisters in the Lord are instructed to “adorn themselves in modest apparel” (1 Timothy 2:9). The word “modest” comes from a Greek word meaning “orderly . . . well arranged, seemly, modest” [e-Sword, word no. 2287]. Clothing is modest when it does not draw undue attention to the one wearing it. One might “overdress” by wearing clothes or gawky jewelry that act as a magnet. One might “under dress” by wearing clothes that are too tight (they accentuate every curve of the body and leave little to one’s imagination), too thin (people can see right through them), or too skimpy – showing the cleavage, bare belly, or bare thighs.
Yes, Christian men are affected by skimpy clothing, too. Christian males get distracted when they must serve the Lord’s Supper to women who have their thighs “shining” for them and everyone else to see. God wants saints to be considerate of one another (Hebrews 10:24). He wants us to lay aside things that will cause a brother or sister to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13). Sisters, please understand how weak we men can be. Please be thoughtful of your brothers in the Lord and keep your chest, stomach, and thighs totally covered when you are around us (or any male that is not your husband).
Does the Lord have one “dress code” for females, but a different, less demanding one for males? No. Go back and look at the clothing that God prepared for the first human couple. After Adam and Eve used fig leaves to make coverings for their loin areas, they were still described as “naked” (Genesis 3:7-11). God stepped in. He “made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). “Tunics” were articles of clothing that stretched from the shoulders to at least the knees, covering everything in between. That, brothers and sisters, is the universal clothing code that Jehovah put in place for the human race (cf. Exodus 28:42). He who deviates from it to please himself, beware. Yes, brothers, keep your upper body covered when you are in settings that put you around females who are not your wife.
Like it or not, the clothing which we choose to wear says something about us. Once I attended a funeral at which an adult grandchild of the deceased wore a shirt that had profanity on it. That choice of clothes spoke volumes about her heart. Some wear “the attire of a harlot” (Proverbs 7:10). Mothers, if you allow your daughters to wear clothes in public that show their chest, bellies, or thighs, do not be shocked or angered when men, even Christian men, stare and make no effort to hide their lustful looks.
Do not be confused or deceived by what some type of clothing is called. Undergarments are not indecent because they are labeled “underwear.” They are indecent to wear in front of those who are not our spouse because they are too revealing – they show too much flesh. If you take the same material which is used to make undergarments, and instead of calling it “underwear” you now make it colorful, wear it to the beach/pool, and call it “a swimming suit,” guess what? It is still indecent! Wearing the same amount of clothing material on our body, but calling it by a new name does not change the modesty factor. Our first concern must be modesty – keeping our nakedness covered. That is true whether we are involved in a recreational activity, getting married, or attending an activity with other saints.
How do people respond to the truth about modesty and nakedness? It varies. Some express gratitude and make positive changes. Praise God. Some roll their eyes and look at us as if we are out-of-touch radicals who have lost their minds. Some nod their heads in agreement, but because they want to have “peace” in their family, they still allow their wives and kids to wear whatever they desire.
What about you? Do you dress to please yourself or to please God? These are not trivial matters.
— Roger D. Campbell