LAST SUNDAY NIGHT’S SERMON ON DRESS
Last Sunday night’s sermon was a little awkward to me, but it’s important for Christians to understand modesty and distinction in appearance. I think some churches overdo it, but just because they might bring it up every sermon doesn’t mean we should swing the other way and ignore dress altogether. If it’s biblical, it’s important.
DISTINCTION. The issue in Corinth was about head coverings on women. Apparently, the women in the Corinthian church were outwardly associating with a segment of society that Christians ought not be associated with! Through their newfound so-called liberty, they were going too far. So, Paul corrected them by showing that just like a man’s bad actions reflect poorly on the Lord, their bad actions were reflecting poorly on their husbands and the Lord.
He called the women to embrace their femininity, showing that the women’s long hair is a glorious covering. Likewise, he encouraged the men to realize that long hair is feminine by nature, and if they were to wear their hair long, it would associate them with the male temple prostitutes of their culture—again… not a segment of society that Christians should be associated with!
Dress itself is neither inherently holy nor evil, but it is an indicator of what we think of culture. There are masculine clothes and feminine clothes, and if God’s image is expressed both in how he created them “male and female” in Genesis 1:27 (or, masculine and feminine), I just choose to believe WE can reflect his image best by being as close to 100% masculine or 100% feminine as possible.
MODESTY. While distinction is a cultural argument that changes in each age (e.g. masculine and feminine robes of Paul’s day vs. clothes today), I believe modesty is a timeless principle. When Adam and Eve sinned, their nakedness instantly shamed them. They instantly sought to cover themselves.
So, modesty is about not drawing attention to oneself (sexually or otherwise.) In its most obvious sense, that relates to covering rather than flaunting that which is reserved for marriage. Heb. 13:4 “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.” Modesty hides all that is considered sexual, not just by covering (e.g. tights) but by concealing. So, tight clothing that covers but does not conceal is still considered immodest, and modesty is still the responsibility of the dresser not the looker. “Well, the guys shouldn’t be looking!” Okay, true, but that logic doesn’t extend to full nudity, so, apparently, we ALL have a standard. The Bible even takes it a step beyond sexual modesty to “attention modesty” (see 1 Tim 2:9)—we all know certain fashions are designed to attract attention. They may not be evil, but, they also might be like the gaudy extras of the Ephesian women in 1 Timothy.
Further, the reason we talk about “knee-length shorts” as a modest covering is to not expose the thigh. Exodus 28:42 “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach.” This verse isn’t a law for us (you’re allowed to wear cotton instead of linen!), but it’s an indicator of what God considers adequate covering for “nakedness.” So, I suppose that means that exposing the thigh is nakedness, whether that’s through a slit, a hole, or the length.
I’m honestly not sure where the thigh starts, but, just to be careful and because we all draw a line somewhere, I draw the line at the knee. Somewhere above there is the thigh! Might as well be careful in mixed company. Peter in John 21:7 was on a fishing boat with the guys, wrapped in his undergarments (Jewish sensibilities were opposed to exposing themselves fully). The Bible calls him “naked,” but the original readers of John would have instantly understood that it meant he was too loosely clad for public, so he grabbed his covering and jumped in the water to swim to shore.
CONCLUSION. I said in the sermon that what you wear is between you and God, and that you are individually responsible to God for your own beliefs. At the same time, though, if Chaparral High School has a dress code, it means we have a societal line, and society certainly isn’t getting MORE modest! When we have a heart that desires to glorify God in my spirit AND in my body (see 1 Cor. 6:20), then staying far enough away from the line is a lot easier.
Amish? No. Biblical modesty and distinction? Yes.