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Modesty isn't just for prudes by Ellen Makkai    

Ellen Makkai began writing columns 16 years ago in response to what she perceived as the moral and intellectual laxity among many feminist commentators.

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A Columnist's Opinion?  WND    (Numerous older people agree with his assesment.)

History _ Day in the Sun in 1911

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 Robes and Clothing 

This study includes biblical examples that have to do with the subject of proper dress.

(Before we get into this article I would like to mention that in just the last 20 years there has been a terrible decrease in modesty and an obvious disregard for propriety. Since 9-11 the Muslim's extreme views of modesty have become widely known in this country and yet it appears to have promoted an further increase in immodesty here. I find this especially true in most of the Christian fellowships that I have been involved with. It is my understanding that the increase in pornography, venereal disease and skin cancer, and divorce, are inseparable from the effects of immodesty. The fun cities in Nevada are said to now be going back to their hard core sin city beginnings for business has fallen off. This may be a good sign.)

First we will peruse several scriptures that portray proper clothing as being used for specific situations, and we have no countermanding examples.

 Proper attire is repeatedly portrayed in the Bible in analogy with righteousness.  It would not be wise to do this if there was to be a time when proper clothing would no longer be respected by righteous people. 

Some Clothing was specifically related to glory and to beauty.

Ex 28:2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty. 3And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.

Gen 27:15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:

Ex 39:41 The cloths of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons' garments, to minister in the priest's office. 42According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work.

Lev 8:2Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread;

Lev 16:4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.

Lev 21:10 And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;

Zech 3:5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.  4 And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, 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.

Ex 28:40  And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.

Prov 31:21She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

In contrast; the judgment of God was portrayed when these niceties were taken away and their nakedness revealed.

Isa 3:16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:17Therefore the LORD will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. 18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, 19The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, 20The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 21The rings, and nose jewels, 22The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,

Jer 2:32 Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number

God arrayed His people in costly apparel and jewelry. Should a good husband, not also aspire to do the same for his wife?

Ezek 16:8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. 9 Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. 10 I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. 11 I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. 12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. 13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.  KJV

Christianity has went to both extremes. They have taught their women to be very plain and then they have taught them to over dress and then to un-dress or under dress. Women get the brunt of the nonsense when it comes to proper dress and have been neglected, relative to what God has taught. This nonsense has caused the Church to be far less then an efficient witness for the glory of God. All of these nonsensical variations are produced by our not esteeming the word and the examples it contains. The Bible has numerous references to clothing and they are very often tied to shame and or beauty and glory.

Since clothing is essential, there must be established ethics or absolutes pertaining to apparel.

(Or, is this just Vern's opinion?  You be the judge - See If I make any sense.)


Clothing protects us and our bodies from -

The elements. Heat, Cold, Physical damage to our bodies, such as cuts, bruises, abrasions and premature aging of our skin. Which also involves the following -

1. Insects bites.

2. Disease.

3. Unwanted sexual advances..

4. Promoting loose sex.

5. Promoting deviate and disgusting behavior.

6. Deviate and disgusting display of the base parts of the human anatomy.

7. The shame produced by the display of our own unflattering anatomy.

Clothing can build self esteem and encourage the respect of others by -

1. Enhancing our appearance.

2. Promoting our pursuit of good character.

3. Directing our attention away from our pervasive base human desires.

4. Allowing us to concentrate on who the other person is, rather then what they are.

Many schools, academies, businesses, courts of law, and even local bars have strict dress codes. However, many Churches now have none and this is becoming painfully obvious.

You ask why?

Some of their active members would not be allowed to enter a court of law, and even some bars would ask them to leave, and not come back until they put on more clothes.

When a generation of people gravitate toward immorality they always become lax about covering themselves. (The debased condition of the Roman Empire is a well known example.) They eventually rebel against all restrictions, or moral law, and move toward wanton flesh pleasing activities. In a sense they become addicted to tickling themselves. They then become so enamored with their loose life style that they will attack anyone or anything that gets between them and their fun.

In the case of clothing they cite how beautiful the human body is and that it is a shame to hide such an exquisite piece of art. Of course art is but one more of their many tickles and so it too becomes one of their many gods.

Christians, are necessarily obligated to obey the moral law as it is portrayed in the Bible. Unfortunately, too many professing Christians do not know what the Bible teaches and do not really care. They want the benefits of Christianity, but they do not want to comply with its absolutes.

I have written this article as an outline for those who want to know something of what the Bibles teaches on this subject and who do care.

Before sin came through the acts of Adam and Eve's disobedience it was not a shame to be unclothed. We are born into that same state of innocence. But, as we grow older we are either taught or learn that it is a shame to be unclothed around other people.

Gen 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (KJV)

The reason nakedness is a problem is because of sin. There are groups of people who think we should live free of shame of nakedness. They espouse nakedness as a way to get rid of sexual sin and as being a healthy way to live. It is said that to wear clothing tantalizes and so increases curiosity and so increases temptation and sexual sin. It is also said that the dedicated Christian can handle any temptation that would come from skimpy clothing. So, anyone who has a problem needs to get their filthy mind out of the gutter.

This sounds so simple and righteous. However, these arguments are void of objectiveness.

We all must face reality. If we fail to deal with reality we will suffer more from its negative aspects. Negative results are most often multiplied by our ignorance. The adverse effects of nakedness is a given in the Bible. As far as the Bible is concerned the obvious results of people living in unkempt nakedness should be evident to all but the most pagan of people.

The Bible portrays wanton nakedness as being a shame.

Jer 13:26 "So I myself have also stripped your skirts off over your face, that your shame may be seen. (NAS)

Isa 20:4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. (KJV)

Micah 1:11 Go on your way, inhabitant of Shaphir, in shameful nakedness. The inhabitant of Zaanan does not escape. The lamentation of Beth-ezel: "He will take from you its support." (NAS)

There are still tribes of people who wear little if any clothing and they have problems with sexual promiscuity and sickness. As a result they have a very short life span. They also live on the bottom of the scale relative to civilization. They live closer to the level of animals. Millions and millions of people in Africa are dying because of their erroneous approach to sexuality. AIDS!

Proper clothing at its basic level has to do with hygiene. Health is negatively affected by nakedness. The excretions of the human body are breeding places for bacteria.

Chairs become contaminated by our nakedness. Clothes can be washed, chairs are seldom washed.

If you wear clothes and always wash your hands after you go to the bathroom you will prevent sickness. Toilet seats are not known to be germ free. This is an understatement. Venereal disease can be transmitted by setting on one. Flushing a toilet or a urinal creates a mist of water vapor that is often filled with germs. Some of this vapor settles on you.

If you are habitually naked or if great portions of the area near your private parts, or your legs, are uncovered and you go to the bathroom you should wash more then your hands. Again, - Clothing that covers these areas reduces the spread of germs. Your body has oils and perspiration that are carriers of and breading ground for bacteria, whereas clothes are usually dry and do not spread germs or bacteria as easily.

Clothing reduces exposure to insect bites and their bites can spread disease.

Those less civilized tribes of people who wear little clothing always suffer from higher incidents of disease. There are many doctors who believe AIDS can be contracted from an insect bite.

In the more civilized communities you will find it is among those who wear the least clothes who have the most skin cancer. They also have the fastest aging skin. Of course this is also affected by the kind of skin people have. Some are able to stand more exposure then others.

Melanoma, which is a deadly skin cancer is killing people frequently and I have known numbers of older people who have repeatedly had to have serious surgery and some have even died - all because of cancer that was promoted by over exposure to the sun.

Again, those people who love to fish, swim and sun bathe while wearing skimpy clothing have more skin problems and they appear to age faster then those who do not. The tanning parlors are in now. They are well attended by those who want that good looking tan and this also helps hide varicose veins. But, -

Doctors are constantly telling us on TV and in articles that we are not only ruining our skin, but are also increasing the odds of getting frightening and vicious types of malignant skin cancer.

If we would observe those older people who have had a lot of exposure to the sun we would see people who looked many years older then their age.

The reverse is true of those who have kept themselves covered. Many, careful, older women have very youthful looking skin.

Many older people can remember when their parents warned them to keep themselves covered so they would not get sick. They also told them to always wear a hat or a bonnet while they were working outside so they would not hurt their eyes and skin. Many ethnic groups, historically, have covered themselves completely as protection from the elements. "Muslims are an example."

There is ample proof of nakedness being a problem. Nature, itself, teaches us we should clothe ourselves.

Now let us further examine some of the examples of clothing that are portrayed in the scriptures. They hold the answer.

Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 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. (KJV)

They covered themselves with the equivalent of short shorts or an apron.

How was it that they were able to live naked yet without disease? I do not know? There may not have been any terrible diseases at that time and the rays of the sun may have been more filtered by the atmosphere.

Gen 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? (KJV)

Gen 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

God covered them with coats. This was a garment that came from the shoulders to below their knees.

Sin had appeared and so, in some manner, their environment changed. Now they needed extra protection, both from their own sensual desires and also from the environment.

We think of sin as being a form of pollution. The resulting negative effects of sin may also pollute more then the soul of people. It may have since affected microbes. It's results may have started mutations in other forms of life? Who knows? We do know that Aids is a problem that has been produced by deviant promiscuity.

Gen 9:21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.

Something unethical happened when Shem saw his father. His peering at his father involved more then an accident. To stumble into a situation where someone is getting dressed or relieving themselves is excusable. However, Shem was cursed for what happened here. He may have unashamedly peered and made fun of his father.

Exod 28:40 And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.

Here we find that God endorses the use of clothing to enhance our appearance. People who have attained a special position of honor can rightfully, and in good taste, wear clothing that distinguishes then from other people.

41 And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.

We can use clothing to distinguish those of high office or those who have other special positions. This sets them apart and reduces confusion. They were said by God to be more presentable, glorious. I accept this as it reads. Do You?

42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: 43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him. (KJV)

Here we have the use of pants, or under-clothing being described. The reason for there use is revealed here and in the following scripture. Also note Exod 20:26, below.

Exod 28:39 "Weave the tunic of fine linen and make the turban of fine linen. The sash is to be the work of an embroiderer. 40 Make tunics, sashes and headbands for Aaron's sons, to give them dignity and honor. 41 After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. 42 "Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh. 43 Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die. "This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants. (NIV)

Exod 20:25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. 26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon. (KJV)

Exod 20:26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed on it.' (NIV)

These scriptures give insight into the use of under, beneath, decent, clothing. The term thigh here refers to the area of the leg below the buttocks.

The Bible does not go into all of the details as to why we should keep ourselves covered. Neither does it give us the reasons for all of the washings that it proscribed for certain types of sickness. However, we now know that good hygiene is essential to good health. Remember - Proper clothing is a basic part of hygiene.

God demanded that the people wash in certain situations and then demanded they wear under garments in other situations. Superstition is not what God wants. He wants us to be protected and healthy.

Lev 16:4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. (KJV)

Exod 39:41 The cloths of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons' garments, to minister in the priest's office.

42 According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. (KJV)

Ezek 44:18 They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat. 19 And when they go forth into the utter court, even into the utter court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people with their garments. (KJV)

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

There is/are  scriptures that mentions our being clothed with robes of righteousness, white robes, etc. This phrasing is associated with both decency and beauty.

Again - Robes have always been associated with or used as being descriptive of holiness and righteousness.

Remember the angels with their robes?

In this space I will approach the principle of an analogy again and try to get across the necessity of having an established ethic for proper or decent dress.

The phrase white robes and the like are used in an analogous way, or they are used in some sense, that is comparable to our being presented properly, as a means of revealing to us how we are effected or protected, or covered, by being righteous.

 So, to be naked is one extreme and is the least protected and least decent appearance. The robe is the other extreme and provides the best protection and represents the most decent appearance.  

It is also obvious that various offices or stations in life were and still are designated by specific forms of attire.

There is also the extreme of over dressing, which is to set about to draw attention to ones person for self gratification and pride.

2 Corinthians 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (KJV)

The analogy here has eternal life as being properly clothed, while being unclothed is to be rejected or is to fail to gain life.

King David

2 Sam 6:14 And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

16 And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. (KJV)

2 Sam 6:20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! (KJV)

Michal did not approve of the way David had dressed himself. Note, David did not dance in the nude as so many have mistakenly believed. He had only taken off the clothes that distinguished him as being the King and replaced them with a linen ephod. Note verse 14 above.

The linen ephod was a short jacket or coat made for the priests and it came down to the thigh.

2 Sam 6:20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" (NIV)

He had dressed down and so appeared to Michal to be undressed relative to his position. Her father had been king and she despised David for lowering himself. In doing this she showed disrespect for both her husband and for God. There is a time and a place for all things.

2 Sam 6:21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. 22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. (KJV)

Some think that here David made a statement that provides us with a reason for not worrying about dress. Note, he says I was doing this - "before the Lord." He also said that he would even become more vile then this, but in doing so he would be honored by his woman servants.

If this is taken out of context it can support one's doing any number of indecent acts. However, here, the Ark was being returned to Israel. David was not going shopping or working in the garden or entering the temple.

If something of tremendous spiritual significance happens and one is rejoicing before the Lord that would be very different then just being laid back and actively rebelling against biblical and historical examples - by wearing skimpy and unprofessional appearing clothes every time one feels like it.

There is such a thing as portraying and maintaining a professional appearance, proper decorum, etiquette, and respect, for one's self, and others, and especially respect for a position. As for a position, one does not have to be extravagant, but instead plain, as a servant. 

King Saul

1 Sam 19:23 And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets? (KJV)

It is thought by many Bible students that this nakedness was not total nudity. They dressed down. Stripped down to their underclothes?

Note, they asked the question - "is Saul also one of the Prophets?" He had taken off the clothes that distinguished him as the King and so looked like a prophet. If he did strip down he still was wearing a small patch of material that covered a persons private parts. Such as a small narrow loin cloth or comparable to what is now called under-clothing, shorts, panties, etc. In addition it is thought that the equivalent of an undershirt that reached to the thighs was common.

Isaiah 20:2 At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. 3 And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; 4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. (KJV)

Isaiah still had his private parts covered. Note, "even with their buttocks uncovered." This interpretation can be argued against. However, because it mentions buttocks, it would seem to imply that it was only their back sides that were bare.

John 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. (KJV)

John 21:7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (NIV)

The term naked is used here (above), in the King James version. This nakedness is again referring to being improperly dressed.

Matt 22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen. (KJV)

If proper clothing is not essential or if it has nothing to do with righteousness or proper decor, in any specific situation, then all of these analogies are just so much nonsense.

This man was not properly dressed for the occasion, still he was not naked or stripped. This is still another analogy where proper clothing is used to put across a spiritual point.

Isaiah 47:1 Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. 2 Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. 3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man. (KJV)

Again - The scriptures speak of the uncovering of the body, or nakedness as being a shame. It was humiliating to these people to be stripped down and to have their naked or nude bodies paraded before their enemies.

Hab 2:15 "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. 16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD's right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory. (NIV)

Loose living drinking revelers still like to do this to people. They like to get someone so drunk they are not able to keep themselves decent. Then they make fun of them and make vulgar remarks about the way they look.

Many men want a woman to undress or put on skimpy clothes and numbers of them will then turn and call them a slut when they do it. The discreet woman, the careful and fully dressed woman has most always received more respect.

In modern lingo, the modest, discreet, or conservative woman, is lumped in with the plain, homely, un-elaborate, and the dry person. These are the politically correct definitions. However the following is what the dictionary says -

dis·creet adj. 1. Marked by, exercising, or showing prudence and wise self-restraint in speech and behavior; circumspect.

2. Free from ostentation or pretension; modest.

This is the opposite of the following -

os·ten·ta·tion n. 1. Pretentious display meant to impress others; boastful showiness. 2. Archaic. The act or an instance of showing; an exhibition.

A person can dress well with colorful clothing and wear jewelry and still be in keeping with good taste as per the scriptures.

I will elaborate on this in another place. However, skimpy clothes in public is always an exhibition.

Isaiah 59:4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper. 6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. 8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. 9 Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. 11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. 15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. (KJV)

These scriptures do a good job of portraying sick morality. Unfortunately this is the state of many of our leaders. Including many of those in the Church. They lie and think nothing of it. Our Churches, communities and nation are reeking with this nonsense and our lack of good judgment. People who are caught up in justifying this sickness, dress and act accordingly. History has before and will again prove them wrong.

In verse six it speaks of people not being able to cover themselves with their nonsensical acts. In other words they will not be able to justify what they have done by what they have accomplished.

As it is now, many people defend those who have poor character by pointing to their great accomplishments. This is situation ethics.

Whenever the Bible speaks of robes of righteousness it is speaking of actions and results that prove people right or proper. All of this is pointed to through the analogy of proper dress. (Being properly covered, not shamed because of revealing oneself.)

The wicked are always naked before God. However, the righteous are covered because they have obeyed God.

1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

1 Pet 3:1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (NIV)

In these scriptures Paul and Peter give a recipe or a formula for proper adornment. They are emphasizing the adornment of good character.

They are not saying, do not wear jewelry, rather they are saying, do not try to use jewelry as a substitute for good character. The point being that the poor woman who has good character is, already dressed up and, beautiful to behold.

However, if you are into outward adornment, beware for it will not make up for a lack of character. Remember, your good character will make you attractive to both your husband and God.

So, if you have good character and your husband adorns you with fine things, they will not detract from your character. Fine things are not a sin.

Prov 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 31:21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (NIV)

This text portrays a women who is dressed in good character on the inside and this is revealed by what she does. However, she is also dressed in expensive garments. Notice - Her outward appearance does not detract from her goodness, though she is dressed in expensive clothing.

The following analogy must also be based on something sensible and proper, otherwise it would cause confusion and detract from God's integrity.

Ezek 16:10 I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. 11 I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. 12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. 13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. 14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD. (KJV)

In this setting God is telling how he found Israel and what he did for her. (Note, God put his comeliness on her.) This is an example of how a husband can treat their spouse.

We must understand that God is not using an analogy that is based on impropriety.

Luke 15:21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (KJV)

Again, we have another example of what is right. This father put the best robe on this son. He also put a ring on his finger.

There will always be people who God calls to a special walk with him. Some individuals are set apart for a special ministry. Because of this they are not bound to wear jewelry and fine clothing. However, the majority are not called to walk in such special circumstances. We must make allowances for such callings and in either case not pressure anyone into being something they are not.

Matt 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Luke 20:46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;

In these last two scripture settings we find Christ addressing the life style and appearance of the Pharisee's. He first says woe to them.

He was setting out to warn them. But in the middle of his exhortation he mentions that as whited sepulchres they also looked good. However, inside they were also full of dead men's bones. As an ornate decorated burial vault they did look good.

People do not go to the expense of preparing an elaborate tomb that is ugly. They did look righteous to other people. Jesus gave them a back handed compliment on the way they looked, however, he also ridiculed them for they way they lived. They lacked character.

Do the following have anything to do with a reflection on being properly clothed? Does our approach to dress support or distort these verses?

Mark 16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

Rev 1:113 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

Rev 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (KJV)

The ethics of proper dress are detailed in these scriptures. We need to take note and dress appropriately.

No, this is not the point of these scriptures. However, we would do well to note the example, and again - the analogy evidently was expected to be ageless and so always appropriate and easily understood in every age. This necessarily means appropriate attire is an ageless order among humans.

Generations of people have used Bible examples as a way of determining good taste and modesty.

There are also examples of work clothing portrayed in the Bible. In many cases work demands the wearing of clothing that is not appropriate for other activities.

John 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. (KJV)

Again: In this case Peter did not even have his work clothes on. He may have thought that even with this coat on he was not properly dressed for being in the presence of the Lord. As the military would say - He was out of uniform.

Christ took off his outer garment and stripped down to his under clothes when he washed the disciples feet. He was in a room eating, so he should have been warm. It is not necessary to argue that he stripped down to his shorts and T shirt.

However, it is clear that he did something note worthy when he took off his outer garments. He properly prepared himself for the job at hand. He did something practical.

John 13:4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. (KJV)

John 13:4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. (NIV)

If we are necessarily stripped down for work, such as loose short sleeves and loose pants this is in keeping with biblical examples. (Ask some woman who has worked around a lot of conveyor belts while sorting in a packing shed. It would be dangerous to wear certain kinds of long loose clothing.)

They either girded up their clothing while they worked or wore appropriate work clothes.

If we are under dressed in public for no necessary reason we are, again, breaking the analogy. If we cannot afford anything but work clothing we do not have to dress up, however we should be properly covered, neat and clean.

If we dress so as to appear near naked yet clothed we are also destroying the analogy.

Again, Those Christian men and women who take off their clothes or are under dressed when there are no necessary reasons for doing so are undermining a moral absolute.

There are numbers of professions that still demand professional looking attire.

There is to be a distinction between men's and women's apparel, yet their clothing can be made from the same basic pattern. Biblical men wore skirts and robes, etc. So did the women. Yet their clothes were still either distinctly feminine or distinctly masculine.

Some of the results of improper dress can be seen in the abortion Mills.

Why is it that so many women, daily, insist on revealing so much more of their bodies then men do?

We know why street walkers do this. However, now it appears that seemingly descent women are trying to compete with them.

David was enticed into sin by seeing a woman bathing.

There are numbers of Christian men and women who laugh when the topic of clothing is mentioned.

 Pornography is rampant, more and more children are being molested for money, fatherless children are, either being born or, aborted, at an hideous rate, yet the majority of Christians still laugh and deny there is any connection between clothing and license. 

Many men are excited by seeing women's legs and knees and the higher the hem line the better they like it. Still Christians laugh. Women are paying to see men strip, and men have been doing this for ages, yet Christians just laugh when proper clothing is said to be a moral issue. Cars and many other articles and things are portrayed in advertisements that are embellished with pretty models scantily dressed with a lot of leg showing, plus. Still the Christians laugh. A US President has a problem with pretty, shapely, revealingly dressed woman, but most Christians just keep on laughing. They think that any man who is enticed just has a dirty mind and so has nothing to do with a woman's responsibility. "Stumbling block?"

Muslims and most other eastern religions have very strict customs for dress, especially for women. That difference is being portrayed here more as these religions prosper in this country. Their modesty is readily apparent and reveals the sloppy approach most Christians have to dress when in public. Their discipline and modesty attracts people. The same goes for the conservative Jews. Their women are modestly dressed and yet are very well dressed.  Again - many people are attracted to those who portray their beliefs openly by their actions.

 (Check the advertisement, of a book written by a young Jewish woman, following this article.)

For nearly two thousand years, Christians modesty in apparel influenced every community where they have resided. Today, many of the younger set - go about insulting their heritage through the immodesty portrayed in the way they clothe themselves. They are supposedly kings and priests unto God and this should prompt them to dress accordingly, especially as they present themselves before the public. Yet, they act as if they are being asked to sin if anyone suggests that they should be more careful about their appearance. It never has been a sin to cover ones body, yet they act as if it is. In the hottest regions of the world religious Muslims, Jews and Christians have always clothed themselves and by doing so influenced their communities into becoming more civilized.

Christians can lose their sense of shame.

If we set out to allure someone of the opposite sex by the way we dress we may get what we deserve and may even get more problems then what we deserve.

Some Christians dress very provocatively and do so in their ignorance. Though they may do so in innocence they can still reap severe situations and a married life of misery.

Many people are attracted by what they see and will act in what ever way it takes to get what they want. Then when the vows are over, in walks the real person.

In many cases, it is better to be less attractive, more conservative and less provocative, so as to only attract those who are willing to search out true character. Even then there are those who are looking for good character, yet have little of their own.

The Jews of the first century were aghast at the nakedness displayed by the Greeks and the Romans and in a great part they despised their games because of this. There is no mention of any of the Jews ever despising the early Christians for the way they dressed. In fact the history of that period reveals that the Christians were despised because of their plain dress and conservative ways by the Romans, but they were not despised by the Jews for these reasons.

Adam and Eve found themselves naked before God. Since that time, and as a rule wanton nakedness has to do with sin. There is nothing left to say. There are no tenable arguments against the Christian etiquette of wearing proper clothing.

Those people who rebel against this absolute make a lot of noise but they are not objective and they are portraying both a lack of discretion and rebellion.

The literal dress styles of the Bible are not binding on us, but their sensibleness and propriety, or the underlying principles that are revealed by how the Godly dressed, are to be imitated. These things are to be approached thoughtfully.

Loose, simple, clothing that covers and protects is the definition of the basic principle. Beyond that there is such a thing as being properly dressed for the occasion. Underline the word "dressed."

The history of a persons life has no equal when it comes time to find out who they really are.

It is only their history that tells us if they really have on robes of righteousness.

No one can fake good character for years at a time.

We are to always be examples of sensible propriety. We should not be drawing attention to ourselves by either over- dressing or by being under dressed. (Men or women.) Yes, there will be times when we cannot dress properly for an occasion without drawing attention to ourselves. In that case, we are to dress properly and then do not be self-conscious or ashamed.

We are to be relaxed and friendly. Do not hide yourself or be tense and so be thought of as being stuck up. We need to understand proper dress and be able to give reasons for what we wear and be relaxed while doing so.

Please understand that this article is only for those who believe the Bible has the answers, and yes I am a very biased person.

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To - An Advertisement- This book has to do with a young Jewish lady's views concerning proper decorum, dress, etc. 

"A Case For Modesty."  Just read the review - it is good.

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Compiled by Vern Manson 

06-12-94 --- 02-09-01  - 04-28-02

More links -  

Postmodern battle for decency      

Modesty by Susan Theal (Her View)

Modesty: Biblical Investigation, Contemporary Application  by Louis Rushmore

The Withering Away Of The Family  

Peace Makers   Or Tough Love

Vern's Peace Key Home Page