A Matter of Heart
by Mary Van Nattan
What does God have to say about modesty and immodesty? Obviously we must look in His revelation of Himself to find out.
Now many helpful people, particularly the Pharisaical types, will dive right in and say, "Yes, Deuteronomy 22:5." Well, you got in late in the game. God started dealing with modesty and immodesty long before that.
1) Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Some folks will doubtless think this a strange place to start this study, but we are dealing with the word of God here.
This is the only time in history or the eternal future, that we know of from scripture, where anyone was naked and unashamed. From the fall onward nakedness is a shame; and even God, His holy angles, and the saints in heaven that John sees in Revelation all wear apparel. In fact, we even find souls wearing robes in Revelation 6:9-11. Why do these, who are unable to sin, need to wear clothes? That is a hard question, but something changed unalterably when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve had hearts that were perfect with God when they were created. There was no sin in them and so they could be as God had created them, naked, without shame. That changed instantly when they allowed sin into their hearts.
God in His wisdom has never reversed the need for apparel, even in heaven where they have no sin. Nakedness has ever after been covered, and somehow the covering has a spiritual meaning. The covering of the church's nakedness is inseparable from righteousness.
Revelation 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
There is no going back. From the point of the fall onward, covering nakedness is essential in the holiness of God. Nakedness becomes associated with sin or suffering; 1) sin of the individual himself, 2) the judgment of God, 3) suffering from poverty, or 4) suffering from persecution. One of the horrors of those at the final judgment who rejected the robes of Christ's righteousness may well be to stand before the holiness of God Almighty and all of heaven with nothing to cover their nakedness!
2) Genesis 3:7 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.
And so we come to the fall. Once they had sin in their hearts, they knew they were naked and they were ashamed.
Contrary to what some will doubtless tell you, man's natural instinct is to put on clothes. It is the devil and the seared conscience that inspires him to take his clothes off (outside the marriage chamber). Now, man's instinct is not holy, make no mistake. Though he does want to cover his nakedness, from this verse it appears that he does not naturally cover it enough.
Aprons are not enough coverage in God's eyes. These aprons that they made were an effort at self-righteousness. They were trying to make themselves right in their own eyes. Such is the apron of Freemasonry. It is a blatant mimicry of Adam and Eve at regaining their lost sinlessness through their own means, not God's.
The decadent tribes (signifying that they are decayed cultures that knew better days, erroneously called "primitive" in evolutionary lingo) almost all have their own "aprons" of some sort which they feel they must wear in order not to be "naked," even if it amounts to little more than a string. Christians and salted people look at them and say, "You are still naked." That is because we know that their standard is not up to God's.
When people start taking their clothes off there are sometimes devils involved; either devil worship, Exodus 32:25 with 1 Corinthians 10:19-20; or devil possession, Luke 8:27. In some few cases, people that take their clothes off may do so because they are totally out of their mind or senile. This is why as western civilization has fallen more and more under Satan's control and become less salted, they have taken more and more clothes off. [See note.]
We heard once about a little girl who was being allowed around a man who had an exceedingly vile mouth, and she liked him. The little girl, who was too small to know what she was doing, began to take her clothes all off and run around naked. Her mother had a terrible time keeping her dressed. Her mother thought there was some devilish aspect to it, so they started keeping her away from that man, and the little girl stopped taking her clothes off.
This is warfare, mothers. The devil wants to get your kids, girls especially, to like to take clothes off. This aids him in his desire to corrupt them. It also makes them a tool to him to cause stumblingblocks to men, especially Christian men in the church setting. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
3) Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Here we begin to find out what God's dress standard is.
A. God put coats on them both, showing that the upper and lower body of both sexes is to be covered.
There was a time when boys wore short pants until they were deemed old enough to graduate to long pants. If I understand correctly, their pants were occasionally lengthened as they grew. The day they were allowed to wear full length pants was in a sense the beginning of manhood for them. It was something to be attained. It was a goal on the road to being a real man. They would not think of returning to short pants later for anything other than perhaps sports.
The same was true for girls in another sense. They looked forward to the day when their mothers started lengthening their dresses. When they were finally allowed to wear a full length dress they had "arrived." Women who allowed their girls to wear long dresses too soon were considered indiscreet in allowing their girls to "grow up too fast."
How things have reversed!
B. These coats were made of skin.
This is significant in that something had to die for their nakedness to be covered. We now see the picture in this of our Lord Jesus Christ having to die to clothe our spiritual nakedness.
But, the point we see here in this study is that God did not give them thin, transparent clothes, nor clothes that would cling and show their body shape. He was certainly capable of clothing them with anything He wanted to - even cloth of His own making. Transparent, clingy clothes do not cover nakedness. In fact, in many cases, they only serve to excite more interest by drawing attention to what is beneath. In plain, ugly English; they are sexy.
I have seen Christian women in blouses that were so thin the lace pattern on their underclothes clearly showed through. This is tempting men to sin, even if the ladies don't think it is, and "didn't intend it that way." We will come back to this later. (By the way, leather is a good serviceable thing for clothes for people that are going to be working. God wanted them to have protection as well. I therefore conclude that denim is not "bad" for Christians to wear, as some will tell us!)
Another interesting thing we see here is that there were no other humans around and yet God wanted them clothed. A woman is to have her head covered (with her hair) according to God. 1 Corinthians 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. What exactly this means is not entirely clear, but it is clear that there are spiritual reasons for a woman to have long hair that we do not completely understand. The same may be said for clothing. It is obvious from history and the present that the devil takes great delight in unclothing people. It is a shame to them and it defies God. That God would clothe a man and his wife when they were the only people around points to the fact that God wants people clothed even when "it's just family."
Now this may be sensitive to some women, since we have heard of women and girls running around their own homes in next to nothing. When they do this several things come into play.
First, they are apparently opening themselves up for mockery in the spiritual realm, or to be made fools of by Satan and his servants. (Stop and think about the thoughts that can be introduced into a young boy's mind by seeing his mother or sisters wandering around in so little clothing.)
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
2 Timothy 2:19 ...And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Second, they are defying the order that God set in place when He clothed the man and his wife when it was just the two of them. When God sets a standard we dare not take it lightly. What may occur in regards to undress in the marriage chamber is to be kept separate from the functions of everyday life. What's more, nakedness is not convenient to everyday life. Any woman who has burned her leg while cooking in shorts will tell you that. I'd like to know how much you would have to pay to get a cowboy to round up cattle in shorts! (ha)
Third, they are casting a stumbling block for others.
Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
We knew of one instance in which the daughter of the home would shower with the bathroom door open and wander around the house in just a bath towel. Her stepfather raped her. He went to jail, but she, and her mother who did not instruct her, were partly to blame for tempting him and allowing him to be tempted that way. Now, these were unsaved people, but this type of thing can and does happen in Christian homes as well.
This brings us to the subject of bathing suits. [Screams and fainting observed in the "liberated" crowd.] A hundred years or more ago, there was not so much difference between a bathing suit and a woman's regular clothes. The main difference was that the hem was a few more inches off the ground. Most swimming suits today are much skimpier than our great-grandmothers' underwear was, yet every year hundreds of Christian woman will pour themselves into one of these abbreviated things and then worry and fuss because they are "too fat." [And they call this "liberation"??!! If you'd keep your clothes on, you would save yourself a lot of misery.] The old fashioned modesty in swimsuits was observed even though men and women who were not related often did not "bathe" together! So women were even modest with other women. (This is Titus 2 - the older women teaching the younger ones in a vey practical way.)
Magazines and ad sheets have twisted our thinking until we find ourselves believing that a woman is not truly beautiful unless she can look good in a swimsuit. This is sick!!!
Proverbs 31:30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
God's standard has nothing to do with such wickedness whatsoever, and when we allow these things into our thinking and habits, and therefore into the thinking of the girls, boys and men around us, we are turning our backs on God's holiness and on His will for us.
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
1 John 2:15 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. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
God wants women that are beautiful and modest in their hearts (Prov. 4:23). As we become pure and modest in our hearts we will see the necessity for modesty on the outside as well. We will throw off this bondage that the devil and the lust of the world has put us under to think that a woman must have a body that is beautiful when it is uncovered. "Sexy legs" are not a necessity to being a virtuous woman! God hates this mentality and we should hate it too!
Psalm 139:21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
God help us to hate this attitude more as the devil and his crowd pervert what a "good and beautiful" woman is more and more, For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God... 1 Corinthians 3:19
By the way, what is your little girl doing with that Barbie® doll in her hand, anyway? That idol has done more destruction to the thinking of young girls possibly than any other single thing, including T.V. Have you ever stopped to think about what a woman would look like if she was really shaped like Barbie? We would feel sorry for her and think her deformed. Dolly Parton has come near it, and I recall reading something to the effect that her body guards, or whatever they are, have to watch out for her because she is so top heavy she is inclined to fall easily! Is that what you want your little girl growing up to think is normal? Normal women do not usually have hips that are narrower than their shoulders, nor such a waspish waist. What is so appealing about Barbie anyway? In plain, ugly English; she's sexy! Since when does a little girl need a sexy doll? Whatever happened to baby dolls, rag dolls and childlike paper dolls?
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Now, someone may be wondering, "Why do we need to HATE this image that Satan has painted of women? Isn't that a little too strong?" Let me explain:
Satan's first attack was on woman and her place in the home. This occurred before the promise of the Saviour was even made. Once God promised to bring a Saviour through the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15) the devil began to twist and deform what a woman of God is supposed to be. This was in gross contrast to what the woman would be who would bare the Saviour, and to the image that God wanted for the bride of His Son. Starting with the Mother/Child cult of Semeramis and Nimrod, Satan, through ...BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Rev. 17:5), has presented for nearly 6000 years an image of womanhood at its worst - the whore. This is Satan's counterfeit "bride," and we may be sure that he will do everything possible to make us look like one of his in his efforts to mock our Lord.
In the Bible we find 3 basic kinds of women 1) the virtuous (wise); 2) the foolish; and 3) the whorish. The foolish tends to be like the whorish and hence often is classed with them. It is black and white. You are either one kind or the other, whether you like it or not. God wants all women to be the virtuous kind, and the reason is that He wants women to show the inner beauty that is characteristic of a pure and lovely bride - His Son's wife, the New Testament church. God's will for each of us is that our lives should show forth the praises of His holiness in being an example of the glorious bride of Christ. What a lovely calling for life! The question is, "How are are we doing?"
Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
Having said that -
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
What does God thinks when He sees your little girl playing with a Barbie®? Is that helping your little girl to grow up with a pure idea of womanhood as God intends it?
What's more, look at the fruit these attitudes have led to through their "liberation" of dress and actions. Fornication is rampant among even the "Fundamental" kids. Children are molested by their own fathers, pastors and Sunday School teachers. One preacher we heard of insisted on his "right" to spank teenage girls in his "Christian" school and then turned around and invited one of them to cuddle against him at a ball game! Another Christian man admitted to a pastor that he had been led to molesting his own daughter when he started handling her in the family swimming pool. Mothers, think! What image are you displaying yourself and allowing your girls to display? Is it honoring to the Lord God and to His Son, Jesus Christ?
Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
While this is describing false prophets, it can surely be said about the "liberation" of mind and heart that claims the "right" to be naked or dress to please self. The fruit is evil because the tree (Satan's counterfeit) is corrupt. You cannot have it both ways.
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Dear Christian women, these carnal ideals of the "perfect" woman, these "liberties" of dress, these attitudes of what is "beautiful" are not from the heart of God! They are from the heart of Satan! Oh, do not take them into your heart, lest they corrupt you and make you to look like a woman of the devil - an harlot! If you have them in your heart already, please repent and turn from them for you are shaming your LORD!
2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Let us be zealous and clear ourselves of this stronghold that Satan has desired to erect in the Lord's church that he might shame the name of Christ!
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
It is our "right," it is our true liberty in Christ Jesus, to be clothed with ROBES that picture the covering He purchased at such tremendous price for His lovely bride! We are free from the bondage of Satan that says that a woman must show her nakedness to be beautiful. Let us Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
Are you noticing that modesty is not just a matter of dress? It is a matter of spiritual warfare in the heart, and every one of us must fight this battle in the Lord's strength or surrender to Satan and the world.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Psalm 119:9 BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.Page 2
Note: In some few instances the devil will actually inspire people to put on too many clothes. Occasionally you might see this in someone who is possessed of a devil, but the most graphic example was where my parents were missionaries in Ethiopia. The group of people they worked among had decided, with the devils' help and to show their family wealth, that a woman should wear all her clothes at once. These were liberally "perfumed" with rancid butter. To complete the crime, the devil convinced them that there were devils in the lake that they lived by, which was one of the few really safe lakes in Africa. So, they did not bathe. You can only imagine the results of a woman wearing this combination in a hot, humid climate and then never bathing. The devil made a real mess of them, and not surprisingly disease was a serious problem. Some of the extreme clothes of history (they were sometime sewed into their clothes) may have also been a result of the devil's inspiration since not bathing, filth, and disease went with them and hence death and suffering. There was probably a reason for Queen Elisabeth I's famous "little mouse under her chair." I am told that Catholic farmers in the Republic of Ireland go to their fields in a suit and tie that they wear continually without proper cleaning and which are utterly filthy. This is a result of the Romish doctrines from hell which do not bring cleanness either spiritual or physical.
graphics by Mary E. Stephens