Follow by Email

Friday, July 21, 2006

Discerning Modesty


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

I should have begun this little project some time ago. I have thought about it on numerous occasions and have failed to act upon it. From now on when I read my Bible I intend to make note of every verse that has anything remotely to do with modesty/nakedness/apparel. I believe this is the only way to achieve some real understanding as to what the Bible’s message is regarding this relevant and controversial issue.

Here is the beginning of that effort. These are simply some verse that I was already familiar with so I start my list with these. As the years go buy I will add to the list they may not all be posted here but I will keep them for my personal reference and edification.

Ex 28:42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:

Nakedness is apparently anything from the loins to the thigh; the thigh ends at the knee.

Le 18:7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
Le 18:8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.
Le 18:9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
Le 18:10 The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
Le 18:11 The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
Le 18:12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman.
Le 18:13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman.
Le 18:14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
Le 18:15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
Le 18:16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.

The nakedness is making reference to the “reproductive areas of the body.” It is not to be uncovered, or exposed.

Na 3:5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

When the skirts are discovered upon thy face one’s nakedness is showing.

Ro 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
2Co 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Jas 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

Nakedness even means to not be properly dressed.

Re 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

One can be naked and not know it.

Gen. 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.
8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 ¶ And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
21 ¶ Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

They saw they were without clothes and sewed aprons of fig leaves together, apparently believing that was sufficient until God came on the scene. When God arrived and found Adam hiding Adam then saw himself as still naked. The Bible says the God clothed Adam and Eve indicating he did not consider them properly clothed. He made them coats they made themselves aprons. He used skin, they used fig leaves.

Isa 47:2 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.

Making bare the leg and uncovering the thigh are not placed in a very good light here. It is used in the context of nakedness. It was part of the humiliation of being carried away captive.

2Sa 10:4 Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away.

The garments were cut off at the buttocks and this was considered a shameful thing, and this is with men.

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.

The buttocks uncovered is nakedness. In fact he says that they were led away naked, “even” with their buttocks uncovered. Their buttocks did not have to be uncovered to be considered naked.

Ex 20:26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

What would be seen going up stairs to an alter would be consider the exposing of nakedness.

Is. 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:
17 Therefore 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,
19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
21 The rings, and nose jewels,
22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.
24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

Here is a description of women who were out of place and not dressing modestly. It could be that they were fully covered but they remained immodest. Their attitudes were reflected in their clothes.

2Ki 9:30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.

Jezebel painted her face and fixed her hair.

Pr 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

A harlot dresses in a certain way.

Jer 4:30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.

This is the kind of attire that is meant to attract lovers.

1Ti 2:9 ¶ 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;

A woman’s apparel is to be modest. It is to reflect shamefacedness and sobriety. There is to be discretion in the exploiting of the hair and jewelry, and extravagant clothing.
Modest – Well, arranged, orderly
Shamefacedness - through the idea of downcast eyes); bashfulness, i.e. (towards men), modesty or (towards God); regard for others.
Sobriety – Soundness of mind, self control

A woman is to dress and present herself in such a way that she is exhibiting a bashful regard for others and soundness of mind. In doing so she will be wearing modest apparel. What makes a woman’s apparel modest is that it reflects a bashfulness and a presence of self-control.


We all labor under a great difficulty here. It is difficult to define modesty by the Bible alone for we go to the Bible with the cultural realities pressing upon us. We have grown accustomed to some things. Thus, when we read what the Bible says about modesty we naturally embrace the term in the context of our experience and what we have grown accustomed to. This is the very reason why there is such a wide variety of opinion on what is modest and what is not, because the Bible is not defining it for us but our culture is. There are different cultures in different parts of the country, in different denominations, in different churches, in different families. Our greatest challenge when we go to the Bible for any reason is to read it with an “empty head.” By that I mean without all of our cultural biases. To the degree that we are able to do this we will be more successful in determining the Bible’s view of modesty.

Even in the midst of all the different views whose range is probably beyond what any of us can fathom my guess is that there is not a single soul who is exactly what they ought to be. One thing that I always try to keep in mind is that I am quite certain I am in absolutely no danger of becoming too holy, too modest, too separated. I know that there are those who probably think that I am, that I, my family, my church has gone off the deep end. I think when I stand before a God in whom is no darkness at all I will only then realize how imperfect and immodest I am. Fact is we are blind to our own faults and shortcomings and the very recognition of that reality should scare us to death.

I know that people who take views similar to mine are often characterized as legalist. I suppose I understand why but it is wrong. I do believe I am right and consequently I believe everyone should agree with me. But I also know something else that keeps me in “check.” I am not near as holy as I ought to be.

I don’t think any fair-minded person would look at the way many people dress today without admitting that 60, 70 years ago, a generation ago, that it would have been considered immodest. Now having said that just because it was considered immodest a generation ago does not mean that it was. That is not the standard the Bible is. Likewise the fact that it is accepted today does not mean that it is modest. A lack of condemnation in the culture at large or even among church going people is not the standard that determines modesty. The Bible must be allowed to determine that standard. I believe it does. I believe we have a hard time extracting it.

Just because there are men that do not think anything about seeing a woman in shorts, or sleeveless shirts, or pants, or revealing dresses, or anything else for that matter does not mean that it is OK. What you must keep in mind is that we have a generation of men who have grown up looking at women’s legs, breasts, bellies, their form through pants, tight dresses/skirts etc….. I for one believe that these things to one degree or another impact men. But even if no one were impacted by it, do they still match the standard of modestly and holiness laid down in Scripture. This is really what matters. While much of this kind of dress has become commonplace and no longer bears the brunt of public scorn and shock that does not mean that it is appropriate. The acceptance of these levels of immodesty does not, in my estimation, serve as a means of justifying this kind of dress. It simply means that now it takes a greater degree of nudity to achieve the same level of stimulation. Would anyone argue that this is a good thing???? I for one think it is a perilous path fraught with danger of which the women in our society will bear the brunt. Men will demand more and more and there will always be a woman somewhere who is willing to provide it, whether it is on the movie screen, magazine etc. Surely it is not coincidental that there is increasing nudity at the movie house, the pornography industry continues to be a booming business, and each successive generation is drifting a little further away from the port of modesty, morality, and virtue. The 60’s generation loosed some restraints that have set us adrift. The consequences are all around us.

I think one thing that will help us, at least it has helped me, to draw right conclusions about modesty when we read our Bibles is to remember a couple of things. 1. I have been corrupted by the culture in which I live. 2. That God is holy. He is not simply more holy than us he is infinitely holy. His holiness is without limits, it has no bounds, and it reaches beyond our comprehension. We know no one like God when it comes to holiness. We must embrace everything the Bible says about modesty and dress and apparel, and baring the leg, buttocks, etc… from the perspective of a God in whom is no darkness at all.

1 Peter 1:3-16 - Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

My opinion, my fullypersuaded opinion
Post a Comment