Four Biblical Reasons for Christians to Cover their Nakedness

– by Joshua Gurtler

Some Christians believe that biblical modesty pertains only to putting on costly clothing, and not to a lack of clothing.  While the Bible certainly warns against showy, attention-grabbing garb (1 Pet. 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:9), God also address a lack of clothing.

 

An older preacher once told me that, in India, it would be wrong for preachers to tell Christian women to cover their midriffs.  Likewise, he said, it is wrong to impose our “American custom” of covering our breasts on topless Christians in Africa.  You heard me right.  (This in a continent where HIV and AIDS are at all-time epidemic levels.)  Another Christian once told me that if you converted a man in Africa, who had a harem of wives, it would be wrong to tell him to divorce all but his first wife ([see Rom. 7:2-4; Ezra 10]).  Both of these men believed that biblical teaching, regarding nakedness and multiple marriages, pertained only to the violation of social móres.  In like fashion, some Christians, who would never invite a guest into their home in only their undergarments, will, nevertheless, go to the beach, pool, park, or gym in attire that covers the same amount of flesh as their undergarments. In response to those who teach that nakedness, or a lack of clothing, is not addressed in the Bible, here are four Biblical reasons for Christians to cover their nakedness:

 

1.  The word “naked” or “nakedness,” in the New Testament, can indicate nudity or simply a lack of clothing, which the Bible treats as something that should be remedied – See Mt.  25:36-44; Rom. 8:35; 2 Cor. 5:3; 11:27; Jas. 2:15; Rev. 3:17, 18; 16:15; 17:16.

 

2.  Displaying physical nakedness (a lack of physical clothing) in public, is viewed as shameful in both the Old Testament (Exo. 20:26; 28:42, 43; Isa. 47:1-3; Lam. 1:8; Nah. 3:5) and in the New Testament, where John says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Rev. 3:18).  The Lord’s illustration, comparing (by analogy) the Christian’s spiritual depravity with physical “nakedness,” would have made absolutely no sense to the Laodicean church, unless there was a premise of “shame” in being  physically naked, which would be understood by the Christians there.  John’s teaching was a spiritual precedent from God.  It was not based on a “social móre” because nakedness wasn’t considered a “shame” within the pagan Laodicean culture.   

 

3.  Removing clothing to expose the body to the opposite sex incites sexual arousal, which should be reserved for the “marriage bed” (Heb. 13:4; Prov. 5:18-19).  The first reference to Solomon’s bride having her clothes removed in his presence, was in her dream (S. of Sol. 5:3) only after their wedding ceremony (S. of Sol. 3:11), and not before; although some Christians today feel we can remove our clothing in the presence of the opposite sex when at the beach, pool, park, gym, etc. 

 –  Is it any wonder that surveys find that roughly 90% of adolescent boys go to the beach to see girls unclothed, and 90% of adolescent girls go to the beach to be seen by boys unclothed?

–  Is it any wonder that scantily-clad women are a lucrative marketing technique today?

 – Is it any wonder that the best-selling book Every Man’s Battle (Arterburn et al., 2000) specifically deals with the day-to-day problem many men have, lusting after scantily-clad women in advertisements, billboards, while exercising, driving, in the work place, while watching entertainment and on the internet?

–  Is it any wonder that the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is the most lucrative issue of the year? 

– Is it any wonder that, when women in the world are trying to attract a man, they wear less clothing to get his attention?  This was told to me by a former colleague, from another country, as a technique she used to woo her (now) American husband away from his former wife (Prov. 7:10).

 

4. Related to the previous point, the “shamefast” woman of 1 Tim. 2:9 does not want to be a stumbling block, inciting lust in men by her apparel, or lack thereof.  Many women (or even men) do not realize the result that wearing tight, see-through clothing, or even a lack of clothing produces on the opposite sex.  Psychologists, sociologists, Hollywood producers, executive advertising firms, and teenage men will readily admit that women exposing their thighs, backs and breasts induces arousal in men.  Yes, this is an uncomfortable subject to discuss with our children and brethren, but it is the way God made us – a fact of life that must not be ignored.  The World and Even Some Erring Believers Get the Point – Do We?

 

It is possible that for some Christians, who are advanced in years, for whom “the caperberry (i.e., aphrodisiac, JBG) is ineffective” (Eccl. 12:5, NASB), it may be easy to forget how easily the adultery of the heart was committed in their youth:  “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:28).  Let’s not forget the great battle against adultery of the heart, being fought by  (1) young men (or women) with “raging hormones,” and/or (2) single Christians who are not married and, thus, may be more-easily tempted to burn with lust ( 1 Cor. 7:8,9).  The teaching in this article is not “Victorian tradition,” but should be common sense, based on scriptural precedents, stated above.  These are principles that even the world and many (otherwise erring) denominational believers understand. Do we? 

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