By Steve Wallace
The problem with immodesty in our culture is shocking. Many men and women have long since become comfortable appearing in public in various states of undress. Many preachers will not preach on modesty or, if they do, they say little in terms of what should or should not be worn by God’s people. Some will even take issue with those who try to speak plainly on such things. The following news story entitled, “Motion Against Miniskirts In Swazi Schools,” came via the Panafrican News Agency. If there are preachers in Swaziland, their work of getting young people to dress properly was made easier recently by a new law.
“MBABANE, Swaziland (PANA) — Swazi legislators have instructed the education minister to issue a directive that school girls wear uniforms that are knee-long or below, starting 2001.
“Senator Majahenkhaba Dlamini moved a motion Wednesday that the minister issues the directive to school heads so that school girls above 10 years be compelled to wear knee-long uniforms.
“The motion reads: ‘To move that the minister for education issue directive by next year on a plan of appropriate action to the principals of every primary, junior or high school in Swaziland. The aim is to ensure that every school girl aged 10 and above wears a knee-long uniform at school (before and after) unless she is wearing a long tracksuit trouser as approved by the school.’
“The majority of senators supported the motion suggesting that it would restore decency in society.
“Dlamini later suggested that schools be headed by female teachers who, he said, have a good track record when it comes to effecting proper dress code on students, and girls in particular.
“He lamented that mini-skirt uniforms are mainly found in schools headed by male teachers.
“Dlamini said if female teachers were allowed to be in charge of schools, girls would adhere to the knee-long uniform concept.
“‘We are living in tough times clustered by the HIV/AIDS disease and we must not sit back and relax. We need to address the problem of dress code among students because all starts from there. Students are no longer wearing acceptable uniforms and this motion comes as a result of that,’ he stressed.
“But Senator Thab’sile Mavimbela took a swipe at her male colleagues labeling them sex maniacs.
“She said the motion betrayed the deep-seated lewdness among males and further demonstrated their weakness to control their feelings.
“‘This clearly shows that the men are very weak when it comes to sex, thus they want to use their privilege of passing laws to protect themselves or rather hide their weaknesses,’ she observed.
“Mavimbela, therefore, said she does not see the reason for the passing of a law compelling students to put on knee-long uniforms.
“She added that instead of the ministry issuing a directive to schools, parents must take a leading role in solving the problem” (Copyright (c) 2000 Panafrican News Agency).
One knows not if or when such legislation may come down from Washington, so we take the opportunity of making a few observations on this one from Swaziland.
1. A clear connection between dress and decency. The legislators believe this motion “would restore decency in society.” They obviously believe that dress is somehow connected with decency. The writer of Proverbs agreed with them (7:10). While driving recently I was listening to Dr. Laura. She noted that many women who go to malls today dress like “sluts” (her word). Dress is connected with decency!
2. They legislated a hemline! The motion is to “ensure that every school girl aged 10 and above wears a knee-long uniform at school.” What terms shall we use to describe these men? After all, they are not religious. So we dare not call them “legalists,” “Pharisees,” or “creed-writers.” (This is what some brethren will call preachers today if they suggest that the definition of nakedness, as defined in the Bible, includes showing one’s thighs [Gen. 3:1-10, 21; Exod. 28:42; Isa. 47:1-3.]) Therefore, in light of what we have already noted under our first point, I choose to describe their actions as being in harmony with terms like “modesty,” “sobriety,” and “shamefastness” (1 Tim. 2:9).
3. These legislators believe older women can teach younger women to dress decently. “If female teachers were allowed to be in charge of schools, girls would adhere to the knee-long uniform concept.” Paul wrote that older women are responsible to teach younger women (Tit. 2:3-5). One of the things they are to teach them is to be “chaste.” This word means, “pure, holy” (A&G, 11). By contrast, these young women in Swasiland have been dressing in such a way as to be “chased”! A clear problem exists in the church today with regards to this point: Too many older women are dressing in a manner consistent with the word “chased” rather than the word “chaste.” Oh, that all of them might recognize where such conduct is leading!
4. They see the deeper problems connected with dress. “We are living in tough times clustered by the HIV/AIDS disease and we must not sit back and relax. We need to address the problem of dress code among students because all starts from there.” We all know HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease. These men see that dress is connected with lust which leads to fornication which leads to AIDS. Interestingly enough, Paul Harvey noted years ago that, when the miniskirt was first popularized, crimes against women greatly increased. One’s dress can lead to lust; lust can lead to fornication and fornication can lead to AIDS. But there is an even deeper, more enduring problem than AIDS. The Bible teaches that immodest dress, lust, and fornication are all sinful and can damn one’s soul (Prov. 7:10; 1 Tim. 2:9; Matt. 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). Is it not a travesty that these non-Christian legislators are moved by a temporal problem to do something about immodest dress when many preachers, who know the deeper, spiritual problems connected with it do little or nothing?
5. What mini-clothes say about those who wear them. “He lamented that mini-skirt uniforms are mainly found in schools headed by male teachers.” (We must remember that this is necessarily connected with sex in its context.) There are several reasons some women would wear such clothing in such a setting: (1) They know what men like and they are desirous of seducing them. Therefore, they wear the “proper attire” for the job. (2) They are naive as to the connection we noted under points 1 and 4 above, but like the attention men give them when they wear such clothing; (3) They follow fashion or what is popular. Sisters in Christ, if someone does not know you and sees you dressed in such a way, how will they know in which of the above categories you belong? Brothers in Christ, if you do not dress modestly, do you recognize the influence of your dress on the many bawdy women of our age?
6. The voice of the dissenter. Miss/Mrs Mavimbela’s words are worth looking at. She said those responsible for the legislation were “sex maniacs,” had “deep-seated lewdness,” and “are very weak when it comes to sex.” One wonders what she would think of Jesus, Paul, and Solomon? (Matt. 5:27-29; Rom. 1:26-27; Prov. 7) However, she hit the nail on the head when she said, “. . . Parents must take a leading role in solving the problem.” Yes, preachers should preach on it and it would be just great for schools to make rules about it, but children need to be taught by their parents to dress in a decent, modest manner.
Will it take a massive increase in instances of AIDS infection to wake brethren up concerning the shamelessness manifested in the way many Christians dress? Will we wait to be led by the world to do that which the Bible so clearly teaches? Not if we walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7).