By Kevin Maxey
Who ever heard of such a contradiction in terms! Imagine the nonexistent mad rush for such a sale. “Non-revealing, modest, loose fitting, godly swimsuits – get yours today! ” Society has set a trend, a trend incited by man’s lustful desires and sensual passions. This insatiable appetite has incredibly influenced the fashions and styles of the day. Our populace has become “attired” in tight-fitting, revealing, and enticing immodest apparel – if you can call it apparel at all.
Problems of the world are always bound to creep into the church, as has happened with this issue. Is it right for the Christian to wear the dress of the world? Can he or she swim in mixed company wearing the modern swimsuits of our day? Can he or she wear revealing clothes, shorts, tank-tops, mini-skirts and the like? As with any issue, we must turn to the Bible for our answer. What does God say about immodest apparel?
This is not a matter that can be avoided. The sincere Christian is commanded to “study to show thyseff approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). How can we approve all things” (1 Thess. 5:21) without an honest contemplation of the Scriptures?
Before we begin addressing the subject at hand, we must be reminded of fundamental Christian responsibilities that apply to any situation. “Let all things be done unto edifying” (1 Cor. 14:26). Our actions are to build up, strengthen, and encourage, not weaken and entice. “Do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Our purpose is to serve and glorify God, and do nothing to bring reproach upon his name. Also, it is sinful to assist or cause another to fall. Let “no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13). Let us keep these obligations to God and others in mind as we continue this study.
Throughout the Bible, God teaches simply and forcefully that lust is sinful. Lust is “a longing especially for what is forbidden, desire, to set the heart upon, passion as if breathing hard, excitement of the mind” (Strong’s). This point is emphasized through distinct commands and clear descriptions of this passion’s destructiveness.
God’s charges are numerous concerning the sin of lust. “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Jesus equates the severity of even the thought of sin with that of adultery. Paul demands Timothy to ‘~flee also youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). Peter likewise commands the Christians to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). We are to be “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts” (Tit. 2:12). “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill it lusts” (Rom. 13:14). Are you giving opportunity for these lusts to be fulfilled? God commands us to escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4). Lasciviousness is a work of the flesh and “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). If you are participating in such lusts you are in sin!
Why are there commands against these lusts of the flesh? Lusts allure one to commit sinful acts. Many fall “having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin ” (2 Pet. 2:14). Fulfilling such lusts and pleasures only leads to disobedience (Tit. 3:3). Lust has a dangerous end because “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death” (Jas. 1:15). Lust causes men to commit that which is shameful (Rom. 1:27). False teachers lead people to believe error because “they allure through the lusts of the flesh” (2 Pet. 2:18). The abounding perils of lust are obvious. God clearly condemns lust as shameful and the Christian must have no part in it -no part!
Our next point of observation is self-evident. Immodest dress arouses lust. Gawking bikini-watchers have swarmed to beaches for years. Why? Definitely not to participate in some oceanographic study? It is a study – a study to satisfy their lusts. A survey was conducted asking this very question. Why do people go to the beach? Sixty-nine percent of the men asked replied that the primary reason they went to the beach was to watch the opposite sex (Psychology Today, Dec. 1982, p. 10). One thing is for sure, they were not going to examine girls in modest apparel. They were going to passionately stare at the revealing, seductive, and sensual outfits of the indecent female. And forty percent of the women went to the beach to be seen. What happened to “fleeing” from youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22)? How can one honestly “make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14) when seven out of ten men are at the beach for the sole purpose of stimulating such fleshly lusts? This example undoubtedly proves that immodest dress arouses lust.
The Bible affirms this to be true as well. Remember the downfall of David and Bathsheba? What was it that fueled David’s lust and consequent sin? “He saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold” (2 Sam. 11:2). It was not Bathsheba’s modesty that sparked David’s craving! Here we find a situation where the lack of sufficient clothing excited lust. David and Bathsheba both placed themselves in situations they should not have been. Sin was the result. Can you honestly say that you need not flee from similar conditions where insufficient clothing is prevalent? Other examples include that of the harlot. Why is the woman adorned in the “attire of a harlot” (Prov. 7:10) condemned? Was it because of her modesty? Why is the attire of the harlot immodest? Because it incites the pleasures of lust! Are you parading about in such alluring attire? Why also is it that a man is commanded to “not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness” (Lev. 18:19)? The viewing of one’s uncovered state promotes lust which only leads to fornication. In fact, “uncover her nakedness” is a euphemism referring to fornication. God continually teaches that immodest dress arouses lust. It is a fact!
Since lust is sinful, and immodest dress arouses lusts, then the only conclusion is that immodest dress is sinful. The Bible commands us to be modest. “Women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety” (1 Tim. 2:9). Nakedness is shameful. “Be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed” (Rev. 3:18). The world has lost its sense of shame due to immodesty. Have you? Uncovering private nakedness is sin (Exod. 20:26; Lev. 18:19). Being one of chaste and upright conduct requires modest adornment (1 Pet. 3:1-6). Can you picture the godly woman, Mary, seductively donning a bikini? Moral chastity rejects such a thought!
God declares that nakedness is wrong, but what exactly constitutes nakedness? When God spoke of the uncovering of one’s nakedness it was to “make bare the leg, uncover the thigh ” (Isa. 47:2-3). For one’s thigh to be uncovered constituted nakedness in the eyes of the Lord. The priests were commanded to wear “linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach” (Exod. 28:42). God describes uncovered loins and thighs as nakedness! Adam and Eve’s aprons did not constitute being “clothed.” In God’s eyes they still needed to be “clothed.” “God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:7,21). Therefore, how do swimsuits, mini-skirts, and skimpy shorts rate according to God’s definition of nakedness? Since nakedness is condemned and uncovered loins and thighs constitute nakedness, the wearing of clothes that reveal such parts is sinful.
We have looked at what God says about immodest dress. Lust is sinful. Immodest dress arouses lust. Therefore, immodest dress is sinful. Can we sincerely say we are escaping from such condemned lusts by adorning ourselves in the immodest apparel of the world? Will we truly promote godliness by flocking to the beach rather than fleeing from it? Do we honestly believe we are edifying another when we assist him in his lust and sin? “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God” (Rom. 6:13). Let us refuse to present our bodies as tools unto sin, and “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). If you ever find that sale for “non-revealing, modest, loose fitting, godly swimsuits,” let me know.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 21, pp. 643-644
November 1, 1990