Immodest Apparel

By L.A. Stauffer

When I began preaching in the late ’50s, what we commonly call “immodest apparel” was worn only by Weak and indifferent members of the church. Women who seldom attended Bible classes and only assembled once or twice a month had few scruples against wearing shorts, halters, one-piece swim suits, low cut dresses, skin tight pants or jeans, etc. These same ones donned the mini-skirts, two-piece swim suits, and bikinis when they became popular a few years later. Men, except for wearing swim suits at public pools or beaches, weren’t involved as extensively in immodesty.

But now that has all changed. 1, for one, am convinced that we have all but lost the battle against lascivious apparel. When the middle-aged generation of today is gone and our new generation of youth become the core and backbone of the church, I shudder to think of the meager clothing that will be accepted. Preachers, elders, deacons, Bible-class teachers, and other stable members in many sound churches are caving in to the demands of young people and the numbing influence of an ungodly world. What is mind-boggling and disturbing is that this includes the wearing of immodest apparel by the children of some of the most dedicated members of the church – brothers and sisters who themselves would not think of dressing as their kids do.

These very parents will let their kids spend a day of vacation on the beach, permit them to sunbathe in full view of the neighbors, allow them to wear swim suits and short shorts to work in the yard or wash the car, encourage them to wear low-cut, backless dresses to formal parties or join the pom poms, ignore the tight-fitting pants or tops that vividly outline appealing parts of their anatomy, etc. And what’s really sad is that many of these kids have high moral standards otherwise. Why, then, has this become so prevalent?

Many answers, no doubt, can be given. But the fact is that kids do it because they want to, like to, and think nothing of it. A humanistic philosophy dominates today’s society – the schools, print media, movie and TV productions, advertisements, commercials, etc. And that philosophy has bombarded us with “do your own thing,” “you only go around once in life – get all the gusto you can,” “take care of number one,” etc. They have also sold everything from toothpaste, to big “K” cereal, to health-spa memberships with lewd, sexually enticing commercials. Displays of near nudity have become so commonplace in our homes that kids view it as a normal part of life.

What all this hype brings to mind is an important fact of life. We are reminded daily that God made the bodies of man and woman attractive to one another. He made them pleasant to look upon and created in each a desire for the other sexually, It must be, next to eating, the strongest urge of the flesh. And when he finished this creation be saw that it, along with all things, was “very good” (see Gen. 1:27-31). But God from the beginning placed boundaries on man and woman, limiting their desires for one another and the fulfillment of those urges to marriage. Only there they can become “one flesh, ” only there the bed is “undefiled, – only there “thy desire shall be” to a man, only there shall a man “looketh upon a woman to lust after her” (see Gen. 2:18-25; Heb. 13:4; Gen. 3:16; Matt. 5:27,28).

When men and women dress in a way to create this “lust” and “desire” in someone other than their wife or husband, they promote lasciviousness – inordinate and lewd urges. This includes women who wear tight pants and attractively display an area of the body that entices men, who adorn themselves in clothing that in a sensuous way either accentuates or openly shows the bosom, and who dress in apparel that reveals the most alluring parts of the body, including the legs, and stirs the imagination of the average man. Sadly enough, men now dress in the same manner and women shamelessly and glowingly speak of the impure thoughts this provokes. Paul surely condemns this kind of immodesty when he says: “I want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety . . , appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (1 Tim. 2:9,10, NIV).

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 7, p. 202
April 5, 1990