Modest and Immodest Apparel

By Dennis C. Abernathy

(Note: This article was sent to William Wallace for usage in the Gospel Guardian many months ago. It never saw the light of day.-Dennis Abernathy)

The above is the title of an article written by Gordon Wilson that appeared in the Gospel Guardian January 3, 1974. Much of what he said in the article was good, but with some of the points made, I must respectfully disagree.

1. First of all, Brother Wilson says, “Judging from the amount of writing done on the topic in the summer season, it appears that a lot of preachers feel that hot weather makes for an increase in immodesty.” He then says, “Perhaps they are right.” I must say that I am one preacher that can be included in the “lot of preachers,” that feel that way. Let me say also that there is no “perhaps” to it. Hot weather does make for an increase in immodesty. All a person has to do to realize this is just walk with his eyes open. But Brother Wilson said in another article, (Immodest Apparel and Immoderate Preachers-The Defender-July 11, 1971, “What I am not so sure about is why some brethren notice this particular evil so often and in such rich detail. Frankly, they have me worried about myself: How come I so seldom notice the scantily-clad young women who, we are assured, fill the churches as well as the streets and beaches?” And my wife has always told me that I was naive!!!

2. Brother Wilson says, “Our text will have to be I Timothy 2:9, 10; this is the only passage in the New Testament which links `modesty’ with `apparel.’ So, when we have quoted this passage we have exhausted what the Book says about modest apparel.” In this Defender article referred to above, he made a similar statement, when he said we should speak . against this evil as against all others, and then he says, “To prove I believe so, I now proceed to say all the Bible says on the subject.” He then quoted 1 Tim. 2:9-10 and then added, “That is it.” What dear reader, is he saying? He is saying (if I can read) that all the Bible says on modest and immodest apparel is to be found in 1 Tim. 2:9-10. Sounds like a Baptist who would say that “salvation is by faith only,” and to prove that he believes so, he will proceed to say “all the Bible says on the subject.” He will then quote a lot of passages that deal with faith. But concerning modest and immodest apparel I submit the following for your consideration: 1 Pet. 3:1-6; Tit. 2:4-5; Matt. 5:27-28; 2 Sam. 11:2-5; Gen. 38:13; Prov. 7:10.

3. Next Brother Wilson says, “How is the best way for preachers to deal with this problem? Definitely not by a tremendous amount of public preaching on the subject.” May I ask, will this solution work with other problems equally as well? What about fornication? What about dancing? What about reading dirty books, or going to obscene movies and etc.? Do we need to do much public preaching on these subjects, Brother Wilson? A lack of or the cessation of preaching on things that are sinful never “solved or dealt with any problem.” Certainly, when preaching on these subjects, our language should not be “of the gutter.” (Col. 4:6; Eph. 5:4; Eph. 4:29; Tit. 2:8) But does our brother mean by “discreet” that we should preach in such a way that no application of principles which are laid down may ever be applied?

4. Then our brother says, “What the evangelist should do is to teach the older sisters that it is their duty, (Amen! DCA) not his (what about 2 Tim. 4:1-2; 1 Tim. 5:1-2; DCA) to teach the young ones.” “In addition, the preacher should have such a wholesome and consistent program of Biblical teaching that he will soon succeed in instilling in most members a sense of the total lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives. When a sister comes to have a joyful awareness of the abiding presence of the Lord at all times, she will certainly think about how she should dress.” Again, I ask, will this work with other sins? Should we just teach the “total lordship of Jesus Christ” and never be specific in dealing with sin? This abiding presence of the Lord comes through the obedience to His word and this word must be taught. This involves more than just teaching the total lordship of Jesus.

5. Our brother says he approaches the subject in the way above and that “there is never an extensive problem of immodesty in any congregation where I have been for very long.” Now I sure hope that is so, and I can certainly rejoice if it is. But just maybe the immodesty is there but he just “seldom notices” it in the churches, on the streets and on the beaches. I wonder!

Brethren, let us teach the truth on this subject and then stick with it when we do. I believe teaching of the sort I have reviewed is loose and will add comfort to those who want to dress as they please, instead of the way God would have them to do. There are many good sisters who dress modestly and above reproach, and there are many who would dress modestly if they were taught to do so. Some, of course, will dress as they, please and call you “dirty minded” and accuse you of running around with a tape measure in your hand, if you say something about it. Let us not judge something modest or immodest by the shame of the world. Many in the world would not be ashamed if you wore nothing at all!! “Streaking” will bear that out.

Truth Magazine XIX: 33, p. 525
June 26, 1975