Spring has arrived. The flowers are blooming. Birds are singing. Pollen is spreading. People are wearing fewer clothes. That can be a problem.
I certainly can’t provide a line based on a Bible verse that says your shorts need to be a certain length or your shirt needs to cover a certain amount of flesh. As much as I wish I could, I can’t find a verse that delineates exactly how loose certain clothes should be. However, as we work on having our hearts right with God, I’d like to remind us of a few passages. If we can get our hearts right, then our dress will follow.
First, while the two passages speak directly to women, I think the principles apply to all and we need to remember them. I Timothy 2:9-10 says, “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” Also I Peter 3:3-4 says, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” What people need to see most about us is our good works, our gentle and quiet spirit. Are we hiding our spirit by displaying our flesh?
Second, can we look at Romans 13:14 in a new light? Paul wrote: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the lust of the flesh.” On the one hand, it is true that no matter how you dress, I need to work on my own lust so that I stay pure. However, based on this verse, if you dress in a way that triggers me, I need to learn to simply stay away from you. I need to learn that coming around you is going to be a problem for the lust of my flesh in the same way that watching a television show that has people dressed like you might do the same thing. Do you really want to do that to our relationship?
There is another aspect of this that we all need to consider. I once heard a person claim he had a problem with lusting and wanting to be lusted after. I had never thought about that second half. However, if I want to be lusted after and am dressing to promote that, I am providing for the desires of my flesh. I get a fleshly payoff from knowing others are lusting after me. Let’s make sure we are honest. When we are wearing skintight clothes, cleavage-revealing blouses, muscle-defining shirts, thigh-displaying skirts, what is our goal? Is there part of us that wants to be lusted after? If so, we need to reconsider our dress.
Third, Galatians 5:19 says sensuality (licentiousness, lasciviousness) is a work of the flesh. If we pursue a course of sensuality, the text says we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Sensuality refers to activity that promotes, indicates, arouses sexual desire. What does our dress say about sexual desire? Is our dress intended to promote sexual desire? We need to take care. Certainly, some are so given to their lusts that no matter what we wear, they will be provoked to sin. We are not charged with making sure everyone else keeps their lust under control. However, we must make sure we are being completely honest about the way we dress. Are we appealing to the senses? Perhaps a better question is not are we intending to arouse sexual desire, but are we intending not to arouse sexual desire.
Fourth, many think talking about this is simply prudish, Victorian, simple-minded. However, the Bible demonstrates that the body can be used to stimulate sexual arousal. God made us to be sexual beings. However, He also designed sex to be kept in the confines of marriage. We need to be careful not to present our bodies in ways that will promote sexual desire and arousal in anyone but our spouses. Consider passages in the Song of Solomon. In Song of Solomon 5:10-16 we see the woman expressing her physical desire based on the man’s hair, his eyes, his cheeks, his lips, his arms, his legs, his appearance. In Song of Solomon 4:1-11; 6:5-7:9 we see the man expressing his physical desire based on the woman’s breasts, eyes, hair, teeth, lips, mouth, cheeks, jewelry, perfume, navel, neck, thighs, perfume, and stature. I don’t think these passages mean we need to be covered from head to toe. However, I do think they stress how important it is that we arrange and cover our bodies properly and reserve the sexuality for marriage.
Finally, Mark 7:21-23 says what comes from within a person is what defiles them. Jesus included sensuality on that list. We need to get our heart right with God and then we need to dress from the heart. Perhaps some dress in a sexually suggestive way out of ignorance. Others may simply not realize how harmful what they are doing really is. Whatever the case, we need to be careful. We need to get sensuality, lust and the desire to be lusted after out of our hearts. Then we need to dress from a heart that is intent on glorifying God.
If we get our heart right, we’ll get our dress right.