Should Men Go Topless?

Is it OK for a man to be in public with his shirt off for any reason? If yes, what is the difference between a man doing it and a woman doing it?

This question is a question regarding modesty. Modesty deals with the question of the presentation of the physical body in public situations. The Bible speaks about this subject and so we should give heed to understanding what the Bible has to say about the subject and then conform our lives to that standard. There are basically two principles involved within the discussion of modesty which we must consider. The first is the principle of giving glory to God. The Bible teaches that one should glorify God in the body. In 1 Corinthians 6:20 we read, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God�s.” The principle is to bring glory to God through the use of one’s body and not to bring glory to self. There is a way to dress so as to glorify one’s self instead of giving glory to God. Christians, both male and female, should not dress in such a fashion. This aspect of modest dress can and does involve the culture in which one is living. It could be a sin for me to dress in a three-piece suit and oxford shoes in a culture where everyone wears robes and sandals. It would be a sin for a Christian woman to not veil her face in public in some areas of the world today because that is what the culture dictates and God does not want us bringing glory to ourselves in the presence of cultures who need the gospel more than anything.

Second, there is also the principle of sexual attraction. In consideration of this principle, there are no cultural considerations. Neither men nor women should dress in such a provocative way so as to entice the opposite sex into immoral sexual thoughts or behavior. We are children of our God and God tempts no man with evil and neither should we (James 1:13).

So let me answer the question in a qualified way. If a man can be in public with his shirt off without bringing attention to self and if a man can be in public with one’s shirt off without causing sexual attraction then a man can be in public with his shirt off. The question now becomes, can a man be in public with his shirt off and meet these qualifications? I just don’t see how that could be possible.

Now let’s ask the question, “What is the difference between a man going bare chested in public versus a woman going bare chested in public?” Is there a difference? First, let me state that there is a difference in the chemical make up of the male gender of the species and the female gender of the species. God made us different. Males have a different physical build than females. Males have different sexual organs than females. Males have a different hormonal content than females have and thereby a different chemical balance. Males have different emotional makeup than do females. Males and females ARE different. Now the question we need to ask is this, “Do any of these differences affect the ability of either of the genders to dress modestly?” And the answer is “Yes!” While both the chemicals testosterone and estrogen are in both genders, there is a different distribution in the gender. In the male gender there is more testosterone than there is estrogen. In the female gender there is more estrogen than testosterone. One of the purposes of testosterone is to sexually motivate the genders. Since there is more of it in the male gender, males are more sexually motivated. Additionally, according to medical professionals, there is also a direct relationship between the visual cortex in the brain of the male and the production of testosterone. While testosterone causes one to be sexually stimulated, visual sexual stimulus increases the production of testosterone especially in the male gender where a higher amount is already present. This increases sexual stimulation and desire. Removing the visual stimulus will thus decrease the amount of testosterone produced and decrease the sexual desire. This is why we find specific issues of modesty addressed to women in the New Testament such as in 1 Timothy 2.

Now, in case you haven’t noticed, there is a difference between the bare chest of a male and the bare chest of a female. Female breasts contain mammary glands whereas males do not. The Bible recognizes that the female breast can be a sexual stimulant. In Proverbs 5:19 we read instructions from a father to his son regarding the sexual relationship he should have with his wife. The Father instructs, “Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” The Bible here indicates that female breasts are at least in part for the sexual satisfaction of the male. And we also know that men do receive visual sexual stimulation from looking at the female breast. It is incumbent upon the Christian woman, therefore, to ensure that her breasts are properly covered so that this will not produce a stumbling block for Christian men.

Now in regard to the chest of a male, there can be sexual stimulation derived from that as well from the female, but it is not as strong and does not produce the kind of chemical response within the body of the female as it does in the male. Moreover the consistency of the response in the female is considerably different. Men respond consistently to bare breasted females. However, women respond inconsistently to bare breasted men. But since there is a chance that a bare male breast would sexually stimulate a female, then the male should ensure that he cover his breast appropriately as well. There is also an additional problem for which males should be concerned, and that is the problem of homosexuality. This is when the male confuses his sexual desires and directs them toward other males. It is a sin and God condemns it (Romans 1:26-32). This is something Christian men should give no occasion for others to stumble at as well.

So there is a difference between a bare breasted male and a bare breasted female. However, so far as the Christian is concerned, if it provides occasion for anyone to stumble, the Christian male should not go bare breasted.

Now I would like to conclude with a few more words on modesty. Dressing modestly primarily reflects one’s attitude toward one’s self. “Will I dress in such a way so as to bring glory to God, or will I dress in a way that will be pleasant to me?” This is the ultimate question that we must ask in regard to our dress. I would hope that each of us as Christians would be willing to sacrifice our own personal desires and comfort in our personal dress in order to bring glory to God. There is always someone, however, who asks, “How will I know that I am dressed modestly?” I would like to suggest two avenues of thought for you. First, if you are a female, ask one of the older Christian ladies in the congregation. The Bible says that the elder are supposed to teach the younger and part of that instruction is how to be chaste (Titus 2:5). Second, there is the principle of no doubt. If you are unsure about your clothing, then don’t wear it. Wear something that you KNOW would be suitable. Don’t give yourself or anyone else reason to doubt that you are dressing in a modest manner and things will go well for you.

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Was Jesus God?

I would like to know if Jesus was God the Father or if he was only the (lower case) son of god.

The question restated is as follows: Is Jesus really Deity, or was he a created being like angels, man, and all creation? Jesus was and is Deity. In Him dwelt all the fullness of the godhead bodily according to Colossians 2:9. The relationship he sustained to the Father was so close that He could say when Phillip asked Him to show the Father, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works� sake” (John 14:9-11).

Jesus’ person, however, is not the Father, but that of the Son. He was born both of the Holy Spirit and the seed of woman, Mary. We read in Luke 1:35 the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” We refer to this infusion of deity into the seed of woman as the incarnation.

That Jesus is deity is seen throughout the New Testament. We read in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” These verse plainly declare the Deity of Jesus. Some say that this text does not indicate that. However, how could Jesus be both a created being and also be the one who made all things and that without whom nothing that was made could have been made? If Jesus were a created being then this passage states that He would have had to make Himself. Such would not be possible.

In John 8:58, 59, Jesus was discussing His authority to be speaking the things that He spoke with the Pharisees. He states that His authority was given by God and that Abraham rejoiced to see His day and was glad. The Pharisees asked Him how He could be older than Abraham. Jesus reply was as follows: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” This statement was a claim to be God–Jehovah/Yahweh–the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The very name “Jehovah/Yahweh” means in Hebrew, “I am.” This is what God declared to Moses upon Mount Horeb when Moses asked God’s name, “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14). The Pharisees recognized this and sought to stone Him for blasphemy. “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” If Jesus had been anything less than Deity, they would have been justified in doing so, but He WAS Deity and they were not justified in stoning God.

We read in Acts 20:28 that it was “God” that purchased the church with “His own” blood. Jesus’ blood was the blood that was shed on the cross (1 Peter 1:19). The inescapable conclusion is that Jesus is God–Deity.

It was also the understanding of the New Testament writers that Jesus, in His person, held the attributes of God, Lord, and Savior. In 2 Peter 1:1 we read in the King James version, “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Notice this phrase, “of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” The possessive pronoun “our” is misplaced in this version. The American Standard Version (1901) reads, “of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ;” this however is still not satisfactory for the translators add the definite article “the” right before “savior” (this is why it is in italics). The correct reading should be, “of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” This indicates that Jesus is both God and Savior. In the Greek language (the language in which the New Testament was written) any time you have a definite article used before two nouns joined by the conjunction “kai,” those two nouns refer to the same thing or person. This is what we have here. The inescapable conclusion is that Jesus is both God and Savior. This construction is readily acknowledged when we talk about “the Lord and Savior” (such as in 2 Peter 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, and 3:18) but why not acknowledged when the writers say “God and Savior?” We also have this construction in other parts of the New Testament. In 2 Thessalonians 1:12 we have the same construction. We read there in the KJV and ASV, “our God and the Lord Jesus Christ,” but the definite article “the” is not before “Jesus Christ” in the Greek, but before “God” which should render the passage, “our God and Lord Jesus Christ” indicating that Jesus is God. Notice Titus 2:13, “the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” Both KJV and ASV render the translation correct in this passage. The great God is the Savior Jesus Christ.

To answer your question: Is Jesus the same as God the Father? No. Is He God/Deity? Yes. Is He only a son of god? No. Is He the Son of God? Yes.

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Please Explain I Corinthians 11:1-16

In 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, Paul gives some ordinances, customs, or signs of authority to women concerning their hair. Would you please explain this passage?

There is perhaps no more difficult passage within the New Testament as this one discussed. In large part this is a difficult passage because in order to understand it, one needs to understand some of the customs that surrounded the church in the city of Corinth. This is indicated in verse sixteen, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” Paul writes this particular passage of scripture to a group of people who are already “in the know” as to the particular situation in which the Corinthian Christians were as far as custom was concerned. On the other hand, Paul makes it clear that there are some clear principles that are involved which are inviolate in regard to the Christian being pleasing to the will of God. This is indicated in strongly in verse two, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” One must practice the customs as dictated by the principles. The principles are eternal. The customs are transitory. What are the principles set forth in this passage? What are the customs set forth in this passage? Herein lies the basis for our ability to properly understand.

First, there are some very definite principles that are set forth in these verses (2, 3). These principles are contained in verses two and three. These principles are inviolate and Paul expects the Corinthian Christians to respect them. They are that God the Father is the head of Christ; Christ is the head of men; and men are the head of the women. This is not talking about equality, but structure of authority. Christ is equal to the Father, but is subject to Him as pertains to His mission. Women are equal to men, but in the matter of authority, they are to be subject to the decisions of men. This is God’s structure of authority and it must be respected under all circumstances.

Second, there were some practices that were common to the first century which reflected this authority structure (vs. 4-6). Failure to observe these practices brought dishonor upon both Christian men and women. However, these practices were part of the culture of the day and in no way reflect any abiding principles. The only principle that we can observe from these practices is that if in our culture we have some practices that reflect God’s authority structure, we too must humbly accept those practices as well to reflect our deep and abiding respect for God’s will. The practices that were involved at Corinth were the practices of 1) The man having his head covered. 2) The man having his head uncovered. 3) The woman having her head covered, and 4) The woman having her head uncovered. Paul tells us in light of these practices what either dishonored one’s authority or honored one’s authority. These are verses four through seven. Note the following: 1) A man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his authority. 2) Every women who prays or prophesies having her head unveiled dishonors her authority. Why are these things the case? They are the case because 1) when a woman goes about unveiled, it brings shame to her and 2) when a man goes about with a cover on his head this indicates that he does not respect the fact that he is made in the image of God. Why is it specifically the case that a woman who does not wear a veil brings shame upon herself? Why specifically is it the case that when a man wears a cover he indicates that he is not made in the image of God? The answers to these two questions lie in the customs of the culture in which the Corinthian Christians were.

Corinth is located in Greece and thus would be subject to the culture of Greece inasmuch as that culture reflected and respected God’s authority structure. Inasmuch as the culture did NOT respect and reflect God’s authority structure, then the Corinthian Christians were NOT to follow those examples. What was it about the culture that reflected God’s authority structure? First, it was the common practice of the Greek men of that day to wear a cover on their head if they were slaves, but to not wear a cover on their head if they were free. Christians of that day were made up of both slaves and freemen. We have already seen from the letter to the Corinthians that the church had a problem with divisions. One of the divisions that they had and which also affected the way they partook of the Lord’s supper in the later part of the chapter was in association to who was a slave and who was free. When in the body of Christ, however, there are no distinctions between slave and free (1 Corinthians 7:22). All are one in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13) and free. It would, therefore, be disrespectful to Christ as head to indicate such a distinction while in His body. In other words, if a man wore a head covering in the assembly, that would indicate that he was a slave to another man instead of free in Christ. The man who owned him would be honored, but Christ would be dishonored. Hence, all men were to have their heads uncovered so as not to bring dishonor upon their authority, Christ.

As respecting women, their authority is man. There was a custom throughout the ancient world regarding women as well. The International Bible Encyclopedia says, “In NT times, however, among both Greeks and Romans, reputable women wore a veil in public (Plutarch Quaest. Rom. xiv) and to appear without it was an act of bravado (or worse).” In essence the implication is that to appear without the veil would bring shame upon the woman’s authority–man. To appear with this veil would bring honor to her authority as well as to the authority structure of God. Hence, it was appropriate for her to wear this veil in respect of God’s authority structure. Additionally, there is some evidence that prostitutes of that day flaunted this custom in order to be more appealing to their clientele. The discarding of the veil might lead some men to conclude that she was trying to identify with women of a baser sort. This also would bring disrespect upon God’s authority structure in that she would not be showing the proper relationship between men and women in dealing with sexuality, that of husband and wife exclusively. Paul’s comments regarding a woman not being covered being the same as if she were shorn, are not to be taken literally. Rather, they indicate the degree to which the woman should go if she were not to respect the authority structure. If she is not going to wear the veil, then why not go ahead and shave the whole head and take all covering off.

Paul next turns to the application of the principles to the practice in Corinth (vs.7-10). In the context of the culture of Corinth, Paul states the principles of God’s authority structure as applied to the customs of the day. A man is created in the image of God. Therefore, he needs to reflect that image in the church in showing his subjection to God — not to other men (as might be the case of a slave). To do this, he must ensure that his head is uncovered. On the other hand, the woman is the glory of the man–she was created out of his bones and to provide help and companionship to him. Therefore, she ought to show this in her behavior as a Christian woman and due to the presence of angels in the worship assembly. (To indicate to one of God’s angels in the worship assembly that a woman does not respect God’s authority structure is to indicate the same to God.) She shows the proper respect for God’s authority structure in this culture by wearing a veil.

From this discussion, however, Paul does not want the Corinthians to get the impression that men are to have an attitude of domination over women so he gives additional admonition in verses 11, 12. Both men and women are of God (vs. 12), so men ought not to think that men can be pleasing to God by rejecting women altogether out of the common worship assembly. And that as far as their relationship to the Lord is concerned, they are equal.

Paul next turns toward some self evident judgments that indicate God’s authority structure as applied in Corinth (vs.13-15). He asks them, based upon their experience and judgment in living in the city of Corinth as citizens what appears appropriate and what does not. The rhetorical question indicates that it was not appropriate for women to pray without a veil. In fact, their own experience in being citizens of Corinth taught them that it is a shameful thing for a man to have long hair, but it is a glory for a woman to have long hair as a covering. The word “nature” here does not necessarily mean that one is born with the specific knowledge that long hair is good for men and bad for women. It merely indicates something that has been habitually observed by the culture for a long period of time. This same phrase is used in Ephesians 2:3 where it is indicated that they were by nature children of wrath. Just as no one is born committing the sin of anger, so also no one is born knowing the difference between long and short hair. It is something that must be taught.

Finally, Paul addresses the possibility that someone might object to these thoughts regarding the application of the principle (vs. 16). As far as the practice of the church is concerned, there is no such custom. The wearing of the veil should not be considered something that is binding upon all churches in all circumstances. If a visiting woman were to pass through the church at Corinth and worship with them, they should not consider it obligatory to bind upon her the same customs that they bind upon themselves.

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