Beat the Heat?

Summer is upon us. From this point on, until some time in October it is going to be HOT! Though I agree with the sentiment expressed by the world that we need to “ beat the heat, ” I do not agree with the ways of beating the heat that many in the world use. I am talking mainly about the immodesty of dress that comes about when many try to “ beat the heat. ” For some reason, if it is hot outside many people think that heat excuses them from dressing appropriately. Many people believe that they will be cooler and more comfortable outside if they wear less clothing. The more skin they expose the more they think they are beating the heat.

From a practical standpoint, this is simply not the case. In fact the more skin you expose to the sun the greater your chance of skin cancer and sunburn. A little common sense and my own experience, leads me to believe loose fitting, full-length, cotton clothing is the best for outdoor wear in hot weather. First, it protects your skin from sun exposure and second it absorbs your body’s moisture and this moisture helps keep your body cooler. When your skin is exposed and you sweat, that moisture is more readily evaporated into the air than it would if your clothing absorbed it. For safety sake, you will be much healthier and less likely to have skin cancer if you cover up, rather than expose your flesh to the environment for the whole world to see. In my opinion this practical approach to staying cooler outdoors puts to rest the excuse of “bearing it all” in order to stay cool. It just simply is not practical.

So why, then, do people dress so immodestly in the heat, if it doesn’t really keep them cool? One answer is that they think it would be more comfortable. Another answer is that they let fashion dictate how they dress, rather than the Word of God. The Bible is to be our guide for living. The Bible has much to say about the issue of modesty. We are called as Christians to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed…” (Rom. 12:2). We are not to conform our selves to the world’s standard of modesty and conduct, but transform ourselves into the image of Christ.

The world’s standard of dress and conduct goes far beyond what is acceptable according to God’s standard of dress and conduct.  The world says it is okay for men to go shirtless and to wear very short athletic shorts in public. The world says its okay for women to wear bikinis, bear their midriff’s, wear short-shorts that leave little to the imagination or mini-skirts that bear enough thigh to make a 1940’s pin-up girl blush. The world says that this way of dressing to entice is perfectly acceptable and little girls are encouraged to begin dressing in this way at a very young age. Have you been to the mall and seen the clothing for young girls? Bikini’s, halter-tops and short-shorts for five year olds! The world also says it is okay for men and women, boys and girls (not close family members) to swim or hangout at the pool or beach together. It is there, at the pool or beach that even the world’s already lax modesty is allowed to become even more lax. It is only there that dental floss is considered an acceptable garment! Moreover, there is great pressure, especially on teen-age girls, to conform to this worldly standard of dress.

Brethren we need to avoid situations like this. Even if we ourselves do not dress in a way that is immodest, is it acceptable for us to be around those who are dressed immodestly? Jesus said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart…” (Mat. 5:29). Do we really want to put our teenage (or younger) boys and girls in a situation where they might be tempted to look at others, or to be looked at by others in this manner? Christians are to “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” (1Thes. 5:22); “Flee also youthful lusts,” (2Tim. 2:22); and to “Flee fornication,” (1Cor. 6:18). How? Don’t dress like the world. Don’t go places where you know that others will be dressed immodestly. Do not conform yourself to the world’s dress code, but instead dress as befitting a true child of God.

The Bible gives us a standard of modesty. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1Tim. 2:9-10). This passage specifically speaks to the Christian woman, but the application addresses both men and women, girls and boys. Christians are to be adorned in modesty, not in the latest fashion beach apparel. The word “adorned” means, “to be put in proper order; to decorate”. Adorned with “shamefacedness” means literally to have the eyes downcast. By implication to be bashful, modest, or filled with awe (reverent). Men and women, boys and girls are to dress in such a way that professes godliness and good works, not worldliness and irreverence!

What, specifically, is that biblical standard? First we need to note that God’s standard of dress is a part of His moral law that has existed without change throughout each dispensation. Things such as adultery, murder, theft and the eating or drinking of blood have been condemned under God’s moral law from the beginning and until this day. When it comes to this moral law, modesty included, what was applicable in the Old Testament is applicable in the New.

Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and man became aware of sin, public nakedness has been forbidden. Adam and Eve, when they were alone in the garden as man and wife, were naked without shame. They had no reason for shame until they sinned against God. Their nakedness then became a reproach to them and they felt a need to cover it. So, they made for themselves “aprons” from fig leaves (Gen. 3:7). The word “apron” roughly translates to loincloth. This covered mainly the front and back of the lower body and left the legs bare (much like the modern “Speedo” or bikini bottom). Even after they were “covered” in this manner, God still considered them naked. He later made for them proper clothing to wear so that they would not still be naked. In verse 21, God made “coats of skins, and clothed them.” The word “coat” here is translated from the Hebrew word “kethoneth.” It was a long, shirt-like garment, generally with sleeves, that covered Adam and Eve from their shoulders to their knees (Wilson’s OT Word Studies).

“God clothed the first man and woman in modest clothing at a time when there was no one to look at them. Why? Does God do things without reason? Is it possible God was establishing a standard for all mankind? Honest reflection demands an affirmative answer. Remember, God’s moral laws do not change.” (Tim Kidwell, Buda, Texas)

The conclusion we can draw from this is that God only considered them modestly dressed when they were covered from the shoulders to the knees. If you show any more skin than the head and neck, arms, or lower legs, then by God’s standard of modesty you are naked! If you dress in this way, exposing your thighs, or your belly or part of your chest for all the world to see, then you are violating God’s moral law in immodesty. If you are trying to “ beat the heat ” by going about naked in public you will wind up some place where you would wish you could “ beat the heat ” for eternity!

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