By J. Parnell McCarter


One of many areas where modern secularism has taken a significant toll on an erstwhile Christian culture is in the matter of attire.  Exposing one’s nakedness is a sin.  After the Fall God gave man clothing as an instruction to cover his nakedness.  Ham was condemned for making light of his father Noah’s nakedness when drunk.  God’s word clearly condemns exposure of nakedness and making light of the issue. And God’s word, not modern man, defines what nakedness is. 


Smith’s Bible Dictionary helpfully addresses the topic of ‘dress’, as it is discussed in scripture.  The website edition of Smith’s Bible Dictionary (see http://www.reference-guides.com/smiths_bible_dictionary/Dress/ )  contains the following information on the topic :


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Dress: This subject includes the following particulars:
1. Materials;
2. Color and decoration;
3. Name, form, and mode of wearing the various articles;
4. Special usages relating thereto.

1.      Materials.--After the first "apron" of fig leaves, Ge 3:7 the skins of animals were used for clothing. Ge 3:21 Such was the "mantle" worn by Elijah. Pelisses of sheepskin still form an ordinary article of dress in the East. The art of weaving hear was known to the Hebrews at an early period, Ex 25:4; 26:7 and wool was known earlier still. Ge 38:12 Their acquaintance with linen and perhaps cotton dates from the captivity in Egypt, 1Ch 4:21 silk was introduced much later. Re 18:12 The use of mixed material, such as wool and flax, was forbidden. Le 19:19; De 22:11

2.      Color and decoration. --The prevailing color of the Hebrew dress was the natural white of the materials employed, which might be brought to a high state of brilliancy by the art of the fuller. Mr 9:3 The notice of scarlet thread, Ge 38:28 implies some acquaintance with dyeing. The elements of ornamentation were -- (1) weaving with threads previously dyed, Ex 35:25 (2) the introduction of gold thread or wire, Ex 27:6 ff; (3) the addition of figures. Robes decorated with gold, Ps 45:13 and with silver thread, cf. Ac 12:21 were worn by royal personages; other kinds of embroidered robes were worn by the wealthy, Jud 5:30; Ps 45:14; Eze 16:13 as well as purple, Pr 31:22; Lu 16:19 and scarlet. 2Sa 1:24

3.      The names, forms, and modes of wearing the robes.-- The general characteristics of Oriental dress have preserved a remarkable uniformity in all ages: the modern Arab dresses much as the ancient Hebrew did. The costume of the men and women was very similar; there was sufficient difference, however, to mark the sex, and it was strictly forbidden to a woman to wear the appendages, such as the staff, signet-ring, and other ornaments, of a man; as well as to a man to wear the outer robe of a woman. De 22:5 We shall first describe the robes which were common to the two sexes, and then those which were peculiar to women. (1) The inner garment was the most essential article of dress. It was a closely-fitting garment, resembling in form and use our shirt, though unfortunately translated "coat" in the Authorized Version. The material of which it was made was either wool, cotton or linen. It was without sleeves, and reached only to the knee. Another kind reached to the wrists and ankles. It was in either case kept close to the body by a girdle, and the fold formed by the overlapping of the robe served as an inner pocket. A person wearing the inner garment alone was described as naked. (2) There was an upper or second tunic, the difference being that it was longer than the first. (3) the linen cloth appears to have been a wrapper of fine linen, which might be used in various ways, but especially as a night-shirt. Mr 14:51 (4) The outer garment consisted of a quadrangular piece of woollen cloth, probably resembling in shape a Scotch plaid. The size and texture would vary with the means of the wearer. It might be worn in various ways, either wrapped round the body or thrown over the shoulders like a shawl, with the ends or "skirts" hanging down in front; or it might be thrown over the head, so as to conceal the face. 2Sa 15:30; Es 6;12 The ends were skirted with a fringe and bound with a dark purple ribbon, Nu 15:38 it was confined at the waist by a girdle. The outer garment was the poor man's bed clothing. Ex 22:26,27 The dress of the women differed from that of the men in regard to the outer garment, the inner garment being worn equally by both sexes. So 5:3 Among their distinctive robes we find a kind of shawl, Ru 3:15; Isa 3:22 light summer dresses of handsome appearance and ample dimensions, and gay holiday dresses. Isa 3:24 The garments of females were terminated by an ample border of fringe (skirts, Authorized Version), which concealed the feet. Isa 47:2; Jer 13:22 The travelling cloak referred to by St. Paul, 2 Ti 4:13 is generally identified with the Roman paenula. It is, however, otherwise explained as a travelling-case for carrying clothes or books. The coat of many colors worn by Joseph, Ge 37:3,23 is variously taken to be either a "coat of divers colors" or a tunic furnished with sleeves and reaching down to the ankles. The latter is probably the correct sense.

4.      Special usages relating to dress. --The length of the dress rendered it inconvenient for active exercise; hence the outer garments were either left in the house by a person working close by, Mt 24:18 or were thrown off when the occasion arose, Mr 10:50 or, if this were not possible, as in the case of a person travelling, they were girded up. 1Ki 18:46; 1Pe 1:13 On entering a house the upper garment was probably laid aside, and resumed on going out. Ac 12:8 In a sitting posture, the garments concealed the feet; this was held to be an act of reverence. Isa 6:2 The number of suits possessed by the Hebrews was considerable: a single suit consisted of an under and upper garment. The presentation of a robe in many instances amounted to installation or investiture, Ge 41:42; Es 8:15; Isa 22:21 on the other hand, taking it away amounted to dismissal from office. 2 Macc. 4:38. The production of the best robe was a mark of special honor in a household. Lu 15:22 The number of robes thus received or kept in store for presents was very large, and formed one of the main elements of wealth in the East, Job 22:6; Mt 6:19; Jas 5:2 so that to have clothing implied the possession of wealth and power. Isa 3:6,7 On grand occasions the entertainer offered becoming robes to his guests. The business of making clothes devolved upon women in a family. Pr 31:22; Ac 9:39 little art was required in what we may term the tailoring department; the garments came forth for the most part ready made from the loom, so that the weaver supplanted the tailor.

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Of course, some aspects of dress Smith’s Bible Dictionary covers are peculiar to the Old Testament Jews, to differentiate them from the Gentile nations.  But other aspects were universal applications of principles of modesty.  The command to be modestly attired extends to Gentile as well as Jew, for all time post-Fall, when men should acknowledge their just shame for sin by modest dress.  God does not leave it up to each man to decide for himself whether he should be modest as scripturally defined, nor does it leave up to each nation whether it should be modest as scripturally defined.

This statement from Smith’s Bible Dictionary should be noted: “A person wearing the inner garment alone was described as naked.”  The book edition of Smith’s Bible Dictionary points out, for instance, that “when dressed in the drawers and shirt only, a person was said to be naked (Mark 14:51)”.  Tight fitting clothing, covering only the torso down to perhaps the knees (or longer), was considered underwear.  Yet much of the clothing worn in public in modern Western societies exposes more of the body than the inner garment of Hebrew dress, which itself was considered as exposing one’s nakedness.

Smith’s Bible Dictionary also mentioned the following:  “The garments of females were terminated by an ample border of fringe (skirts, Authorized Version), which concealed the feet. Isa 47:2; Jer 13:22”.  So let’s consider Jeremiah 13:22 and Isaiah 47:2-3.  The two passages read as follows:

Jer 13:22 – “And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, [and] thy heels made bare.”

Isa 47:2-3 – “Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.  Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet [thee as] a man.”

For someone, especially a woman, to bare her leg in public is regarded in scripture as exposing one’s nakedness.  This is quite common in the West, yet there is no shame.  Jeremiah 8:12 addresses this state of circumstances quite eloquently: "Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? There were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush; therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time of their punishment they shall be brought down, declares the Lord."  There is very little shame in the West, in defiance of the command of I Timothy 2:9-10 : “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.” 

The unclothing of the West is a mark of divine judgment, even as the unashamed presence of sodomy, murderous abortion, and covenant-breaking divorce in the West are marks of divine judgment.  Romans 1 says that those societies which fall away from true religion and worship, into false religion and worship, are so judged by God with just these ills.  The West is quite obviously under divine reproach.  John Calvin writes in his Commentary concerning Jeremiah 13:22 (but it equally well applies to Isaiah 47:2-3): “As to the simile, it is a form of speaking often used by the prophets, that is, to denude the soles of the feet, and to discover the skirts. We know that men clothe themselves, not only to preserve them from cold, but that they also cover the body for the sake of modesty: there is therefore a twofold use of garments, the one occasioned by necessity, and the other by decency. As then clothes are partly made for this end — to cover what could not be decently shewn or left bare without shame, the prophets use this mode of speaking when they have in view to shew that one is exposed to public reproach.” 

Throughout Christian history God has used the rod of Islam to punish corrupted forms of Christianity.  While Islam is a wicked religion, there are certain sins which she has avoided to greater extent than the “Christian” West.  Among these sins are immodesty.  When the West, and especially the US, seeks to export its secularist culture, which includes unabashed immodesty, it especially offends Middle East Muslim sensibilities. Western decadence has become exposed. Thus the West, and especially the US, becomes the “Great Satan” in the eyes of many Muslims.  And God ordains Muslim attacks against the West justly to punish Western wickedness, even as God used the wicked Medo-Persian empire to punish the sins of ancient Babylon.

Ancient Babylon ultimately was destroyed for her sins.  As we read in Isaiah 47:1-11,Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: [there is] no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate...But these two [things] shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, [and] for the great abundance of thine enchantments.  For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I [am], and none else beside me.  Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, [which] thou shalt not know.” 

And ancient Babylon fore-shadowed the modern “Babylon”, about which we read in Revelation 17: “I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:  And upon her forehead [was] a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

Modern Western nakedness is being exposed.  Her whoredom has been found out.



Note:  It should not be assumed from this article that we should derive our standard of modesty in attire from the Middle Eastern Muslims.  Rather, scripture alone should be our standard.  For example, in many Middle Eastern Muslim nations women cover their faces, but this is contrary to scripture, as we can deduce from Genesis 38:15: “When Judah saw her, he thought her [to be] an harlot; because she had covered her face.”  It is not proper for women to be required to cover their faces.  And in many Middle Eastern Muslim nations women are always required to wear a headcovering, at least in public.  This too is an inappropriate regulation, as we can deduce from Genesis 24:65 (“For she [had] said unto the servant, What man [is] this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant [had] said, It [is] my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.”) and I Corinthians 11:5 (“But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with [her] head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”).  Female covering of the head is only necessary upon special occasions, as in public worship in the special presence of God or the meeting of some other special dignitary, and does not need to be mandated for all occasions.  So we should not imitate Middle Eastern Muslims, even if their infractions of principles of modesty in many respects pale in comparison to its infractions in modern Western nations.