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Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Summer Versus Winter Survey Results

I asked my friends to complete this simple ten-question survey, and they came through. Ninety-three participants gave their opinions. A huge thank you to all who took the time to answer my questions. Most of my friends would call themselves born again Christians, but not all, and of course, there's always a difference of opinion in any survey. I wanted honest answers, and I got them. So, let's see how my friends answered.

Q In your opinion, is it okay to show thighs in the summertime?
A Yes. 17%
      No. 82%

Q Do you think it's okay to show thighs in the winter?
A Yes. 16%
      No. 84%

Q In your opinion, is it ever proper to show one's midriff or belly button in summer?
A Yes. 6%
      No. 94%
Q Do you think it's proper to show one's midriff or navel in the wintertime?
A Yes. 4%
      No. 96%

Q Is it okay to wear clothing that shows even a little cleavage in the summertime?
A Yes. 9%
      No. 91%

Q Do you think it's okay to show even a little cleavage in the winter?
A Yes. 8%
      No. 92%

Q Do you personally ever wear shorts?
A Yes, but only long ones—to the knee/over the knee. 40%
      Yes, but never shorter than mid-thigh. 15%
      Yes, any length of shorts. 3%
      No. 42%

Q Do you wear tank tops of any kind (by themselves)?
A Of course. 20%
      No, never. 80%

Q Do you believe God has a specific standard for modesty?
A Yes. 88%
      No. 12%

Q Do you think there is a different standard of modesty for summer than for winter? 
A Hmmm ... I never have thought about that. 6%
      I believe modesty is relative to the seasons. One can wear less in the summertime, since 
            others are wearing less clothing. 3%
      No, they should be the same in winter and summer. 90%

Wasn't this survey interesting? I thought so. I'm sorry to those who found the questions about "thigh" and a "specific standard" confusing. I believe, though, that the survey results seem to be consistent all across the questions, so my participants must've figured out what I was asking. Thank you so much for answering. Let's delve deeper into this subject.

When we decide how to dress, it depends entirely upon our beliefs. Do we believe the Bible has a concrete standard for dress, or is biblical teaching more like vague principles for consideration, or is dress completely relative to culture and times? Do we even think about modesty, or is the whole concept irrelevant to our lifestyle?

When I was young, my role models were so varied that I wasn't sure there were any biblical standards for dress. Our youth pastor's wife wore short skirts, but our pastor's wife did not. I thought dress standards were a matter of age and preference. No one ever taught me what the Bible says about clothing. And, the passages I heard didn't make sense to me; gold and pearls and costly array hardly applied to a teenage girl. I missed the point entirely.

So, does the Bible actually say something about summer clothes versus winter clothes? No. Does it say anything about uncovering certain parts of the body? Yes, a few times. Are there biblical principles for women's dress? Of course. Can they be interpreted in different ways and adapted for different cultures? I think so. Let's have a sane discussion after reading what the Bible actually says. Okay?

Here are the key verses that talk about women's dress:
  1. The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God (Deuteronomy 22:5).
  2. This is an allegory about God's judgment on the Chaldeans, personifying the nation as a woman. 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 (Isaiah 47:2-3a).
  3. About the Virtuous Woman: She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:22, 25).
  4. 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 (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
  5. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3-5).

What can we learn from these verses? (We'll discuss them in the same order as above.)
  1. I personally believe the first verse is about transvestitism, as this would be consistent with the term "abomination" which is used for sexual impurity. (See Romans 1:26-27; Leviticus 20:13.) But, even if it's not, this verse makes it clear there's a distinction between men's and women's clothing.
  2. The uncovered thigh is equated with nakedness. The Hebrew word for thigh in this verse is used in the Scriptures to express "shoulder, hip, legs, thigh."1 How much uncovered thigh does it take to be naked or shameful? I'll leave that for you to decide, with the Lord's help. Pray about what God would have you do. (There is no specific Bible verse about exposed belly buttons. We can assume it was a non-issue at the time.)
  3. The Virtuous Woman wears beautiful fabrics, but her character is every bit as important as the cloth.
  4. This is perhaps the clearest passage directed to women's dress in the whole Bible. God says He wants women to dress modestly (decorous, proper, seemly, decent, in good taste) with shamefacedness (not bold, showing reverence for God) and sobriety (soundness of mind, self control). Christian women's models for clothing and actions are to be godly women.
  5. This similar passage makes the parallel between a woman's clothing and her heart. It says her spirit is more important than what she wears.
Let's consider another passage that doesn't address clothing per se. It's for every area of a Christian's life. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way (Romans 14:7, 12-13). We need to keep others in mind. How will our dress affect those around us: men, women, and children? Will our clothes detract or distract, or will they attract others towards God?

So, how does a woman who puts God first decide what to wear? I believe there are several clear biblical principles.
  • Make sure you look like a woman.
  • Cover your thighs. Nakedness isn't pleasing to God. Pray and ask Him what the word thigh means.
  • Work on your character, and it is quite okay to wear quality, beautiful clothing.
  • Be modest.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Don't be showy.
  • Look to truly godly women for guidance.
  • Make sure your spirit is close to God. Pray and ask God, "Does this please You?" He'll let you know, and as you learn, you might need to change parts of your wardrobe.
  • Consider other people. What message does your clothing give? If you don't have any idea what to look for, do some reading. (I recommend For Women Only, by Shaunti Feldhahn, based on an extensive survey of men. Some of these concepts, of course, can be applied to women, as well.) You can ask your husband, father, and other men in your life how they react to specific clothing styles. Do your own survey.
  • And, my personal helful hint: use a full-length mirror. It will become your best friend. See your clothing from every angle. As you examine your look, ask God if you are pleasing Him. If any part of your outfit emphasizes your body so that you look sexy instead of godly, you'll want to change that part of your attire. It's easy. Just please the Lord.

Remember modesty. And, may God bless your life!

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