Well we are almost halfway through June.  And that means that summer is just around the corner.  Summertime: A time when the days are longer and the temperature is warmer.  A time when school is out, we take our vacations, we engage in outdoor activities and we just seem to relax little more with what seems like extra time on our hands.  Summertime is movie season when blockbusters are released.  It is also a time when community and social activities are more abundant and we can fill our calendars form morning to evening every single day. 

All of these things are cause for many to say that summer is their favorite season of the year.  And that is fine.   There is nothing wrong with enjoying “the lazy days of summer”,  BUT just remember that as a Christian we still need to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).  While each of the above activities mentioned are not wrong within themselves, each of them pose a spiritual danger and can lead to what we might describe as “summer sins.”  It is with that in mind that I would like for us to examine some subjects for us to consider as summertime approaches. 

Let me say that most of the activities that we will examine are not exclusive to summer.  Sin has no season – it is always wrong!  But during this time of year, the potential to engage in particular sins are greater because of the opportunities prevalent with summer time.  

 Modesty and Lust

With summer time come warmer temperatures.  As a rule, in our society, as the temperatures increase the clothes seem to decrease.  Shirts come off, skirts and shorts get smaller, and materials become more transparent.   Sadly, it seems that as time moves on, the boundaries of acceptable clothing in our society are continually being challenged, and it is almost always further away from decency and modesty.   More and more we read of communities where both men and women want to be allowed to walk around with less (or no) clothing in public.   Dress codes have been relaxed.  In addition to this, we are living in a sexually saturated society.  It is seen in our advertisements, movies, television programs and even in some sporting events where outfits can become very revealing (swimming, volleyball, cheerleading, biking, running, etc.).  For many of our young, this is portrayed as the norm and they have never known different.  In fact, the popular fashions and peer pressure often involve what the Bible would define as immodest.  This is something we need to be aware of as Christians.  And  as these things happen, the tendency for lust increases. 

Modesty is a subject Christians need to understand.  In the case of what we are discussing, we are talking about the type of clothing we wear.  What is too short?  What is immodest? The challenge we face is that the Bible does not define the length of a shirt or pair of shorts, nor how much cleavage is acceptable, nor whether or not a man needs to wear a shirt when he is in public.  But  we do have Biblical principles and examples to consider.

Modesty!  1 Tim. 2:9-10 says, “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.  In this text Paul is giving instructions concerning proper attire and much of it has to do with manifesting a godly attitude and example.  What is interesting about this text is that Paul is actually dealing with overdressing (to show off).  But there are words used in this text that we need to consider with everything we wear.

·         The word “modest” (κόσμιος, kosmios) defined “to be moderate or well-ordered.” (Louw-Nida 88-48) Vine’s defines this word as, “orderly, well-arranged, decent, modest.”  So the idea is that of dressing (and living) in such a way that you do not draw undue attention to yourself.

·         The word, “propriety” (αἰδώς, aidos) is translated “shamefacedness” in the KJV and “modesty” in the NASU.  The word is associated with blushing and being respectful.  Vine’s defines it as, “a sense of shame, modesty.” It is the same word translated “reverence” in Heb. 12:28.  The idea is that with one’s clothing they would blush if it caused others to stare or render undue attention.

·         “Moderation”, (σωφροσύνη, sophrosynes) translated “sobriety” in the KJV and “discreetly” in the NASU, means “to behave in a sensible manner.” (Louw-Nida 88-93)   It is described by various resources with words like – decency, moderate, temperate, etc.  Again the idea is one who blends in and they would not wear that which stands out.  Concerning dress there are many things that would fit in this category – too little clothing, gaudy jewelry, makeup and hairstyles (both male and female), etc.

 With these definitions in mind, what does the Bible say about what we wear?  We are reminded that in the garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked and covered themselves with fig leaves. (Gen. 3:7)   Yet even with this, Moses records (realize that Moses writes this history so that Israel would understand what God expects) in vs. 10 that when they heard the voice of the Lord, “I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.  Even with something skimpy, Adam and Eve realized they were still naked.  Furthermore, in vs. 21 we read, “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. 

The word for tunics was a garment that reached to the knees and was common for working, etc. (DBL, Swanon, ST#H4189).  The same word was used to describe the priestly garments (Ex. 28:4, 39-40, etc.) and Joseph’s tunic of many colors (Gen. 37:3, 23).  Concerning the priesthood we read the following concerning building altars, “Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.” (Ex. 20:25).  In Exodus 28:42 as instructions were given concerning appropriate clothing, “And you shall make for them linin trousers to cover their nakedness, they shall reach from the waist to their thighs.”  The point is that under the Old Law there were STANDARDS which reflected modesty.

There were also standards which reflected IMMODESTY.  For example, in Prov. 7:10 we read, “And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.  The “attire of a harlot” is attire intended to seduce and provoke lustful desires in men.  In Gen. 38:12-16 we read of Tamar seducing Judah with the attire that was seductive.

The point of such examples is to emphasize that there ARE standards we need to consider.  And we need to be careful when we let society dictate the standards we follow.  Our standard in determining what to wear ought to be such that our morality is not called into question.  And by “morality” I mean what God would consider moral.  Is a skimpy bikini moral?  Are “daisy duke” shorts and mini-skirts moral?  Are halter tops that expose the majority of the breast moral?  What about form fitting exercise clothing or “biker shorts”?  One might say, that such are matters of interpretation.  While the Bible may not specifically determine the thigh line, midriff or cleavage, we KNOW what IS acceptable and what is QUESTIONABLE at best.  (And do not forget the standard mentioned above concerning priests as a guideline.)   AS Christians I ask, are we going to try and see how close to the line of modesty/immodesty we can get without crossing over it, or are we going to set a standard that safely keeps us AWAY from the line?

But we must also consider the subject of lust as we think about what we wear.  Lust (which means to strongly desire or covet that which does not belong to you) is at the foundation of sin.  In fact, 1 John 2:15-17 we find the three categories in which every sin could be listed and they all involve lust (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life – yes, pride is a form of lust).  Jesus said in Matt. 5:28, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  The problem was the lusting and we can see the sin in this.  The Christian is called upon to live a pure life which means he avoids lusting (2 Tim. 2:22, Rom. 6:12, 13:13-14, Gal. 5:16-17, 1 Thess. 4:3-5, Titus 2:12, 1 Pet. 2:11, etc.). 

Now in dealing with lust I ask, is one who intentionally provokes lust culpable at all?  This is not to excuse the one who is lusting?  BUT, as Christians, should we put a stumbling block in the way of others? (1 Cor. 8:9, 10:29)  The obvious answer is no.  So when one says, “If someone lusts at what I am wearing they have the problem”, you ought to reconsider your attitude!  There are perverts that are going to lust no matter what, but there are also those who are NORMAL with normal desires.  Don’t provoke them!  Consider this?  Was Bathsheba at all responsible for the events that led to her adultery with David? (cf. 2 Sam. 11)  Note that I am NOT excusing David at all, but is there something to be said about what you wear and DON’T wear when others can see you? 

It would do all of us well to consider this as we choose our wardrobes.  And I say this not only to women, but men as well.  Men can be just as immodest as women with form fitting shorts, short shorts, not wearing a shirt, etc.  The principles apply the same.

As Christians, we ought to live lives professing godliness (cf. 1 Tim. 2:10).  That ought to govern what we wear.  So as the temperatures heat up, dress comfortably, but make sure that modesty governs our decisions.  Think not just about yourself but about others (Matt. 5:16, Phil. 2:3-4).  Think about it.    TATJR