I’ll be real frank with you. This question seems a little strange and a little too basic at first, but…
“Why do wear clothes?
Even though it’s strange and basic, many today have never really stopped to think about why we wear clothes. Is it just for practicality and comfort? Warmth? Protection? Certainly not in tropical climates! Many have never stopped to think about why we feel the need to wear clothes in the first place. This shouldn’t surprise us though because there are many big decisions we make in life before we know the foundational reasons why.
For example, many people every day get married who reject God and Christianity and want nothing to do with the Bible even though marriage is something thoroughly biblical. God designed it to reflect our relationship with Him (Gen. 1:26-27; Eph. 5:22-33) and rests on the truths of Genesis, going all the way back to the first man and woman. Many decisions are made each moment that are unfounded.
In his book called The Lie: Evolution/Millions of Years, Ken Ham says,
“Ultimately, the only reason for insisting that clothes must be worn is a moral one.
What is that basis? God’s character. Where is the basis explained? Genesis chapter 3.
Not knowing the Genesis foundations, more than one teenage daughter has been told to change her clothes and put on something a little more modest before going out of the house. The typical response from the teenager is, “Ugh… why!? What’s wrong with my clothing?” And the typical parental response is something along the lines of, “Because that’s just what we do as Christians. We dress modestly.” Furthering the response from the teenager, “You guys are so old-fashioned!”
Parental responses like these are an unreasonable response that cause these kinds of reactions from children. This is because our children need real answers and foundational reasons why we do what we do and believe what we believe. I’m afraid that too often, because we don’t really know why, we’ll get defensive and threatening, or shout even louder back at them to demonstrate our authority. Or, we become legalistic about it and tell them, “Just do what I say,” as we quote Ephesians 6:1 or Exodus 20:12. But be careful with this because even though it's an easy way out, imposing standards our children without any basis is what leads many to rebel.
Yes, children are exhorted to obey their parents, but how necessary is it for parents and children to recognize that the ultimate authority doesn’t originate in the parents, but in God and His Word! Parents and children need to know that neither of their opinions or the culture’s opinions are what matter. What matters is God’s opinion. A better response to the questioning teenager would be to ask them to change and tell them you will sit down with them another time and explain from Genesis why we wear clothes in the first place.
And it’s not only the teenagers who question why we wear what we wear. The “progressive” culture we live in is asking the same question. Listen to this quote from Harrianne Mills:
“Since the demise roughly one hundred years ago, of the biblically based theory that clothes are worn because of modesty, various theories have been put forward by anthropologists concerned with the origins and functions of clothing.”
Even secular anthropologists want to know the historical answer to our question. And with the path that our LGBTQ+ culture is on, I wouldn’t doubt that we’re going to have to defend why clothes are necessary and not just some product of western society - that it's not cultural, but theological. Now, I hope this is not prophetic, but in a morally relativistic society with no God as the basis for standards, anything goes! Where does it stop without God? Hey, I’m just being realistic here. There are places already where clothes are… excused.
The foundational reason for clothes really began back in Genesis, chapter 2-3. Before the Fall, the last verse of chapter 2 tells us,
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."
Adam and Eve had both a physical nakedness and spiritual "nakedness". Adam and his wife Eve had an openness and innocence about them. They were in harmony with each other and unashamed, something only experienced between a husband and wife today doing things God's way. Notice too, their focus was on their spouse and their relationship with God before the Fall. However, notice where their focus goes the minute they sin against God:
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings."
Where did their focus go? From serving their spouse and a relationship with God, to themselves. Their perfect relationship degenerated, and they noticed they were naked. It was no longer proper and guilt ensued because sin distorted nakedness. Now, with man having a sin nature, we are tempted to lust. Jesus said,
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully
When Jesus said this, He was upping the standards of the Pharisees who thought they were “good enough” and were keeping God’s Law. He was showing them that they too, are sinners like everyone else. Remember that we are tempted to lust. Temptation is not sin but when we go back for a second look and succumb to the temptation, it becomes lust and is then sin that must be confessed and repented of (1 John 1:9).
But point being, man was designed to be respond to one woman (his wife) and that is necessary for procreation (reproduction). However, sin has distorted that perfect relationship and clothes are necessary to guard against the sin of lust and adultery that wrecks relationships. This is not a form of punishment, but the means by which a man and woman can enjoy a healthy and abundant marriage God’s way in a sinful world. To disregard the moral need for clothes or modest clothes, results in disaster. As one man said, even soft porn plays hard ball. It destroys families.
The fig leaves Adam and Eve sewed together for loin coverings weren’t going to last long so God, in verse 21, makes new ones that are much superior.
“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife,
Leather clothes made of animal hide will provide a much superior covering than fig leaves. This was also the first blood-sacrifice for sin, a type that would be carried out throughout the entire OT until Christ comes and offers Himself as the most superior, acceptable offering to cover sins for all time (Heb. 10:10). By faith in Christ we have a perfect righteous covering for our sin that lasts, unlike the "fig leaves" of our own works. It is Christ’s work that saves, not our own.
But now that we have a perfect and righteous standing or position before God, it should be our desire in Him to see our condition catch up to that position. Romans 13:14 now encourages us to keep from giving the flesh (our sin nature) unnecessary opportunities to be tempted.
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.
Christ is the new clothes we wear in a spiritual sense (we are clothed in His righteousness), and one of the things we can do to prevent unnecessary battles with the sin nature is to stop making provisions for it (the flesh). Certainly, modest clothes-wearing is part of that, and could be applied in a number of ways to keep us from being a stumbling block to others, or others to us.
Cited: Ken Ham, The Lie: Evolution/Millions of Years: 25th Anniversary Edition (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2012), 103-105.
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