A Simple Outline for Teaching on Modest Clothing

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Download a one-page PDF chart with illustrations and the content of this article: Modest Clothing: Reflecting the Gospel in Our Dress.

1. Nakedness was “very good” from the beginning, but its innocence was corrupted by the fall.

Key Scripture(s): Genesis 1:31; 2:25

Gospel Symbol: Unashamed nakedness (before the fall and after the fall in the context of marriage) is a symbol of unashamed transparency before God.

Pastoral Concern: ​​Some have treated nakedness as shameful in itself, causing sensitive Christians to feel ashamed of their bodies.

2. It is now shameful to publicly expose our nakedness.

Key Scripture(s): Genesis 3:8–10; Rev. 16:15

Gospel Symbol: After the fall, publicly exposed nakedness is a symbol of the shame of sin.

Pastoral Concern: ​​The church cannot avoid discussing modesty, especially in a culture that views the exposure of nakedness as liberation.

3. Our tendency is to invent inadequate coverings for our nakedness.

Key Scripture(s): Genesis 3:7

Gospel Symbol: Immodest clothing is a symbol of trying to cover our sin and shame with our own standard of righteousness.

Pastoral Concern: Strict dress standards may also reflect an attempt to clothe ourselves with our own righteousness.

4. God graciously provides for his people’s nakedness to be properly clothed.

Key Scripture(s): Genesis 3:21; Rev. 3:18

Gospel Symbol: The garments of skin point to Christ. A fully-clothed person is a God-ordained symbol of the full clothing of Christ’s righteousness.

Pastoral Concern: Symbols do not always correlate with reality. A carefully clothed person may be a white-washed sepulcher.

5. Biblically, our nakedness includes our torso and thighs.

Key Scripture(s): Exodus 20:26; 28:42–43; Gen. 3:21, cf. 3:7; Isa. 20:4.

Practical Application: Bottoms should not expose our thighs or any part of our buttocks when sitting or moving. Tops should not expose our chest/cleavage, underarms, or midriff. E.g., One-piece bathing suits, short shorts, tank tops, short dresses, low necklines, and sheer or see-through garments are immodest.

Pastoral Concern: An improperly clothed person may have the reality of Christ’s righteousness covering their sins, but be unaware of the inconsistency in their outward symbolism. We should be gracious and assume the best; however, God wants people to experience the reality and embrace the symbolism.

Johnathan Arnold
Johnathan Arnold is a husband, father, and aspiring pastor-theologian, as well as the founder and president of holyjoys.org. You can connect with him on Twitter @jsarnold7.