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THE SHAME OF NAKEDNESS, PART 1

John warned us to "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (I John 2:15). The world to which John refers in this verse is not the physical earth or even the souls that make up the world around us. John uses the word cosmos which indicates a "system or an order." For example, we often refer to the "world of business" or the "world of sports." It is a sphere that has its own agenda and philosophy. This "world" that we are forbidden to love has its own prince (John 12:3 1) and it has its own philosophy (Jud. 17:6). One part of this world's philosophy is the rejection of a set standard of authority; even when it comes to the clothing we wear.

In the beginning Adam and Eve were naked but they were not ashamed (Gen. 2:25). However, that changed with the introduction of Satan and sin. When their eyes were opened, they realized their nakedness and tried to cover it up. From that point forward, nakedness has also been associated with shame (see Ex. 32:25; Isa. 20:4; 2 Sam. 10: 1-5). Therefore, we need to know what constitutes nakedness in the eyes of God. Some might would argue from present day definitions that to be naked is to be completely uncovered. However, looking at God's divine dress code in the Old Testament will disprove that notion. We do not have to be completely exposed to be "naked" in God's sight. In fact, we only have to be wearing less than God demands to be considered naked.

GENESIS 3:7,21. The first thing Adam and Eve did when they knew they were naked was sew fig leaves together to make aprons to wear. These "aprons" have been identified as "loin cloths." According to Pulpit Commentary, they were literally girdles which were wrapped around the loins. It is a garment that we might envision Tarzan wearing. It was enough to cover the private areas of a person's anatomy. However, these aprons did not cover enough to suit the standard of God. Notice that just before God drove them from the Garden He made them some clothes: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). According to Wilson's Word Studies, the word "coats" refers to "a tunic, wore next to the skin ... generally with sleeves, to the knees...." Further, it is said that God gave these coats to "clothe "them. Apparently, what Adam and Eve were wearing (loin clothes) was not enough. So, God made coats to cover them from the shoulders to the knees so that they would no longer be naked!

EXODUS 28:42. This verse is located in a section of Scripture where God is giving instructions to the priests on what they were to wear. They were required to wear coats, girdles and bonnets (28:40). Then God adds another article of clothing for a particular purpose: "And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness. from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach" (28:43). Priests often served on a platform where the people could easily see up the robes they were wearing. So, God told them to wear breeches to cover their thighs. The reason for this was so that they would not be "naked." Therefore, we learn from this passage that God considers the person whose thigh is uncovered to be naked!

In order to cover the thigh, by definition we must wear things that extend to the knee. It would appear that from the case of Adam and Eve and the case of the priests' attire that God's standard for dress would demand women and men to be covered from shoulders to knees. But someone might object by saying, "This is the Old Testament and we live under the New Testament." This is true, but remember: (1) The Old Testament is given so we can learn how to live (Rm. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10: 11). (2) We are God's priests today (I Pet. 2:9).

(3)We live under a better law which is connected to greater promises (Heb. 8:6). Based on the fact that we serve the same God they served in the Old Testament and that He has now established a better covenant with us, do we really think that God has relaxed His standard of modesty? Are we willing to base the salvation of our souls on the assumption that God somewhere in time has relaxed His standard of modesty? Are we to assume that God does not require as much from His priests today as He did in the day of Israel? Sadly, many live out those assumptions and put their souls in jeopardy each day by the clothes they wear.

Wayne Jackson
Glad Tidings of Good Things
Jacksonville church of Christ