Want To Go To Heaven? Stop Showing Skin…

That time of year is approaching yet again.  The time when everyone wants to go to the beach or the pool for a quick dip in order to temporarily at least escape the Carolina heat.  And, unfortunately, with each passing year we see that this season is the time when women’s shirts show more and more midriff and cleavage, and their shorts show more and more thigh.

Ladies, I’m asking you as a man, a fellow human being, a husband who wants to be faithful to his wife in mind as well as in body, and as a father of a little girl.  Please be modest.  Please.

That not reason enough?  Well, how about this?  Do you want to go to heaven for all eternity?  Or do you want that sun tan you’re working on to turn into a major, never-ending burn that no amount of aloe will ever fix?

Here’s the thing, Christian sisters…

The Bible commands us to dress modestly and discreetly both by direct command to women and by implication to men (1 Tim. 2:9-10; Matt. 18:6-9), and yet we are now in the time of year when many – including many of those who profess to believe in God and follow him – do the exact opposite.

This happens due to either ignorance of God’s Word, stubborn pride and selfishness, or a desire to conform to the standards of the world rather than the standards of God.  Regardless of the reason behind it, sin is being committed when we dress immodestly in public among those who are not our spouses, and the wages of impenitent sin is death (Rom. 6:23; Heb. 10:26-31).

Yeah, that’s right.  I said it.  Someone needs to…

Women and men who wear the name of Christ should not be solely considering whether or not their clothing is in fashion, stylish, or if what they wear will keep them cooler or warmer depending on the weather.  First and foremost, Christians must consider whether or not what they wear is modest and proper for those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Here’s that verse again, for those of you who are still reading but didn’t look it up in your Bibles when I cited it earlier:

Likewise also, that women should adorn themselves in RESPECTABLE apparel, with MODESTY and SELF-CONTROL, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with WHAT IS PROPER FOR WOMEN WHO PROFESS GODLINESS – with good works.

For those of you who have questions about the “braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” part, let me refer you to this article I linked to a few days ago by a brother in Christ named Wes who really summed up exactly what Paul was talking about in one of the best and most understandable ways that I’ve seen.  What I want to focus on in this article is the part of modesty’s definition that condemns showing skin.

In the interests of getting the point across, let me be very clear…

Ladies, it is shameful and sinful to expose or draw attention to the private parts of your body! 

You sin against God whenever you wear these low-cut shirts that show your cleavage or your stomachs in public! 

You sin against God whenever you wear those shorts which stop well above your knee and show off lots of leg! 

You sin against God whenever you’re in public and wear those really tight pants or shorts that accentuate your backside! 

You sin against God whenever you wear really tight shirts that accentuate your breasts! 

You sin against God whenever you wear bikinis or swimsuits that show off most of your breasts, your torso, your backside, and your legs!

I wish that there wasn’t a need to speak so bluntly and forcefully about such things, but there is.  Friends, please know that those who profess to love God must obey him (John 14:15) and dress appropriately, even if it means inconveniencing yourself during the summer months by wearing something a little warmer in public.  Souls are at stake, including your own!

“But Jon,” some will say, “‘modesty’ is such a subjective term.  Europe’s definition of modesty is far more liberal than ours, while the Middle East’s definition is far stricter.  So how can one know what modesty truly is?”

That’s a legitimate question.  In Europe nude beaches are the thing.  In Saudi Arabia women are stoned to death for showing their ankles.  Is modesty really nothing more than a cultural thing, then?

Here’s the truth of the matter.  We can have confidence that the Bible holds the answer to what modesty really is because God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).  Let’s see how by first going way back to the beginning, to Genesis…

Do you remember how, when Adam and Eve sinned and thus realized they were naked, they made “coverings” for themselves out of fig leaves?  In spite of that, Adam confessed later on that he still felt naked (Gen. 3:7-10).  Have you ever wondered why they would still feel naked even after clothing themselves?

Perhaps because in the original language, “coverings” (chagorah) literally is defined as a particular type of garment which is the equivalent of underwear covering only the midsection.  So when you see those paintings of Eve with fig leaves over her midsection and bosom, remember that those paintings are incorrect because, going solely by the definition of the Hebrew word for “coverings,” Eve would not have been covered at all above the waist.

Ladies, if a loincloth was all you had to wear, you would feel naked too, wouldn’t you?  With that in mind, how much difference is there between today’s swimwear and your underwear?  Not much.  Really.  Let’s be honest.  Not.  Much.

Later, we see that God himself clothed Adam and Eve with “coats” of skin (Gen. 3:21).  In the original language, “coats” (kethoneth) literally is defined as a particular type of garment covering someone from the shoulders to the knees.  Now, why would God do this?

After all, at this time Adam and Eve had already clothed themselves.  So why did God go to the trouble to clothe them himself?  And why would he inspire Moses to record this in the book of Genesis?

Perhaps because he planned that Genesis would be part of “whatever was written in former days” that was “written for our instruction” and example (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11).

In other words, when we read the Old Testament and see how God clothed Adam and Eve from the shoulders to the knees in contrast to their skimpy fig leaf loincloth underwear, we now know God’s standards of modesty and thus have a non-subjective definition to uphold and live by.  There’s your definition of modesty.  Non-subjective.  Black and white.  Universal, regardless of what they do in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia.  God’s revealed standards trump whatever man’s standards are in whatever culture he is in.

Some will still ask, “But what’s the harm in showing off some skin?”  Good question.  Here’s the answer…

Have we forgotten that the One who loved us so much that he sent his Son to die for us has commanded us to not walk “in lewdness and lust” and to “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13:13-14)?  Do you know what that means?

Ladies, speaking as a man, I can tell you how difficult it can be to avoid lusting after women who aren’t my wife when most of the women around me are showing off their cleavage and thighs.  And yes, God still holds me to the responsibility to not lust.  That’s very true, but it doesn’t stop with me.

He also expects THOSE AROUND ME (that’s you, ladies) to do their part to not put the temptation in my path (Matt. 18:6-9; Rom. 14:21)!!

So ladies, help us guys out.  As Christians, that’s what we all are supposed to do, right?  Bear one another’s burdens?  (Gal. 6:2)

Deep down, sisters, you know what the low-cut shirts and bikinis do to your average male when he sees them.  You girls know.  Let’s be real.

Mary Quant, the London fashion designer who invented the miniskirt, said, “Mini-clothes are symbolic of those girls who want to seduce a man.”  When she was asked where wearing miniskirts would lead to, she replied with one word:  “Sex.”

When the cruise ship Santa Maria was hijacked by terrorists in 1967, you want to know what the women who were on board (most if not all being non-Christians, I might add) did with their skimpy swimsuits?  Do you think they put on those itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikinis and went out on deck to get some sun and frolic in the pool in front of those pirates?

Nope.  Here’s what they did.  They all went out of their way to hide the bikinis and wear modest clothing because, by their own admission, they didn’t want to entice the terrorists to rape them.  And that’s what you would do too, right?  Sure, you would.  You’re smart, just like them.  They knew exactly what wearing the skimpy clothing would cause men to desire.  Deep down, so do most of you, sisters.  Let’s be real.

However, many of you women don’t care.  I know.  Over the years, I’ve talked to several young women – including, unfortunately, some within the church (and some of their mothers) – who basically say, “So what?  It’s the guy’s problem, not mine and not my daughter’s.”

Well, it may be more of your problem than you think…

I recently read a sociologist’s interview with a young man who expressed deep anger and resentment towards women for sexually “teasing” him, as he put it, via what they wore and the flirtatious way they acted around him, only to later have the power to with the threat of an accusation of rape deny him the fulfillment of those urges. Another young man interviewed said that he himself felt “sexually violated” by what the skimpy clothes and suggestive poses his female peers constantly exposed him to, only to then have and exercise the power to deny him the satisfaction of those urges. These and other young men confessed the need to “get back” at women for teasing them in these ways.

After revealing that hundreds more felt this way, the sociologist concluded that the immodest dress and sexually teasing actions of many young women is one of the main contributing factors to the startling rise of many young men’s interest in violent hard-core pornography, date rape, and deep, violent anger and resentment towards females in general, things which in many cases carry over into marriage and lead to spousal and child abuse.

While the contribution of women’s immodest dress and actions in no way justifies these sinful actions of men, at the same time it should not be overlooked or excused away.  Ladies, let me put it to you this way.  If I purposefully get into a Rolls Royce, drive it to the worst part of town, park it right in front of some gangstas, get out of it and lean up against it right in front of those hoods, and hold the keys to it in my right hand and my big, fat wallet bulging with cash and credit cards in the other hand…what’s going to happen?  You know what’s going to happen.  I’m going to get robbed.

So I get robbed, and the police come, and let’s say they arrest those thugs.  Who committed the crime?  The gangstas.  But do you know what any honest cop is going to tell me?  They’re going to say, “Hey, don’t be stupid.  Don’t go flaunting your wealth right in front of the people who are likely to rob you.”

Ladies, men are created by God to be visually stimulated sexually.  We are turned on by what we see, first and foremost.  If you show off your body in front of us, here’s what’s going to happen.  The ones of us who have no morals are going to look at you as a piece of meat that they want, and because they have no morals they’re going to take what they want, regardless of what you want.  And if by the grace of God they don’t, then they WILL go to porn to satisfy their urges…which means that the porn business which degrades and uses women will continue to exist and prosper.  Do you want that?

Yes, yes, I know that ultimately the decision to do these wrongs is on them, that’s true…but Matthew 18:6-9 tells me that God will say that you had a hand in it as well.  Do you want that?

And as for those of us who have morals, well, it’s less likely that we will go after you PHYSICALLY in any way…but with enough visual stimulation, don’t rule it out over time.  But what is going to happen, I guarantee it, is that we will MENTALLY look at you as a piece of meat that we want.  And we also will be that much more tempted to satisfy those urges which your immodesty helped create by turning to porn.

And if we aren’t married and are trying to obey God by not having sex until we’re married, you’ve made it that much harder for us.

And if we are married and are trying to obey God…and honor and love our wives completely…by being 100% faithful both physically and mentally to our wives, you’ve made it that much harder for us.

And again, I know that ultimately the decision to commit these wrongs is on us, but Matthew 18:6-9 promises me that God will hold you accountable also.  Is that what you want?

How much better our society would be if we all just decided to do things God’s way! 

How much better if we would simply remember that our bodies are not our own, but God’s (1 Cor. 6:18-20)!

How much better if we would honor him with our bodies and be considerate of the spiritual well-being of others by how we dress (Phil. 2:3-4)!

How much better if parents would not permissively contribute to their daughters conforming to the immodest standards of the world (Rom. 12:2), but rather would let God’s standards of dress be their standards!

How much better if parents would teach and enforce those standards to the next generation (Deut. 6:6-7)!

How much better it would be if we all taught our children that “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).

Want to know what would happen if we taught – both by word AND example – that biblical truth to the next generation like we should?

Our daughters, when they grew up to be ladies, would save the sexually enticing showing of skin for the privacy of their marriage bed, at which time they would be willing to satisfy THEIR HUSBAND’S needs, and he theirs (1 Cor. 7:1-5).

Our sons would go through puberty without the added burden of being bombarded with sexual temptation by the female skin they see all around them, only to be denied fulfillment and thus grow more and more angry and resentful towards women in general.

They would enter into marriage with a proper attitude towards their wives, and the intimacy between them would be all the more rewarding.

Because of this, more marriages would be saved from adultery and divorce.

In the meantime, more young women would be safe on dates.

The porn industry would not profit.

All of us would be blessed in this life as well as in the life to come.

Doesn’t that sound great??

But as it is, our society has forgotten the command of God for modesty, and many in the church have conformed to the world rather than to God in this area.  By doing so, they contribute to the fornication, lewdness, heartache, and worldliness that plagues our society by tempting the unmarried (and those who are married to others) around them.

And here’s what’s going to happen…

At judgment God will hold them accountable in addition to those who unrepentantly gave in to the temptation to fornicate which was put in their path (Matt. 18:6-9).  They will receive the wages of their sin, eternal death in hell (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8).

Take it to the bank, friends.  That’s exactly what will go down.

Don’t be a part of this!  Dress modestly, and teach others to do the same!

Rise And Be Baptized And Wash Away Your Sins

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

Acts 22:16 – Scripture of the Day (March 27, 2014)

It amazes me how people who say they follow the Bible can so blatantly deny the necessity of baptism (baptizo, immersion) for salvation and forgiveness of sins.  The truth is so plainly stated in so many verses (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:38), including today’s Scripture of the Day.

Just looking at this sentence by itself, without considering the context, makes it plain that one’s sins will not be forgiven unless one is baptized.  However, that fact is made even more plain when one takes into account the context.

The apostle Paul is recounting his conversion in Damascus as Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1ff).  You will recall that he went to Damascus as an enemy of the Way, looking to arrest any followers of Christ (9:1-2).  As he approached Damascus, a light from heaven flashed around him and he heard a voice asking him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (9:3-4)  This voice belonged to Jesus, who told Saul to “rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do” (9:5-6).

A lot of people say that Saul was converted and forgiven on that road when Jesus talked to him and he “saw the light.”  However, that is not true.  The reason we know it is not true is by reading further into the text.  Blinded after the conversation with Jesus, Saul was led by his companions into Damascus and for the next three days he fasted (9:8-9).  Meanwhile, a disciple in Damascus named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord told him to visit Saul, lay his hands on him, and miraculously restore his sight (9:10-12).  Despite his misgivings, Ananias obeyed the Lord and restored Saul’s sight (9:13-18a).

Notice what happened next.  After Saul’s sight was given back to him, what did he do?  The text says, “Then he rose and was baptized…” (9:18b).  Why?

Years later in chapter 22, Paul tells us why he was baptized.  It is because Ananias told him, “And now why do you wait?  Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (22:16).  This is significant for three reasons:

  1. The Lord had told Saul that he would “be told what you are to do” once he had gone into the city (9:6).  Ananias told him what to do: be baptized (22:16).
  2. Even though it was obvious that Saul believed in Jesus as Lord (9:4-6) and showed signs of repentance via his fasting (9:9), his sins were still not forgiven.  Otherwise, why would Ananias talk of them being washed away by his baptism (22:16)?  It was only after he was baptized that his sins were washed away.  This shows that faith, by itself, does not save, and neither does repentance.  Baptism is also necessary.
  3. Earlier in Acts, Peter quoted Joel as saying, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; cf. Joel 2:32).  What does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord?  Obviously more than simply calling him “Lord,” because Jesus said that alone would not be enough (Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 6:46).  Ananias tells us what calling on the name of the Lord means in Acts 22:16:  being baptized.  With this in mind, compare Acts 2:21 with Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21.

Have you called upon his name?  Have your sins been washed away?  Have you been baptized into Christ, into his body which is the church of Christ?  (Rom. 6:1-5; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4-5; 5:23)