Introduction. (1 Timothy 2:8-10). We note here
that women are commanded to “adorn themselves in modest apparel.” Two modifiers
clarify this command: “propriety” and “moderation.” Paul offers some specific
examples of things that do not show modesty, but flaunt wealth and demonstrate showiness—braided
hair, gold, pearls or costly clothing. The dress of a Christian woman must
be “that which is proper” for women professing “godliness” with “good works.”
This is a very
difficult topic for us to address sometimes. Why is this topic more
difficult than any other topic? It is emotional. “Don’t tell me what I
can wear!” It is personal. “You are insulting my sense of taste!”—Or,
“You are accusing me of doing wrong!” It is unfortunate that it is this
way, because just as in any other area in which the Lord has spoken, what
matters is not how something makes us feel, but what God says. With that in
mind, this evening let’s look at this objectively—because what matters in the
long run is whether we are doing what pleases God or not.
“…Women Adorn Themselves…”
“In Modest Apparel.”
“modest” and the verb “adorn” are from the same root. We get our word cosmos
from it. It is literally “order.” Paul commands them “to-order themselves
in orderly apparel.”
A. “With Propriety.” Gr. aidos “bashfulness,
that is (towards men), modesty (towards God) awe: reverence, shamefacedness”
(Strong’s). KJV “shamefacedness” ASV “shamefastness.” Scripture associates
uncovering the body with what is shameful. Godly people feel a sense of
“shame” or protectiveness to avoid this from happening.
1. Jer. 6:15 describes those who
were not “ashamed” even though they had “committed abomination”—rebuking them
because they had forgotten “how to blush.”
2. Jesus tells the church in
Laodicea to buy from Him, “white garments, that you may be clothed, that the
shame of your nakedness may not be revealed” (Rev. 3:18). It is considered a
“shameful” thing for one’s nakedness to be uncovered.
B. (With) Moderation.” Gr. sophrosune “soundness
of mind, that is (literally) sanity, (figuratively) self-control:
soberness, sobriety” (Strong’s). Tyndale and the Bishop’s Bible took this
as a reference to behavior not the type of clothing “discreet behavior.” KJV,
ASV “sobriety”; NASB “discreetly”; RSV “sensibly”; ESV “self-control.”
1. There are some parts of our
bodies that are “unpresentable” (1 Cor. 12:20-25). Is this because some part of
our bodies are “dirty” or “shameful” in nature? No. On the contrary, because as
God has designed it there are parts of our body that are special, and reserved
only for our mate.
a. The “nakedness” of a husband
and wife belongs to his or her mate (Lev. 18:6-8). When I talk to couples who
are about to get married we discuss this passage. There is a special right that
is given to one’s mate, that no one else in this world has the right to. It is
special and should be treated special.
b. The husband and wife have
“authority” over the bodies of the other (1 Cor. 7:3-5).
c. Solomon compares protection of
the intimate aspect of this relationship to the precious value of water (Prov.
5:15-17). You wouldn’t treat water as something you would just dump out on the
ground. In the same way, that beautiful, and special aspect of what God made
for your mate alone should be for no one else on earth!
i. If we were in the middle of a
parched desert with no water, would someone take a bottle of water they had and
pour it out on the ground? If you owned diamonds, rubies, and emeralds would
you throw them on the pavement?
ii. If we wouldn’t do these things,
why give the world something precious that belongs to your mate?
2. What constitutes our parts that
are “unpresentable” and require “greater modesty”? How does Scripture define
this “nakedness” that is “shameful” to uncover to the world?
a. We can’t just let our own
opinion determine this. Some would say uncovering the eyes is “shameful.” In the
late 1800s a style that became associated with the Women’s Rights advocate
Amelia Bloomer, was scandalous—the wearing of “bloomers.”
i. On the other hand, some
cultures get to the point that women and men walk around virtually naked and
consider it acceptable.
ii. Our culture is moving much
closer to this. We have created a double standards that allows exposure when
swimming that would be indecent otherwise. Is that the way it ought to be?
b. In the garden, originally
there was no need for “modesty” (Gen. 2:25). After the man and woman sinned,
they understood that they were “naked” and tried to cover themselves with
leaves (Gen. 3:6-7). I don’t know what garments made of fig leaves might have
looked like. This is a fairly good size leaf. Perhaps it compared to swimsuits
that are worn today. Whatever its size it was insufficient as far as God was
concerned. He made “tunics” for them of animal skins (Gen. 3:21).
i. The word for “tunic” here is
the word kithoneth. It is a word that (with slight changes in
pronunciation) was used throughout ancient times. The Greeks called it a chiton.
It covered the upper body, the waist, and generally came down at least to
the the knees.
c. The Law of Moses helps us to
answer these questions.
i. Altars were not to be
approached by steps, lest nakedness be exposed (Exod. 20:26).
ii. The priest’s garments were
comprised of “tunics” and “trousers” that went from the waist, covering the
thigh “to cover their nakedness” (Exod. 28:40-43). This would either indicate
to us that in the language of God the upper part of the leg is included in what
is called “nakedness” or it was covered so as not to expose “nakedness.”
iii. Isa. 47:2-3 includes
“uncovering the thigh” in “uncovering nakedness.” The KJV reads literally, “Take
the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the
thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame
shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.”
“Not with braided hair…” Gr. plegma “entwined, woven, braided)
(BAGD). The emphasis seems to be on the manner not the substance
altogether (1 Peter 3:1-6). Note: “arranging of hair”—wearing of gold—contrast
between externals and inward beauty. Some of the ugliest people you can
see in this world are those whom Hollywood considers the most beautiful
externally! That is not what makes a person beautiful. This is
probably not talking about hair pulled back in simple braided pony tail. It is
more likely talking about the elaborate braiding the Roman’s practiced to call
attention to one’s self and her wealth.
A. “Gold.” This doesn’t seem to absolutely
prohibit wearing any type of gold. Abraham’s servant gave gold bracelets to
Rebekah (Gen. 24:22) and jewelry of gold (Gen. 24:53). James 2:2 warns of
showing favoritism to one with “gold rings” and “fine apparel” but it does not condemn
the person for wearing these things.
1. This was probably talking
about things such as gold headdresses made from coins common in some Near
Eastern countries in ancient times. These were not only showy but again,
flaunted the person’s wealth.
2. It probably is not talking
about a wedding ring, or modest bracelet, or necklace. But extravagance.
B. “Pearls or costly clothing.” Many of these things emphasize
wealth and draw attention to ourselves. It should not be that we try to dress
in clothing that makes others envy us, or think we are wealthy. Christians are
to be humble in disposition and in dress.
“But that which is Proper for Women Professing…” “Proper” prepo “to be suitable or proper…
often used impersonally, it is fit or right)” (Strong’s). “Professing” is euanggello and
is related to the word for “gospel” (i.e. the good news). This is in
essence “women professing the good news about…”
A. “Godliness.” Gr. theosebeia lit.
“fear of God.”
B. “With Good Works.” As Christians our profession is
“We believe in Jesus!—you should to!” We proclaim to the world, “Fear God, and
do good works!” Our behavior must reflect this profession. This is true of all
things—what we wear, what we say, where we go, how we spend out time. Consider
what this mean:
1. Illustration: Imagine
that I believed it was wrong to be a cowboy. I told everyone I know how bad
cowboys are, and what a horrible profession it is—I argued to anyone who would
listen that it would lead you to hell if you were a cowboy. (I don’t believe
that, but by way of illustration…) How much sense would it make if I wore a
cowboy hat and cowboy boots? That wouldn’t work would it. The same is true if
we say, “People should live moral lives—they should wait until they get married
to have sex—married couples should keep themselves only to themselves”—but we
dress just as provocatively and immodestly as immoral women (and men in the
world). It doesn’t make sense does it?
2. God teaches that we must not
lust (Matt. 5:27-30). This is dwelling upon the thought—relishing in
it—gawking and deriving some pleasure from looking upon another person in a way
we do not have the right to. God has made men and women different. What
motivates and excites them is different. Women are generally moved by
closeness, and touch, while men are moved by sight. This is probably why Jesus
directs this warning to men.
a. Sometimes when we discuss this
issue women will respond, “well, men need to just control their thoughts and
their eyes!” That’s right—they do! Note the extreme measures Jesus says
one must be willing to go to avoid sin. Cut off the hand—gouge out the eye—not
literally maiming of the body but giving up whatever it takes to do what is
b. Notice another place this same
idea is used (Matt. 18:6-9). Notice, the same measures as individuals we
should go to in order to sin, we must go to in order to keep from causing
someone else to sin!
c. You know women also need to
control their thoughts and eyes, and men also must dress modestly and decently,
but I think it is clear that the Lord worded these things addressing the most
likely tendency that men will struggle with this sin, in the face of women who
fail to take modesty into consideration.
3. I don’t envy the position that
the young face. Girls are pressured by culture and by peers to dress in ways
that are fashionable and “cute”—they often don’t even recognize when their
clothing can be provocative. Boys are bombarded with media and culture that flaunts
sexuality and immodesty as they struggle to control their thoughts and
a. Young girls can get attention
and notice from boys when their neck-line is low, their legs are exposed, or
their clothing is tight. What they may not realize is that what they think is
“cute” is not viewed the same by boys. Boys (especially non-Christian boys)
will be encouraged to lust. My daughter told me that she didn’t realize until
she was married why we urged her to be cautious and modest. Boys and girls do
not look at things the same.
Conclusion. I can’t imagine much more
frightening than being charged by a hungry lion. Most of us would do all that
we could to avoid such a situation. How many of us, would take a large cut of
raw meat and dangle it out in front of a hungry lion? Why not? Because, first
of all it would be dangerous for us, but also—we wouldn’t want to tempt that
lion any more than our mere presence already did. Human beings are not animals governed
by instinct—we have freewill and choice. However, given the struggle that all of
us have with sin and temptation, why do any thing that would risk causing another
person to sin?