False Modesty

The next installment from the “Objections” video series comes from 1 Timothy 2:9-10. This is an often quoted passage to encourage modest dress in primarily females. But is that the real message in the text? This short video explains our feelings on the matter.

Mrs. Phil and I have written previously on this blog about modesty:

Naked Modesty

Lust, Modesty, and Purity

Undressed for Worship

What passes today for modesty can easily become a false modesty or even a source of pride. Granted many of the proponents of modesty are well intentioned and their motives may be pure, but in our opinion, the general practice is not serving the purpose it claims to address. And with arbitrary standards of what is modest enough, one could go all the way and have a full covering burka, taking that logic to its natural (though unnatural) conclusion.

We have chosen to go the opposite way, because if the logic of the body as obscene is wrong, then the natural conclusion would be that body is and can be right in any state of dress and even undress. This is untenable for some because of indoctrination, tradition, and hyper-conservatism. It takes an open mind and courage to reject lies and embrace truth.

And the truth… sets one free! (John 8:32)

Thoughts on that Trophy Wife Sermon

Did you see this? Stop what you are doing and watch this video summary…

As a Christian in the Midwest, I’m saddened greatly by the attitudes of this preacher, Stewart-Allen Clark, from First General Baptist Church in Malden, Missouri. The cringe factor is strong here as this church leader spewed his diatribe for 22 minutes. This wasn’t an off the cuff tangent; these were prepared remarks that he thought somehow his congregation needed to hear. He was talking from his notes, and had a slideshow complete with pictures to go along with each point in his message!

I’m glad this went viral and backfired. In an era of virtue signaling that sometimes can be unfounded, this actually IS an outrage. I’m glad he’s on leave and getting counseling. I’m not being judgmental, I actually empathize with the guy in some small way. I do hope and pray that counseling helps him, although I’m not so sure it will- more on that in a minute. This pastor being accused (and rightly so) of sexism is a tragic reflection on how conservative evangelical churches tend to approach the subject of sex. It’s no wonder the unchurched has a bad taste in their mouth of what they perceive it means to be a Christian today. The most appalling part is that it is not an uncommon stance he took in many conservative Christian circles. I’m standing up to say loudly, “WE AREN’T ALL LIKE THAT!” Thankfully there were those in that congregation that would not give their “Amen” to his crazy rhetoric. Praise God, the leadership apparently issued a statement stating that all people are made in the image of God and “should be valued for that reason.” although I can’t find that currently on their website.

The pastor also issues an apology where he assures people that he has secured an accountability partner who he is meeting regularly. This to me is a tell tell sign that he has a huge lust problem. No surprise there after hearing his mindset loud and clear! In his mind, and he said it many times, “He can’t help himself!” Well, allow me to speak on behalf of the many men who believe maturity is attainable and say, YES YOU CAN! AND YOU SHOULD!

Then in his public apology he says he, “made insensitive remarks about women and made statements deemed unbiblical.” No, they aren’t deemed unbiblical. They ARE unbiblical. There’s a lot that was dreadfully wrong with this guy’s ideas. (I think he forgot how to spell misogyny in his apology.) I see this blog as an anti-virus to his type of thinking. Some of the things I write on this blog seem to be very critical of the church. I mean them to be critical of THE TEACHING and unfounded “facts” that are rampant in many churches, which in turn are contrary to God’s heart, as so evident in this example. He is not alone. He is parroting what has been written in some of the best selling Christian books on marriage! This is one example of many, and just the most recent one that has gone viral. I’m deeply troubled by the repercussions of a perhaps well-intentioned, yet highly ineffective and even toxic “purity culture.” I’m over the artificial modesty standards that do nothing to change hearts that are depraved. Even so, I’m hopeful because there is a better way, and it’s not out of reach as many would have you believe. The solution is a surprising one indeed, unconventional to say the least. But first, let’s analyze what this preacher felt he needed to share with these church goers.

I won’t go through all of the insensitive and demeaning comments you saw in the video. Suffice to say his misogynistic and nonsensical Scripture twisting frankly promotes abusive behavior. He outright body shames women calling them fat and ugly from the pulpit! He’s aware that he is no model himself, but claims that doesn’t matter because it’s men who are visually stimulated.

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV): “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Apparently this verse and the often misinterpreted (though not in this case) “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1 KJV) is missing out of the preacher’s Bible.

He speaks authoritatively as though all men would agree with his general statements, especially that every man wants a trophy wife on his arm. Umm, I don’t. His insistence that Melania Trump is the most epic trophy wife of all time (and featuring a “sexy” picture of her in his slideshow) displays an unhealthy infatuation in his own heart.

Jesus also placed the responsibility for lust in the proper realm of the man’s own heart. He never suggested that women are responsible for their husband’s behavior, or that they need to protect them from their own impure thoughts, as if that were actually possible! This is simply an abdication of personal responsibility and a cop out for the man. We would do well to look at women through the eyes of Jesus, without lustful intent (Matthew 5:28), and see the whole person. Jesus was not tempted by the prostitutes he ate with. In fact, he was counter-cultural and revolutionary in how he interacted with women.

Jesus was not tempted by the prostitutes he ate with. In fact, he was counter-cultural and revolutionary in how he interacted with women.

Is this preacher pro anorexia and bulimia? Does he enjoy causing more body image problems in women than they already have heaped upon them by impossible standards of what’s culturally seen as “beautiful?” In his eyes, they are just participation trophies.

Makeup was a slide in his presentation and the punchline of some terrible jokes. He extols the virtues of these artificial adornments while Scripture’s teaching runs contrary to his conclusions (see 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4). 

Over and over he chided that he (meaning every man) is gonna look, so you (wife) better look good so he (your husband) looks at you and not [forced to look] at “some hottie” on a screen. Umm, your husband is going to want to look at you regardless of your presentation if he loves you and doesn’t subscribe to these lies that say he can’t help but lust when he sees someone who is attractive. This crazy notion of helplessness also forgets the basic fact that men have imaginations and memories. Averting the eyes physically does nothing to the eyes of our heart. A whole renewal of the mind is needed (Romans 12:1-2) which is also counter cultural in that it is not conforming to the pattern of this world. Lust is not overcome by avoidance or trying harder, but rather by true repentance which literally means having a change of mind.

Obligation and duty sex is not intimacy, but rather a relationship killer. He quotes and misinterprets half of the verse in 1 Corinthians 7:4 and downplays the role of the husband and the obvious principle of mutual submission. On page 46 of Our Bodies Tell God’s Story Christopher West point out that in his Theology of the Body John Paul II concludes that a man commits adultery in the heart not only by looking lustfully at a woman he is not married to “but precisely because he looks in this way at a woman. Even if he were to look in this way at . . . his wife, he would commit the same adultery ‘in the heart.’” We cannot respond the way our “pornified” culture does. We are to be different. Instead of lusting after our wives and using them for selfish gratification, we should give ourselves up for them in service, as Christ did for his bride, the church. And let me tell you, it’s such a joy to be free of the shame and guilt that has ridden this purity culture.

I’m far from perfect myself. I was a bit like this guy in some ways. I’ve invoked the so-called “72 hour rule” in my house in the past. I’ve had my fair share of sexual brokenness and porn addiction, as you can read about on this blog. My point is restoration and wholeness is possible, and I am a living proof.

Some of the many comments from all walks of life on this youtube video are very telling:

  • The awful thing is. He’s not a comedian. He’s not telling an “edgy” joke. He’s giving people what he believes to be sound advice. 🤦🏾‍♀️
  • He’s projecting his pervyness. Men like this are just looking to have their grotesqueness validated.
  • WoW the fact this isn’t satire and men like this exist
  • on todays segment of ”What object am I?”, I guess I’m a participation trophy
  • Ah, the famous bible passage: “If thy right eye offend thee, blame your wife”
  • All I can say is this is probable cause to search all his devices.
  • This dude makes my skin crawl bruh. Actually physically cringing. I just feel so awfully bad for all the women in that church that had to suffer through this extremely shameful sermon
  • This was common to hear growing up in church. It’s nothing new to me. 🤷🏽‍♀️
  • The irony is – is that the Bible says the opposite to what he says, he says women should wear makeup and dress well, yet the Bible says the adornment should be the heart and not the outward appearance.
  • I’m not religious but when i read or heard about jesus talking, I dont imagine that he would be fat shaming married women.
  • I’m not even religious and this feels like blasphemy to what God’s really about
  • This is why people are leaving the church

It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find this to have some truth, as those seen as attractive to one person, are not found attractive to another. Proverbs 5:18 says to “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” My wife doesn’t look like the 19 year old I married (Yes, we were so young!). But she’s the wife of my youth. I happen to think she is better looking now, aging like fine wine. The years have taken a toll on her body after 4 kids, but I don’t care about any of that. She’s still the same person I married. No, let me back out of that, she’s a better version of who I married, because now we have 20 years of shared experiences, memories, true intimacy and relationship equity that makes her number one in my book, regardless of anything that could happen to her body. If she had a double mastectomy (extreme example of a body change) I wouldn’t love her any less. It’s preposterous to think that someone would be that shallow. I tell her all the time that she is the standard by which all beauty is measured. But then she asks, “What if I put on weight?” Then the standard changes. It conforms to whatever you are. It’s not even based on and shouldn’t be based on appearance. She is truly beautiful both inside and out, and is the only one who gets my motor going. I tell her, “You’re my favorite everything.” No matter what category is being “measured,” she’s my favorite. This is, to me, a more favorable view than what’s being regurgitated in this trophy wife sermon!

I had the great misfortune of watching all 22 minutes of this nonsense. My blood was boiling and my neck got tired of my head shaking!

Reagan Williams posted it on her Facebook page which put the minister in hot water. I pulled a few direct quotes that didn’t make the edited video shown above:

At the 4:22 minute mark, he said “You can call it juvenile, you can call it immature, you can call it sexist, whatever you want to, but here’s another secret you need to know: Ladies, it’s the way God made us, it’s the way we are.”

Yes, I’m calling it juvenile and immature and sexist, even! I’ll address the immaturity shortly. It sure does sound like he’s heard these accusations before and is disregarding them. That’s a tactic to face disagreement head on and attempt to dissuade it. It didn’t work this time! He is clearly justifying the behavior by claiming God made him like that. Way to throw God under the bus! How convenient is that? I’m really sick of this lie and the damage it creates in its wake. It makes a mockery of our faith giving all Christians a bad rap.

At 7:22, “What’s the difference between a man’s girlfriend and his wife? About 60 pounds. Well, maybe so. How important is this? Let me tell you something. I have a friend. He has put a divorce weight on his wife. That’s how important this is.”

An abysmal joke! Why are people in church laughing at it? And to threaten divorce on this sort of thing? How is that pastoral in the slightest way possible? No wonder he doesn’t do marital counseling anymore. He never should have in the first place.

It continues at 9:49 with him saying of his poor wife, that “One of her favorite expressions is ‘Food never tastes as good as skinny feels.’”

I doubt that’s really her favorite expression. Maybe you’ve manipulated her into saying that it is. So sad. I feel terrible for her.

At 14:35 he makes the mistake of quoting the Bible, which renders his whole message unbiblical and forces him to retract the sacred words he just read. The verse he read is Proverbs 31:30. The verse reads, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” This contradicts everything he’d been saying, so he quickly makes the point again that men still are gonna look, so you need to look good for him! Ridiculous.

At 17:13 “It’s just the way it is. So every man has this need and here’s the deal. We can’t help it. Women spell affection T-A-L-K and men spell it S-E-X.” At 19:20 “We are not lust monsters. Chase you around the bedroom every night. We can’t help ourselves. God made us this way… It’s the main reason he married you.”

Again, the deflection is projection. The reason I know, is because I, too, used to buy into some of these ideas. And I was pretty much a lust monster. It was easy, because it was expected and a given. It’s not. The way out is as easy as rejecting that notion as false. Yes, God gave us a sex drive, and my mine is high, but it doesn’t have to dominate me. Search this blog for “lust” and see many articles about how it doesn’t have to be a problem. It’s definitely not a problem God cannot restore and redeem!

Then there’s an awful story as a conclusion delivered with many dramatic pauses. It’s about a knight that was going to slay a dragon to save a damsel in distress, and got his sword out, but she yelled to him to take this noose and strangle him instead. The dragon dies, “but he doesn’t feel admired. He doesn’t feel adored. He doesn’t feel like he’s done anything because she told him how to do it. Sometimes you just gotta let a man be your knight in shining armor… and sometimes you just gotta stand back and let him do it.”

I don’t throw these terms around very often, but that’s just downright chauvinistic. Are we supposed to feel sorry for him because she told him to do something? For another disturbing article showing how pervasive this type of teaching is, read this shocking piece.

The day I was finishing up this article, I came across a post shared from Alexa Danielle Kolbe. Perfect timing because her writing is so contrasting to that of the oratory skills of Stewar-Allen Clark. She wrote:

“You’ve gained weight” said the doctor at my annual checkup. 

I haven’t weighed myself in over a year, but I can tell you things don’t fit the same. 

I’ve definitely noticed it. 

I see it in pictures. 

I see it in videos. 

I can feel how my clothes fit differently. 

Everything still fits, but it fits differently.

1 Stretch mark has appeared on my abdomen. 

I go over in my head all the comments I believe people think of me. 

“Wow, she’s packed it on.” 

“She’s really let herself go.” 

“Look (friend) she’s gained weight!” 

I mean, the list goes on in my head. 

I believe people think I’m lazy or eat too much. I cry sometimes to my husband thinking over and over in my head these thoughts. Even though they’re not true, I still believe it. 

Wow, the mind is super controlling. 

We bring ourselves down & judge every inch. We praise other people for having positive body image, but we can’t praise ourselves for just taking a small step. 

We are all for others, so why can’t we be for ourselves? 

Childbirth, death, gut issues, moving, heartbreak, abuse, diseases, finances, relationship with food, etc. all affect us in some sort of way, & the stress of it all affects the reaction of each body differently. 

Our bodies do so much for us. It fights for us, protects us, & can do just about anything as long as the mind & it agree. It’s so beautiful, & we judge it’s capability by its appearance. 

I believe this weight gain has been a fighter response for my body. Deaths, moving, career change, & healing my relationship with food from restriction has all been what my body has gone through this past year. With all this people would say “you’re so strong” but my mind thinks all people are saying is “you’ve gained weight.”  

I’ve learned most people don’t “let themselves go.”

Most people are just going through something that we have no idea about. 

We need to give each other grace. 

Darling, you need to give yourself grace. 

Gaining weight could be a reflection from the weight life brings. 

A good book isn’t defined by its cover, but the life it gives when it’s read.

Someone commented on this post, “Beauty is the Godly characteristics of a woman – in the end its how much Love we gave and freely received – my grandmother used to say what most people judge as “beauty” is only skin deep and will fade with age .. as I’ve grown more mature, that is so true! It’s who you are ; your character that makes for beauty at any age, size, skin tone ect … love is the key. and from it all other beauty traits flow.. kindness, goodness, patience, tolerance for others, grace. We are an eternal beautiful being,in a temporary “ earthsuit” having a temporary journey on earth .. but we are all created by God individually and majestically created .. because he apparently likes variety just look at all the flowers.“

I agree wholeheartedly. And I’m sorry for this unfair treatment.

A new song from The Choir, one of my favorite Christian bands, would convey my sentiments to any lady (daughter of the Most High King) who is hurt by these attitudes:

Never mind, never mind yesterday’s night
Step outside, turn your gaze to the sky
Feel the morning light
never mind yesterday’s lies
Please realize you’re even more wondrous in my eyes
When the sun shines bright
Illuminating your scars
I adore the wounded creature you are

Are you troubled by your own reflection?
Searching for a friend to trust?

Does it feel like forever won’t be time enough
to heal your heart from the deepest cuts?
Child, you are love, you have always been loved
May one divine kiss be enough to heal your heart from the deepest cuts!

Never dread, never dread tomorrow’s sun
Let it come when it comes
This glorious night has just begun
Never cry tomorrow’s tears
Right now in here, shut your eyes, open your ears
Listen closely, a spirit stirring song is playing
And you’re beautiful, that’s all that I’m saying

Made-made methods have never worked in my experience and that of many others I know. And they won’t ever work, not fully, that is.

I really don’t think the traditional ways of dealing with lust and objectification of women is gonna help this guy. Made-made methods have never worked in my experience and that of many others I know. And they won’t ever work, not fully, that is. Here’s a big twist! While I do own and have taught from many of these best-selling Christian books that are indeed very harmful, how did I break free from the clutches of this toxic view? Simply put, I rejected the lie and I began to see others as God sees them. What served as a catalyst for this redeemed view came from the unlikeliest of places- Christian naturists with their ethical naturist philosophies. This may come as a complete surprise to you and stir up more rage inside you, but hold on a second. I get it! I used to think that family friendly Christian naturists were perverts and pedophiles trying to justify their wrong beliefs. I’ve since learned and also experienced first-hand that the exact opposite is true.

Naturism is freedom and body positivity carried out to its natural extreme. If a mature purity is indeed possible, then when pushed to its limits, that truth should remain true. The respect and dignity with which it approaches everybody is healthy, wholesome, and even godly. Aside from the many physical and emotional health benefits, naturism demystifies so much of what culturally has ensnared us, as evident in the case of our wayward pastor friend. The many resources on this blog help to provide a theological framework of what is a better way, both on paper (theoretical) and in the experiential practice of those beliefs.

There is a hundred year old book on “gymnosophy” by Maruice Parmelee entitled, Nudism in Modern Life. One century ago, this volume made the following observation: “It is true that childbearing is prone to injure the figure. The swelling womb distends the skin of the abdomen, and after delivery has taken place and the abdomen has sunk to its usual size the abdominal skin may remain flabby and wrinkled. Mother’s milk distends the breasts and sucking elongates the nipples, so that after nursing has ceased the breasts are not so firm and may become pendulous. But much of the injury done by childbearing could be averted by a healthier mode of life… In a more humane age men will overlook these physical marks in remembering the valuable service rendered by these women and in honouring them for it.

Did you catch that word? Humane? The opposite of dehumanizing. Honor over objectification. Love, not lust. Relational and physical intimacy, not marital rape (yes, I said it). I’m advocating for mature purity over artificial modesty and immature excuses. 

I’m advocating for mature purity over artificial modesty and immature excuses.

David L. Hatton laments on page 47 his book entitled, Who Said You Were Naked?: “One group of topless women in Mali, upon hearing about the fascination American men have with women’s breasts, fell down rolling with laughter, saying, ‘You mean, men act like babies?’ If these women heard this breast-fascination being religiously taught as intrinsic in men, they might stop laughing and start suspecting its preacher of being a pervert and his religion of being a deception. False doctrine in this area isn’t funny. It’s profoundly sad… My culture had fed me a despicable lie, and that falsehood came most insistently from the same lips that preached God’s Word. Indeed, we really have acted ‘like babies!’– not with a silliness that made bare-breasted women in Mali laugh– but with such utter immaturity that we should be shedding tears.”

Many are starting to see and speak out against this epidemic. However, there are not many solutions given beyond identification of the toxic behaviors. I’m not saying that the philosophy of ethical naturism is the answer, but it was certainly the catalyst for me that eradicated any semblance of these terrible ideas in my own life. Naturism in its pure form (and not the misconceptions of its practice) is antithetical to the attitudes on display in this sermon. They are in agreement with God’s intent at Creation and in the restoration of all things. Innocence can be restored, just as any other sin that twists and distorts a good gift. Seeing yourself and others as made in the image of God is a viable solution to all the ills of society, not on a large scale as not everyone will properly adopt this view (which would be a utopia), but on an individual basis. Imago Dei is the better way. I’ve lived it and it changed everything. It would even change Stewart-Allen Clark if he were brave enough to believe.

Undressed for Worship

The main focus of this post will be the following video. We, at Aching for Eden, have produced this video to share a very important point regarding the practice of naturism as a Christian. I will leave it at that, and let you watch the video, and then I’ll discuss some more.

The premise of this video is simple. If you were to play the sound clips for any practicing Christian, they would be able to identify the sounds of worship to God. As soon as they learn that everyone in the audio was naked, their knee-jerk reaction will be to protest. To them the two notions are incompatible: one cannot be naked in mixed company and worshiping God at the same time. However, does it sound any different than any worship service in any church anywhere? At face value, if we did a blind test side-by-side could you tell the difference between Naked worship and clothed worship? No! They are the same. More importantly, God accepts them both as worship.

Well this begs the question: can people lust in a naked worship service? The answer, is yes. My follow up question is: Can people lust in a clothed worship service? The answer is also yes, absolutely! Do they? That depends entirely on the person. No external factor should be able to cause a human heart to lust or not. A lustful person will lust. A person whose mind has been redeemed on the issue of lust, who has been healed from the sexual brokenness of our world will remain mature, innocent, and pure in any and all settings. The depraved mind cannot control itself. The redeemed mind cannot be controlled. 

I’m not saying we can be perfect, or that we will never sin. But I am saying that I used to struggle with lust a lot over a span of 20 years, and now I don’t anymore (Praise God!). I mean it’s a night and day difference, to the point that I can even worship freely with others of a like mind even completely naked and not fall into sinful thoughts or behavior.

That’s becuase it’s a mind and heart matter. Jesus and Paul seem to agree with that statement:

“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” Mark 7:15 ESV

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Titus 1:15 ESV

In my experience in various nude worship gatherings, my brothers and sisters are simply worshiping the Lord. No one is there for any purpose other than to worship in that moment, and after that moment, they lead lives of worship. The thought that this concept is so radical and an impossibility is no more than a projection of one’s own imagination, and proof that the objecting person has not worked through the issues regarding the body that plague so many today. I’m so grateful to have this tremendous healing and be able to enjoy a mature purity. Does this come across as arrogant? It may, but I hope it doesn’t. I do not mean to boast in anything but the love of Christ. I would hope rather that it comes across as an invitation to see there is a better way to live, free from the sexual hang ups and brokenness that abounds in the world and frankly in our church pews. I’ve often said I would wish this upon my worst enemy, if I had any. It’s my wish that all who are exposed (no pun intended) to these truths prayerfully consider them and overcome the traditions of men in favor of the mystery of God revealed in our very bodies.

I love the way Christopher West sums up his fascinating book, “Our Bodies tell God’s Story” and this too is my prayer for you dear reader:

Perhaps we’ve been caught up in a thousand lies about the meaning of our bodies and our sexuality. But it doesn’t matter how dyslexic or even illiterate we may have been in reading the divine language of the body up to this point in our lives. As John Paul II boldly proclaims, through the gift of redemption there is always the possibility of passing from error to the truth; there is always the possibility of conversion from sin to sexual purity as an expression of life according to the Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit, come! Convert our hearts from lust to love. Impregnate our sexual desires with divine passion so that, loving as God loves on earth, we might one day rejoice in the consummation of the marriage of the Lamb in heaven. Amen.

That’s a great place to end, but if I could throw one more grenade of unorthodox truth in the mix, it’d be this one. Frank Viola and George Barna (non-naturists) have in their book “Pagan Christianity” a whole chapter devoted to “Costumes: Covering Up the Problem.”They conclude:

What’s the big deal about “dressing up” for church? It is hardly a burning issue. However, it is what dressing up for church represents that is the burning issue. First, it reflects the false division between the secular and the sacred. To think that God cares one whit if you wear dressy threads on Sunday to “meet Him” is a violation of the New Covenant. We have access to God’s presence at all times and in all circumstances. Does He really expect His people to dress up for a beauty pageant on Sunday morning? Second, wearing attractive, flashy clothes on Sunday morning screams out an embarrassing message: that church is the place where Christians hide their real selves and “dress them up” to look nice and pretty. Think about it. Wearing your Sunday best for church is little more than image management. It gives the house of God all the elements of a stage show: costumes, makeup, props, lighting, ushers, special music, master of ceremonies, performance, and the featured program. Dressing up for church violates the reality that the church is made up of real people with messy problems—real people who may have gotten into a major-league bickering match with their spouses just before they drove into the parking lot and put on colossal smiles to cover it up! Wearing our “Sunday best” conceals a basic underlying problem. It fosters the illusion that we are somehow “good” because we are dressing up for God. It is a study in pretense that is dehumanizing and constitutes a false witness to the world. Let’s face it. As fallen humans, we are seldom willing to appear to be what we really are. We almost always rely on our performance or dress to give people a certain impression of what we want them to believe we are. All of this differs markedly from the simplicity that marked the early church. Third, dressing up for church smacks against the primitive simplicity that was the sustaining hallmark of the early church. The first-century Christians did not “dress up” to attend church meetings. They met in the simplicity of living rooms. They did not dress to exhibit their social class. In fact, the early Christians made concrete efforts to show their absolute disdain for social class distinctions. In the church, all social and racial distinctions are erased. The early Christians knew well that they were a new species on this planet. For this reason, James levels a rebuke to those believers who were treating the rich saints better than the poor saints. He boldly reproves the rich for dressing differently from the poor. And yet, many Christians are under the false delusion that it is “irreverent” to dress in informal clothing when attending a Sunday morning church service. This is not dissimilar to how the Scribes and the Pharisees accused the Lord and His disciples of being irreverent for not following the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:1-13). In short, to say that the Lord expects His people to dress in fine clothing when the church gathers is to add to the Scriptures and speak where God has not spoken. Such a practice is human tradition at its best.

The practice of naturists runs contrary to this and puts everyone at the same level so to speak. It humanizes more than most anything I know. It makes us appreciate the real person, not some facade. Naturists interpret modesty as it used to be defined, as an attitude or state of being, not what we wear or how we adorn ourselves.

I realize God does not show favoritism and accepts all who approach him. But may I be as bold as if to say that those who worship him literally and figuratively uncovered and laid bare (Hebrews 4:13) may be more effectively  honoring God over those who dress up in their Sunday best to look good for worship. It’s all in the motive. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe there’s some truth there.

What are your thoughts on the matter?