You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word. --Elizabeth Bibesco

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Religious Justifications for Immodesty

So I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about my religious justifications for modesty, but truthfully, I believe that God really just wants us to be humble and not worry about what we wear. (Check out the specs on that here.) Modesty makes sense for me, but it may not make sense for everyone.

Since I feel this way, and since I know many religious people who don't believe in religiously-motivated modesty or believe in what I'll call religiously-motivated immodesty (ie. that God is okay or promotes us wearing things that aren't modest), I feel like I should write about it!

Perhaps one of the biggest argument for religious immodesty is that God, in all God's wisdom, created us naked. Genesis 2:25 "Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame." The nakedness isn't the sin of Adam and Eve. Neither, mind you, are the clothes, but the clothes are emblematic of the sin: eating from the tree God told them not to eat from was the sin, which resulted in them being ashamed of their nakedness, so they made clothes for themselves.

Let's think about that for a second: our first sin as humans as symbolized by clothes-- God knows we sinned because we came out of it clothed. Forever after that, every (or nearly every) human over the age of, say, 2 wears clothes.

Let's pull back and personify God for a second. (I think that's appropriate because much of Genesis personifies God.) A friend of mine describes Genesis as a love story. And I so agree. God has angels. Why would God create humans? Answer: humans have free will and God wants to love a creature that chooses to love Her. Being loved and praised by creatures that are unable to do anything besides love and praise you isn't nearly as fulfilling as being loved and praised by a creature you gave the free will to turn away from you.

So God orchestrates this beautiful love story, creates humans and gives us stewardship of the whole earth and what do we do? We turn away. The marker of this change in the relationship is that humans now wear clothes. For millennia afterwords, humans continue to wear clothes. Rubbing salt in the wound much? Now, God is infinitely loving, so She has forgiven us this, but it still looks like we're just trying to piss God off, doesn't it? That right there is a fabulous argument not to wear any clothes at all. Of course, generally speaking this is an impractical argument, because most places in the world won't let you be naked.

Now let's talk about Jesus's feelings about clothes.

Jesus denounces even the most splendid of clothes as not as beautiful as what God has created. ("Consider the lilies, how they grow : they neither toil nor spin ; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these" Luke 12:27.)

Jesus continues, "If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!" (Luke 12:28) What I get from this is that we need to relax and not worry about what we wear. What one might get from this is that the "clothes" God has provided for us (our skin, our hair, etc.) are enough and we don't need other adornments.

So there you go. Two basic arguments for religious immodesty.
1) Since clothes are a symbol of our first sin against God, the wearing of them and --worse!-- the fussing over them is a continual reminder to God of our sin.
2) Jesus even told us that what God gave us to cover us should be enough for us, at least in the way of beauty. We could not find any kind of clothes in the world that would make us more beautiful than the way God made us.
Actually, in fairness, these are probably better arguments for religiously motivated nudism, rather than immodesty, but it's what I've got.

Anyone else have thoughts on this to share?


Susanne said...

I liked this post, however, didn't God kill an animal to make clothes for Adam and Eve after they pieced together something from leaves? I know many people take the creation/Adam and Eve stories symbolically so maybe the nakedness means something else. Like we were open before God and each other. There were none of these masks we hide ourselves behind now because we try to cover up our flaws, our hurts and sorrows and struggles. Sin broke that open relationship we had and the clothes symbolize it? what do you think?

Allie said...

Certainly, I think the chief problem there is disobedience... although as long as we're personifying God, sometimes I wonder if God *wanted* us to eat the fruit-- otherwise, why put it there?

But anyway, yes, I think you're right-- clothes are the symbol of the sin, not the sin itself, but aren't we still kind of rubbing God's face in it?

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