Nakedness is not always bad. Some Christian circles or legalistic groups make it seem as if it is, but I disagree.
Nudity is to be mutually explored and celebrated within the marriage bed. A husband should be satisfied by his wife’s breasts. (Prov. 5:18–19). And a woman has ample right to ask for her husband’s body to fulfill her desires. She can and should invite him to “kiss me” (Song of Songs 1:2 ESV) and to lay together enjoying one another’s bodies (Song of Songs 1). The Scriptures speak of faithfully meeting one another’s sexual desires within marriage, except for a short time by mutual consent (1 Cor. 7:1–5). A healthy message of dignity can allow—and in fact, encourage—us to celebrate our naked bodies in the proper setting.
Infants, too, are not to be ashamed of their nakedness. As they mature, we have to gently point out that though their bodies are beautiful, some parts of it are private. They do not learn it all at once, but they slowly begin to treat the magnificent reproductive organs God has created with honor (1 Cor. 12:23).
Dressing appropriately is a sign of maturity.
But I have discovered that some whose hearts are eager to obey the Lord don’t always have an understanding of what is and is not appropriate. I have no intention of pulling out my yardstick to measure skirts and find the practice reprehensible and legalistic. But we do need something by which to direct our intentions, so let’s lay down three guidelines to help us dress with dignity in a practical way.
Clothe your heart well. We’ve already covered this, but dress yourself daily in the presence of Christ. The immutable Proverbs 31 woman shows us the outcome of that discipline. Now, don’t forget: she wasn’t a real woman but a picture of what a godly woman can be.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. (Prov. 31:25 NLT)
Imagine laughing at the future rather than having anxiety about it. That’s the outcome of clothing yourself in Christ. Here’s what Matthew Henry writes in his commentary about that verse:
‘Strength and honour are her clothing, in which she wraps herself . . . and in which she appears to the world. . . . She enjoys a firmness and constancy of mind, has spirit to bear up under the many crosses and disappointments which even the wise and virtuous must expect to meet with in this world; and this is her clothing.
No matter what is going on around you, you can walk through life strong—if you are properly clothed in Christ.
Fashion clothes or assemble styles for your body that accurately represent your inner worth. You won’t see Kate Middleton wearing her swimwear and a cover-up to make a Starbucks run. She’s the Duchess of Cambridge! As such, she takes care to dress in a way that communicates her status. You can read about this same mindset in Proverbs 31.
She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
(Prov. 31:22 NLT)
The Hebrew word for “makes” in that verse is “fashion.” Do you know what that means? It’s okay to love the idea of adorning yourself in a way that expresses your style and taste. But keep in mind that it should be a reflection of your inner worth. The Proverbs 31 woman wore linen, the garment God’s children will be clothed in at the wedding supper of the lamb, and purple, the color of royalty. These were intentionally chosen to display what was already going on inside of her heart.
I’m all about jeans and a t-shirt. And a matching set comes in handy at times, but when I want to present myself consistently, orderly, and with intention. I am a daughter of the God of the Universe. A princess, to be precise. So, I dress differently.
As a curvy girl, this often means I shop differently, too. I can’t wear some of the things other women with different body types can. No strapless formal gowns for me. It just doesn’t work for my body type. And I’m okay with that. I’d rather err on the side of caution and show up with the worth God has died to restore!
Are the clothes in your closet capable of representing you as a daughter of the King?
Clothe others. A princess isn’t all about ball gowns and tiaras. A good one knows her work is to care for the King’s people. To that end, don’t just be concerned with your own clothing but the wardrobe of others. The Proverbs 31 woman was providing garments for the needy and her own home.
Her hands are busy spinning thread,
Her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor
And opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes. (Prov. 31:19–21 NLT)
This care and concern for others can be figurative as you collect clothing for at-risk children or assemble a wardrobe for your children. Perhaps it’s helping your color-blind husband organize his closet, so he doesn’t clash needlessly.
I have two Barbies in my office. The American Barbie wears a mini-skirt and a low-cut tight bodice that pushes her breasts upward.
The other, a Muslim Barbie named Fulla, is dressed in a burqa. The only flesh you can see surrounds her eyes.
These dolls create the same end result: a hyper-focused obsession with female sexuality. Both raise awareness of a woman's sexual nature and reduce her to being a mere body.
In some Christian settings, women might as well wear burqas. In those settings, the female body is hidden in shame. Since the very purpose of clothing was to rectify shame and restore dignity, you can be confident that either of these extremes is not God’s best for us. Even so, proverbial stones are thrown at those who fall below the standard in our own minds.
What if we responded to the problem the way that God responded to Adam and Eve? What if our conversations were flavored with humility, compassion, and kindness? Well, I think the lost world would begin to see an army of women clothed in dignity and strength.
This is an excerpt from Clothed in Dignity, a magazine-style booklet from Dannah Gresh. We'd love to send you a copy. It's our way of saying thank you for a donation of any amount to support Pure Freedom, the ministries of Dannah Gresh and True Girl.
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