from such regulations as belonged to the ceremonial or judicial laws of Old
(Dan. ; II Cor. 5:3).
Clothing has been essential for mankind ever since the fall, and a hearty
assent to modest clothing is a sign of true godliness.
the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was
afraid, because I was naked; and I
hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee
that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to
be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God
said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast
done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the
LORD God said unto the serpent, . . . I will put enmity between thee and the
woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou
shalt bruise his heel . . . And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because
she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the
LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them (Gen. 3:9-14, 15, 20, 21).
This passage shows us that clothing has become necessary because of
Adam’s fall into sin. All men, women and children descended from Adam
have guilty, corrupt natures, from which emanates all actual sin (Rom. 5:12,
19; Matt. 15:19), and so the human race is destitute of spiritual clothing,
our own righteousnesses being now but filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). Unless
provided with a spiritual coverture (Isa. 61:10; Eph. 5:25), every human being
will be compelled to answer for his own wicked works on that day of wrath
(Job ; Matt. 25:41, 46;Rom. 2:5, 6). Guilt, and
the shame of nakedness both spiritual and physical, are results of sin. The
more the knowledge of one’s guilt before God is suppressed, the
more one’s conscience becomes seared, and the sense of the shame and
depravity of physical nakedness is stifled.
see that in providing Adam and his wife with clothing from the skins of
slain animals, God gave a symbol of the Sacrifice for sinners who would
provide spiritual robes of righteousness for those who “come unto God by
Him” (Heb. 7:25). Says Matthew Henry:
the first thing that died was a sacrifice, or Christ in a figure, who is
therefore said to be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
These sacrifices were divided between God and man, in token of
reconciliation: the flesh was offered to God, a whole burnt-offering; the
skins were given to man for clothing, signifying that, Jesus Christ having
offered himself to God a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, we are to
clothe ourselves with his righteousness as with a garment, that the shame of
our nakedness may not appear. Adam and Eve made for themselves aprons of
fig-leaves, a covering too narrow for them to wrap themselves in, Isa.
28:20. Such are all the rags of our own righteousness. But God made them
coats of skins; large, and strong, and durable, and fit for them; such is
the righteousness of Christ. Therefore put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
The covering of righteousness for sinners was devised in eternity
when God made a covenant with His Son (Psalm 89:3), and being of God’s
design it was appropriate that it be represented by the material clothing
made by God to cover the shame of physical nakedness. Not only is physical
clothing absolutely required of God, but from the beginning it was bestowed
upon men and women to be worn in the way that He sees fit, in a manner that
fulfils the purpose of clothing. In his commentary on Ezekiel 16, William
Greenhill (1591-1671) analyses the rich apparel given by the Lord to the
Jewish church, which is represented as a woman; and in order to “discern
more clearly of the lawful use or sinful abuse of these things”, Greenhill
considers “for what ends the Lord hath given apparel and ornaments”:
To cover man’s nakedness. God set man and woman naked in the world at
first, that they might see they had nothing of their own, that all was the
Lord’s who created them; but when they sinned in eating the forbidden
fruit, they were ashamed of their nakedness, and sought to cover it, Gen.
3:7, 21; yea, God made them ‘coats of skins, and clothed them,’ ver. 21,
that so their nakedness and shame might not be seen, that so modesty and
chastity might be preserved: Hos. 2:9, ‘I will recover my wool and my flax
given to cover her nakedness.’
To arm and defend them against the injury of the air, the violence of wind
and weather, heat and cold [Prov. 31:21; 25:20; Job 24:7] . . .
To distinguish one sex from another. God would not have men and women
dressed and adorned alike; Deut. 22:5, ‘The woman shall not wear that
which pertaineth unto a m
an, neither shall a man put on a woman’s
garment:’ God would not have men to be effeminate, nor women to be mannish
. . .
To preserve the healthiness of our bodies. ‘Man is born to labour, as the
sparks fly upward,’ Job 5:7; and man labouring, his body sweats . . .
which our vestures receiving are to be changed, and so health preserved: so
in time of sickness, Job 30:18 . . .
To notify the conditions, ranks, and places of men [Gen. 41:42; Esth. 6:8;
Acts ; Psalm 45:13, 14; II
Sam. ; Lam. 4:5; Matt.
11:8; 27:28] . . .
To adorn the body [Gen. 27:15; Isa. 52:1; Hos. ] . . . Jer. , ‘Can a maid
forget her ornaments?’ Exod. 28:40, Aaron’s sons must have coats,
girdles, bonnets, ‘for glory and beauty’ . . .
To testify grief or joy. Mordecai put on sackcloth in a time of mourning
[Joel ; Luke ; Isa. 61:10; Eccl.
9:8] . . .
It is not therefore merely for a covering of shame – for modesty
– that we wear clothes, but also, notably, for
the “honouring of the body”
(I Thess. 4:4), for
protection from the elements, and “to distinguish sexes”.
Holy Scripture dictates that women’s clothes are to be distinct
from those of men: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a
man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are
abomination unto the LORD thy God” (Deut. 22:5). The distinctive features
of men’s and women’s apparel complement their respective roles in
society, and those who transgress these laws, wearing forbidden garments,
display the wantonness and covetousness of their hearts. Women in particular
add rebellion to these sins, breaking the fifth as well as the seventh and
tenth commandments (cf. Exod. 20:12, 14, 17). “The distinction of
sexes by the apparel is to be kept up,” notes Mr Henry,
the preservation of our own and our neighbour’s chastity, v. 5. Nature
itself teaches that a difference be made between them in their hair
(I Cor. 11:14), and by the same rule in their clothes, which therefore ought
not to be confounded, either in ordinary wear or occasionally . . . It
forbids the confounding of the dispositions and affairs of the sexes: men
must not be effeminate, nor do the women’s work in the house, nor must
women be viragos, pretend to teach, or usurp authority, I Tim. 2:11,
(1697-1771), a predecessor of C. H. Spurgeon’s at New Park Street Chapel,
woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man
. . . It being very unseemly and impudent, and contrary to the modesty of
her sex; or there shall not be upon her any ‘instrument of
a man’, any
utensil of his which he makes use of in his trade and business; as if she
was employed in it, when her business was not to do the work of men, but to
take care of her house and family.
the use of the word abomination (hb[wt,tow’ebah,in
Hebrew) to describe the
woman who wears “that which pertaineth unto a man”, and the man who puts
on “a woman’s garment”, the immorality of such confusion is powerfully
and decisively expressed, the same word being used in Leviticus 18:22 to
denounce the sin of the Sodomites. And without doubt, those crimes denounced
by God as abomination cannot be avoided by using merely arbitrary rules of
human invention. This would be to follow the practices of our rebellious and
perverse generation, who teach for doctrines the commandments of men. The
Sacred Volume is our rule, and while giving little information on
precise details of articles of clothing – replication of ancient garments
being needless – it provides the principles necessary for appropriate and
modest covering. These may be
learned by searching the Scriptures and observing the standards of the
godly. The apostle Peter exhorts us to follow faithful examples:
ye wives, be in subjection to your
own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word
be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste
conversation coupled with fear.
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning
of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
But let it be the hidden man of
the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even
the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of
great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who
trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own
husbands: Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye
are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise,
ye husbands, dwell with them
according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker
vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers
be not hindered. Finally, be ye
all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be
pitiful, be courteous (I Peter 3:1-8, cf. Heb. 11).
We do well, too, if we eschew the bad example of those set forth as
warnings (Luke 17:32). Matthew Henry,
expounding the prophet Isaiah’s warning to the daughters ofZion, says,
prophet’s business was to show all sorts of people what they had
contributed to the national guilt and what share they must expect in the
national judgments that were coming. Here he reproves and warns the
daughters ofZion, tells the ladies of
their faults; and Moses, in the law, having denounced God’s wrath against the
tender and delicate woman (the prophets being a comment upon the law,
Deut. 28:56), he here tells them how they shall smart by the calamities that
are coming upon them. Observe,
sin charged upon the daughters ofZion, v. 16. The prophet
expressly vouches God’s authority for what he said, lest it should be
thought it was unbecoming in him to take notice of such things, and should
be resented by the ladies: The Lord saith it. ‘Whether they will
hear, or whether they will forbear, let them know that God takes notice of,
and is much displeased with, the folly and vanity of proud women, and his
law takes cognizance even of their dress.’ Two things that here stand
indicted for – haughtiness and wantonness, directly contrary to that modesty,
shamefacedness, and sobriety, with which women ought to adorn themselves,
I Tim. 2:9. They discovered the disposition of their mind by their gait and
See ‘Of the Law of God’,
Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 19:3, 4, pp80, 81.
Perkins, ‘On the Right,
Use of Apparel’,
Cases of Conscience.
Confession of Faith, p290. Christ was not descended
from Adam by ordinary generation.