Bikinis and Fig Leaves

Christian men and women are having difficulty with the idea of modesty. The main reason for this is because many who attend church have adopted the popular patterns of culture; namely that it is acceptable for women to show their bodies in various fashions and if they do so, then it is permissible for men to look. In the midst of a long hot summer this problem becomes most apparent at the beach and the pool. Christian men and women have become immodest under the sun.

Why is it important for women and men to cover up their bodies? The answer is sewn into the opening narrative of Scripture.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:7)

And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

After Adam and the woman sinned they realized they were naked. This sudden epiphany called for them to sew fig leaves together and make loincloths (Gen. 3:7). Later God replaced the fig leaf loin cloth with a more appropriate fashion, animal skin (Gen. 3:21). As a preacher I am well aware of the picture of atonement in the animal covering. God covered their sin through blood sacrifice. Plants have never been an acceptable sacrifice for sin, i.e. Cain (Gen. 4:5). Yet, let us not ignore the obvious. God covered Adam and the woman with animal skin simply because fig leaves would not do. Fig leaf loin cloths don’t sufficiently cover men and women. Leafy loincloths are only sufficient to make one barely “not” naked.

To prove my point I call forth the massive amount of Christianized, and somewhat humorous, artist renderings of Adam and the woman frolicking in the garden. In most all cases there is a maple tree branch or a low hanging vine, full of leaves, strategically placed to hide man and woman parts. How convenient; a jungle of modestly minded plants. It is providential vegetation. It is at these moments we are thankful God did not place Adam and the woman in the desert of Eden. Had Eden been a desert, modestly minded Biblical illustrators would be challenged. Perhaps they would render Adam and the woman in the midst of a wisp of sand strategically blown by the wind. Perhaps the modest illustrator would paint Adam and the woman perpetually petting camels; hooves and humps providentially in the proper places. There are just not enough perfectly placed maple trees in the Sahara to make people modest. I digress. The point is that in any context leaves don’t cut it, or cover it, however strategically placed they may be.

The perfectly placed maple tree in the Sunday School lit. is there because we realize, in our post-sin, that Adam and the woman were naked, pre-sin. We realize people wearing leaves are still naked. We need the maple trees in Sunday School quarterlies so that people in the class can focus, avoid Jr. High jokes, and turn to page 27 with a clear conscience. Furthermore, no one wants to see Lifeway’s June edition on the top rack, in a wrapper, at the 7-Eleven. If the leaves on page 27 convey the idea that while Adam and the woman are covered, they are still naked, could we also make the case that while at the beach, one may be wearing an ensemble of perfectly placed leaves but for all practical purposes they are naked? Christian women should not go to the beach or the pool as if they are posing for page 27; barely and strategically “un-naked.”

In only a few minutes at the beach one realizes that while animal skin may be fashionable on the mainland, the surf beckons people to return to fig leaves. When I say fig leaves, I am speaking of the bikini. The bikini is nothing more than an appropriately placed maple tree, a low hanging vine, fig leaves. A bikini is an arrangement of leaves that negates the technicality of “naked”, but not by much. Yet, in the case of the bikini I would like to go ahead and argue that the term “naked” may still be technically appropriate.

Ladies, be honest about the male mind. You may not understand it, but its tendencies are well documented. When you are wearing fig leaves at the beach men are thinking. It may not be intelligent, but fig leaves make men think. Men think things that I should not print. Men think things that should not be thought. The good news is that there are many men desperately trying to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). If you think a man who battles his thoughts is less than Christian, then explain why Paul told male pastor Timothy to “flee youthful passions (2 Tim. 2:22).” Men who desire to pursue righteousness are forced to battle. The bad news is that there are many men who are not battling, but surrendering to youthful passions. Even worse, there are women who name the name of Christ who are not helping either scenario.

Women are surprised that men do not think like women. Women who wear fig leaves think men should be able to appreciate the matching colors of the fig leaves, sort of like the way women evaluate one another’s shoes. Men don’t care about matching shoes or the colors of fig leaves. Women barely clothed in fig leaves are tempting to men. God “clothed,” “covered” the naked human body for a reason. The realization of nakedness is the byproduct of sin. God clothed people to redeem them from the dangers that come from that realization. Sin has turned the beauty of the human body shared in covenant between a man and a woman into an object of lust. Clothes do not categorically cure lust, but they can go a long way to curb it.

Cover up. Cover adequately. Whether it be synthetic material, wool, or fiber, we should continue the precedent set by God of clothing the body. If you want to wear fig leave make sure it is a forest; and that it is far from fall! If people look at you, in what you consider to be fully clothed, and “realize” you are naked (Gen. 3:7), you may want to trade in fig leaves for something more concealing. Women should cover up. Men should avoid staring at women who don’t. We are equally responsible for modesty. For Christian men and women, modesty goes beyond the confines of the church building. Bottom line, Christian women shouldn’t wear bikinis in public. Christian men should not stare at women who do. Christian men and women should not adopt the patterns of pop culture; that it is acceptable for women to wear fig leaves and it is permissible for men to look.


Anonymous said…
Oh, if Christians today could grasp the truth you are speaking, what a different world we could have! Thank you so much for applying Scripture to our everyday situations in such a way that we should all understand. You are such a blessing.
Anonymous said…
It is my prayer that every parent who reads this realize that since they are the ones buying their children's clothes they are responsible for how their children dress.

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