Summary: What should a Christian think and do about what to wear? God's word has a few things to say about that.
Surely everyone here today has heard of "church clothes." We used to call it wearing your "Sunday Best." I remember going to a wedding not too long ago and the preacher said to the couple, "One way to keep your marriage strong is to get up every Sunday and put your best clothes on and go to church together. Not a bad piece of advice, if you think about it!
I started a series on "Church" and it seems appropriate to see what God has to say about this subject too. We hear plenty of opinions about it. Today let's hear what God's word, the Bible, has to say. Did you know that the Bible talks about "Church Clothes?" But it all started in another place far from here at another time long before culture and fashion had its grip. Let me introduce this by setting it up.
What are clothes for anyway? Jesus tells us in the sermon on the mount not to worry about our bodies, what we will wear. He pointed to the lilies of the field and said that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed line one of these. Then he said, "If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not clothe you, Oh you of little faith?" God makes sure his children have the clothing they need.
Clothing has an interesting biblical history. As human beings we are among the very few of God's creatures that need to cover our bodies with clothes. Most animals are just fine without clothes on. Generally speaking, humans are not. There are exceptions, or at least there were up until a few years ago. While Jenny was in the hospital, we read through a few books together. One was about Teddy Roosevelt's final and darkest adventure. He died not long after he went on a trek in South America on an uncharted river tributary of the Amazon River. This trek took them through territory of native tribes who were known for killing anyone that crossed into their areas. The book has several picture sections in it, some were of interactions with the native tribes. Many of them lived in the jungles, naked and uncivilized.
Now, let me ask you something: How would you bring the gospel of Christ to people like this? What might their church services look like? I doubt that they would think a thing about some of the dress codes for church that we take so seriously.
The Bible tells about a time in human history when clothing was unnecessary. When God created Adam and Eve they lived in the garden of Eden, naked and unashamed. God had blessed them, telling them to multiply and fill the earth with offspring. (1:28). They were created in God's image, after God's likeness, and that blessing of producing children appears to have been given them before sin and before clothing. Genesis 3 tells us that after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked. Their immediate response was to make some coverings for themselves by sewing fig leaves together. These were the first clothes. They were hiding their nakedness because it reminded them of their shame of disobedience.
After God confronted them about their sin, God himself gave them clothing of animal skins to wear. (vs 21).
After this point, nakedness became a reminder of two things, actually: one is of innocence that is soon lost, and the other is of the abiding shame of sin. Clothing becomes a cover for the shame of sin. Clothing reminds us that our very bodies need protection and covering. The basic purpose of clothes is not to attract and expose but to cover and hide.
Genesis 9:20-27 tells a sad story of drunkeness, nakedness, shame and cursing. Let me just read the account. It says it all. (Read text).
I don't know what to think about Noah here, but it seems to me that Ham wasn't the only one to sin in the story. Noah's sin opened the door to Ham's sin. But one thing is clear: Noah's nakedness was violated by Ham and covered by Shem and Japeth. Shem and Japeth did the honorable thing for their dad and were blessed by Noah but Ham and his son Canaan were cursed by Noah.
Well... if we did a survey of what the Bible says about clothing and nakedness, it would take several weeks of lessons!
Clothing quickly took on a life of its own with new significance attached to it. Remember Joseph's coat of many colors?
Renting ones garments became an expression of grief or horror.