Whenever we look at Old Testament law, we need to remember that the New Testament calls it “a shadow of good things to come” (Col. 2:17, Heb. 10:1). St. Augustine said about the Old and New Testaments: “The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.” The New Testament “fulfills” or follows through on the truths and themes that were introduced in the Old Testament. These themes are not just found in (factual) stories or narrative, but also in history and law as well. Often, we dismiss Old Testament law, calling it irrelevant or “null”. However, God says that those who keep His commandments love Him and will be blessed by Him (Jn. 14:15, Deut. 28:2). While we can argue over which commandments are necessary to follow and which aren’t, the important thing is that we love Him enough to find out. Those who seek the truth will find that the very laws so many Christians flippantly disregard actually contain critical aspects of the salvation message. They do not earn us salvation – they point us to the Saviour, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at those which pertain to our theme – the use of the words “uncovered”, “naked”, and “skirt”, and let’s keep the salvation message in mind.
In Old Testament law, it was strictly forbidden for a man to “uncover the nakedness” (Lev. 18, 20) of a kinswoman (aunt, sister, mother, daughter-in-law, female cousin). In Deuteronomy 22, the same commandment is given in the following words: “A man shall not take his father’s wife, and shall not uncover his father’s skirt” (Deut. 22:30). While in Leviticus 20:20, it says, “if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness”, in Deuteronomy 22:30, it says that if a man takes his father’s wife, he is uncovering his father’s skirt. Why “skirt”?
The “skirt” of a garment was the hemline, the lowest part of a man’s outer garment that reached to the floor. Note how this command is worded a second time in Deuteronomy: “Cursed is he that lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s skirt” (Deut. 27:20). This is what it means: a wife’s sanctity was (both literally and figuratively) wrapped up in her husband’s “skirt”. Here’s why.
When a woman was married, her husband became her symbolic “covering”. Remember, like Jesus is to the church, the husband is to the wife: “the saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23). Uncovering the wife was to shame both her and her husband utterly – to “discover their nakedness” as the King James puts it. Just as the wife’s body can be uncovered, so can the church body be “uncovered”. There are more significant verses pertaining to this incredible theme.
When Ruth sought Boaz’ favour, she asked him to “spread therefore thy skirt over [me]” (Ruth 3:9). This same word, “skirt” is also translated as “wing”. Not coincidentally, in Ezekiel 16:8, God says, “I spread my wings over thee, and covered thy shame”. Do you see the connection?
In Luke 8:43, we are told that a sick woman struggled through the crowd of people following Jesus to touch “the border of his garment” (Lk. 8:44). The border of his garment was his “skirt” or “wing”. When Jesus felt the virtue go out of Him and asked who had touched Him, trembling before Him and falling at His feet, the sick woman “declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him” (Lk. 8:47). Why did she touch Him? Because she knew that Malachi 4:2 said: “But to you that fear my name, shall the Sun of righteousness arise, and healing shall be in his wings” (emphasis mine). She knew the prophecy and believed that all she had to do was touch His skirt, and she would be healed. She was correct. We are healed in both body and spirit by the sanctifying “covering” of Christ’s blood. In other words, healing is in His wings.
Before Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were naked and unashamed. After they ate of the tree, they suddenly realized with shame and sorrow that they were naked. Their sin was revealed, their shame was exposed, and they knew that they were uncovered. God’s first and highly symbolic act was to kill an animal for them and cover them with its skin. Shed blood covered their sin, just like the shed blood of a firstborn flawless lamb saved the Hebrew slaves from the 10th plague in Egypt, and just like the annual shed blood of a spotless lamb offered on the temple altar covered the sins of the Israelites for a year. All these things pointed to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would fulfill the law by shedding His blood so that the sins of all humanity would be nailed to the cross and covered forever!
Are you covered? “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked” (2 Cor. 5:2-3). Being covered (in a big-picture sense) means that you are saved by the blood of Christ which, in the book of Revelation, means that you bear the righteousness of Christ: “for the fine linen [clean and white] is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:8). True Christians are not found naked.
So, what does the Bible mean by “naked” when it comes to wearing clothes? King David danced in the streets as an act of worship to God when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Israel (2 Sam 6:12-23). Although he was dressed in a “fine long robe” (2 Sam. 6:14 LXX), his wife, Michal, who saw him from the window dancing, told him he was “uncovered… as one of the dancers wantonly uncovers himself” (2 Sam. 6:20). He was not bare-naked. As he danced and played (2 Sam. 6:16), his long robe probably came open exposing what he wore beneath, his “drawers”. Remember that men, in Old Testament times, would “gird up their loins”. This means that they wore pants beneath their tunics and robes, which were later altered and called “breeches”. Therefore, Michal called David “uncovered” because his pants were showing. She was punished because of her scornful attitude towards David, but she was right: he appeared to be “naked”.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (emphasis mine). As Christians, do we need to care about appearances? What we’re really asking is, are we free from the law? Let’s be clear about what we are free from – we are free from the consequences of breaking the law, which is death. Jesus states, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). Being free from the law doesn’t mean we are free to sin and then be offended when people call us what we are – sinners! Being “free from the law” simply means that our death sentence has been paid for by Jesus Christ and despite our sin, we will be forgiven by God and go to heaven if we believe on Him, confess our sins, repent, and turn to Christ. In a practical sense, our gratitude to God for saving us from death inspires us not only to obey Him, but to love others enough to watch for their souls. Women accomplish this by dressing modestly. In other words, we are never to use our freedom as an “occasion to the flesh” (Gal. 5:13). We “serve one another” when we love people enough to protect them from the lusts of their flesh, too.
Shamelessness in dress is the same as shamelessness in sin. This is why Adam and Eve wanted to cover themselves with clothing when they were made aware of their sin. Here’s the sad side of this story: Those who have a brazen disregard for sinfulness, shame, nakedness, and immodesty are inviting God’s judgment. He promises to expose them for having sin without shame.
For example, when God pronounced judgment on the Israelites for their disloyalty, He said, “I will uncover thy skirts in thy presence, and I will show the nations thy shame, and the kingdoms thy disgrace” (Nah. 3:5). In Jeremiah 13:26, He said, “I will expose thy skirts upon thy face”. Think about that. Are your “skirts” up over your face? That is a loaded question!
To be uncovered is to expose our sin and shame. Being out in public wearing pants is like having a skirt blown up over our faces. Remember the famous Marilyn Monroe clip of her standing over an air vent with a dress on? Her skirt was blown up to her face. Her attempt to hold her skirt down between her legs just brought more attention there. This was a significant gesture, one which did not go unnoticed by the Luciferians. It marked the advent of a popular and socially acceptable immodest dress code among women who subsequently laid the blame on men for “looking” at the parts they so brazenly exposed.
The difficult to hear, but realistic bottom line is this: Those who are “without” (unsaved), cannot be clothed upon with their house that is from heaven, because they will die in shame and disgrace, having no covering for their sins (Jn. 8:24). Women who dress immodestly in our culture today are indicating one of two things: either they are Christians unaware of their sin, or they are unsaved and do not feel ashamed of their sin. Of course it is possible that a backslidden Christian has unwarily taken on worldly fashion standards and become unashamed of dressing immodestly, but to keep it simple, my focus is on presenting the gospel message to the unsaved and saved alike, because the good news can never be told often enough!
Our job, therefore, as covered, Christian women, is to lovingly encourage the young women and friends in our lives to dress modestly and be ready to tell them why. As we have just seen, the gospel message is inherent to the message of modesty. Equip them with relevant information and allow the Holy Spirit to change their hearts. Of all the sincere Christian women I know, every one of them who hears the significance of being covered by the wings of God while simultaneously covering themselves with a long skirt will be loath to wear pants in public again.
This is not to say that good, Christian women don’t wear pants. This is to say that wiser Christian women who are unplugged from the rudiments of the world arm themselves with biblical truth and reflect that in the way they dress.
Considering what it means Biblically to be “clothed” versus “naked”, do you think it matters to God what we wear in public? It does! God wants women to dress “in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety” (1 Tim. 2:9). He wants Christian women to be set apart from the world – to be over and above it, reflecting our heavenly citizenship. Our choice of clothing indicates whether we are slaves to this world or followers of Christ. It is a simple fact that we cannot be both.
A true Christian who loves the Lord is intimately aware of her own sinfulness: she “acknowledges sin in her life and exhibits the desire to cover herself”.[i] Being “shamefaced” refers to her modest and humble attitude before a holy and just God. Her fear of the Lord coupled with her love for Him translates into her heartfelt desire to do what pleases Him.
Do you seek to please your heavenly Father? If you’re a woman who loves the Lord and has accepted His blood as a covering for your sin, show it by covering up in public… with a skirt!
Thanks for reading!
[i] Paige Coleman, Delivering Women from the Snares of Death, 2013, p 79ef