Modest Clothing (“The Picnic”) – by Jim King

It was a gorgeous day in May, and a family from church had invited everybody over for a get-together. Carl, who had only been baptized a few months earlier, was looking forward to socializing with the other young people. So, juggling some grocery bags, and with a camera around his neck, he rounded the corner of the house and entered the backyard.

What he saw caught him slightly off guard. At one end of the driveway, on a makeshift basketball court, eight of his brothers in Christ were already heavily into a game. Several had their shirts off, and some in shorts some in tank tops and jeans, were obviously having a great time. A number of the females had also dressed for the warm weather. In shorts of varying lengths and low cut, breezy tops, they were mingling and talking, some sitting, some standing.

Carl blushed instinctively, and his eyes awkwardly moved away. He was not used to seeing these Christians not fully clothed. And he wasn’t sure why it bothered him. Oh, he had heard 1 Timothy 2:8-9 mentioned in passing, about women dressing modestly, and he knew it had something to do with women who claimed to be godly. And he had heard Jesus’ statement about looking on a woman to lust (Matthew 5:28). But in his brief Christian life, he could quote neither passage. And besides, what little he had been taught about clothing from the pulpit had generally emphasized that the whole subject was a matter of opinion, and a scruple that mature Christians had outgrown. Still, something didn’t seem quite right. Maybe it was the vague remembrance of God having clothed Adam and Eve in the beginning. Maybe it was his own desire to look, or the less-than-pure thoughts fighting their way into his mind. Carl didn’t know…all he knew for sure was that looking at some of his sisters in Christ made him uncomfortable.

But everybody seemed to be having such a good time. Carl soon assured himself that he was overreacting, expecting Christians to be too different, and he relaxed. He even took the pictures of his new friends that he had intended to take, to show his parents.

But the next week while showing the pictures, the uneasiness returned. The photos didn’t lie. There they were, caught in all sorts of positions; a mixed company of disciples who looked like they’d left their discretion at home. Did these Christians really realize how much of their bodies they were revealing? They were good people. Surely they wouldn’t let their mere comfort or the culture override their concern for being a stumbling block to others. Maybe if they saw the pictures, how they really looked, it would make them think. Just how far could they go and still believe the way they dressed was ok? Carl wondered.

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