The Purpose of Clothing

July 8, 2008

The Purpose of Clothing

In the second of a series of messages on the topic of marriage, John Piper turned his attention, briefly, to the issue of clothing, for men and women.

The sermon was delivered this past Sunday, providential timing for all of us as we prepare for the release of the Modesty Survey results. What is more exciting, Piper hinted at the possibility of a full message on the topic of clothing in the near future.

Take a minute or two to read and digest what Piper says in the following excerpt from his sermon manuscript. You can read, watch or listen to the sermon here.

Then God Clothed Them
By John Piper © DesiringGod.org

What does it mean that God clothed [Adam and Eve]? Was he confirming their hypocrisy? Was he aiding and abetting their pretense? If they were naked and shame-free before the Fall, and if they put on clothes to minimize their shame after the Fall, then what is God doing by clothing them even better than they can clothe themselves? I think the answer is that he is doing something with a negative message and something with a positive message.

Negatively, he is saying: You are not what you were and you are not what you ought to be. The chasm between what you are and what you ought to be is huge. Covering yourself with clothing is a right response to this—not to conceal it, but to confess it. Henceforth, you shall wear clothing, not to conceal that you are not what you should be, but to confess that you are not what you should be. One practical implication of this is that public nudity today is not a return to innocence but rebellion against moral reality. God ordains clothes to witness to the glory we have lost, and it is added rebellion to throw them off.

And for those who rebel in the other direction and make clothes themselves a means of power and prestige and attention getting, God’s answer is not a return to nudity but a return to simplicity (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Clothes are not meant to make people think about what is under them. Clothes are meant to direct attention to what is not under them: Arms and hands that serve others in the name of Christ, “beautiful” feet that carry the gospel to where it is needed, and the brightness of a face that has beheld the glory of Jesus.

Additional Modesty Resources

  • The Responsibility of Modesty (Part 2): Excerpted from the survey results, a 22-year-old Christian man shares an insightful analogy explaining the responsibility of women to protect their brothers in Christ.
  • Free To Be Modest: Nancy Leigh DeMoss explains how living under the Ownership and Lordship of Jesus Christ, frees us to be modest.
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