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>Living Faith: Life in the Kingdom

Hearts in Hot Weather

It’s summertime in America. Bare legs and backs are displayed all about us. Does anyone remember when shorts as street-wear still met with popular disapproval?

In the rest of the world, it’s the tourist season. And in many places the American tourist’s idea of comfortable dress still offends the local sense of decency.

But we have outgrown our past inhibitions. We sense no need to dress by the rest of the world’s scruples. So we are free to dress as we please. Right?

To dress, yes. But not to escape the penalties for how we dress. Beware that moral values are more lasting than passing whims of comfort. And the laws of God are permanent.

So is dress a moral issue? Actually, it is a surprisingly prominent one in the Scriptures. Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of God because they considered themselves naked even though they wore aprons of fig leaves. God agreed that they were naked, and made them coats of animal skins to wear. (Genesis 3)

The book of Proverbs warns against every vice from laziness to strong drink and greed. A frequent warning is sounded against the snare of sexual immorality. In Proverbs 7 the flirtations of the adulteress are described, carried on by “a woman in the attire of a harlot.” A cursory study of “the attire of a harlot” finds it parallels, in many ways, current women’s fashions. Historically, the most common sign of harlotry were cut hair and bare legs.

The New Testament book of Romans, a bulwark of our doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, exhorts Christians to not be conformed to the present age, but transformed by a renewed mind. (Romans 12:1–2) God’s children may not look like the devil’s.

A true maxim states that there is nothing on the outside but that something on the inside put it there. Clothes (or the lack of them) are the expressions of the heart. Here in our northern climate shorts show up in public about the same time the snow banks disappear. Obviously it is not the heat but the heart that makes folks undress.

The Arabians and Indians have long weathered the world’s hottest climates—robed in loose fitting, light colored dress—more comfortably than their blistering western friends.

And here in America, in the heat of the summer, you may meet men and women who are still modestly clothed, and yet not unduly suffering from the oppressive heat. If their witness against the prevailing indecency stirs a twang of conscience within you, don’t harden your heart, but heed Christ’s warning to the licentious Laodiceans: “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakendness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be thou zealous therefore and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:17-20)

—Dallas Witmer

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