Short Skirts and Their Relationship to Health, Modesty and Evangelism

By Amy McKnight, Author of the book ‘Covered’

In this study I will look at health, 21st century dress reform, evangelism and preparation for the second coming of Jesus and at the issue of short skirts and their relationship to health, modesty and evangelism. I will begin this presentation looking at the issue of short skirts from the aspect of health. Then I will look at the issue of short skirts in the context of the Bible and history. Finally I will close this look at short skirts by looking at the effect that this type of clothing has on our efforts to effectively reach a lost world with the message of the eminent return of Jesus. Finally, I’m going to be presenting information and facts that I have found in my studies of the Bible, Spirit of Prophecy and history and sometimes science. I will be giving very broad principles. We must all go to Jesus and lay our clothing out before Him. Pray for His Spirit to give that wisdom to dress right in this degenerate age. By God’s grace by the end of this presentation you will have some principles that will make choosing what to wear, what needs to be fixed and what has to be tossed a lot easier.

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

John writing under the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ states that his wish for the church is that they would prosper and be in health even as their souls prospered. Keep that in mind as we turn to Exodus 15:26. We are looking at the connection between obedience to the commandments of God and good health. Jesus was speaking to the children of Israel gave this promise:

Exodus 15:26. And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

We as Seventh-day Adventist are blessed in the fact that the topic of dress falls under the category of Health reform. So as we look at what we should and should not wear we are helped along the way when we look at the issue in light of what is good for or detrimental to our health.

Last week we learned that in order to have perfect health we need to have perfect circulation. We are going to delve a little bit deeper into that topic of the connection between good circulation and good health.

Daniel 1:15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.

We all know this story of Daniel his friend and the first ever health study. Generally when we think about it we think, “Yeah Daniel and his three friends were in good health because of what they were eating.” I would like to suggest that in addition to different food Daniel and his friends asked for a different set of clothing as well. They asked for clothing that would promote good health.

Daniel and three friends lived in Babylon. To better understand why they may have had better health that the other Babylonian captives we need to get an idea of what the Babylonians wore in comparison to what the Bible tells us that Daniel and his friends wore. I’m taking the following straight from the chapter in my book ‘Covered’ entitled: Defining Styles of Dress. Under the heading “The Babylonians”

The basic articles of clothing for Babylonian men and women were short-sleeved tunics and shawls. The men wore knee- to ankle-length tunics with round necklines and short sleeves. Over this, they wrapped one or more shawls of various sizes and shapes. The shawls were held in place by large wide belts. The shawls had fringes along the edges and were usually wrapped so that the fringes fell diagonally across the body. Babylonian women wore ankle-length tunics with slightly longer sleeves. They were also wrapped in long, fringed shawls. The dress of both men and women were highly decorated with embroidery and rich colors.

The Three Hebrew Boys’ Unusual Outfits

When we think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we usually praise them for holding to the principles of diet, but it seems they were sticklers about the way they dressed as well.

We know the story well. After God gave Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of his dream, Nebuchadnezzar decided he was going to try to rewrite history. He wanted to go beyond just a head of gold; he would have an entire image of gold. His kingdom – at least in his mind – would last forever.

So he set up the image, played the music, and everyone bowed down – everyone but three guys in the back. They stood out like sore thumbs, and it wasn’t just because they were standing and refusing to bow.

The king tried to be reasonable, but the men respectfully declined the offer of a second chance. The king grew angry. He ordered that the furnaces be made hotter, and he prepared to have a royal roast of the men who dared to defy him. Daniel made a point of telling us how they were dressed in Daniel 3:21:

“Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire.” (NASB)

“Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” (KJV)

Did you catch it? The three Hebrew boys were wearing several things that were not standard-issue Babylonian garments, beginning with trousers (hosen) and coats.

The Babylonians wore shawls instead of coats, and the men didn’t wear pants, trousers or hosen. It seems that in addition to asking for different food, Daniel and his friends wore different sets of clothing as well.

The three Hebrew boys were dressed for health. They were wearing coats and trouser. They had something on their arms and legs. We just read in Daniel chapter 1:15 that their faces were fairer and fatter. The fatness could be attributed to the food that they were eating the fair complexion could be attributed to the fact that they were dressed in ways that promoted good circulation.

With that in mind let’s look at those quotes on proper circulation. The first come from Testimonies for the Church Volume 2, page 531. Testimonies for the Church Volume 2, page 531. Again that is Testimonies for the Church Volume 2, page 531.

health depends upon perfect
circulation. Special attention should be given to the extremities, that they may be as thoroughly clothed as the chest and the region over the heart, where is the greatest amount of heat. Parents who dress their children with the extremities naked, or nearly so, are sacrificing the health and lives of their children to fashion. If these parts are not so warm as the body, the circulation is not equalized. When the extremities, which are remote from the vital organs, are not properly clad, the blood is driven to the head, causing headache or nosebleed; or there is a sense of fullness about the chest, producing cough or palpitation of the heart, on account of too much blood in that locality; or the stomach has too much blood, causing indigestion. {2T 531.2}

In order to follow the fashions, mothers dress their children with limbs nearly naked; and the blood is chilled back from its natural course and thrown upon the internal organs, breaking up the circulation and producing disease. The limbs were not formed by our Creator to endure exposure, as was the face. The Lord provided the face with an immense circulation, because it must be exposed. He provided, also, large veins and nerves for the limbs and feet, to contain a large amount of the current of human life, that the limbs might be uniformly as warm as the body. They should be so thoroughly clothed as to induce the blood to the extremities. Satan invented the fashions which leave the limbs exposed, chilling back the life current from its original course. And parents bow at the shrine of fashion and so clothe their children that the nerves and veins become contracted and do not answer the purpose that God designed they should. The result is, habitually cold feet and hands. Those parents who follow fashion instead of reason will have an account to render to God for thus robbing their children of health. Even life itself is frequently sacrificed to the God of fashion. {2T 531.3}

Now some may say that this is talking about the way that we should dress our children But this isn’t the only time Jesus Speaks through the agency of his prophet on this issue. In The Ministry of Healing page 293, The ministry of Healing page 293 we are told:

Another evil which custom fosters is the unequal distribution of the clothing, so that while some parts of the body have more than is required, others are insufficiently clad. The feet and limbs, being remote from the vital organs, should be especially guarded from cold by abundant clothing. It is impossible to have health when the extremities are habitually cold; for if there is too little blood in them there will be too much in other portions of the body. Perfect
health requires a perfect
circulation; but this cannot be had while three or four times as much clothing is worn upon the body, where the vital organs are situated, as upon the feet and limbs. {MH 293.1}

In the Health Reformer May 1, 1872, par. 9 we are told:

In order to maintain equal circulation, there should be an equal distribution of clothing, which will bring equal warmth to all parts of the body. The limbs that are the farthest from the vital organs, should be more thoroughly protected with warm coverings. The extremities should be carefully guarded from cold and chilliness by an additional amount of clothing. It is impossible for women to have, habitually, chilled limbs and cold feet, without some of the internal organs being congested. (The following is a dicription of some of the things that were worn in Sister Whites time but I want you to listen for the principle. She is describing the dress of that time) There is usually worn over the chest, where is the greatest amount of heat, from six to eight thicknesses. Over the lower part of the waist there is, in addition to the many coverings, bands and plaits which induce heat. Over the hips and back, fashion has introduced paniers and overskirts puffed and arranged in every conceivable shape to destroy the graceful beauty of woman’s form, and to all these is added the sash, while the lower limbs are only furnished with one or two thicknesses of light material. The feet are frequently covered with cotton stockings and cloth shoes.     {HR May 1, 1872, par. 9}

With the present style of woman’s dress, it is impossible to preserve an equal circulation of the blood. The limbs being left nearly naked, the cold contracts the minute blood-vessels, and the life-current is chilled back from its natural channel, while the many extra coverings over the chest and back, and lower part of the body, induce the blood to these parts, and the animal heat, thus retained, weakens and debilitates these delicate organs and congestion and inflammation is the result.     {HR May 1, 1872, par. 10}

We don’t wear half the clothing that they wore back then but we still follow the same customs. Think about it how many times have you seen a little girl or woman for that matter bundled in layers upon layer on her upper body wearing a short dress and tights. How many times have you seen people wearing thick vest or parkas to cover their chest with thin long-sleeved shirts or short sleeves under them.

Our arms and legs which are the furthest from our hearts need the most coverings but they are almost always the areas that are clothed with the least amount of clothing.

One more quote before I bring this all together. This one is taken from Testimonies to the Church Volume 1 page 460. Testimonies to the Church Volume 1 page 460

I do not speak unadvisedly when I say that the way in which women clothe themselves, together with their indulgence of appetite, is the greatest cause of their present feeble, diseased condition. There is but one woman in a thousand who clothes her limbs as she should. Whatever may be the length of the dress, their limbs should be clothed as thoroughly as are the men’s. This may be done by wearing lined pants, gathered into a band and fastened about the ankle, or made full and tapering at the bottom; and these should come down long enough to meet the shoe. The limbs and ankles thus clothed are protected against a current of air. If the feet and limbs are kept comfortable with warm clothing, the circulation will be equalized, and the blood will remain pure and healthy because it is not chilled or hindered in its natural passage through the system.” {1T 460.3}

Now I hear some of you saying, “What on earth does this have to do with wearing short skirts?”

If we are to follow the principle of health as it comes to dress than we as women would need to be wearing something on our legs to promote good circulation which leads to good health. We need to do that without showing that we are wearing pants.

The chapter Entitled Simplicity in Dress in The 4th volume of the testimonies is one of the last places where Sister White deals with the issue of dress and what the Daughters of God should be wearing. If you want a history of dress reform in context in one place that is where I would suggest that you start. In that chapter after a discussion of the rebelliousness of the women in the church Sister White gives these councils:

If all our sisters would adopt a simple, unadorned dress of modest length, the uniformity thus established would be far more pleasing to God, and would exert a more salutary influence on the world, than the diversity presented four years ago. As our sisters would not generally accept the reform dress as it should be worn, another, less objectionable style is now presented. It is free from needless trimmings, free from the looped-up, tied back overskirts. It consists of a plain sack or loose-fitting basque, and skirt, the latter short enough to avoid the mud and filth of the streets. The material should be free from large plaids and figures, and plain in color. The same attention should be given to the clothing of the limbs as with the short dress.     {4T 640.1}

The “Short dress” here mentioned was the reform dress that was given as a blessing but became a curse. So Jesus in mercy took it away. And we are never, ever, ever, to revive that style of dress again. Sister White is clear when she wrote:

I beg of our people to walk carefully and circumspectly before God. Follow the custom of dress in health reform, but do not again introduce the short dress and pants unless you have the Word of the Lord for it. Spalding and Morgan collection p. 94 and {5MR 405.3}

So to bring this all together, we are to follow the customs in dress as it comes to health which would mean covering our limbs thoroughly for the purpose of health. But we are not to wear dresses or skirts that are short enough to make it obvious that we are wearing pants under our skirts.

Now this concludes our look at the issue of short skirts from a health stand point. But I totally understand that there are those who aren’t practicing any type of health reform. So it would be kind of legalistic and to some extent senseless for you to adopt long skirts on principle that you are not following. So in the next few moments I’m going to give you a brief history of the rise and fall of hemlines.

I’m going to tell you something that you know but you may not understand the significance of. In Bible times, and for almost 400 years after the last Bible writer died, no one in the Western, Civilized nations wore pants. Everyone wore some type of garment that was not split between the legs. I’ll cover this more fully when we look at the issue of pants in an upcoming talk but I’m going to give you some information to put short skirt wearing or the history of it into perspective. I’m again reading from my book ‘Covered’:

Over the past several chapters, we’ve learned that the pattern of dress for men and women were skirted garments without a division between the legs. This was true almost universally across nations and in different cultures. For men, the length of the skirted garments varied from knee to ankle. For women, the length was a relatively constant ankle or longer. Any short skirts and bifurcated (divided) garments were generally associated with men, with some notable exceptions. One of these exceptions was the nation of Gaul.

“The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and North Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period . . . They were conquered by Julius Caesar in the Gallic Wars in the 50s BC, and during the Roman period became assimilated into a Gallo-Roman culture.”

It was from the Gauls that the Romans – and Western civilization by extension – were introduced to uncovered trousers.

“Braccae is the Latin term for trousers, and in this context is today used to refer to a style of pants, made from wool. The Romans encountered this style of clothing among peoples whom they called Galli (Gauls)…Braccae were typically made with a drawstring, and tended to reach from just above the knee at the shortest, to the ankles at the longest, with length generally increasing in tribes living further north. When the Romans first encountered the braccae, they thought them to be effeminate (Roman men typically wore tunics, which were one-piece outfits terminating at or above the knee). However, braccae eventually became popular among Roman legionaries stationed in cooler climates to the north of southern Italy.”

Those Roman legionaries didn’t abandon their new types of clothing when returning to Rome. Slowly, this article of clothing was adopted into the Roman attire, but it was far from being seen as a sign of progress; rather, it was seen as a sign of the end. “Republican Romans viewed the draped clothing of Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Minoan (Crete) culture as an emblem of civilization and disdained trousers as the mark of barbarians.” Also, “trousers – considered barbarous garments worn by Germans and Persians – achieved only limited popularity in the latter days of the empire, and were regarded by conservatives as a sign of cultural decay”.

Isn’t it interesting that up until the fall of Rome in 476 AD, God’s original design for dress, which was undivided skirted garments, was considered to be the mark of culture and civilization. It would take some time for that mark to be erased, but satanic powers were able to do it in about 1,260 years.

Now really quick lest someone misunderstand what I’m saying. The question could be asked, “Then is it wrong for modern men to wear uncovered pants in 2011?” The answer would be no, based on the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. Over and over again pants are denoted as “men’s apparel.” God never showed Sister White that it was wrong for men to wear pants. He only showed her it was wrong for women to wear them. Also, even in Bible times men, most notably the priest and the three Hebrew boys, wore pants. But we will look at this issue and whether or not there are modest and healthful ways to wear pants at another time

So the question was not whether or not you were wearing a garment that wasn’t split between the legs the question was what type of flowing garment were you wearing

In a moment you will see that only pagans men wore short unbificated garments (Unbifurcated garments – including cassocks, albs, rochet, kilts, robes – are traditionally male clothing that have been worn by men throughout history. They have been worn by all the men in the Bible, by Roman gladiators, Vikings, and Scottish Highlanders ). And pagan women wore them when they were dressed up as men. We will also see that up until less than 100 years ago, across the board short skirts on women were seen as immoral and immodest by the majority of society both inside and outside the church. And we will conclude this study by looking at how God intended women to wear long garments as a means of helping to facilitate evangelism.

We will begin our quick survey of the first 4,000 years of clothing and how it relates to the people of God in the nation of Egypt. Remember we are looking to see what role short skirts played in the distinction of the dress for men and women.

The Egyptians

In Egypt higher-class men wore kilt-like skirts that covered the waist to the knees, and their chests were left bare. The Egyptian women wore ankle-length dresses that were very fitted and sheer, even by today’s standards. On top of the dresses, they sometimes wore a shawl-like garment that covered their shoulders and upper arms. Statues of ancient Egyptian women reveal that they were indeed covered with cloth, though the folded and wrapped outfits were snug – so tight that absolutely nothing was left to the imagination. In this way, they were dressed but still uncovered. This is quite similar to many of today’s fashions.

Slaves dressed much differently, if at all. Male slaves went naked, and female slaves lived in varying degrees of undress. Their dress ranged from panty-type garments with nothing covering the breasts, paired with a collar-like article over the shoulders, or they wore long, snug dresses that started below the breasts, leaving them exposed, and reached all the way to the ankles.

The Babylonians

The basic articles of clothing for Babylonian men and women were short-sleeved tunics and shawls. The men wore knee- to ankle-length tunics with round necklines and short sleeves. Over this, they wrapped one or more shawls of various sizes and shapes. The shawls were held in place by large wide belts. The shawls had fringes along the edges and were usually wrapped so that the fringes fell diagonally across the body.

Babylonian women wore ankle-length tunics with slightly longer sleeves. They were also wrapped in long, fringed shawls. The dress of both men and women were highly decorated with embroidery and rich colors.

The Medes and the Persians

It seems the Medes and Persian wore a mishmash of clothing, with elements of other nations and cultures. They were one of the first of the pagan nations to wear visible trousers.

The Persian men are sometimes pictured wearing long, colorful robes, with large, long sleeves and lots of folds. Sometimes the clothing fell straight, and other times it seemed to be girded between the legs. The Mede men wore tunics and tights-like trousers, but they are also pictured wearing long robes and tunics.

The dress of the women was more of the same. They are sometimes described and pictured in long robes, as well as the harem pants they are known for today.

The Greeks

There were two basic types of garments for the Greeks: a tunic-like garment (either a peplos or chiton) and a cloak (himation). The chiton was worn by both men and women. It consisted of a large, rectangular piece of wool or linen fabric. It was folded in half, and the edges were sewn or pinned together. It was then secured over the shoulders with pins, buttons, or other fasteners. A girdle or belt was used to shape and secure it at the waist. Men generally wore their chitons at knee length, and women always wore theirs to the ankle.

The peplos was a sleeveless, draped garment worn by women. It also consisted of a very long piece of fabric that was folded in half and secured at the shoulders, with broaches on either side of the neck. It was belted at the waist, and the top was bloused over the belt. The side seam was left open; depending on the amount of cloth, it might expose the wearer’s entire leg as she walked.

The Romans

The basic Roman garments were simple and similar among men and women. Roman men wore tunics, which could reach anywhere from the knees to the ankles, depending on social class. Soldiers, workers, and slaves wore a shorter knee-length tunic, belted at the waist. Government officials, politicians, and priests wore ankle-length tunics.

Roman women’s garments were quite similar to the garments of the Greek women. They wore long tunics called stolas; these sometimes had sleeves and were ankle- or knee-length. Over the stola, they wore a palla, a long, sleeveless garment that reached to the floor. More commonly, they wore items similar to the Greek chiton and peplos.

So we can see that when we look at Egypt and the nations represented in Daniel 2. Almost without exception if you saw someone in a short skirt it was most likely a man. If a woman was wearing a short skirt, she was cross-dressing. That actually was very common in biblical times for the worshipers of Baal.

Israel’s sin at Baal Peor will always stand out as one of the darkest blights on the history of Israel. Both Old and New Testament writers mention it at least seven times in the Bible. It marked the beginnings of Israel’s ongoing affair with Baal. The sin was all the more heinous because it took place right on the borders of the Promised Land.

But the devil didn’t come up with that one overnight. It took him several drafts and revisions and a few hundred years to perfect all the elements; but when it all came together, it led Israel into apostasy as nothing else could.

Beginning Sketches

We all know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, but there is one part of the story that is rarely preached about: the incestuous incident between Lot and his daughters. We find this revolting tale in Genesis 19:30-38.

Here it is in brief: After being saved by the angels from the doomed city of Sodom and seeking refuge in the “little city” of Zoar, Lot and his daughters moved from Zoar into a cave in the mountains. After a while in the cave, Lot’s daughters were convinced that the only way for them to ever have children would be to have them by their father. Clearly, they had become totally corrupted through their associations in Sodom. They got their father dunk, and both daughters had intercourse with him, resulting in conception.

When their sons were born, they named them Moab, “son of my father”, and Ben-Ami, “son of my people”. The two boys grew up to be the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites, the cousins of Israelites. The Ammonites were known for their cruel religious practices. They came to be known for their worship of the god, Moloch, and child sacrifices – a practice Israel was later involved with, after they settled in Canaan.

The oldest daughter’s son, Moab, and his descendants played the biggest role in our discussion of dress. His descendants were polytheists and worshiped Baal Peor. The word Baal was a generic term for “lord”. In that culture, there were various Baals, and they were often names for the towns or areas where their worshipers were located. Baal Peor was worshiped on Mount Peor.

The word Peor is connected to the Hebrew word for “open or opening”, as it has to do with the mouth or the bowels. So, in essence, Baal Peor could be called “the lord of the opening.” In addition to the sexual aspects, Baal Peor worship was associated with exposing oneself and excrement. “He was sometimes depicted as a phallus, cone, pillar, or tree branch. ‘As a male, he was the sun god. As female, a moon goddess associated with Ishtar. As Baal-Peor, he was androgynous.” As the generative and productive power he was worshiped under the form of the phallus, Baal-Peor; and youths and maidens, even of high birth prostituted themselves in his honor or service. As the creator, he was represented to be either or both sexes; and Arnobius tells us that his worshippers invoked him thus: ‘hear us Baal! Whether thou be a god or a goddess.’ At the licentious worship of this androgyne, or two sexed god, the men on certain occasions wore female garments, whilst the women appeared in male attire, brandishing weapons.”

The worship of this deity was unspeakably gross, but the Israelites were sucked in. Why? It is my opinion that it had something to do with the way the women dressed for the services, like men of war. Short skirts and tunics were associated with masculine attire thousands of years before the introduction of pants. The dress for warriors was generally a knee-length, short-sleeved tunic. For a Hebrew man who was used to seeing women completely covered in long tunics with sleeves and veils, it was probably easy to be a bit taken by the sight of 24,000 women dressed in short skirts, even if they were waving around weapons.

So to sum this up for 4,000 years short skirts were associated with men and or cross-dressing women.

Let’s move a little bit closer to today’s time and listen to what secular fashion historians have to say about women in short dresses and skirts. Please keep in mind I am NOT quoting Adventist or Christians. These are secular, most likely atheistic women who are simply chronicling history.

“The Victorians opposed female trousers and short skirts, not so much because they were prudish about female legs, but because they vehemently rejected clothing with mixed gender and class messages.” Men and Women Dressing the Part, page, 14

“Although Victorian fashions always concealed the legs, the hoop skirt swayed provocatively from side to side as a woman walked, revealing glimpses of her ankles and a times even her calves when dancing.” Women in Pants: Manly Maidens, Cowgirls, and Other Renegades, page, 22.

“Critics declared the exposure of the ankles and legs to public view immodest.” Men and Women Dressing the Part, page, 147.

“[T]he exposure of the ankle and the definition of the legs, lent the [bloomer] outfit an erotic quality. The editor of The Louiville Journal stated,

Oh, we are decidedly a short dress man. It is not in our power to pass much time with the ladies, and we wish, during our brief opportunity, to see as much of them as we can with propriety.

“In San Francisco, a group of men crowded around a store that sold bloomers and bribed passersby to enter the store so they could see the clerk in her outfit. Illustrations also emphasized the display of the ankles and the feet. Some prostitutes and dance hall girls were also reported wearing the outfit, further blackening its reputation, and prompting critics to warn that ‘women of true modesty and stainless purity’ should not don the outfit.” Men and Women Dressing the Part, page, 148.

“Flapper – with their hair shorn into an Eton crop or shingle, leaving their necks and ears exposed, flappers symbolized a spirit of independence partially discovered in the absence of men during World War I. Fashion dressed that mood. In particular, Jean Patou’s uncluttered, plumb line dresses, adorned by long, spare strings of pearls, and Chanel sporty jersey outfits were a pivotal influences in the 1920s. Because of public antipathy towards bared legs, designers fought against rising hems with elaborated creations that drew attention away from the bared ankle. In 1921, Vogue wrote, ‘One cannot help wishing for a less independent, less hard, more feminine product than the averaged twentieth century girl.’ The reactionaries were disappointed in their hopes but it wasn’t until 1924 that the female knees showed itself for the first time. Skirts jumped from the floor to knee-length and the flapper, coined earlier in the century for a young woman whose hair flapped free rather than being neatly pined, took on her new role as a nightclub habitué with a taste for Martini cocktails and an ear for jazz. The new length caused a hemline controversy that would only be superseded by that of the mini forty years later.” The Fashion Book, page 509.

Let’s end with some quotes from a history book on French fashions. Remember France is the entity represented in Revelation chapter 11. Let’s go there really quick. Revelation chapter 11 and we are going to read verses 7 – 14. Revelation 11 verse 7 – 14.

7And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

8And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

9And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

10And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

11And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

12And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

13And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

The Great Controversy give us some insights into who this beast was:

“When they shall have finished [are finishing] their testimony.” The period when the two witnesses were to prophesy clothed in sackcloth, ended in 1798. As they were approaching the termination of their work in obscurity, war was to be made upon them by the power represented as “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.” In many of the nations of Europe the powers that ruled in church and state had for centuries been controlled by Satan through the medium of the papacy. But here is brought to view a new manifestation of satanic power. {GC 268.3}

It had been Rome’s policy, under a profession of reverence for the Bible, to keep it locked up in an unknown tongue and hidden away from the people. Under her rule the witnesses prophesied “clothed in sackcloth.” But another power—the beast from the bottomless pit—was to arise to make open, avowed war upon the word of God.     {GC 269.1}

“The great city” in whose streets the witnesses are slain, and where their dead bodies lie, is “spiritually” Egypt. Of all nations presented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existence of the living God and resisted His commands. No monarch ever ventured upon more open and highhanded rebellion against the authority of Heaven than did the king of Egypt. When the message was brought him by Moses, in the name of the Lord, Pharaoh proudly answered: “Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2, A.R.V. This is atheism, and the nation represented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of the claims of the living God and would manifest a like spirit of unbelief and defiance. “The great city” is also compared, “spiritually,” to Sodom. The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God was especially manifested in licentiousness. And this sin was also to be a pre-eminent characteristic of the nation that should fulfill the specifications of this scripture.     {GC 269.2}

According to the words of the prophet, then, a little before the year 1798 some power of satanic origin and character would rise to make war upon the Bible. And in the land where the testimony of God’s two witnesses should thus be silenced, there would be manifest the atheism of the Pharaoh and the licentiousness of Sodom.     {GC 269.3}

God’s word was not degraded for long on page 28_ we are told the end of the story:

God’s faithful witnesses, slain by the blasphemous power that “ascendeth out of the bottomless pit,” were not long to remain silent. “After three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” Revelation 11:11. It was in 1793 that the decrees which abolished the Christian religion and set aside the Bible passed the French Assembly. Three years and a half later a resolution rescinding these decrees, thus granting toleration to the Scriptures, was adopted by the same body. The world stood aghast at the enormity of guilt which had resulted from a rejection of the Sacred Oracles, and men recognized the necessity of faith in God and His word as the foundation of virtue and morality. Saith the Lord: “Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel,” Isaiah 37:23. “Therefore, behold, I will cause them to know, this once will I cause them to know My hand and My might; and they shall know that My name is Jehovah.” Jeremiah 16:21, A.R.V.     {GC 287.1}

The following quotes are taken from the book Paris Fashion: a Cultural History. These particular quotes are speaking of fashions that were worn in the mid to late 1800s. That would be less than 100 years after the French Revolution when the Bible was rejected.

Speaking of the painting of a particular French painter, Valerie Steele, fashion historian and author of Paris Fashions: A cultural History writes:

“The sexual appeal of women in male attire was – and remains – very powerful, since such cross dressing violates some of our cultures’ most strongly held taboos.” Paris Fashion: a Cultural History, page, 164.

“Contrary to popular beliefs, men and women in the nineteenth century were not pathologically prudish about female legs. But the fact that trousers and short skirts carried so many ‘immoral’ connotations made it difficult for respectable women to adopt either mode of dress . . . The only other people commonly seen wearing shot skirts were little boys, certain working-class women, and some theatrical performers (such as ballet dancers), none of whom were appropriate models. If a woman were to wear trousers at home, friends or members of her family who came to visit would have to conclude that she was expecting a lover – and one, moreover, so jaded that he required his mistress to wear the most shocking clothing imaginable. After all, didn’t the Bible say that it was ‘an abomination’ for a woman to wear man’s clothing, or for a man to wear woman’s dress?” Paris Fashion: a Cultural History, page, 165.

“There was no specific costume that announced: ‘This is a prostitute.’ Rather, there was a subtle and constantly changing network of signs: Thus some of Constantine Guys’s sketches . . . have been identified as portraying prostitutes not because of the figures clothes, but because of the context and sometimes by the way in which the clothes were worn. The deliberately raised skirt, for example, and the apparently prolonged exposure of the lower legs, was a part of the prostitutes body language, and differed in significances from the ordinary woman’s raising of her skirts to cross a possibly muddy or dusty road.” Paris Fashion: a Cultural History, page, 170.

“By 1895, ‘all Paris [was] a-wheel,’ and women could ‘unblushingly don man’s dress, or something alarmingly like it.’ Bicycling was also initially a private, upper-class affair. As Arsene Alexandre told the American readers of Scribner’s magazine: ‘Fashionable women first tried the bicycle in the country in the grounds of the chateau.’ There they had more leeway to experiment with short skirts and bloomers, since ‘What would have been in Paris a sinful outrage to the prejudices of good society became possible behind one’s own gates.'” Paris Fashion: a Cultural History, page, 174.

Ladies and Gentlemen I think it’s pretty clear. Short skirts were historically considered either masculine or immoral. Short skirts were considered to be immoral, sinful and outrageous in 1895 by the good people in the country that got rid of the Bible!

So we’ve seen that short skirts are not conducive to dressing in a manner that promotes good health. We’ve seen that short skirts were historically considered masculine and immoral even by avowedly non-Christian societies. Let’s close our look at this topic by looking at how our dress effects our efforts at evangelism.

Turn with me in your Bibles to I Timothy chapter 2. We are going to be reviewing a little bit of the information that was covered last week. 1 Timothy Chapter 2 and we will be reading verses 1-10 for context:

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

I’m about to cover the exact same ground that was covered last week. My prayer that repetition will deepen the impression of those who heard it before. I also pray that it will mean much more in light of all that we have studied up to this point.

Verses 1 and 2 remind us of the need for praying for everyone in general and people in authority in particular. The second half of verse 2 tells us why: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” We would all agree that it is important for us to pray for people, especially government officials. And we would agree that it is necessary to pray that God will continue to have the angels hold the winds of strife so we can have time to do God’s work in peace.

Verses 3 through 6 put the focus on Jesus. It pleases God when we pray, for He would have everyone to be saved, and that is why He gave us Jesus. This is one of the reasons He ordained Paul to preach to the Gentiles (Verse 7).

With the above in mind, we come to Verse 8. Paul admonishes men to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands (pray in a manner of supplication with a heart that isn’t defiled by sin), without wrath (a spirit of contention or anger), and doubting (a spirit of faithlessness). We would all agree that it is still important to have the right spirit in prayer. We would agree that it is still important to come to God in the proper attitude. So we can see that this is still relevant for our worship today.

Finally, we come to Verses 9 and 10, which reaffirm the mode of dress for women and the reason why this mode was introduced: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” Women are instructed to wear “modest apparel” and conduct themselves with “shamefacedness and sobriety” and adorn themselves “with good works.”

The Greek translation of modest is kosmios, which means “well arranged, seemly, or modest.” It comes from the root word kosmos. Do you recognize that word? It is where we get our English word cosmology, “the study of the universe,” and even cosmetology, “the study of applying beauty treatments.” That gives us some insights into how we are to be dressed.

Let’s look at the next word. Apparel is translated from the Greek word katastole, a feminine noun defined as “to send or let down, to lower (kata: ‘down,’; stello: ‘to send’), primarily a garment let down; hence, ‘dress, attire,’ in general (cp. stole: a loose outer garment worn by kings and persons of rank, Eng., stole)”

The word katastole is taken from the root word, katastellō, which is a verb. Thayer’s Lexicon gives us these insights into the word: “1) to send or put down, to lower; 2) to put or keep down one who is roused or incensed, to repress, restrain, appease, quiet.”

This Greek word, katastellō, is used twice in the New Testament, both times in Acts 19, during the story of the riot that took place in Ephesus over the preaching of Paul.

Demetrius and the other silversmith had riled up the city, purporting that Paul and his associates were going to abolish the worship of the goddess Diana. They grabbed two of Paul’s associates and rushed into the theater. They could not be calmed down and shouted, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” for two hours straight.

Finally, the town clerk came in. In his speech to the unruly mob, we see the word used twice in his speech, we can find it in Act 19:35-36:

“And when the town clerk had appeased (That’s the first instance) the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet (This is the second instance), and to do nothing rashly.” (Acts 19:35-36)

The town clerk appeased the people and told them to be quiet. They were angry and upset, but the vast majority didn’t even know why (see, verse 32) and were just taking part in the spirit of the day. They needed someone who could see the situation as it was and work to quench and not fan the flames of their irrational passions.

Going back our text 1 Timothy 2:4 we read:

“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

That is God’s desire for all men. In the context of this text, how does God expect Christian women to help Him attain this goal? The answer is by dressing modestly. Paul was writing in a very sensual and sexualized age – the age of the original Olympics, the worship of the naked form, a time of unbridled lust and lasciviousness. Is the time we are living in any better?

There is another reason why we don’t want to walk around careless of the impact of our dress on the people we come in contact with. That reason is given to us by our Lord Himself in Matthew 5:27- 30:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

We know what that means for men, but what does it mean for the woman who is striving to be godly? We should be careful not to dress in any way that would insight lust in the hearts of others or give others a bad example. Is it really Christ-like to say, “It’s his problem. He just shouldn’t be looking” or “Men just need to have more self-control.”

Jesus was a man. He was tempted at ALL points, but He didn’t sin. That didn’t mean the devil didn’t try. Would we want to have been used as satanic instruments to tempt Christ? If the answer is NO!, then why would we want to be used to tempt men who are seeking with all their hearts to follow Him? Why would we want to be used to fan the perverted passions of men who are still lost in the world? If we are doing that, even unknowingly, aren’t we hindering instead of hastening the coming of Jesus?

But Jesus has more to say about this issue, just in case we didn’t get the underlying inference of that passage. He is clear about how he feels about people who cause others to sin:

“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1,2)

Did you notice the implement of death? It is a millstone tied around the neck while being thrown into the midst of the sea. A woman we find in the book of Revelation also suffered such a punishment. In Revelation 18:21 we read

“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” (Revelation 18:21)

Jesus want us to be clear. He wants us to understand how important it is to Him that everyone has a fair opportunity to be saved. He doesn’t want us to be associated with anything that will in any way cause others to be lost. He wants us to join him in sharing the gospel with the world by rightly representing him in the way we dress.

In the context of our study we as Seventh-day Adventist Christian women help to hasten the coming of Jesus by wearing long skirts and dresses for the sake of our health, for the sake of modesty, and for the sake of the salvations of souls.

Jesus is about to come back for the second time. The issue of dress as a representation of Jesus is vital as we seek to share the message of his soon return with this lost and dying world. Inspiration tells us:

“Many a soul who was convinced of the truth has been led to decide against it by the pride and love of the world displayed by our sisters. The doctrine preached seemed clear and harmonious, and the hearers felt that a heavy cross must be lifted by them in taking the truth. When these persons have seen our sisters making so much display in dress, they have said: ‘This people dress fully as much as we do. They cannot really believe what they profess; and, after all, they must be deceived. If they really thought that Christ was soon coming, and the case of every soul was to be decided for eternal life or death, they could not devote time and money to dress according to the existing fashions.’ How little did those professedly believing sisters know of the sermon their dress was preaching!” (Testimonies for the Church, Volume 4, p. 641)

This quote tells us that there are and have been people who were convicted of our message but have decided against it because we looked too much like them. The world has it idea of what Christians, true followers of Christ should look like whether they will tell you or not.

So where do they go? Many of these honest seekers go to find the truth among religious whose lifestyle are more consistent with their message. For example there is a rise in western women converting to Islam. Here is just one of the many quotes from a woman who has made such a change:

“Islam demands a closeness to God. Islam is simpler, more rigorous, and it’s easier because it is explicit. I was looking for a framework; man needs rules and behavior to follow. Christianity did not give me the same reference points.” (Ford, Peter. “Why European Women Are Turning to Islam.” The Christian Science Monitor – CS, 27 Dec. 2005. Web. 28 May 2011.)

This reminds me of a news story that I heard this summer. It was about a shooting that took place in Norway. 85 people were killed in one day by one man. One of the most intriguing points of the story took place when the shooter dressed in police attire gathered the terrified students around him as if to help them and then started shooting them.

He dressed in a way to elicit their trust and then turned on them. There are a lot of religions out there that have higher standards than we do. But if you believe Bible prophecy only those who keep the commandments of God completely will be able to stand in the final conflict.

I believe that there will be honest Catholics, Muslims, and Christian Jews, in heaven. There will be many members of the fallen daughters of Babylon in heaven. Jesus knows the heart and he will only hold people accountable for the light that they know.

That being the case. Those religions are not the remnant. They will not prepare you to stand in that last final conflict. The people who are in those faiths must be called out. They must be given the light of the truth as it is in Jesus.

Yet, there are many honest souls who are turning from us and going to them because of our inconsistency in dress. In the final analysis their fate will be the same as those poor students who followed a gunman dressed as a police officer. If we are dressing in ways that make them turn away from the truth, their blood will be on our hands.

God has given us clear instructions on how we as Seventh-day Adventist women should be dressing. I have done my very best to lay out this information in a clear way so you know exactly what the issues are.

There may be things in this presentation that you have never heard before. The Bible is clear that if you don’t know, or are not aware, God will not hold you accountable. The Bible tells us, “And the times of this ignorance. God winked at.” (Acts 17:30a)

I believe you love Jesus and want to grow in that love. It is possible that when you look back on the way you have dressed, you may feel deeply sorry for the ways in which you may have misrepresented Christ and caused others to stumble. But take heart! If you didn’t know any better, you couldn’t do any better. But that was just the first part of the verse. It goes on to say, “…but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30b)

Once you see the importance of dressing more in line with what truly represents Christ; once you see how vital it is to be conscious of how our dress affects other, our witness, our health, and our ability to fully prepare for the Second Coming, you will have a choice. You can continue to dress in ways that are hurtful to yourself, your witness, and the cause of Christ, or you can rededicate your life to Christ. You can repent of your past poor or uninformed clothing choices and give Him everything, including any article of clothing that is harmful to your physical, mental, relational, or spiritual health. The choice is and always will be yours.


Posted on November 17, 2011, in Dress Reform. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thanks for posting this Ariadne! I pray that it will be enlightening and a blessing to those who are honestly seeking to find their way in this anything goes society that we are living in.

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