What the Bible Says About Clothing

The following article is by the late Dr. Bruce Lackey.

Let's make a clear difference between ourselves and the world. Let's stand in the old paths. Those who are giving up high, plain standards of holiness in dress and are moving closer and closer to the fashions of the world should remember that the world is moving farther and farther from God's Word.

There are four questions that you need to ask yourself to answer the question, "What kind of clothing should I wear?" There are five questions, and I am going to support these by God's Word.


The first question is this: Is it worn by the opposite sex? Consider Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God." Here is our first principle. When I am trying to decide whether or not I should wear a certain thing, my first question is: "Is that item worn by the opposite sex?" In other words, I as a man should not wear anything that a woman would wear. And a woman should not wear anything that a man would wear. There is to be a difference between man and woman; that is the way God intended it to be. Paul talks about the length of the hair in 1 Corinthians 11. Notice verses fourteen and fifteen: "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." Once again he underscores the principle that the appearance of men and women is to be different. Consequently, we have the same principle in Deuteronomy 22:5 repeated right here in the New Testament.

I don't hesitate to use Deuteronomy 22:5 to prove that women ought not to wear men's clothes, and men ought not to wear women's clothes, any more than I would hesitate to use Psalm 23 at a funeral. You see, the truths are repeated in the New Testament.


Here is the second question you need to ask yourself about Christian clothing: What does it make others think of me? Lest you say it doesn't matter what other people think of me, let me read a verse or two of Scripture, and then let me read you some illustrations from modern literature which say that it does matter. In Proverbs 7:10 the Scripture has a warning to a young man against immorality: "And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart." God is warning of a woman dressed like a harlot.

Now the question we ask is, how is a harlot dressed? Have you ever seen a program on television in which they show a woman posing as a prostitute? Sure you have if you have watched much television lately. You know exactly that she is a prostitute before they ever tell you. Perhaps you have seen a television news broadcast which shows these women on the streets as they're out looking for business. All you have to do is look at the way they are dressed. The bad thing about is that some Christian people dress the same way. Now, you don't want anybody to think that about you. Especially if you're a Christian and supposed to be Christ-like! Especially if your job is to be winning lost souls and representing Jesus Christ!


Here is the fourth question: Must I use the arguments of the world to justify it?

"Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" I Corinthians 1:20

"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." I Corinthians 2:5

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Colossians 1:9

If you read these verses you find out there is a difference between the wisdom of the world and spiritual wisdom. And a Christian is in bad shape when he has to resort to the wisdom of the world to justify what he is doing. We ought to be able to use the wisdom of God. If I am going to defend my position I ought to be able to go to the Bible and use spiritual wisdom to do it. Woe unto me, and woe unto you, if you have to justify your clothing or your actions using the same arguments that the world uses. God help us if we have to use worldly wisdom.


Here is the final question: Will it cause others to stumble?

"It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." Romans 14:21

King David walked on his roof top. He was lazy; he was disobedient; he was out of God's will. But also he saw a woman washing herself. She was either out in a yard where everybody could see her, or else she was in the house without the curtains drawn. And she was equally guilty in that lustful experience. I know David was out of God's will and should have been out fighting the battles, because the Bible starts off that chapter by saying that it was the time that kings went out to war that David stayed at home. He was wrong, and she likewise was wrong in taking a bath where a man could see her.

Will what you do or what you wear cause somebody to stumble? Now you might say the other fellow has to look out for himself. That is not what the Bible says. The Bible says, "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." We are responsible. Though something may not even be necessarily wrong, if it in any way offends a brother or sister in Christ, it should be avoided.

We have considered four good tests regarding clothing. Is it worn by the opposite sex? What does it make other people think of me? Must I use the arguments of the world to defend it? Will it cause anybody else to stumble? Please remember that these are not necessarily my rules they're God's rules, laid out to us in the word of God. What is in our hearts should be reflected on the outside.

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." -1 Thessalonians 5:22

"Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man." -Isaiah 47:2-3

"And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:" -Exodus 28:42