Significance & Permanent Place of Clothing (#5 in series)

wedding feastIs clothing a thing indifferent?  In His parable of the wedding feast, Jesus has something to say about the significance of clothing.

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless” (Matt. 22:11-12).

In the tradition of the Israelites, invited guests were expected to wear festive wedding garments.  Such garments could be provided by the host.  So, when the man fails to dress in appropriate clothing freely given to him, he offends the host.  Jesus was not describing party attire here.  The garment freely offered by the host signifies the righteousness of God, which covers our sin” (cf Is. 61:10; Gal. 3:27).

Revelation 16:15 explains more about the significance and permanent place of clothing.

Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed.”

White garments serve as a symbol for Christian righteousness which is bestowed through Christ at Baptism. Here, again, we are reminded of our earthly and eternal identity: we are holy as opposed to sexual; uncommon and useable by God as opposed to common and useable by anyone. Revelation 19:8 speaks about the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus) to His Bride (the Church), saying:

It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

Commentary on this verse explains that the bride’s preparations for the marriage are the result of God’s grace and Spirit, not simply her own efforts.  The saints’ righteous deeds which, in this passage are identified with spiritual adornment, are a gift granted by God and not a human achievement.  (The Lutheran Study Bible, 2228.)

Nakedness, modesty and clothing should take on a new meaning for children of God.  If we infer that embarrassment is unnecessary or even unnatural, then I believe that we might actually do a disservice to children and ourselves.

There is no shame in blushing. It’s natural, too!  When the wind whips up a woman’s skirt, she quickly responds by pulling it down. I’ve watched girls in strapless dresses with their boyfriends out dining before prom who are so distracted by tugging and tucking that I can’t help but wonder: What will they do when the dancing begins?

To be embarrassed about nakedness is God’s natural protection for our body and spirit. We cannot separate the physical and spiritual parts of our body. The two affect each other. In this world, men and women see each other through sin-damaged eyes. We are too easily tempted to wrong thought or action by a warped vision and perspective. We owe our sons and daughters the truth about nakedness and the reason for clothing. The world cares little, if at all, about our vulnerability. It is God, because of His great love for us, who wants us covered. When we are not, God uses natural emotions of shame and embarrassment for our benefit.

Physical clothing actually affords brothers and sisters in Christ—married or single—more freedom to interact with one another in their vocations of biblical manhood and womanhood.  They are less distracted and able to do the work laid before them, whether that is studying in class or clerking in a store. As baptized sons and daughters of God in Christ, we are dressed in preparation for heaven. We are not left naked—physically or spiritually. God covers our body and spirit with appropriate clothing so that we are less vulnerable and tempted to stray away from Jesus who waits for our meeting with Him in heaven.

It cannot please God when an adult tries to remove a child’s embarrassment. Embarrassment and shame, like guilt, can move all of us to the Cross where repentant sinners can robe up in Jesus’ righteousness. More than anything, we should want to help our children appreciate Jesus’ robe of righteousness which makes them holy in God’s eyes. Wearing that robe, children of God are called not to sensual living, but holy living.

From Chapter 14, Questions 88 & 89
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett, Copyright 2014 Titus 2 for Life
Our Identity Matters

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