Question:

After reading many of your question and answers on the subject of apparel, I am still confused a little bit.

In one article you stated, "Nakedness is the exposure of the sexual organs. Any clothing that allows a view of these parts is considered equivalent to being naked." I agree with this on the basis of what is said about the priestly garments and other Old Testament passages. The New Testament even mentions that our bodies have parts that are "unpresentable."

My confusion is this:Where I live, the majority of people teach that "nakedness" is highly tied to the tunics given to Adam and Eve, which supposedly covered from the shoulder to the knee. Therefore, they reason that anything between the shoulder and the knee is nakedness. This doesn't seem to be consistent with the rest of the passages.

For example, I see a progression in Isaiah 47:2-3. Many read this and say the thigh is considered "naked." However, if we are being consistent wouldn't that make the unveiled face also naked? It seems like the veil and robes were removed, then the legs uncovered, and then finally nakedness uncovered (an additional exposure beyond the legs, face, and whatever the robe was covering). I think you assessment that nakedness is referring to the sexual organs is accurate considering this.

My question now: Obviously there is some swimwear that is quite brief that reveals a good portion of the sexual organs. This wouldn't be appropriate for a Christian. However, most preachers I know would say that Christians need a t-shirt and long shorts to the knee to remain modest during swimming.

Based on how you defined "nakedness", what is your view of the more conservative styles of swimwear? Must a man wear a shirt while swimming as nothing (except for perhaps Genesis 3) defines anything above the waist as naked for a man? Could a woman wear a one-piece, tankini, or a full bikini that covers the breasts, groin, and bottom completely? Granted, these styles aren't as common as others, but they do exist.

Based on what culture deems appropriate for swimming and the correct definition of nakedness in Scripture, is it possible that there are some modest swimsuits?


Answer:

When God clothed Adam and Eve with tunics, it is reasonable to assume that He did not aim for the minimal necessary clothing. Throughout the Bible we are taught to keep a distance from sin and not to see how close we can come with crossing the line. A tunic is an example of clothing that meets God's standards of modesty.

In regards to the exposure of the chest on males as being a part of nakedness, I am still looking for some clear way of determining it. So far, the closest I've found is the mention of the disciples fishing: "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea" (John 21:7). The word for "stripped" is gumnos which means naked in either a literal or figurative sense. Since a tunic was not considered naked, I would assume he was wearing a loin cloth, but since the passage doesn't say, it is hard to draw a firm conclusion.

Modesty isn't just about not being naked. It is also about not drawing attention to yourself due to what you are wearing (or not wearing). Fortunately because of today's concerns over sun exposure, you can find swimming trunks and swim tops that are perfectly modest and suitable for use in a pool. These are actually better than t-shirts as they don't cling or become transparent when wet. For women the longer bottoms are called board shorts. One-piece suits, tankinis, and bikinis generally leave too much exposed and are typically too form fitting.

Thank you for your response, Mr. Hamilton!