In this final post on modesty, I think we should begin by hearkening back to two things that we have brushed by several times as we hurried along. First, man was not created to be naked. He was created to be clothed in glory and beauty. Nakedness was a sign of man's innocence and immaturity, and moreover, the indications of heavenly haute couture glimpsed throughout history and in prophetic previews of the resurrection show that man's ultimate destiny is to be properly clothed. God is "robed in righteousness," and man is created to bear His image.
Second, the word rendered "modest" comes from the word "cosmeo," from which we derive our English word "cosmetics." The word cosmeo is a form of the word "cosmos," which means "order." Thus, to dress modestly is to dress appropriately, or in proper order. Both the created world and proper dress styles are described as cosmos, as orderly. Thus, scripture draws a straight line between the creation order and modesty. Modesty is endemic to the creation order.
Man was created as the universe in miniature. Or, to put it more exactly, the universe was created to expand and magnify the glory of God revealed in man. Both the body of man and the universe were created to be the temple of God, and as such, both were created to reveal divine order centered in true worship. Man was created according to the three-fold structure of the temple, outer court (body), inner court (soul) and Holy of Holies (spirit). The universe reflects the same pattern: outer court (earth), inner court (the visible heavens) and the Holy of Holies (the heavens beyond the veil where God dwells, the "third heavens). Thus, the way we dress must display the same sort of order that God etched into the night sky. The heavens declare the glory of God, and so must our clothing.
Now, I am leaning hard on this connection between modesty and creation order to make the point that modesty is more than cultural accommodation. Modesty is an embodiment of the divine order woven into the warp and woof of the universe. To parade through the streets in nakedness, which seems to me to be best defined by what God covered in Eden, is to strip the temple of it's glory. To be modest is to manifest God's creation order.
And, speaking of creation, getting dressed in appropriate attire is reminiscent of the opening days of creation. The Spirit of God brooded over the waters of unformed creation and began by His Word to make cosmos out of chaos. God clothed all creation in glory and beauty and decorated it with magnificent adornment. God dressed the heavens and earth in the garments of priestly worship. This is why the writer can speak of the heavens as garments (Hebrews 1:10-12) that shall be changed in the new creation, which is a point that we shall consider in a moment.
In a way, we could say that the clothing of Adam in Eden was a reenactment of creation in miniature, a microcosm of creation. God covered the chaos of nakedness with the order of modest clothing, of well-arranged garments. To return to public nakedness is to revert to the chaos that characterized the barrenness of pre-creation. Indeed, it is no coincidence that godly nakedness, the nakedness of the marriage bed, is a moment of creation when new life is brought out of the womb of water and spirit. Never is man closer to bearing the image and sharing the glory of God than when he performs his imitative role of creating new life. This is why fornication and adultery is such an affront to God. Creation must occur within the boundaries of divine order, within the secret place of a loving covenant. Otherwise, the world spins out of control.
So, modesty is cosmos. Creation was formed to reflect order. However, creation has become disordered through sin and death. In a way, we could say that the garments of creation have become tattered and torn. It is significant that nakedness in scripture is symbolic of man's fall into sin and shame. Just like a woman that has been brutally assaulted and left dying with her garments ripped away, so God's good creation has been violated by Satan and his hordes of demon powers.
Yet, we have a wonderful promise. God will make all things new, which He has already begun in the resurrection of Christ. When new creation comes, the heavens shall be changed like a garment. The nakedness of creation shall be covered in the resurrection glory of new creation. The universe shall put on new clothes.
Therefore, immodesty is an embodiment of chaos and decreation. Modesty is an embodiment of new creation, a foreshadowing of the day when all things shall be made new. When we dress in modest apparel we are modeling the world to come when the nakedness of sin and death will be "clothed upon" with the garments of resurrection glory.
We should never be intimidated to dress modestly. By doing so, we become living placards, walking billboards, as it were, announcing the coming new creation. When we reject the nakedness of pagan culture, we are proclaiming the descent of heaven to earth, as the heavenly city comes down from God out of heaven "adorned as bride for her husband." She "has her wedding garments on." To dress modestly is to preach the transcendence of Christian culture and that the church will not be forced into adapting cultural expressions of chaos and decreation. To dress modestly is to declare that we have left the hog pen of prodigal wanderings and have returned to the Father's house to be clothed with the best robes and to wear the kingly ornaments of glory and beauty.
One final point, and this may be one of the most urgent things we have considered. Modesty is an expression of holiness unto the Lord. To dress immodestly is unholy. Yet, we must be careful right here. Modesty is an expression of holiness, but it is not holiness per se. Just because we dress modestly does not mean that we are holy. This point must be carefully considered and soaked into the pores of our mind. This distinction must be understood to keep us from becoming like the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan. They walked quickly by on the far side of the road because they thought that helping the stranger might defile their purity and contaminate their holiness.
Christians that emphasize modesty often tend to do the same thing. We often wear modesty like an armor to protect us from being contaminated by the world, and the arrogance of this attitude is keenly felt by the world around us. The man at Starbucks wearing the wife-beater shirt and the montage of tattoos knows very well when he is being looked at down the nose. But modesty is not intended to set us apart in a superior way. Rather, modesty is intended to model new creation. Modesty should inspire interest in beauty and glory. As noted early on in this series, holiness is not homeliness. Modesty should be attractive.
Holiness flows out like a river. Holiness is not intended to stay bottled up like an aquarium where enthralled spectators view another world through glass. No, holiness flows out into the world to heal the world. The resurrection of Jesus in the middle of history means that the coming new creation when all things shall be made new in the resurrection has already broken into the world now. Holiness must be a foretaste of the world to come. Thus, modesty must inspire modesty. We must model holiness in such a way that the world longs for new creation like a thirsty man longs for a cool drink of water. We must gladly share.