Why Do We Wear Clothes?
Why Do We Wear Clothes?
Why do we wear clothes? Why do we feel shame over our nakedness? If we all came from animals, this makes no sense. When was the last time you came upon an animal wearing clothes? Does your dog ever express a need to cover it's body parts? When was the last time you saw an ape in a zoo ashamed because people were looking at him naked?
Another reason I believe in God is because it makes sense of why we wear clothes. It should be noted that I am not saying wearing clothes is proof that God exists, but I am saying that wearing clothes makes sense in a Christian worldview.
Monkeys Ashamed of Being Naked?
As the Smithsonian Institution puts it, "Humans are primates." If this is true, why are we the only primates that wear clothes? Why do we feel shame over our nakedness? Are monkeys embarrassed when we snap pictures of them naked? If you were walking down the street and I came up behind you and pulled down your pants, the first thing you would do, without giving it a thought, is to jerk them back up. When a woman has her dress or skirt blown up by the wind, her immediate reaction is to cover herself (yes, even Marilyn Monroe, who otherwise enjoyed flaunting her body). Why? Why this feeling of shame?
"What about people in nudist colonies?"
It is true that there are tiny groups of people who chose to try to live without the "restraint" of clothes, but it does not erase the fact that they felt shame. They may try really hard to overcome this shame, but it is still there, and they must consciously work to overcome it, at least in the beginning. They were not born without a sense of modesty.
"Mostly we wear clothes because it's cold." Even on tropical islands where the weather is always warm and absolutely no clothes are required, people still wear clothes. The Christian speaker Bodie Hodge tells a story of his debate with an atheist who said that the reason he was wearing clothes was because it was cold.
"I continued by saying, ‘You are an atheist, right, where you believe people are just animals, so why are you wearing clothes?’ Then he [the atheist] paused and thought for a moment and said. ‘Because it’s cold.’ So I instantly came back and said, ‘When it warms up you don’t wear clothes?’ Obviously, he had not considered, in his professed worldview, why he wore clothes, yet there he was, with shirt and pants on!"
"But wait!" someone may say, "What about remote tribes in Africa or the ancient Hawaiians who wore no clothes?"
First, these people groups were not entirely without clothing. For example, ancient Hawaiian women would go totally naked some time especially if they were swimming or washing, but many of them still wore some vestiges of clothing. Most of the men, on the other hand, only wore small loin clothes or were utterly nude as the accounts of Captain Cook tell us. The point is not the amount of clothing, but why clothing at all? We have the words 'modest' and 'immodesty'. By saying these people were 'immodest' we are implying that there is even a standard of shameful, inappropriate etc. covering.
Anyone can train themselves out of feeling shame as Las Vegas strippers or some African tribes show, but the question is why is there even a standard if we are all monkeys?
Ancient Adam and Eve Depiction
The Biblical Account of Why We Wear Clothes
The Bible gives us this account of how mankind came to feel shame over his nakedness and why we feel the need to wear clothes.
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
“At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone,and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,'because she was taken from ‘man.’” This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.
The serpent [Satan] was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
Being created in the image of God makes sense of every aspect of our lives - including wearing clothes. This is another reason why I believe in God, the Bible, and the Christian worldview.