EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
What does the Bible say about clothing?
Clothing has played a major role in the history of God’s interactions with man and is featured prominently from Genesis (3:7) to Revelation (22:14). Outward attire sometimes symbolizes inward realities, and in the Bible clothing often has spiritual significance.
The first mention of clothing is in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned, their eyes were opened (Genesis 3:6–7), which means they had a new awareness that they were naked. The accompanying shame propelled them to fashion the very first clothing—they sewed fig leaves together to try to cover their bodies. So, even from the beginning, clothing has symbolized the need to cover our sin and shame. God, in His mercy, killed an animal and made garments for Adam and Eve from the skin of the animal (Genesis 3:21). This act of God serves as a picture of our inability to effectively atone for our own sin. The fact that an animal had to die—blood had to be shed—in order to cover Adam and Eve’s shame is a foreshadowing of the later sacrifice of Christ. Our inability to cover our own sin necessitated God’s Son coming to earth to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Philippians 2:6–8; Titus 3:5).
Throughout human history, clothing styles and colors have been indicators of a person’s status, wealth, position, and gender. The Bible contains many examples of clothing used to communicate different things. Royal robes were worn by kings to distinguish them from commoners (2 Chronicles 18:9; Esther 6:8; 1 Kings 22:30). Sackcloth, a coarse material that was uncomfortable to wear, was worn during times of grief and mourning to symbolize the inner pain someone felt at the loss of a loved one (Joel 1:8), to show repentance (Jonah 3:5), or to mourn a political tragedy (Joel 1:13; 2 Kings 19:1). Prostitutes had a certain manner of dress and could be recognized by their clothing (Genesis 38:14–15; Proverbs 7:10). Leather belts were a sign of poverty or asceticism; Elijah and John the Baptist both wore leather belts (2 Kings 1:8; Mark 1:6). Men and Continue reading “What does the Bible say about clothing?”