In fact, while we are on this matter of correct hermeneutics, let’s also point out that the phrase “modest apparel” in the New Testament never refers to under-dressing, but only overdressing, at least in the old versions.
Does that mean I think women should be allowed to run around half to three quarters naked as they tend to do this time of year, especially where I live? I was the mother of two teenaged boys. I greatly resented the sea of shapely legs they had to face while trying to pass the Lord’s Supper on Sunday mornings. More than once I wanted to hit the baptistery dressing rooms for a towel or two to throw over bare thighs as well as the naked shoulders and backs sticking out of sundresses. Besides, they were the ones always complaining about being cold, so why didn’t they cover up?!
But I can find much better passages of scriptures without trying to squeeze a topic in one where it doesn’t belong. How about all those scriptures about lasciviousness? That’s exactly what it is when a woman dresses to excite a man’s lust. You fathers are shirking your duty when you let your daughters out of the house looking like that, especially when they don’t even realize what they are doing, and most especially since you are men and know what’s going on in other men’s minds. Take your heads out of the sand and start being parents!
Here is a passage you might not have thought of. Because they wore those knee length ephods when serving in their duties, the priests under the old covenant had a problem women in dresses and skirts can relate to (Ex 20:26). One must be careful where and how one stands and sits in clothes like that.
“Moses!” God said. “Make those men some britches!” (Ex 28:42).
Some people will tell you that God doesn’t care what we wear, but these passages tell us it does matter to him, though perhaps not in the way we like to think. He plainly tells us not to make distinctions in the assembly between those with fine clothes and those with poor clothes (James 2). What does matter to him is this—we must not disrespect our service to him by what we wear during that service. Those priests so long ago were expected to cover up what needed to be covered when they offered sacrifices. Peter tells us that as part of the new Israel we are priests (1 Pet 2:9). Paul says we offer up our sacrifices (which only priests are allowed to do) in our daily lives (Rom 12:1,2). As such God expects us to cover up what needs to be covered while we are doing it.
I am a priest whenever I serve my family, my brethren, or my community. That means when I am shopping at the mall, working in the yard, or having coffee with a neighbor, not just in the meetinghouse on Sunday morning. As a priest I would be profaning my sacred duty if I dressed in a way that caused lust instead of causing others to glorify God. The same would be true if my dress aroused disgust. And this applies to all of us, not just the women in this royal priesthood.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Matthew records Jesus telling the men to control themselves. By not mentioning any of the possible provocations, he is emphasizing the fact that none of them will excuse a man who lusts after a woman. Neither what she is wearing nor what she is not wearing will make a difference on the Day of Judgment, no matter how many try to shoehorn it in there.
[The] priests have done violence to my law, and have profaned my holy things: they have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they caused men to discern between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them… And I sought for a man among them that should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore have I poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I brought upon their heads, says the Lord Jehovah. Ezek 22:26,30,31.