Why we wear clothes

Maori LOINCLOTH2.jpg

Ever thought about why we wear clothes? As humans, we are obsessed with clothing: how we look, will I be seen as attractive to others? Does what I wear represent who I want to be? Yes, clothing signifies our sexuality, our perceived status, our formalities (and informalities), whether we are working people, sporty, etc. The instant we see another person dressed a certain way, we are conditioned to make assumptions about them. Yes, clothing expresses who we are as individuals and corporations. So where did this come from? Who had this crazy idea of placing a piece of cloth over the body which has caught the attention of every civilization throughout all humanity!?

Now I absolutely contend any imagination that some caveman millions of years ago decided to pick up a piece of dead animal skin and wrap it around his loins so as to cover his nakedness… thinking that he should not reveal his genitals to the other caveman because it may have been considered socially offensive. Yep!! Doesn’t stack up!!! Not at all!!! And nor does the argument that the cavemen were losing their body hair over millions of years, forcing them to engage with the ‘elements’, and therefore needing materials so as to keep themselves warm at night. Nope!! Not that either!!! Why? Because man is different. We are the only ‘animal’ that does this. No other creature has decided to follow this ‘unusual’ behaviour. None!!! Yet, interestingly enough, the story of when wearing clothing started is recorded in the book of Genesis:

In the very beginning, Adam and Eve were created perfect… immortal in fact!!! No need for clothes because ‘perfection’ did not require clothing back then.

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25)

They were not ashamed because it was just them and no evil was in the world… and therefore no need for shame. But then came the transgression: the decision to rebel against their Creator by consuming from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. After ‘eating’ from this tree, Adam and Eve basically downloaded (consumed) all knowledge of the entire ‘family tree’ of future humanity: the legacy of good people and the legacy of evil people. Every single person who would proceed after them (good offspring and bad offspring), they were ‘aware’. Yes, Adam and Eve ‘saw’ it all!!!

 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves girdles (aka loin coverings). (Genesis 3:6-7).

This “girdle” is what we would call “clothes”. Coverings for the loins as they ‘saw’ best. Both Adam & Eve realized that it was from their “seed” that the future of mankind would be a mix of good and evil offspring… and so to cover up their genitals was their way of trying to fix the problem. A “covering” to “hide” what they had done (and knew): the knowledge that their offspring would now be good and evil. They could see that their “seed” was now corrupted and that it will always be part of the human condition. Yes, that self-centred rebellion is embedded within every human framework. Seeds of goodness as well as seeds of thorns and thistles. This is why Adam and Eve felt the “shame” as they realized that all humanity (their children) were going to be murderers, manipulators, idolaters, thieves, etc.… all because of their initial rebellious act.

Consequently, scripture also records that Adam and Eve’s crime resulted in “death” being legislated into this world (this is the reason why all mankind now “dies”). The original intent of God for man was changed from being immortal to becoming mortal.

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them (Genesis 3:21)

Interestingly, God’s agents (aka Angels) at the Garden of Eden, provided Adam & Eve with a full set of clothing made from animal skins. An extension from the fig leaves. Now, some speculate it was from the skin of a lamb (being symbolic of Jesus aka the Lamb of God), and others say a small goat. Irrespective, we must remember that Adam & Eve had not seen “death” before… they were only told about it… and so the Angel did three things:

(1)    showed them what death looks like by slaughtering a lamb (for hearsay): a physical representation of what will happen to Adam and Eve's existence being ended.

(2)    followed by making a coat of skins for them to wear. Clothing that would indeed cover their daily nakedness. (Now although this may sound weird, people have been doing this for centuries: killing a variety of animals and using the leather for clothing/fashion).  

(3)    this new ‘clothing’ that the angel provided metaphorically shows us that God will find a way fix it… that He (and only He) will inevitably cover our nakedness and shame.

And that is the good news!!!

Even though the biblical records reveal that we are dead men walking (whether we recognize this or not), God cares enough to want to save us from this “death”. Yes, the Creator of mankind wants the human race to be immortal again. Just as he intended for man at the beginning of time to have "abundant life", so will he achieve this at the end of time. God accomplished this by sending another Adam… the second Adam... the one we call Jesus, who will bring “life” back to humanity. Yes, scripture records this last Adam wearing a “garment immersed with blood”… metaphorically expressing that he has taking away rebellion, nakedness, shame... and of course death itself, as the garment is drenched with "life", being clothed with "immortality".

And he was clothed with a vesture bapto in blood: and his name is called The Word of God (Revelation 19:13)

For all of you who were baptised into Christ are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27)

So maybe when we next look into the mirror, we need to remember that clothing all started in the Garden of Eden… an attempt to cover the fact that we are now born mortal, corrupted, broken, and shamed. Yes, wearing clothes “hides” all of this!!! But irrespective, we also need to remember (and of course turn our eyes towards) the one who found a way to fix the problem.

Stephen Shephard1 Comment