Message presented by Rev ZACC KAWALALA, General Overseer and Senior Pastor, Word Alive Ministries International, on 20th January 2012 at a Blantyre gathering of 'Women Against Violence in Malawi'.
Adam and Eve were innocent in their nakedness, but after the fall everything changed. When they sinned, "the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked," (Genesis 3:7). Never before had they realized they were unclothed—the concepts of "clothed" and "unclothed" were meaningless to them.
Sin affected their hearts and minds, creating vulnerability, guilt and sham. These things produced fear. Genesis 3:10 says, "And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." The man was afraid because he was naked. In their attempt to cover their spiritual shame, Adam and Eve intuitively covered their bodies.
We should note that when God took away their fig leaves—a sadly inadequate covering—He replaced them with something more permanent—animal skins. In Genesis 3:21 clearly states that, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." Thus, God regarded clothing as appropriate and necessary in a fallen world. This is shown by God's work of preparing a covering for man. Thereby registering his desire that man should be covered.
Nudity now has implications of sinfulness attached to it. With few exceptions, the Bible in many instances presents nakedness as shameful and degrading. The only passages in which nudity is free of shame are those that describe Eden's idyllic setting or that deal with marital relations
We still live in a fallen world, surrounded by lust, immorality and perversion. The innocence of Eden is gone. Naturist philosophy ignores the results of the fall. Even in "asexual" contexts, public displays of nudity dishonours God by pretending an innocence which no longer exists. A Christian should definitely not be a nudist or participate in nudist activities
As far as my understanding is concerned, we may never find specific scripture which relates to a code of dress for everyone, save that we can deduce from a number of occurrences in scripture of dress related events. In fact priests and kings tend to be those to whom God gave instructions on the manner of dress acceptable to them.
We know from scriptures that God prepared a long lasting covering for Adam and Eve so they may cover their nakedness when they sinned before God. That tells us that God wants us to be appropriately dressed.
The appropriateness of the covering is therefore related to where you are. In our day therefore, you would not dress in the same way when you are in your bathroom, bedroom, sitting room with other people, at the office or market place, at the lake or the beach. Dress becomes appropriate based on where you are. I really wonder whether our liberties should be of the nature that we can dress in any manner we want. Ideally we really dress to be decent before man and not necessarily before God as he is omnipresent
In our quest to be modern, it would be better to understand that those from whom we are have learned what it is to be modern do have a dress code. As a nation we need therefore to define what is decent and what is not. We need to discuss what "indecent exposure" is.
Wikipedia, the Free Online Encyclopedia discusses this issue in this manner, "Indecent exposure is the deliberate exposure in public or in view of the general public by a person of a portion or portions of his or her body, in circumstances where the exposure is contrary to local moral or other standards of appropriate behavior.
Indecent exposure laws vary in different countries. It ranges from including the genital areas, buttocks and female nipples. In some ultra-conservative jurisdictions the exposure of any part of the female body is considered indecent. Some countries do not have indecent exposure laws.
The applicable standard of decency is generally that of the local community, which is sometimes codified in law, but may also be based in religion, morality, or, in some justifications, on the basis of "necessary to public order."
Indecent exposure sometimes refers to exhibitionism or to nudity in public and does not require any other sexual act to be performed. If sexual acts are performed, with or without an element of nudity, this can be considered public indecency, which may be a more serious criminal offense. In some countries, exposure of the body in breach of community standards of modesty is also considered to be public indecency.
I would like to notice that, it is imperative for the society to determine its own standards of modesty and decency. As said earlier, this informs what is acceptable and not acceptable. Local morals therefore defines what is decent and what is not.
Leaders and the Media
By allowing any abusive acts happen under our watch as parents, and as leaders, we basically are taking a leading role in determining what we think is acceptable. It is a contradiction of our laws, and morals to allow bear breasted girls parade before esteemed men and women, excellencies and honourables and even showcase them to the whole nation on our national broadcaster MBC, in one hand, then in another instance, stand to condemn the undressing of the same people.
Seriously, one need to question what have we become, or rather what are we becoming, one wonders what has become of our editorial boards especially when it deals with the national broadcaster. One wonders what is happening to our Censorship Board, whatever the name it may bear now.
I am not sure if renowned broadcasters like BBC, SKYNEWS ever show what we allow in our land. We may need to define ourselves as a people.
We need to confess that we have strayed and brought about this terrible physical, verbal and sexual violence that so many women and girls in Malawi are subjected to. It is equally deplorable to even think of how scripture has been used to justify violence against women and their exclusion from a full role in society.
We have become a society or slowly are becoming one with a violent culture which turns women's bodies into sexualised commodities, strip dancers and sees women as part of the spoils of commerce.
Luke 13:11-13 says, "11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God."
God is able to turn around our situation, and there can be a rising up of women into true liberty. God's blessing on a man and woman is equally blessed, however different their roles may be.
Let Psalm 85 be our prayer - "LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.
2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.
3 Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.
4 Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.
5 Wilt thou be angry with us forever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?
6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
7 Show us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. 8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. 10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. 11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. 13 Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.