|In Defense of Bathsheba
by Patrick Hurd
Not Guilty! Not Guilty!
The September/October 1996 issue of Patriarch published an article, The Sin of
Bathsheba, (GO THERE)
(authors name withheld and, thus, henceforth referred to as Anony) the
theme of which is the prevailing immodesty of todays American women to the great
harm of many men. The thrust of the article was an indictment against Bathsheba
(henceforth referred to as Bath) who was the alleged root cause of David, King
of Israel, committing adultery and murder (the greater sin) by her negligence
of nakedness on the rooftop (the lesser sin) of her home during the daylight
hours and in full view of the palace porch. In short, the indictment is, As Eve in
the garden caused Adam to eat, so Bath in the bath spread dirt to David.
Accordingly, the lesser sins of modern immodest women causes the greater
sin by men and, thus, the ladies are culpable for the greater sin.
Anony certainly did an excellent job of candidly describing certain fashions that are
intentionally and unnecessarily provocative. There is a great need within the Church for
many husbands and wives to receive honest, blunt, and explicit instruction about clothes,
skin, motives, lust, etc.... However, there is a right way to bring corrective instruction
to the body of Christ and there is a wrong way. The right way leads to redemption,
righteousness, and freedom; the wrong way leads to guilt, hypocrisy, and bondage.
I am in no way questioning the sincerity or integrity of Anony, his motives, or the
severity of the subject matter. My purpose is to propose a better way to bring Gods
word to bear on this very difficult, emotional, and important issue that plagues
todays Church and our society. To do so, though, I must ask you to bear with me as
we take a closer look at the method Anony has utilized to attack this issue. Then,
perhaps, we can advance a better alternative.
The Indictment - Bathshebas Nudity
Though I can agree with Anony in most of his practical observations concerning the
reactions of men toward the modern fashions of women, the differences of lust in men and
women, and the blatant naivete of most women and too many men, I cannot agree with the
initial premise that Bath committed sin, the conclusion that, therefore, she was guilty of
more sin, or the solution he advocates which stem from his initial premise.
The question before us is whether or not Bath (and, thus, ignorantly immodest women) was
(are) culpable for Davids sin (and, thus, the thoughts and actions of lustful men).
Anony holds that, even though Bath committed a sin in ignorance, she contributed to all
that befell David and his household. If that is true for Bath, then it must be true for
the ignorantly immodest women of today.
Before one goes very far with this, it is necessary to agree on a definition of
sin. A modern dictionary suggests that sin is an act of breaking a religious
or moral law. Of course, one must decide whose standard of religious or moral law is
applicable. As a Christian, I would suggest that Gods moral law, as expressed in the
66 works compiled together and known as The Holy Bible, is a good standard to
agree on. Accordingly, the Westminster Confession of Faith, circa 1646, defines sin as,
any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. (See 1 John
Having established Gods word as the basis and standard of law and justice, someone
tell me where in Gods word does He decree nudity to be a violation of His law. Now
bear with me on this - Im not just nit-picking. If we are going to use Gods
word to bear down on the issues of our day, we had better be using Gods word and not
someone elses dressed up like Gods.
Anony is correct to point out that God clothed Adam and Eve with coats and is correct to
conclude that, by so doing, God demonstrated His desire for man to be clothed. However, to
go the next step and say that, by God so doing, one has sinned by being publicly nude is
to do as Eve did in the garden when responding to the serpent, ... God has said,
You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die (Genesis 3:3)
and thereby put words into the mouth of God.
Before you streak to any conclusions, I am in no way advocating public nudity. I agree
that people are to be covered when in public. I concede that for people to be publicly
nude is iniquity. However, there is a difference between iniquity (ethical lawlessness)
and sin (judicial violations of Gods law). Again, the question before us is whether
or not Bath (and ignorantly immodest women) was (are) culpable for Davids sin (the
thoughts and actions of lustful men).
To this question of culpability, the bible offers some interesting examples. Remember what
happened after Noah fell asleep naked and awoke to the knowledge that Ham had witnessed
his nakedness? Who received the curse for this breach of modesty? Naked Noah? Nope. Ham,
his son, the one who did the looking.
How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of
the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!,
said Michael, Davids wife, after David had danced in the street with nothing on but
a linen ephod. (2 Samuel 6:20) And who received the curse for this action of immodesty?
Well, it was not David.
Space does not allow us to draw on non-naked examples in the bible that support the
biblical position of exclusive culpability. Once again, the question before us is whether
or not Bath (and ignorantly immodest women) was (are) culpable for Davids sin (the
thoughts and actions of lustful men). Based on the evidence of Gods word, the
verdict must be: Not guilty. The defense rests.
So far our discussion has centered on the culpability of ignorantly immodest women.
Even Anony is willing to allow for some leniency based on ignorance. There is no question
regarding the woman who actively and intentionally behaves in a way designed to seduce men
into lustful thoughts and/or actions. Yet, it is at this very point of transition from
ignorance to knowledge that Anonys argument leads his readers into an unsolvable
Anony advises his readers that, now that they have been so informed of the modesty issue
and its effect on their weaker brothers, the ladies are no longer ignorantly immodest.
Ignorant no longer; culpable forevermore. What is the godly woman to do now? Anony has
offered some suggestions to that question: If you would be safe, your dresses should
cover you well below the knee in all postures. Dont be mistaken, this is wise
and prudent counsel for godly ladies. Unfortunately, the wisdom of this counsel is
stripped from it because Anonys counsel is based on an improper motive, i.e., dress
so as not to sin by causing another to sin by your dress.
Based on that motive, the godly woman must ask, How well below the knee is well
enough? How long should the sleeves be to be long enough? How high is the neckline to be
to be high enough? Who is going to decide? Reasonable and rational man?"
Anony is asking the ladies to have a constant presence of mind about them that can
anticipate every mans reaction to their slightest show of skin or figure to avoid
sharing in the lustful sin of that man. You may complain that Im going much further
than Anony took the argument, but that is exactly what he did to Bath and what he imputes
to his readers. How was Bath to anticipate that David would step out on the porch while
she was bathing? To suggest such omniscience on the part of women aloud is absurd. We must
realize that man will always take such thinking to its (il)logical conclusion. One need
only look at the Muslim nations to see what adjusting to the common lowest denominator can
do to ladies fashions.
Gods judgement against sin is always redemptive in purpose. His purpose is to
turn the heart of sinners back to Him. His Church should have the same purpose when
exercising its duty of judicial church discipline. To do so the Church must first
correctly assign guilt to the guilty party. An innocent man cannot be redeemed back into
fellowship when falsely pronounced guilty.
The editor of Patriarch, in his preface to the article, started down the right path of
assigning responsibility when he wrote, ... we Christian husbands and fathers have a
big job to do in correcting the dress of our women. Unfortunately, the article
disrobed us from this line of thinking from the start.
As the spiritual head and ruler of their household, husbands are responsible before God to
educate themselves and their family (wife, daughters, AND sons) with respect to modest
dress and behavior. If he fails to fulfill his God ordained responsibility, he has sinned
and is culpable for his own sin of negligence. If he is faithful to his responsibility,
but his wife, daughter, and/or son refuse to submit to his authority, the wife, daughter,
and/or son have sinned and are culpable for the sin of rebellion. It is important to note
that, by this application, each is responsible for his or her own action or lack of action
and not for the actions of others. No one can rightly say, as Adam tried to, She
made me eat.
Where is the faithful husband to look for adequate instruction in modesty? The Church.
Accordingly, each pastor is responsible before God to educate the husbands of the church
in biblical modesty. If he fails to fulfill his God ordained responsibility, he has
sinned, and is culpable for his own sin of negligence. If he is faithful to his
responsibility but the husband refuses to respond to the instruction and train his family
accordingly the husband has sinned and is culpable for the sin of rebellion. Again, by
this application, each is responsible for his own duty and not for the lack of action by
For the Church to offer solutions to the issues of society and be taken
seriously, we must carefully formulate the solution in accordance with God's character of
justice and righteousness. God's word is a sufficient guide to that purpose. Anony and
Patriarch displayed discernment and courage in addressing the issue (even if the author
wished to remain a anonymous). But it is obvious that there are good and profitable ways
of bringing God's word to bear on issues and, thus, there are not so good ways also. The
Church in America has been so long out of the arena of public debate that there is a
deficiency of practice that must be overcome. Let us begin to correct our deficiency. Let
us, therefore, strive for true righteousness with justice as we shed the light of God's
word on our lost and dying society.
Have some thoughts of
your own about this issue? Give us your FEEDBACK.