What does the Bible say about men wearing shorts?

Many churches in the UPC teach that men should not wear shorts. In my experience the only Scriptural backing that is given for this doctrine is this Scripture passage:

Isa 47:1-3 KJV
(1) Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.
(2) Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.
(3) Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

I have already discussed this passage in my article on Misinterpreted Scriptures, so in this article I am simply going to repeat the material that I have already written in that article:

Misinterpretation: The UPC often uses this Scripture to try to prove that it is wrong for men to wear shorts or for women to wear skirts above the knee.

Facts: If this Scripture is teaching that men cannot wear shorts then it is also teaching that women cannot remove their veils. Let’s take a closer look at the Scripture to see what I mean.

To understand this Scripture we must look at what the phrase "uncover thy locks" means. "Uncover thy locks" means "remove the veil." Here is how several mainstream English translations render Is. 47:2 (I have included Young’s Literal Translation, since many UPC pastors use this translation for study):

Isa 47:2 YLT (Young’s Literal Translation)
(2) Take millstones, and grind flour, Remove thy veil, draw up the skirt, Uncover the leg, pass over the floods.

Isa 47:2 NASB
(2) "Take the millstones and grind meal. Remove your veil, strip off the skirt, Uncover the leg, cross the rivers.

Isa 47:2 ESV
(2) Take the millstones and grind flour, put off your veil, strip off your robe, uncover your legs, pass through the rivers.

Isa 47:2 GNB
(2) Turn the millstone! Grind the flour! Off with your veil! Strip off your fine clothes! Lift up your skirts to cross the streams!

Isa 47:2 JPS (Jewish Translation of the Old Testament)
(2) Take the millstones, and grind meal; remove thy veil, strip off the train, uncover the leg, pass through the rivers.

I included these five mainstream English translations because I want to show that the common rendering of the verse is "remove your veil," and that it is not a translation that I came up with on my own. My point is this: If this verse proves that it is immodest for a person to wear shorts or skirts above the knee then it also proves that it is immodest for women to remove their veils.

It is clear that there is no basis for using this Scripture to try to prove that shorts are immodest on men or women. The UPC teaching that says that men should not wear shorts is a great example of the common UPC practice of pulling one Scripture out of context and using it to create a doctrine that it was never meant to teach. The simple fact of the matter is that the Bible never even hints that shorts are immodest on men or women.

16 thoughts on “What does the Bible say about men wearing shorts?

  1. Cody

    The reason I see is that a man or woman should not show any leg because if shown it will draw men to women and women to man to create lustful thoughts which in results makes that one preson sin, a lust over the others flesh and it will distract them from thier walk with christ and seek after the worldly things in which we should not desire.

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  2. Shane & Ben

    We are apostolic men and we see nothing wrong with wearing shorts. If women can wear skin tight skirts to their knees, I don’t see any reason why men cannot wear baggy pants to their knees. P.S. I don’t think women should have to wear burqas….

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  3. Gary Martin

    The bible plainly teaches that we are to come out from among them and be separate. My question to those who are agreeing that shorts are holy is this; Where do you draw the line? Because you can’t partake of the world and be holy. If you really want to go to heaven; why not just live for God and get as far from the world as is spiritually possible.
    Here is a very real scenario. The harder you live for God the easier it becomes, but the easier you live for God (ex… Not praying) the harder it becomes. My final comment on this is simply from the bible… What fellowship hath light with darkness.

    Pastor, Gary Martin, Sanctuary Apostolic Church of Muskogee

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    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Pastor Gary,

      Here’s a question: How do we know that the point you draw the line at is correct?

      Some apostolic churches teach that women need to wear their hair up, others teach to wear it down, others teach it doesn’t matter.

      Some apostolic churches teach that wedding bands are OK, some teach they aren’t; some teach that watches are OK, some teach that they aren’t.

      Some apostolic churches teach that dresses to the knee are OK, some teach that dresses need to be several inches longer, others teach that it’s a sin to have them too long (my sister once attended a church that had a ruler by the door for women to make sure their dresses weren’t too short or too long).

      Some apostolic churches teach that men need to have their hair cut to a certain length, others teach a different length (the same church I just referenced wouldn’t let men have their hair too long OR too short because they felt that either style mimicked “the world”–I visited that church often and I know first hand that it’s true).

      I could go on but the point is clear. Different apostolic churches unite around their “fundamental” doctrines (namely baptism, tongues, and some basic holiness parameters) and then each develop their own interpretations of where “the line” is.

      So I ask my question again: How do I know your line is correct? Every apostolic church I attended draws their line at an arbitrary place. There is not a single apostolic holiness doctrine that can be validated by Scripture. They’re all lines that are drawn arbitrarily in the sand.

      The only way I could follow your advice and separate myself completely from the world would be:

      * To wear a watch but not wear a watch
      * To wear my hair long but not long
      * To ask my wife to wear her hair up and down at the same time
      * To wear a wedding ring but not wear a wedding ring

      And so on. And believe me, I could go on.

      In Christ,

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 5

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