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.

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

  1. Gary Martin

    The whole idea about men wearing shorts is a smoke screen. It is really about challenging the established system. But the bible plainly states that we should stay with the old paths. We should not go around challenging established principles. In fact the bible says that we should not forsake the “OLD LANDMARKS!”

    My question is simply this: Why try to get so close to the world and look like the world? We need to be a light in a dark land. If we are doing the things that the world does, then we are no different than the world. Furthermore, I question anyone’s salvation that wants to become like the world.

    I would not want my children sitting in the congregation of any so-called Apostolic pastor who wants to question “HOLINESS” issues. You may say that it is not an issue of Holiness, but I disagree. We are to come out from among the world and be separate.

    I don’t want to stand before God and Him say depart because of some issue that I think is okay. So I ask, give me a scripture, any scripture that says it is okay for anyone to wear immodest apparel. Shorts are very immodest because they do not cover the leg, they only cover a portion of the leg.

    We all need to get serious before God and find out what He wants us to do to win souls instead of finding frivolous things to argue about. God is not pleased with that. We are not to compare ourselves among ourselves.

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    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Gary, I agree that we should all get serious before God and find out what he wants us to do. I suggest starting with Matthew 25:31-46. Christ makes it clear which things will cause Him to say “depart from me.” Most apostolics (and Christians in general) don’t bother themselves with actually doing what Jesus said to do. Instead they make up a bunch of issues that have nothing to do with Scripture and put the focus on that instead.

      I’ve got no problem challenging the established system. For one thing, the established system that you’re referring to isn’t very established. The apostolic movement is very, very small. It’s what, 70 years old now in it’s current form? Give or take a bit, depending on what you consider the current form to be.

      Anyway, I’ve got no problem challenging the established order. Why? Because Jesus, Paul, and the apostles all did it. I moved past the so-called “holiness” issues a long time because they have nothing to do with true holiness. They’re a collection of man made rules that aren’t biblical, and they don’t reflect the heart of Christ. If you want to be close to Christ then start feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, caring for the orphans and widows, and loving others like Christ loved you.

      In Christ,
      Josh

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      1. Gary Martin

        Holiness is not an issue of clothes, but it is an issue that we must address. Holiness is an issue of the heart. When we receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost we do not have the full understanding that we need. All we know is that I have received something that I have never experienced before. We love everyone including our enemies because that God has forgiven us for our sins.

        That having been said, I wonder what ever happened to that feeling of love and that feeling of God I will do whatever you require of me. The scripture has not changed that we must still come as a little child before the throne of grace. When we “supposedly spiritually mature” we began to lose that feeling that we had in the beginning. The reason for that is simply we have become more refined in our thinking and have lost that “little child mentality” that we had when we first came to Christ.

        Now, there is that feeling of “I feel” that things are okay so they must be. Instead of what does God feel about this. Whatever this may be! We begin to look for ways to justify ourselves in our own eyes and when we can justify ourselves, we think that everything is okay with our lives. But scripture says; THERE IS A WAY WHICH SEEMETH RIGHT UNTO A MAN, BUT THE END THEREOF ARE THE WAYS OF DEATH. My whole point is simply this, we need to get past the pettiness of our own thinking and let God guide us into all truth through the Holy Ghost, just like He said He would do. We need to get out of ourselves and get into God. Then “True Holiness” can manifest itself in out lives. When “True Holiness” gets deep within our hearts, then nothing else matters except that we please God.

        I am not judging anyone over them wanting to were shorts! But what I am judging is the “SPIRIT AND THE MOTIVE” behind such thinking. I personally would not be caught in a pair of shorts, because I love God enough that I want my life to please Him. That is why we are even alive, He created us to bring back glory to Him. He didn’t create us to look like the world or to do the things of the world.

        Personally, I would rather do more than I might would have to do and hear Him say well done, than to ride the fence and miss heaven by half an inch because I wanted to do something. That is what is wrong with the church today, “I WANT!”

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        1. Patty Browne Sherwood

          You are discussing modesty issues. To me, that is child’s play. I have been extremely concerned for 25 years about deeper issues of uneducated pastors who preach against a higher education, who demand exclusive rights to teach anything, who belittle discussion or questions or discreet corrections, who teach false doctrines regularly, who demand strict conformity to their authority, who deny opportunities for congregations to mix and communicate, who silence women and blame them for all the problems of the world, and who accuse those who praise and rejoice in the Lord as being of a shallow, pleasure seeking personality. I suppose there are many ways that pastors dismiss and devalue their congregations with their attitudes, opinions, guesses, misinterpretations and even lies. I am very concerned with an organization that has no oversight of pastors, no supports, no intervention when a pastor struggles or falls into confusion. Whole churches are destroyed and no one accepts responsibility for the suffering of the congregations because of the failures of unqualified ministers.

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  2. bobby

    I would like to respectfully ask for one bible passage that teaches men cant wear shorts. The bible does teach that men should not have long hair: hoever where does it say what is to long? The problem with these things is private interpreatation of the scriptures which the bible rejects. The word the that the thigh should not be reveild:most mens shorts come well below the knee. We should be desent a christains. But remember this we get to heaven because of our faith in christ. For by faith are ye saved and that not of your self but it is the gift of god. Notttttt of works lest any man should bost. But sir we should live godly lives in all we do. Bro. Bobby

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  3. Jeremy

    Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. (‭Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭24‬ KJV)
    God help us…. There are multi-millions of men, women, boys and girls in need of salvation, and we cause only to make them a twofold child of hell, Matthew 23:15 by thinking, if we clean em up, they will be fine. I’m all for someone wearing modest apparel, but when we start using our opinion as gospel, we fail the scripture and the One who died to give life to the scripture.

    I realize that my comment gives way to, “if eating meat offered to idols offends my brother, I will eat no meat” (argument) but this scripture is is in reference to the “weaker brother” and it seems to be the aged Christians, who make this argument. Therefore, I think we should stay out of the apparel business, and stay about the business of preaching Christ crucified, risen the third day, and sitting at the right hand of God…. Teach people how to be modest, (and we all know what modesty is) but don’t give them scripture that doesn’t exist; to further a meaningless doctrine.

    To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.

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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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,
      Josh

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      1. Gary

        In response to your questions Josh; There are all types of preachers out there that call themselves Apostolic. However, a lot of the things that they teach are not scriptural. Having a ruler by the door is stupid. The bible simply teaches to come out from among the and be separate. Separating yourself from the world has nothing to do with man made ideas of holiness. My point is simply this; If i do what the world does, how can i be separate? Holiness is from the heart. If you love this truth and you get it in your heart. Then God draws the lines.

        I know preachers that preach against drinking Root Beer because it is in a brown bottle. Stay away from men who preach their ideas. Fall in love with God and He will show you how to live.

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        1. Ted Matsane

          Hi there in this issue regarding Holiness in the Apostolic Churches it’s easy to understand that there are things that are not made for the Children of God. Genesis 35:2 says “Then Jacob said unto his household, and to the all that were with him, put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments;” In this portion of scripture we can take note of the phrase “CHANGE YOUR GARMENTS”. This means that there garments that are made for the world and that are made for the children of God. In the book of proverbs it is stated that there are dresses for harlot so we should be careful of what we wear, or whether the dress is for the children of God.

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        2. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

          Ted, I’ve dealt with this many times, but I’ll say it again here…you’re making a very common exegetical mistake. You’re reading something into a Scripture passage to try to justify something that you already believe.

          The story about Jacob is historical. It pre-dates Christ by thousands of years and Moses by hundreds. The Mosaic law hadn’t even been written yet. We don’t know what clothes Jacob’s family was wearing or why they wearing them. Maybe they had images of other gods on them; maybe wearing fresh clothes for worship was part of their ceremonies of the time; or maybe they were just dirty. Who knows. It’s interesting to research but ultimately it doesn’t matter, because that passage is not a doctrinal teaching! It’s a historical account, not a theological treatise.

          In Christ,
          Josh

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      2. REV. GC HEARD

        WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HOLY GHOST THAT WAS TO LEAD AND GUIDE YOU INTO ALL THE TRUTH, WE ARE NO LONGER CHILDREN OF DARKNESS.WE JUST NEED TO QUIT TRYING TO ADD TO THE BIBLE AND QUIT TRYING TO INTERPRET IT THE WAY WE WANT TO. THERE IS NO CONFUSION IN THE INTERPRETER THAT GOD SAID WOULD LEAD US. DO YOU STILL TALK TO GOD ON INTERPRETATIONS OD DO YOU LEAN TO YOUR ON THOUGHTS AND IMAGINATIONS.

        IF IT IS NOT IN THE BIBLE THEN I DO NOT PREACH IT AND I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK, PEOPLE ARE SMARTER THAN THAT.

        ALSO IF IT IS SO CLOSE TO THE WORLD THEN LEAVE IT ALONE. WHAT ABOUT TONGUES THAT SOUND LIKE TONGUES, DID YOU KNOW THE DEVIL HAS A COPY OF TONGUES ALSO.

        DO NOT LINE UP TO BE BAPTIZED WHEN YOU HAVEN’T REPENTED OF YOUR SINS YOU WILL GO DOWN A DRY SINNER AND COME UP A WET SINNER.

        I HAD A PASTOR CALL ME TO THE FRONT OF THE CHURCH AND SAID LISTEN SHE IS RECEIVING THE HOLY GHOST. I SAID WHERE IS THE SIGN OF REPENTANCE NO TEARS, JOY TO MY SELF. THEN HE SAID I AM GOING TO BAPTIZE HER AS SHE AGREED. SO HE BAPTIZED HER AND HE NEVER SAW HER AGAIN AS I EXPECTED.

        THE HOLY GHOST, COMFORTER WILL LEAD AND GUIDE YOU INTO ALL, ALL, THE TRUTH.
        DID YOU HEAR ME INTO ALL THE TRUTH. SO LEAVE THE GUIDING TO THE HOLY GHOST AND NOT YOUR GREAT THOUGHTS AND IMAGINATIONS.

        REMEMBER WHAT THE SCRIPTURE SAYS REPENT IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST, THE NAME IS JESUS.

        SOME CHANGE IT TO READ THE FATHER SON AND HOLY GHOST, BUT IT IS THE NAME OF, WHICH IS JESUS. WEARING HAIR UP AND DOWN ON A LADY IS A JOKE

        gch

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