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.

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

  1. Glenn

    I wear Cargo shorts to my Knees and I see nothing wrong with them especially after learning that men and women originally wore robes

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Daniel Sebold

    Wow! No progress after three thousand years. It looks like Christians have got what they wanted with the male sex: calf length burka shorts. And as for women, it is only a matter of time before we can get them to behave, also.

    I remember the tiny athletic shorts we boys wore in school back in the sixties and seventies. I remember playing golf with a little blonde boy with braces and bum high white cutoffs, and I wonder if he was a Christian. I guess not.

    I remember girls going up to communion in micro miniskirts in Catholic mass in 1970, but I also remember my second grade nun saying in the early sixties that shorts were a sin.

    Perhaps Christians can get together at last and agree on a shorts sharia law, and an anti Speedos and anti bikini sharia law. Perhaps they can pass such a law for everyone to follow–so many Godless non Christians running around showing their thighs in public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. Nomhle

    Hi. I found it interesting that women are told to cover up and all sorts of scripture quoted, when in Genesis God made coats for both man and woman. Something is wrong with a man wearing just pants.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. Philip

    Exd 28:42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:

    I would think that this scripture is saying that shorts are Godly.
    If its good for God, its good for me.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  5. lynette

    Woman should be modest with long skirts and men should be modest with trousers! Do not try and walk the line keep with the Truth! If there is a question mark it means there has not been revelation! Revelation by the Holy Spirit settles it! Do Not conform to the World, the Bible is clear come out of the World and be separate to the world! Revelations talks about the Church being Naked, Poor and not knowing it! If you want to be part of the Bride, you must Dress like the Bride!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  6. Shawn Murdock

    actually if you study out veil in the old it talks about an actual veil, but if you study out veil in the new testament the bible says that the woman’s hair is given to her as a covering (veil). deal with the shorts is simple according to Jesus if your thigh is showing its the same as being undressed. so as long as your shorts or skirt is below the knee then there you go. but on my personal opinion shorts look ridiculous!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Shawn,

      A veil is a veil, whether it be in the New Testament or the Old. Also, Jesus never said that having an exposed thigh is equivalent to being undressed. We need to be careful to follow the Word of God, not try to put words in God’s mouth.

      In Christ,
      Josh S.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  7. noel

    sometimes we tend to make our own interpretation against certain scriptures because we dont agree into it.

    Isa 47:2 NASB
    (2) “Take the millstones and grind meal. Remove your veil, strip off the skirt , Uncover the leg, cross the rivers.
    When you say veil in Bible it always interpreted as modesty. Bibl;e always against ladies who are wearing something daring like shorts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Noel,

      There is no reason to assume that “veil” means anything other than “veil.” You won’t find many, if any, Bible scholars who support the idea of treating the word “veil” as anything other than what it is. A veil is a veil, not some allegorical representation of something entirely different.

      In Christ,
      Josh S.

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  8. James Besuden

    Andrew, I agree. As devout muslims will agree, a woman wearing anything short of a full burqa leads men into temptation. UPC women should be honest about this, stop using the devil to tempt others, and wear burqas at all times.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  9. andrew

    if person cannot show love and respect to other people then we cant talk about God because He is love and we relate to him by respecting Him.anything that lead other people to temtation doesnt improve love an d respect but corrupted mind.If your brother doesnt eat fish ,leave it for the sake of protecting his/her life-this is love.Any thing that makes person to think about sin is used by the devil-to tempt others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Grant Dodd

    I am an Apostolic man, and I was taught that MY God, that I worship, has no respect of person. If a woman can wear a skirt to her knees, then I see no problem with a man wearing pants to his knees. I am an avid tennis player, and I felt a rip in my heart between the sport I loved, and the religion that I lived every day.. One day I came to the revelation that it if anyone was to confront me, I was to say in the kindest manner possible, “My shorts are no more wrong than your skirt to the knee,” well, I would change my words if it was a man, because obviously a man doesn’t wear skirts (well, I pray not), but you get the jist of it!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

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