Why Do Humans Wear Clothes?

A while back, our family watched a documentary on the Scopes “Monkey” Trial in Dayton, TN, which took place early last century. With the theme of Biblical creationism vs. Darwinian evolution on the table, I began to wonder: Why do humans wear clothes? Why do apes wear not wear clothes? It seems as if the fundamental difference is a sense of shame. Now, certainly there are humans who have a calloused sense of guilt and are comfortable living in nudist colonies or streaking (I’ll never forget the pack of streakers that I saw running through mid-town Memphis in 1975, when I was six). Nevertheless, I find it interesting that, even as Adam and Eve’s nakedness was associated with their moral guilt, so also most folks would experience a degree of shame if exposed in our physical nakedness. The same is true with moral guilt. Most people resist being exposed morally. However, that exposure is at the heart of the gospel. For on a cross, Jesus was stripped naked and killed, bearing my guilt and shame in his exposed body so that my guilt and shame may be covered, not with fig leaves, human success, or even merely jeans and a t-shirt, but with his perfect righteousness. Anyway, it struck me that my dog does not wear clothes, and neither do the deer who live in the woods behind my house. And neither do apes. But I do. And it serves to remind me of the gospel.


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