“…I was naked and you clothed me.” Matthew 25: 35-36
I wonder what I should write about this. It seems easy enough, doesn’t it? “Clothe the naked”. We should spring-clean our closets and give to the poor all the clothes we no longer want. The problem is that I hardly ever do this with a proper Christian attitude, with what some of my friends would call “rectitude of intention”. The clothes I give out are usually over-size or too tight or faded/worn or out of fashion. Cleaning out my closet is then less of a sacrifice, and more of a necessity. Yay. Free space in closet. Done good deed for the month. Gotten moral justification. Must shop.
I don’t know. I think I could do better. I think God would want me to do better.
Clothing serves two purposes. Protection from the elements and preservation of dignity. The last point is key because it also highlights something we often overlook: the origin of some of the clothes we wear.
Behind many major clothing labels are sweatshops, in 3rd world countries, crammed with women and children, working in the most inhumane conditions to stitch the denim you and I wear. Our money funds that industry that strips many families of their dignity, of any hope of a decent living income. Let’s think about it for a second.
And let’s think about the fact that if clothing the naked is a virtue, then stripping the clothed must be a sin. On first reflection, this denounces crimes especially of a sexual nature, crimes of abuse against the vulnerable, children included. But there’s a deeper layer to this. There’s the porn industry that makes money from stripping men, women and children naked, stripping them of the right to basic human dignity. And how have we participated in this?
And clothing the naked goes beyond physical nakedness to include emotional vulnerability. When I see someone who’s emotionally naked, how do I react? When someone’s secrets or flaws or problems are suddenly made public against their will, do I join in the online gawking? The snide remarks? The social media shaming? Or do I “clothe” them by averting my gaze, by being kind in my thoughts, by praying for them to be resilient against the often merciless onslaught of social-media justice?
This post is a lot heavier than I want it to be, than I thought it would be. But I did pray for the words, and here they are. Do with them what you will.
How can we clothe the naked?