Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 10, 1964

Those "Topless" Swim Suits

James E. Cooper

One of the most sensational bits of news in ladies' fashions to excite the nation last summer were the "topless" swim suits. There was a great uproar about it at the time, but now that the summer is ended certain stores which handle this model report that the demand for the suits far exceeded the supply. News media report that stores in both California and New York were unable to accommodate all the women asking for this latest style. Some communities, of course, outlawed the garment. But its widespread popularity and acceptance seems to me to be quite a commentary on the people and the times.

Before this latest "style" came out we had already been subjected to the bikini suit, and others almost as scanty. Hal Chadwick had already candidly observed that "Just about all that some women's bathing attire leaves to the imagination is the color of the eyes behind the dark glasses!" This new style makes his observation more literal than ever. And the designer insists that this suit will be the accepted fashion within the next few years. Those who are prone to hoot at the idea might well remember the first reactions to the 'sack dress" of a few years ago, and how that model became THE fashion for a considerable period of time.

I am wondering what our brethren and sisters in the churches will have to say about this latest development. Will those who justify the public wearing of shorts and halters, bathing suits, and mixed swimming still say, "There is nothing wrong with it?" Will they still claim that the prevailing style of dress must determine what is right and wrong along this line? I know that the prevailing style determines the current fashion, but, does it also determine decency and modesty?

Before the gospel of Christ reached Corinth, it was generally recognized that Corinth was one of the most immoral cities in the world. Its very name had been coined into an expression suggesting the most depraved and debased kind of sensuality and immorality — "to corinthianize." The apostle warned the church there keeping company with fornicators, and his letters show that one of the Corinthian church's most serious and stubborn problems had to do with sex. He did not tell these brethren that the "prevailing attitudes" in Corinth determined what was right or wrong for Christians! Instead, he said, "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters." (II Cor. 6:17). He wrote to the Romans: "Be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect W11 of God." (Rom. 12:2). He desired that "women adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefastness and sobriety . . . " (I Tim. 2:9).

It is strange that a race of people who carried the gospel to the dark corners of the world, and taught the heathens to wear clothes, are now trying to take up the customs they found there. I remember seeing pictures of pagan women in such magazines as National Geographic, when but a boy. As I recall, those women had had the topless idea a long time ago. And we were led to believe that their conduct was to be expected of the ignorant, heathen creatures who knew not God.

J. Edgar Hoover has observed that 'Crimes of passion increase in the summer time." If the styles worn by women have already produced such a situation, how much worse will it be after this newest idea becomes popular?

Why do women follow such "fashions?" Is it because they are just going along with the crowd? If the topless swim suit becomes the "fashion," will you continue to "go along with the crowd?" Are women ignorant of the effect upon the man at the sight of her nakedness? Do you not realize that she contributes to sin by causing the man to "commit adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:28)? Or, are these particular women simply lascivious at heart, desiring to be indiscriminately provocative to others than her own husband?

I cannot imagine a faithful, self-respecting, modest, Christian woman appearing in public places so attired. In fact, if a woman should so appear in a public place, I would take that as a sign that she was immodest, and lacking in self-respect, or shamefastness. What kind of character does your dress show?

— Gulfport, Mississippi