I see nothing in the Bible where males going bare-chested is a problem. A boy or a man's bare chest is not sexual, although here in America, our pop culture media equates it as such. As a boy, my brothers and I were often shirtless in the summer months to save my mother the work and cost of laundry. Many of our Christian friends' sons were as well. Obviously attending church, going to a restaurant, and the like is a different matter. Two out of my three sons, all under age 12, seldom wear a shirt in the summer, my other son seldom goes without one. Let's be modest and dignified, but not make issues where there are none. Your site is a wonderful reference tool. I am currently studying Ezekiel.
Thank you for taking the time to write. Though I have looked for several years, I haven't found anything either for or against a man not wearing clothing on the upper half of his body. When I wrote this book, one of my goals was to explain why certain sexual issues were right or wrong from a biblical viewpoint. I remember vividly my own teenage years where the teacher would hit certain topics and the issues were only discussed vaguely at best -- in part due to the embarrassment of the teacher, but I suspect that much was because the teacher's ideas were vague as well. As a result, I dug deep to put factual reasons behind each point with the hopes that a boy armed with the facts can make good choices in the future.
Thus, in "Modest Attire" I tackled why certain clothing is acceptable and others are not. Fashion changes rapidly, but could I explain how to make sound judgments concerning clothing? Where I could not make a conclusion, I tried to be open about this as well.
For instance, you grew up comfortable not wearing a shirt as a child, yet you said that attending church was obviously different. Perhaps, but are you able to explain why it is different to a young man? Is it different in the Phillipines than in Norway? What biblical principles should be applied? Often we assume that things we pick up culturally is fixed because we have accepted them. However, each generation needs the reasons explained because something will come up in the future that cultural habits don't cover. Will our children make good moral choices when faced with something new or will their only argument be "because that is the way we have always done it"? God complained to his priests, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).
How will you or your sons handle a situation where a young man shows up for church services wearing only shorts and flip-flops? It could easily happen in a town with a popular beach. Is it right or wrong? What would be said to the young man? What verses would you use? I hope to get people thinking about these things in advance and not making rash statements at the last moment. No, we might not settle the issue at this moment, but at least we will know where our limits of knowledge are at.