The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I want to ask you something really important: Why do we men have to wear underwear? Why's it so important? I've never figured it out. So please help me!


Answer

Clothing fashions are generally dictated by culture. God has placed limits on what we might choose to wear, but within those limits there is quite a bit of latitude. So before we discuss underwear, let's first make sure we understand the purpose of clothing.

The foremost reason for clothing is cover up those parts of our body which are involved in sex. In the Bible it talks about a person's "nakedness." The reason young children don't understand the need for clothing is that they have not yet reached the age of having sexual desire. So parents enforce rules until a child is old enough to understand the need for the rules. For details and verses on this, see "Proper Attire." For men, we also cover up our genitals so it isn't announced to the world when we have an erection.

Another reason for clothing is to control our body's temperature. In cool climates clothing traps heat so that we stay warmer. In hot climates clothing can keep heat away from the body, which is why people in the desert wear clothing that covers most of their body.

Yet another reason for clothing is for protection. Fair skinned people especially understand that exposed skin can burn, which can lead to skin cancer later in life. But we also wear clothing to protect sensitive areas of our bodies. We wear shoes so that we can walk on rough surfaces without pain. Our genitals are very sensitive and clothing keeps things from directly touching them.

So why did someone come up with underwear?

  1. Some outer garment material can be seen through when the lighting is just right or if the material gets wet. Underwear is a backup system to prevent others from seeing our private areas.
  2. Some outer garment material is heavy and rough. Underwear made of softer material protects the sensitive genitals from rubbing against the harsher materials.
  3. If the outer garment is thin or stretchy, underwear prevents our genitals from being outlined, especially when we have an erection.
  4. But mostly underwear has been used through the years to save on washing. Your body puts off sweat and oils constantly, especially under the arms and between your legs. The sweat and oils are absorbed by the clothing next to your skin. It stains the clothe and makes it smell, which requires frequently washing. In today's standards, that would mean washing at least daily. Underwear serves as a buffer to the outer clothing so they aren't stained and can be washed less frequently (because washing wears out clothing).

These days, with automatic washers, special detergents, and low cost clothing, we don't think much of wearing an outfit for a day and then wearing something else tomorrow while yesterday's clothing is washed or replaced. But it is easier to wash tee-shirts, briefs, and socks in harsher soaps to get them clean than to clean some more delicate fabrics.

That is why you are told to wash and change your underclothes daily. Sure, you can wear your shoes without socks, but soon your shoes smell like a toxic waste dump. Wearing socks keeps sweat and oils down, and socks can be easily and frequently washed; shoes can't.

Yes, you could get by without underwear with some outer clothing. During warm weather, many men only wear one layer of shirt, instead of a tee-shirt and shirt because it is cooler. But it also means the shirt must be changed at least daily. You could do the same with your jeans, slacks, or shorts.

But you need to consider visibility. Some shorts are wide and loose. They're comfortable, but it also means that when you jump or sit down, your shorts can ride up and you don't want to give anyone a view. Low hanging pants were popular for a while, but some men had accidents with them falling down at awkward moments. Underwear gives an extra measure of protection.

Finally, you also need to consider drips. As your body matures, you start producing pre-ejaculate fluid when you get aroused. Underwear can at least absorb a small amount of this fluid without leaving tattletale signs on your pants.

Many boys grow up wearing briefs, but find them uncomfortable as their genitals get larger. They also tend to press the scrotum up against the body making them too warm. A good compromise is boxers. They are loose enough to provide a small amount of air flow, yet still can absorb oils and sweat while keeping your sensitive areas away from your pants and zipper. Some like boxer-briefs which have more room for your equipment but don't have the problem of gapping to which boxers are prone.