The King's New Clothes
A Modesty Parable
By Julie Austin
ONCE upon a time, there was a King. He worked very hard at kingdom building. He was well thought of by all. He busied himself every day in building his kingdom for he had a good heart. He was under the rule of the emperor of that region known as: the Emperor Over All. The king did his best to follow the emperorís proclamations and directives.
One day some shysters came to the kingís palace. They had tried their multi-level pyramid businesses on the people of the kingdom, but they were running out of "friends" to approach. So they came up with another money making scheme. The shysters pretended to be tailors. They arranged a meeting with the queen. The king did not know of this meeting, for the queen did not tell him and he was much too busy with caring for the needs of his kingdom. The shysters told the queen they had lovely clothes made of the finest foreign materials. They said everyone was wearing them in all the lands surrounding the kingdom. The clothes all had a tag on them that read: "Dimwitted." This was how everyone would know if a person actually had on authentic Dimwitted clothing. This appealed to the queenís lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and prideful vanity.
The king and queen had two teenage princesses. They entered the room and soon were entranced by the infomercial that was being presented to their mother. As the shysters continued with the spiel, they told the queen how everyone would adore her in her new fine clothes. The queen thought of her younger days, before she was married to the king. She recollected what a cute figure she had. Young men adored her and she was quite popular. "Ah, those were the days," she thought. Maybe she could regain that youthful feeling once more. The princesses interrupted the presentation by begging their mother to have these clothes made for them as well. "Think of how popular we will be!" they pleaded.
The queen thought, "It is so important for teenage girls to be popular." She decided it was a good goal to work toward. The shysters grinned a devilish grin, for they knew they had hooked the gullible lasses with their lustful bait. The queen told the shysters that she would like to see some of these Dimwitted clothes. "Yes indeed," said one. "But first I must tell you of its magical secret. You see, only someone truly worthy of wearing Dimwitted clothing may do so. For the magical threads which the fabric is made of can only be seen by a person who truly is worthy." Then he pulled out a large garment bag and gently unzipped it. He appeared to be carefully taking something out. But to the queenís surprise, the only thing she could see was the hanger. The princesses saw the same thing. But none of them wanted to appear that they were not worthy of Dimwitted clothing. So they all went along with it and spoke of how lovely the garment was.
The queen placed a large order for her daughters, but only a few things for herself. She thought that would be more discreet... and since she herself could not see the fabric, she might feel a bit self-conscious. But the princesses didnít feel that way at all. They were excited and proud to know that they would soon be wearing the Dimwitted label. The shysters made big bucks on this deal, and told the princesses to make sure they told all their friends in the kingdom where they could purchase Dimwitted clothing.
As soon as the shysters delivered the queenís order to the palace, the princesses quickly took their garment bags and ran to their rooms with glee to put their new Dimwitted clothes on. They soon came out of their rooms wearing only their undergarments, but pretending as if they had on beautiful clothing. The queen pretended to put on her Dimwitted outfit. When she reemerged from her room, she was wearing her slip.
The girls went to the dinning room for the lunchtime meal. To their surprise the king was there that day. "Daddy, what are you doing here? I thought youíd be out building the kingdom," said the oldest princess. The king was so taken aback with what his daughters and wife were wearing that all he could say was, "What on earth are you wearing?" The queen and princesses quickly gave the king the spiel that the shysters had given them. They did their best to sell him on the idea. The king did not like it. He could not see the fabric and he was concerned that others would not be able to. But he didnít want to hurt his daughterís feelings. They were so excited about it. He didnít want to appear bossy to his wife and thought a good husband should just trust his wifeís judgment on such matters ... so he reluctantly went along with it.
Soon all the young maidens in the kingdom were running around in Dimwitted clothing, which of course no one could see, yet no one would speak of it. Many of the men were uncomfortable with it and would just try to look the other way when their daughters and their friends were near. Other men rather enjoyed the free-spirited and modern look. Plus it was nicer to look at them, than their aging wives.
One day, a traveler from a nearby village came to the palace. He was a prince and had been sent from his father to be trained by the king in the ways of kingdom building. When he arrived, he was shocked to see the entire village filled with teenage girls, and many of their mothers, all wearing nothing but their undergarments. He covered his eyes and approached the palace. He remembered a proclamation that the Emperor Over All had made many years ago, stating that females should cover their bodies appropriately and modestly.
The king greeted him warmly and invited him in. The king told the prince he had received a letter from the princeís father, explaining that the prince needed some guidance and wisdom in learning how to build a kingdom. The king was very kind to the prince and invited him to join his family for the dinner meal. The prince was taken to his room by one of the servants of the palace. He unpacked his belongings and soon it was time to join the king and his family for the dinner meal.
As the prince entered the dinning hall, the king was already seated at the table. He invited the prince to sit down. "My father tells me that you have written many books on kingdom building and are an authority on the subject," said the prince. "Your father is very kind," replied the king. "It has taken us many years and hard work to get the kingdom to its current magnificence. "
Just then, in walked the kingís wife and daughters. The king and prince stood -- as gentlemen do when ladies enter a room. But to the princeís great surprise, the ladies were clothed in nothing but their undergarments. The prince without thinking blurted out, "They arenít wearing any clothes!"
The rest of the story has two endings. You chose which one youíd like,
Ending A or Ending B.
The queen, embarrassed and angered, looked at the king. "Who is this rude young man?" she asked. The king looked at his wife, then at his daughter, who looked angry as well, and then back at the prince. "Young prince, Iím afraid that you are not familiar with Dimwitted clothing. It is worn throughout my kingdom and is accepted by all. Since I am the king, I am responsible for what goes on in this kingdom, and this is really not something we care to talk about."
The prince was saddened and humiliated. Had he done the wrong thing? Was it really okay with the Emperor Over All if the women of the village dressed this way? After all, if such a highly esteemed king, who is known for his kingdom building, felt that this was all right, perhaps it was. Perhaps the prince had misunderstood the real meaning of the proclamation on modesty. Maybe it was meant metaphorically by the Emperor Over All. He was so confused. The dinner was short and there was little conversation. Everyone tried to ignore what had happened, but there was an overall feeling of discomfort.
The next day the king summoned the prince to his library. "My boy," said the King ... "Let us just forget what happened last night and start over again. You are young and have much to learn. There are far greater concerns in building a kingdom then that of what people are wearing." "But if I may say sire, didnít the Emperor Over All make a proclamation that instructed females to dress modestly and appropriately? And arenít we instructed to bring him obedience and glory in all areas?" "Well yes, of course he did --and yes we are. But that proclamation was written many years ago. Who is really to say what is or isnít appropriate and what is or isnít modest? I think you should extend your stay with us. After a while, you wonít even notice the Dimwitted clothing. You just need to get used to it."
The prince ended up staying for 6 months. The king was correct. After a while, the prince didnít think much about the issue of clothing. He thought he must have been very silly or legalistic to think that there should be some sort of standard set. He realized that his thought life was not what it used to be in regard to purity, but it seemed to be the accepted way of the kingdom.
He returned to his own home and soon after was named king there. His kingdom was just like that of the one he had been taught at. All the women and girls wore Dimwitted clothing. No one ever mentioned again that the females were not really wearing clothes ... they all just continued in building the kingdom --- but only in the areas that really mattered. This continued to a thousand generations within this kingdom.
Or how about
The queen, embarrassed and angered, looked at the king. "Who is this rude young man?" she asked. The king was struck back to his senses. He looked at his wife, then he looked at his daughters ... the prince was right. They were unclothed, immodest and very inappropriately dressed in nothing but their undergarments. The king turned to the prince, "Please excuse us for a few moments." He then asked his wife and daughters to accompany him to the other room.
When he reached the other room he handed each of them a throw blanket and gently asked them to cover their bodies. They all sat down and the king placed his head in his hands. Tears formed in his eyes as he thought over the situation. He regained his composure and then looked up into the face of his wife and then looked to each of his daughters.With a choke in his voice he said, "The prince is right, you are not clothed and it is my fault. The Emperor Over All has given me responsibility for this kingdom and yet, in my own family I have failed. My failure has gone throughout the kingdom and by my wrong example affected all of the families. When you showed me your Dimwitted outfits, I knew that there was nothing covering your undergarments. But you were so excited and I didnít want to appear as a dictator to you. So I abdicated my authority and responsibility and did not stop you from walking around unclothed.
You have been unclothed, immodest and inappropriate. This I take full responsibility for. I am the leader of this family and this kingdom, so the sin is mine. Please forgive me, my dear girls for not leading you nor protecting you. I have not guided you according to the proclamations of the Emperor Over All. You are my dear family and I have done wrong by you."Tears welled in the eyes of all present. "I must go directly to the Emperor Over All and confess what I have done. I will repent to him and ask for his mercy and guidance."
The king sent a servant to tell the prince to eat his meal without them due to the circumstances. The women went and clothed themselves in feminine, modest clothing, fitting for royal family members. The king traveled quickly to the Emperor Over All. When the king arrived home, he reminded the kingdom of the proclamation that the Emperor Over All had made regarding modesty and appropriate clothing. He declared that never again in his kingdom would Dimwitted clothing be worn (...or not worn as it were). He gathered all the men of the kingdom and told them of the wrong he had done in not leading them in this area. They all forgave him and all vowed to keep each other in check in regard to this area -- since it had been a weakness in the past.
The prince learned a valuable lesson. He returned to his home and soon was declared king. He ruled well for many years and guided his people according to the proclamations of the Emperor Over All. He kept the men of his kingdom accountable, even on issues that were difficult.
Fortunately, Dimwitted clothing was never an issue in his kingdom. Oh, from time to time someone would come from another kingdom dressed in something that looked Dimwitted, but the older women had been trained and taught by their husbands well. With gentle love they would instruct the outsider in the proclamations of the Emperor Over All and .... since it was not normative to dress in such a manner, the outsider would eventually change or move along, looking for a kingdom where the Dimwitted look was "in." These practices continued in that kingdom to a thousand generations.
- - -
Now you may be wondering why the title of the story is The Kingís New Clothes. The reason is that the king was the person in authority. The Emperor Over All gave him authority over his family and kingdom. So the things that were purchased and worn in his household, and in his kingdom, were his responsibility.
-- The End
solus Christus! sola scriptura ! sola gratia ! sola fide !
soli Deo gloria !
Christ alone ! scripture alone ! grace alone ! faith alone ! to God alone be glory!
Julie Austin is blessed to be married to John Austin, the greatest man to ever live (in her view). John has been a pharmaceutical sales representative for 16 years. He is employed by Aventis Pharmaceuticals. They have been blessed with four children so far: Joshua 12; Jacob 10, Jessica 9 and Julia 6. They also have one dog: Bilbo Baggins. They live in Hickman California. This summer the Austins are starting a classical Christian co-op for homeschoolers in their area.
Volume 4 Issue 1: Jan / Feb 2003 , © Unless The Lord ... Magazine