Why do so many baptisms occur with regular clothes on, and not in a swimsuit?

On my visit to a Southern Baptist church, I saw a little girl get baptized by immersion. That was the only time when I saw a live presentation of a baptism. I was surprised that she didn't wear her swimsuit either, because I thought the wet clothing was going to feel very uncomfortable.

Apparently, that behavior is normal practice. I watched a couple of videos online of baptisms by immersion, and many of them involved getting your clothes all wet. When I say clothes, I mean clothes that you would normally wear casually, not for swimming.


In most churches this is more a practical thing than a theological thing. Most people don't particularly want to appear in public in swimwear, and churches certainly don't want to leave open any possibility of being seen to be parading scantily clad people for baptism. Some traditions use baptismal robes, which are white and usually worn over regular clothing.

The uncomfortableness of wet clothes is often addressed by people actually wearing a swimsuit, and casual clothes over the top. In any case, it's absolutely normal to go and get changed as soon as the baptism is over. The amount of time you are in wet clothes is very small; and since baptism is at least in part about entering into the suffering of Jesus, it's not inappropriate.

As for damaging the clothes, baptism candidates do usually get choice in what to wear: they usually make sensible clothing choices, and get advice. Cotton shirts are popular clothing, and silk and wool unpopular. Dresses and skirts are unpopular because they float up. But its really about what makes the candidate and the rest of the congregation comfortable.

If you were asking why baptisms aren't conducted naked, all of the above applies double. Without a clear and incontrovertible biblical or theological reason, the downsides of naked baptism would clearly outweigh the positives.

  • 1
    No, I am specifically asking why baptisms occur with non-swimwear. Dresses. Pants. Shirts. People normally don't want to get them wet, especially if they are made of wool or silk.
    – Double U
    Feb 8 '15 at 17:48
  • I don't understand why people would wear swimwear on the beach . . . but not in a baptismal lake or pond or indoor tub.
    – Double U
    Feb 8 '15 at 17:50

The Bible never say that Baptism should be done naked.

For Baptists, the most important thing is that it should be done by immersion. The whole body should be submerged in the water. Wearing clothes or not wearing any is irrelevant here. With that said, it depends on the ethics of the place. It would be totally appropriate to baptize naked in some remote areas among the tribals but not so in a modernized city where sexual immorality is very high.

  • 1
    This doesn't really address the question...
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 7 '17 at 5:41

I cannot speak for other denominations, but my southern Baptist upbringing causes me to consider this Scripture.

Genesis 3:21 NKJV Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

Since They had been naked before God and one another up until the Fall, why did God make tunics for them now? For the answer to that we must look back to:

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

All that God did was to give them a more permanent covering, not because their nakedness was wrong, but because it was now something of which they were ashamed. In other words it was because of their now being evil minded that their nakedness was covered.

It just seems, in my Southern Baptist mind that if clothing were given to ward off evil that when being baptized it is just as important to make the clothes a part of repentance.

It is also significant that Jesus himself was baptized with his clothes on, and so were others.

Matthew 3:13 through 15 NKJV Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him

Although it does not say that Jesus stripped down before being baptized, if it were significant I feel it would have been said.

It should also be noted that Baptism is a spiritual happening rather than a purely physical thing.

Matthew 3:11 NKJV I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Earthly baptism is representative of being baptized into Christ.

Matthew 28:18 through 20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Baptism does not end with the dunking into water, it is also meant to begin the training of the converted which is the meaning of Jesus saying Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

He further emphasized ** teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;**

Last of all let me add that Baptism is not a physical thing it is a Spiritual thing.

Acts 8:38 and 39 NKJV So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

So to my way of thinking whatever covering you are baptized is of menial consequence. to the point that some Churches have taken to using Baptismal robes mostly because some have been baptized in clothing which when wet leaves the wearer without any modesty; and that was God's reasoning behind clothing in the first place.

Hope this helps.

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