Cleanliness is next to godliness

Cleanliness is next to godliness is an idea that has been around since ancient times; the proverb can be traced to the 1700s. We will examine the meaning of the proverb cleanliness is next to godliness, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Cleanliness is next to godliness means that individuals who are pure in spirit and intention are the ones who are closest to God. However, the proverb cleanliness is next to godliness is most often quoted to emphasize that one should be hygienic and keep one’s possessions neat and clean. The idea of cleanliness being affiliated with godliness has been propounded at least since ancient Babylonian times, but the proverb that is quoted today is traced to John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist religion: “Let it be observed, that slovenliness is no part of religion; that neither this, nor any text of Scripture, condemns neatness of apparel. Certainly this is a duty, not a sin. ‘Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness.’ ” Note that Wesley used quotation marks around the proverb, suggesting that the expression was already well known.

Examples

Nwankwo, who went round the market to ensure that members kept it clean, said their objective is to do regular cleaning of the market, noting that cleanliness is next to godliness. (The Nation Newspaper)

As a child, his mother says, he seemed to have the innate realisation that cleanliness is next to godliness and thus became “meticulous” about keeping clean. (Daily Monitor)

If cleanliness is next to godliness, Toronto’s Caten Twins may be the Lord’s best children, after all. (Vogue Magazine)