I don’t know about you, but when I think of modesty, I’m bombarded with mixed emotions–and honestly, the word makes me cringe sometimes. I’ve seen modesty taken to extremes and dictate the way women view themselves and others–and it’s not always pretty.
But, dressing carefully is still important, especially as Christian women. Modesty is still a virtue that we should value, and it doesn’t have to be legalistic or ugly.
So why is dressing modestly important? Why should we even bother?
I can’t just throw out modesty or refuse to discuss it because it makes me uncomfortable. I still have the responsibility of obeying Scripture, and that requires some careful thought.
So, what exactly does the Bible say about modesty, and how should we as Christians view outward appearance? Here are four things to consider…
1. We shouldn’t dress for attention.
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV)
With any clothes we choose, the core issue is the intentions of our hearts.
Do we dress modestly because we want to flaunt how “good” or “holy” we are, or because we want to set an example and demonstrate self-respect? Do we wear as little as possible to attract attention to ourselves and flaunt our skin, or to honor God and protect the bodies He’s given us?
These are all questions we have to ask ourselves when picking out our clothes. Whatever you wear, let it be from a pure conscience. Let your adorning reflect the meekness of your heart.
2. Dressing to flaunt is a sure-fire way to be disrespected, but dressing carefully reflects dignity.
“…Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10, ESV).
Paul didn’t tell us to wear modest clothes because our bodies are gross or evil or because he was freaked out that men would lust after us. He told us to dress modestly because it is fitting for women who profess godliness. What we wear reflects our attitude, and we can display dignity and self-control with what we wear.
Our human nature tells us to strip down and flaunt the beautiful bodies God has created. And friend, your body is beautiful, because it is hand-crafted by a loving Creator! But you don’t have to prove that to the world. Your worth isn’t in your curves or tan legs (Proverbs 31:30). Your worth is in Christ, and He cherishes your body. Don’t expose it for the whole world to see. Don’t cast your pearls before swine, because we live in a fallen world, and not everyone who sees you will respect you or see you as a delicate creation–guys and girls alike.
Leave a little mystery. It’s classy, and it’s beautiful.
3. As a guy should control his eyes, so a girl also has the responsibility to aid him by dressing innocently. Both the girl and guy must demonstrate self-control with their bodies.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14, NKJV).
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like all the modesty talks out there argue one thing: “You need to dress modestly so guys won’t lust after you.”
Now don’t get me wrong–it’s important to do our part to help our brothers in Christ because we honor them and we need to be considerate. We need to support them in purity. But my word, friend, it’s not all on you. Don’t you think for a second that you’re fully responsible for a guy’s thoughts. Do what you believe is right and reflects dignity, and conduct yourself in a respectable way. Then let the guy do his part.
Pure thinking isn’t all on the guy, and it’s not all on you. We all have a responsibility in avoiding works of the flesh.
4. From the point of salvation, we are told to put off the world. To be different and seek God’s ways.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
There’s a lot to take in here, but I’ll try to break it down…
Everyone will have their own standards based on personal convictions and their relationship with God. The Spirit directs each of us differently, so I can’t make a simple list of the do’s and don’ts of fashion. Scripture doesn’t even do that!
But I will include this quote that always pops into my mind whenever I pick out my clothes: “Dress how you want to be addressed.”
Someone told me once, “I don’t think there’s really a such thing as modesty. Just as long as you don’t look like a hooker, you’re good.” But that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible tells us to be filled with the Spirit…not to get as close to the edge as possible! We can’t compare our standards to a hooker. We have to weigh our standards against God’s Word, and the holy character of our Creator.
It’s so easy to think clothes are just—well, clothes. Easy to think they have no effect on our Christian testimony. But truthfully, appearance plays a huge role in our testimony, and appearance speaks about the inside. Whether we like it or not, people judge. They determine our character based on what they see before they truly know us. I’m not saying that’s right, but it’s reality. So what will they notice about you? That you’re different and carry yourself confidently? Respectably? Or that you resemble a hooker or the girl at a bar?
Those are two extremes, but I hope you see my point.
So, modesty: Why bother? Because Paul says to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and glorify God with your bodies.
Let your inward beauty be seen on the outside 🙂