Modesty has almost become a politically incorrect word these days in our Christian circles. If the word even passes your lips, immediate visions of ankle-length dresses with no shape or color appear in a thought bubble above your head repulsing everyone around you. Ok, maybe it isn’t that bad, but seriously, why is it given such a bad rap?
As Christians, we should not be repulsed by the idea of modesty. It is in the Bible right along with God’s thoughts on premarital sex, obeying your parents, and murder. Perhaps it is because there is no verse that explicitly says, “you shall not wear spandex or sheer clothing!” So instead, we adopt the verses about our liberty in Christ to cover the indecent clothing we wear. (Interestingly, Romans 14 lays out our liberty in Christ pretty clear, and it does not include doing whatever we want.)
There is a crisis amongst Christian women and girls today concerning modesty, or rather, the lack of it! It is tough to tell which spandex-clad female is a Christian in the sea of spandex-clad females we encounter every single day.
This crisis is nothing new. It dates back to the Garden (Genesis 3) on that infamous day when Eve was deceived, while Adam stood by and did not warn her, instead participated with her. The Bible does not tell us Adam’s thought process as to why he did what he did. We know he wasn’t afraid of Eve’s wrath because the world was perfect up until they both took a bite. He had not yet experienced her cold anger when he didn’t do what she wanted him to. No, that was one of the results of their choice. He couldn’t have been scared, that emotion came after. He did it because he wanted to. As a result, we are copycatting Adam and Eve every day, except we start out as sinners, we never know a day as a perfect human being.
The culture, our culture, has deceived and blinded women into thinking that they HAVE to wear what the majority of the clothing stores sell. I have often wondered, who in the world is this fashion guru that is so powerful he tells the world what will be in fashion this season? I have also wondered, why do so many women and girls go along with it!?! It proves independence only goes so far. The whole attitude of “nobody’s gonna tell me what to do!” only applies to parents, teachers, government, you know, just the ones God tells us to obey. It is funny. He never mentions obeying the fashion guru and only wearing what he deems is hot and fashionable. Rather He tells us quite the opposite in Romans 12: 2. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The world in this verse refers to the culture. To conform, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to make or become similar in form or character; to act or be in compliance; to act in accordance with prevailing modes or customs.” To transform, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to alter markedly the appearance or form of.” If we are conforming to our culture, then we will look just like them, act like them, etc. If we are transformed, we will be markedly different. The definitions themselves tell us this. These are facts, but somehow we allow our emotions to get tied up in the facts, and it distorts everything. Suddenly we feel judged, suffocated, stifled, our rights have been violated.
Why don’t we feel judged, suffocated, stifled, or our rights have been violated when we are taught that we shouldn’t smoke cigarettes or do drugs. The Bible doesn’t have chapter and verse on those things, yet we seem to accept them easier than dressing modestly.
Why does the thought of dressing modestly raise the hair on the back of our neck? Sadly, this aspect of the Christian life has been distorted by sinful people, many of them leaders in our churches and families, who take the Bible and twist it for their own evil purposes. By God’s grace, He can help a woman overcome the damage that has been done through the constant renewing of her mind through prayer and Scripture reading. Biblical counseling is also available to help those who are hurting from past experiences.
The bottom line to dressing modestly is the heart. This becomes obvious when the subject is broached, and the immediate answer is something along the lines of, “I have the right to wear whatever I want to wear!” Hmm, actually the Bible makes it pretty clear we don’t have the right to anything! Philippians 2:5-8 comes to mind right about now.
1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” In other words, dress for the glory of God! Earlier in 1 Corinthians 10:24, it says, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” Not only should we be dressing for the glory of God but also in a way that looks out for “the other’s well-being.”
This is where loving fathers and husbands come on the scene. Please, please, do not be like Adam in the Garden and stand by watching us be deceived by our culture in the area of clothing. Speak up! Very few husbands will risk the wrath of their wife to tell her, “you are my beautiful wife, and I don’t want other men seeing you in what you are wearing.” As a father, let your daughter know how special she is and how important it is that she saves her body as a gift to her husband, should God ordain that in her future. If singleness will be her gift, then she needs to save her body as a sacrificial gift to God. Wives and daughters, ask that hard question to your husbands and fathers, “is there something in my wardrobe you prefer I don’t wear and why?” and then be prepared to graciously receive the answer! Mom’s, please stop giving in to your daughter’s tearful pleas to wear indecent clothing just because “everyone else is.”
I recently heard an interview on NPR of a young Christian couple who chose to follow the Bible and save sex for marriage. On public radio, the wife stated emphatically how special it was that only she knows that side of him, and only he knows that side of her. That is God’s plan, it is beautiful, special, and fulfilling! What we wear can damage that relationship. Do you really think your husband wants other men looking up and down your sleek spandex-clad body or peering through your sheer outfits? Why not just go naked, I mean seriously! If your choice of clothing outlines every shape of your body or causes a person to do a double-take to make sure that isn’t nude skin under that sheer lace, isn’t that giving away part of your beautiful special gift God designed for your husband only? Would you carelessly drag around your expensive diamond jewelry for anyone to touch, grab, or even take? Consider your body in the same way. When a man looks lustfully at a woman, he sees her naked whether she is clothed or not. I have heard all the arguments, “That is his problem! He should get his mind out of the gutter!” I point you back to I Corinthians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”
The blame game, it started in the Garden, moments after the first sin occurred and it has been happening ever since! It didn’t get Adam and Eve anywhere, and the same is true today, we go nowhere, except in circles!
There is such a push today to be yourself, be your own beautiful. Let’s take that one step farther, be your own beautiful according to the Bible. Modest clothes does not mean ugly, behind the times, colorless clothing. It does mean dressing with intent and purpose. Look at all sides of yourself in a mirror before you leave the house, bend over, sit down, think about the person sitting or standing behind you, what are they seeing? Ask yourself, would I feel comfortable coming into the presence of a Holy God right now? Find your own style and rock it! Be proud to be a Christian woman/girl who loves Jesus and wants to show that in part by what she wears.
Prayerfully lay before God your wardrobe and clothing choices and ask Him to take control and give you wisdom (James 1:5). He delights to answer these prayers and to free us from the bondage of conforming to our culture. Be beautiful. Be free. Be who God created you to be!