Modesty is one of those hot button issues–especially in today’s American culture. Even Christians can’t seem to agree on modesty’s relevance or what the definition of modesty is. Some will say that it is not an important issue today; we are more advanced in our culture, and women do not need to be oppressed by layers of clothing. Others will say that we need to follow every word of the Bible and dress like we’re from another century.
I’m not putting either of these extremes down. I am just calling them what they are–extremes on the ever confusing spectrum of the great modesty debate. And let’s face it, now that it’s summer and bikinis and shorts are being thrown at us, Christians really do need to evaluate what modesty means. So where do we begin to tackle this issue? I think that modesty can be broken down into two parts:
1. What is Modesty?
According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the definition of modesty in regard to apparel is, “the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention.” That is pretty blunt and straight to the point. It also goes against pop-culture and society’s desire to make women and teenage girls sexy. So we can see why modesty would clash with women and men who are not Christians. It goes against cultural values.
So what does modesty mean for Christians? The Bible says:
“In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10 NKJV).
There’s a lot to these verses, but the two words that stand out the most (and what I think can help us the most) are moderation and propriety. We know that moderation is avoiding extremes. A common example would be not eating too much or too little–but in moderation. So when it comes to dressing, having moderation would mean avoiding extremes with clothing. This would obviously mean nothing too short, revealing, or showy. It also would mean nothing too extreme on the other end of the spectrum. In other words, you don’t have to dress head to toe in a paper sack to be modest.
Propriety is also a word that is important here, but it’s also one that you don’t hear very often. Propriety is basically being proper. It means to act/do things in a just manner. So if we dress with propriety, then that means we are dressing appropriately. We are to follow the Biblical standards of dignity and purity with our clothing.
2. Is Modesty Important?
Although there are plenty of non-believers who dress modestly, if you don’t live your life by the Bible then modesty might not seem that important to you. After all, it’s already been established that our culture does not value modesty. Christians, however, are held to a higher standard. The Bible tells us to dress modestly (guys aren’t off the hook either, but this blog is for the ladies), and if we dive into scripture, we can find out why.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Even though this verse was talking about fleeing from sexual immorality, it can also be applied to any behavior a child of God exhibits. We have the Holy Spirit in us. We belong to Jesus…we are not our own. If we dress like everyone else in the world–showing off all of our body parts–how does that glorify God? If our bodies are temples, then it is time to start dressing like it.
I find it funny that when women argue against modesty, they often talk about not being ashamed of their bodies and showing themselves off to prove it. If your body really is that precious, and it is in the Lord’s eyes (Psalm 139:14), then you wouldn’t want everyone to see it! Pop-culture has managed to promote the exploitation of women by idolizing skimpy clothing, but we don’t have to follow this trend.
Now I’m not saying that you can’t wear jeans or that the hem line of your dress has to be a certain length. Let the Holy Spirit convict you of what is modest. When you get dressed and look in front of the mirror, ask yourself, if Jesus was in the flesh standing next to me would I be embarrassed by what I’m wearing?
The more you practice this, the more it will become a habit. Modesty does not just involve dress–it’s a way of living. In fact, modesty is not really about clothing, guys, or your body. It’s about Jesus, and we need to be glorifying Him in everything we do–including how we dress. If you’re a daughter of the King, then dress with the dignity that a royal lady should!
Thanks for Reading! I know this post was a bit late–I’m getting used to my new summer schedule! Please comment below 🙂
Love, Emily <3