Does Modesty Still Matter?
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
I’ve read a lot on modesty, and you’re right, it seems to be so controversial, even among Christians! But the biggest thing that confounds me is how modesty isn’t valued at all. I understand that some people were raised in legalistic environments, but that doesn’t mean we have to throw away modesty completely lol I heard another blogger say that a ditch on either side of the road is still a ditch…I thought that was good! Anyways, keep up your good work of promoting modesty! We need more of that 🙂
Thank you so much Elizabeth! I think that other blogger’s wisdom is brilliant. Any extreme isn’t healthy and can lead to idolatry, but dressing for the Lord and reflecting our worth and dignity in Him should be empowering! Have a blessed day. 🙂
THIS ONE I HAD TO READ WORD-BY WORD! You have shown yourself to be approved—rightly handling the word of God.(1st Timothy 2: 15) Proud of you, sis!
Thanks Jonathan! Your comment means so much to me. Please feel free to share with anyone you think could be inspired by it.
Great ideas. I will be sharing this article!
Thanks I appreciate it!
Awesome article! So true that modesty is important, even though the world argues that it’s not. Truth be told, I’m not quite sure why people find it oppressive. Modesty is simply dressing in a way that draws attention to your heart, not your private parts. Also, I love how you incorporated the verse about our bodies being a temple, I think that very much applies! Sorry I’m a little behind on commenting, college has been crazy lately.
It’s OK! Girl, I totally understand. 😧 I never understood why modesty isn’t valued more either. Truthfully, I believe that most men prefer it and us women are the ones who have the problem. It’s more of an issue of self esteem and identity I think.
Wow, all I can say to this is amen. Modesty is a rare commodity today (unfortunately), but as you’ve so perfectly spelled out here, it’s still very important. The Bible says everything in moderation, and yes, that absolutely applies to how we dress and/or present ourselves as well. I just love your end point: “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?” It is the perfect measuring stick, isn’t it?
People today seem to forget that once something has been shared with EVERYONE, it ceases being special. That goes for many things, but especially something like your body. And the notion that showing more skin is a way of proving how much you love your body, I think it much more likely points to a lack of self-worth. If you’re truly comfortable in your skin, then you’d have no reason to show so much of it off to just ANYone, no?
I’m certainly not a prude and I like pretty things, but I really don’t think it’s necessary to walk down the street looking like you just stepped out of a Playboy magazine. Both men and women should ask themselves, “WHY am I dressing like this?” And if the answer involves inciting lust in other people? Uh, maybe it’s time to reconsider the kind of person you want to be.
Amen to that sister! Thanks so much for your comment. It’s true that in everything we do, we must do it unto the Lord! It’s OK to love fashion, but we need to be intentional.
I appreciate this post very much. I am sharing this with my daughters, who I think may benefit from your perspective.
Thank you so much! I hope it does help them 🙂
I love this post! Definitely sharing!
Thanks so much! It means a lot to me 🙂
So good, Emily!!! Said with such grace and conviction.
Thank you Kelsey! I’m so glad it encouraged you.