If you missed part 1, find it here.
From the time we are little, we learn that much of who we are is judged by what we look like, at least initially.
Our clothing choices give others an idea of our style, hobbies, socio-economic status, profession, religious background, and ethnicity, as well as our sexuality.
When a woman doesn’t wear clothing that doesn’t accent her “assets” she risks being called a prude. When she wears more revealing clothing, she may be called a slut, or be accused of “asking for it” in the case of harassment.
We hear conflicting voices from all directions regarding modesty, with perhaps the most recognized being:
1. Modesty should be a priority to women because men are visual people and might not be able to overcome their temptation.
2. Women should wear whatever they want because the male population should respect us no matter what we do(n’t) wear.
One day, if God gives me sons, they will be taught that women are meant to be respected, regardless of how much clothing they choose to wear, or how they wear it.
If God gives me daughters, they will be taught that they deserve respect, and modesty is an important attitude.
[mod–uh-stee]noun, plural mod·es·ties.1. the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.2. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.3. simplicity; moderation.Origin:
1525–35; < Latin modestia.
Modesty is an attitude because we cannot dictate a formula that classifies clothing as modest or immodest.
We do modesty a disservice when we confine it to the “fingertip rules” and mirror checks. What if when trying to present ourselves in modesty, we did a heart check?
1 Timothy 2: 9-10 is often quoted in discussions about modesty, so let me just join the bandwagon for a minute here:
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
The attitude behind dressing modestly should not be centered around covering enough skin to avoid harassment or not break dress code. By being modest, we are placing our value not in our physical appearance, but in our spiritual values, and the way we strive to be like Christ in all our thoughts and actions.
Don’t get me wrong! I love dressing up, and big funky earrings, and feeling pretty. Taking care of myself and expressing my experiences and taste through style does not constitute vanity or immodesty.
Immodesty is dressing to distract.
Am I seeking attention? Do I want those around me to notice my appearance rather than what they should be doing or thinking about?
Not looking to God’s truths for affirmation can lead to immodesty.
When we make an attractive physical appearance more of a priority than our character and spiritual health, we put everything out of balance. Of course I want to be told I’m beautiful! But does having a beautiful exterior really trump having a beautiful heart? If you take the time to really explore how God sees you, and what you have been made into by His grace, I hope you will see that trying to reflect God’s heart for those around you is worth so much more energy than trying to reflect magazine covers.
As much as modesty isn’t about dress code, clothing choices really do matter.
I’m trying really hard right now to explain that modesty is not purely a physical thing, but I would be wrong in not addressing physical modesty as an important thing as well.
One of the most reliable ways to determine what clothing is appropriate is by assessing the environment you will be in.
Banquet/grad/wedding formal? Strapless could be appropriate, but plunging necklines are hard to justify in any situation. Keep it classy!
Hanging out on a hot summers day? This is where I love flowy, knee-length skirts and dresses. It is also possible to find shorts that don’t show the outline of your rear-end, and tank tops that are cute and not revealing.
Serving in Sunday School? Skirts and kids ministry aren’t super friendly, trust me.
Church? Whether you’re in the congregation or on worship team, or even preaching, our purpose is not to draw attention to ourselves, but to enter into worship of our Lord as a collective body. You have to keep in mind not only the boys and men around you, but those who may be more conservative than you. You may have a pure and modest heart, but even then it is important to make yourself aware of the situation. Your super cute summer dress may seem rather short when up on stage, or the grandparents behind you might be worrying about your bare shoulders. Cardigans and leggings my friend!
Another note: it is also hugely important to become aware of your body shape and how to dress it, both flatteringly and modestly! A pair of shorts on one woman may be very modest, and on another woman seem immodest. Not all shirts fit women the same. This is another reason why modesty cannot fit a formula. Our bodies don’t fit a formula! If you’re not sure what works and what doesn’t, find a friend and have an experimental shopping trip where you just try things on and figure out what works for your body!
Modesty is not just for girls and women.
If we’re thinking about modesty as a heart attitude, it completely applies to both women and men. As a man, do you think about what you wear? Are you trying to gain some sort of attention from it? If you aren’t, do you realize that some things aren’t appropriate in all situations? It’s time for men to realize that modesty is not just a “women’s issue.” Is your character a priority or does it taken over by the need to appear a certain way to those around you? Men’s modesty can center around sexuality, but more often the issue is trying to present themselves as successful and “with it,” rather than reflecting God’s grace and character.
Modesty is a universal issue. We all need to be aware of how we present ourselves, question our motives, and seek God’s affirmation above the world’s. When we are part of the body of Christ, we also need to hold each other accountable, and encourage each other as we try to set and meet godly standards.