Just Another Blog on Modesty... sort of.

Submitted September 10, 2013

Girls need to have respect for themselves if they want others to respect them

Source: thinkstockphotos.com

Modesty. I get nervous just saying the word. No matter what your opinion is on this issue, you're bound to offend someone; it's just a touchy subject, particularly in the Christian arena. I think most of us would agree that modesty is important, if you don't think it's important, keep reading, this is for you too.

I recently saw a blog post, one of the many "dear girls" posts that run rampant on the web these days. I decided to read it, as I often will, and I found myself nodding in agreement; my too-quick-to-judgement self quickly reared her ugly head. "yeah! Put on some clothes!" My holier-than-thou self shouted inside. I felt bad for those poor teenaged boys having to avert their eyes on Facebook and at school. Those unwitting men having to avoid talking to that girl at church because she's got her "goodies" on display! "Yeah put on some clothes," I thought again.

I furrowed my brow, but wait, are those the writer's teenaged sons prancing about in their swim trunks in the accompanying photos? Flexing their muscles in all their teenaged glory? The hypocrisy was just the cold water necessary for a much needed attitude adjustment.

I'd like to have a quick sidebar with the ladies, the excuse that they don't make modest clothing is the biggest load of garbage out there. You're lying to yourself. Does it take a little more effort to find modest clothing? Yup, it sure does. Will there be some missteps along the way? You betcha. Does that mean we just throw in the towel and wear any old thing because it's "easier?" I hope not, especially since the root word there is easy, surely none of us want to be considered "easy."

Now back to the main point, yes, we have a responsibility, as Christians, to be loving toward each other to, "not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way" (Romans:14:13). However, modesty is not -- and should not be -- only about protecting our brothers from sinful thoughts, and here's why: Boys and men are responsible for their own thoughts, they should be "...bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians:10:5). They are NOT simply animals with no control over their thoughts and their responses. Does that let us ladies off the hook? No way! You can't un-see what you've seen. So ladies, think about it, do you really want everyone knowing what you look like in your underwear (because that's pretty much what bikinis are), able to recall it at will? Your uncle? Your little brother? The creepy guy that holds eye contact just a little bit too long?

Choosing to be modest should be about having self-respect, a proper sense of pride in oneself and an understanding of who and what you are; and modesty knows no gender.

Guys, you deserve to be treated with honor, dignity and respect because of who you are. You deserve to be recognized for your thoughts, your abilities and your talents. More importantly you deserve these things because you are sons of God. You are smarter, stronger and more deserving of love than you probably realize. Please remember that you must also treat yourself and others with dignity and respect for those very same reasons. So pull up your pants (wear a belt if you need to). Wear a shirt. Spend the time to find clothing that is attractive and modest.

Ladies, you deserve to be treated with honor, dignity and respect because of who you are. You deserve to be recognized for your thoughts, your abilities and your talents. More importantly you deserve these things because you are daughters of God. You are smarter, stronger and more deserving of love than you probably realize. Please, remember that you must also treat yourself and others with dignity and respect for those very same reasons. Wear skirts, dresses and shorts that are an appropriate length, button up that shirt or wear a tank top under it. Spend the time to find clothing that is attractive and modest.

Be modest because you have respect for yourself.

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Lorelei Nettles

Lorelei Nettles's picture

Very good points! "Applause"

Sherrie G

Sherrie G's picture

This is an excellent post, thank you! I read this somewhere, and I am probably not getting it exactly right, but you will get the idea.

If you aren't sitting on your dress when you sit down, it is probably not modest. If your clothes are so tight that they show every curve and detail, leaving little or nothing to the imagination, it is probably not modest. If your top is low cut enough that your lady parts are the first thing someone notices when they see you, it is probably not modest. If your clothing is designed in a way that puts your body on display, it is probably not modest. If you would be too embarrassed to stand in front of Jesus Christ in your outfit, it is probably not modest.

Ladies, it is all about respect. It is about how much you respect yourself and how much you want to be respected.

Eric V. Snow

Eric V. Snow's picture

In this context, it's interesting to note the warning found in Isaiah:3:18-24. That is, women will lose their jewelry and fine clothing when it comes time to punish Israel and Judah once again. It's hard to repent and show off at the same time.

People who deliberately seek others' attention by the way they dress aren't acting modestly. In this regard, people with a changed heart and mind will show them by how they act and dress. We have to watch out for slipping into extreme individualism concerning how we dress and groom, since we should dress with concern for how others may judge us negatively. Christians should be mature enough to apply the principles found in I Cor. 8 and Romans 14 to how they dress. What good is accomplished by being deliberately offensive in such intrinsically superficial matters? Furthermore, real "authenticity" isn't achieved by defying even the world's already low standards for modesty in clothing and conduct by racing further to the bottom.

There's another point worth considering, if we're going to be more specific about what kinds of clothing are acceptable. Can we seriously believe that a bikini worn in public can ever be modest under any circumstances?

Furthermore, a deep irony arises in clothing design and fashion. Under most circumstances, most women complain of being too cold when men in the same room are comfortable. Low cut blouses and high cut skirts make many women feel chilly. Therefore, immodest dressing is also dysfunctional in colder climates.

Norbert Z

Norbert Z's picture

Modest dress is not the 'cure all' for the stumbling block under consideration. That doesn't mean we should think it's a non-issue either.

And when it comes to the question, "Can we seriously believe that a bikini worn in public can ever be modest under any circumstances?"

I would say no more the we can seriously believe that men going shirtless in public can ever be modest under any circumstances.

Zeph Agayo

Zeph Agayo's picture

It must have taken you boldness and caution to write this well-thought blog. I'm impressed. I second what you said about hypocrisy. I mean I have always thought that women are reflections of men which means that if women have vanities, it's because men have vanities. If men find fault in women then men should take the blame. Why? It's because women are reflections of men. It took me many years to be convicted in this particular belief.


VitD3absorbent's picture

As is all too often the case, there is the general miss-understanding on the 'M'-word in clothing. Modesty is not achieved by long clothing, although long clothing *can* indeed be modest; but so can short clothing be fully modest. Modesty, when seen in the context of certain NT epistles, is easier to achieve in relatively short clothing than in long, for there is actually more room for immodesty in longer clothing..
Firstly., a certain minimum coverage is required for members of any Judaeo-Christian faith, as is seen from the Genesis-3 account. That minimum is not based on modesty -- a concept defined in the NT -- but on securing certain sexually erogenous features that are private and sacred to one's life mate. The design of the human body by their God Yahweh necessitates free movement of its joints, especially those at the elbows and knees. Since the body does taper at the waist, lower-body garments should be cinched at the natural wasit. Given what we read in Gen 1 - 3, we can conclude -- and I think objectively -- that what Mother Eve was wearing as she and Adam departed the Garden would, in today's parlance, be called a leather mini-skirt. And, it was perfectly modest.
In 1 Tim 2: 9-10, Paul says: "Women ... should dress modestly and quietly, and not be decked out in fancy hair styles, gold ornaments, pearls or costly clothing; rather, as women who profess to be religious, their adornment should be good deeds."
From what Paul alone says, we can see that modesty in one's attire consists of a certain unaffected simplicity in style. It is not a matter of a hemline. The typical blue-jean miniskirt many girls wear is 100% modest by this standard.
The concept of being hidden in ways that are not necessary originates with the god of this age -- the one who miss-directed our first parents.
See also 1 Pt 3: 3-6. Peter, for his part concurs with Paul on what the emphasis on clothing -- particularly in women -- should be. It's not a hemline, but absence of elaboration.
A man who inveighs against a woman in a short skirt or form-fitting sweater is only reacting from the darker side of his own sexual desires. She is not at fault in the least. The human form was not designed as either immorally seductive or provocative, such that it needs to be hidden. Mt 5: 28 does not require extensive coverage on the part of women, but a proper attitude toward women by men

Lena VanAusdle

Lena VanAusdle's picture

Thanks for your comments. There are just a couple of things I'd like to address.

First, you are correct, men are responsible for their own thoughts and actions, which is exactly what this blog says, particularly the paragraph that quotes 2 Corinthians:10:5 and Romans:14:13. Actually, the whole point of this blog is that dressing modestly (whatever that entails) is first and foremost about loving God and respecting oneself, not being a temptation to others is a happy side-benefit, not our motivation.

Second, I, again, agree that the definition of modesty has changed based on culture and era, however, to say that Eve would have worn a "leather mini-skirt," is pure speculation. What we know is that she was made a tunic of leather (Genesis:3:21), God did not specify anything about what that looked like. It could have been an ankle length dress for all we know. You say that modesty is a product of our sinful nature, in a way, sure, given that both Adam and Eve were naked before they disobeyed God, but it was God who covered them (without mention of "erogenous zones."). You will also notice, I don't necessarily mention hemlines, not once do I specify how much to cover up (except in the case of bikinis). That is because what constitutes being modest has lots of variables, height, size, body type, etc. I am not advocating that everyone wear ankle length clothing, but rather clothing that is attractive, well-fitting, situationally appropriate, and not overly revealing. If someone is out running, shorts are perfectly acceptable, if someone is swimming, a swimsuit is perfectly acceptable, but swimming does not require one to wear the equivalency of underwear to do, if anything, it hinders your ability to swim.

You quote 1 Timothy:2:9-10, the point of this verse is that we shouldn't be dressing in a way that draws excessive attention to oneself, regardless of length or style. Knowing the sinful nature of both men and women, isn't wearing excessively short or tight clothing doing exactly that?


VitD3absorbent's picture

I do appreciate your rely. Lena. It was not pure speculation that Mother Eve was wearing the equivalent of a leather miniskirt. It was based on the need to be minimally covered as described in the Gen 3 account. What needs to be covered is not very much, but only those parts of our anatomies that are sacred to our lifelong mates. Further, consider that God had recently created our first parents, with an architecture that featured jointed limbs – both arms and legs. Consider also that the body – esp that of the female – tapers at the waist. The garment she wore on leaving the garden would certainly have been anchored at the waist, and not of such a length as to inhibit her movement at the knee. It was of leather and certainly did comport to a skirt hemmed above her knees. I propose a reasoned understanding here, not quite proven explicitly – since there’s not enough evidence for an exact proof – but something well beyond speculation. Clothing is not excessively short in the first place if it at least covers the primary sexual features, as does the modern two-piece swimsuit. Neither is form-fitting clothing excessively tight in general; “excessively tight” is of a size *smaller* than the actual size of the wearer. The bikini-style suit is remarkably efficient in covering all that needs to be covered, while leaving exposed to the sun all that does not need to be, resulting in a more uniform exposure to the sun. The main point was and is that the modesty principle of Scripture is not related to a degree of coverage, but avoidance of excessive (and artificial) adornment in what one does wear. Think of it. Lena: It’s actually easier to be immodest in a relatively long garment than in a short one. because there is "more room" for immodesty in the longer garment. 1 Tim 2: 9-10 & 1Pt 3:3-6 give us the correct emphasis on proper attire. Except for those minimal areas of our bodies sacred to our mates (both bikini and speedo suits cover those), we need not think that failing to cover or hide any parts of the remainder constitutes excessive exposure in the first place. I've been to many a poolside scene where bikinis and speedos were worn, all without any sign of sexually miscreant behavior. If you know, Lena, that you would like to wear a bikini, but you do not, thinking it immodest to do so, you should for that very reason wear one. Bikinis are actually modest

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