Every day we make choices. The clothes we wear may not seem all that important in the grand scheme of life to anyone other than ourselves. Our clothes, however, speak volumes about us. Complete strangers may be able to surmise our gender, age, ethnicity, economic status, education, vocation, personality, and even character based upon what we wear. Employers, teachers, parents and peers will all take notice of our attire. The adornment of our bodies can either reinforce or change their ideas about each of us. The way we dress just may make the difference in obtaining a job, receiving an “A” on a school presentation, or making a good first impression and quickly earning the respect of our friends. Before we decide what we should wear tomorrow, let’s consider what God has to say on the subject of modesty.
God Does Not Care About Clothes, Right?
I SAMUEL 16:7: “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1. Could a Christian use this verse to gloss over the subject of proper dress and modesty? Why or why not?
COMMENT: Do not neglect the beginning of this verse. “As man sees,” implies human beings do perceive others according to their physical appearances. We should therefore adorn ourselves outwardly to reflect our “inner man” to others. Anything else would be hypocritical. As we will see, God does have specific instructions on how we are to dress our physical bodies with spiritual lessons attached.
Also note that God was very concerned about the attire the High Priest would wear when appearing before Him (Exodus 28). Coming before God dressed inappropriately brought dire consequences (verse 43). In the parable of the wedding supper (Matthew 22:1-13 Matthew 22:1-13 1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables, and said,
2 The kingdom of heaven is like to a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatted calves are killed, and all things are ready: come to the marriage.
5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8 Then said he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
9 Go you therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, bid to the marriage.
10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12 And he said to him, Friend, how came you in here not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
American King James Version×), a guest is bound and cast into outer darkness because he didn’t have on a wedding garment (verse 13). Surely, there are lessons in both these passages about being properly dressed for an occasion.
Now that we see God does care about how we dress, let’s define “modesty.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition, copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company) defines modesty as, “Reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior.” Few would argue that a Christian should guard his or her speech and behavior. Followers of Christ should also demonstrate godly character in their dress.
2. What images come to mind when you hear the word “modesty”? Do these ideas fit with the above definition? Why or Why not?
3. Focusing on the word, “propriety,” who determines what is proper in terms of speech and behavior? Would not the same be true of dress? Why or why not?
I TIMOTHY 2:8-10: “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 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,”
4. This verse implies that a woman’s clothing can be proper or improper in correlation to her character. What clothing would be proper for women “professing godliness with good works”?
PROVERBS 11:22: “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.”
5. What does God say about being indiscreet—whether by word, action or dress?
COMMENT: Her indiscretion takes away her beauty and does not reinforce her good qualities.
ROMANS 12:2: “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.”
I JOHN 2:16-17: “For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
6. What about the immodest fashions prevalent in our world today? Does it matter? Why or why not?
7. Must a young lady dress like her grandmother? How can young women still dress youthfully but also modestly?
Looks that Can Kill Spiritually
MATTHEW 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a women to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
HEBREWS 13:4: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
8. Do clothes, or the lack thereof, have the power to lead people to sin?
9. Should Christian women wear clothes that attract sexual attention? Why or why not?
10. Give an example of immodest dress.
COMMENT: While a woman’s dress with the hem below the knee may cover her body, it can still be immodest if it draws attention to parts of her body that should only be seen by her husband. Slit skirts, translucent blouses, and tight jeans are examples of clothing designed to be revealing and alluring. They are intended to tease a man and appeal to his carnal nature. Nevertheless, each person is responsible for his or her own thoughts. This is an ongoing battle for Christians (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×).
11. How can a young man be immodestly dressed?
ROMANS 14:13: “Let us not judge one another anymore but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”
12. How does dressing modestly show love to our brothers in Christ?
13. Men, what can we say or do to encourage ladies?
14. Ladies, what do we want our clothes to say about us? What message does God want us to communicate?
COMMENT: Modesty is an attitude. Consequently, some women may not realize that what they wear could cause others to stumble. People in the church should encourage and help teach young ladies and young gentlemen to dress modestly with love and tact. Titus 2:4-5 Titus 2:4-5 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
American King James Version×implores older ladies to teach the younger women.
15. Young ladies, how can you promote proper dress among your friends?
16. How can modesty protect a woman?
The Naked Truth
17. What does nakedness come to represent in the Bible? (Genesis 3:9-10 Genesis 3:9-10 9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you?
10 And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
American King James Version×; Revelation 3:18 Revelation 3:18I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
American King James Version×). After Adam and Eve sinned and began to feel ashamed of their nakedness, how did God clothe them? Read Genesis 3:21 Genesis 3:21To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
American King James Version×. Why did He use animal skins? What was lacking with fig leaves?
COMMENT: There is nothing evil about the naked body. However, in Scripture, nakedness and sin are connected. [See, for example, Exodus 32:25 Exodus 32:25And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked to their shame among their enemies:)
American King James Version×(KJV says the people were naked), Isaiah 20:4 Isaiah 20:4So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
American King James Version×, and Luke 8:27 Luke 8:27And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither stayed in any house, but in the tombs.
American King James Version×.] Righteousness is seen as a covering (Galatians 3:27 Galatians 3:27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
American King James Version×; Revelation 19:8 Revelation 19:8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
American King James Version×). Sin needs to be covered. As human beings we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×). Modest apparel covers our nakedness.
18. Is there any context where no clothing is permissible? (HINT: Adam and Eve.) What was their relationship? Was there anyone else in the Garden of Eden besides themselves and God?
19. How can we apply modesty beginning today? Next time we go shopping? Who can we go to for advice or counsel?
PROVERBS 12:1: “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”
PROVERBS 13:1: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
20. What if someone we respect tells us in love and compassion that we should wear something a little more modest? How would God want us to respond?
COMMENT: God sometimes uses His people, our spiritual family, to teach us and we should remain humble and teachable as He does so.
1. How can it be said that clothing is a language?
2. What value does our society place on modesty? What value does God place on modesty?
3. How is modesty an attitude?
4. Why is modesty a virtue? How does it affect others?
As we go through life, let us choose to dress for success. Modesty and proper dress play a large role in our physical and spiritual maturity. If we serve and follow Christ, we should dress in a manner that shows respect to Him and our brothers and sisters in the faith. Love and respect resound as Christian Living basics. Dressing appropriately therefore helps us keep the two great commandments of love for God and love for our fellow man (Matthew 22:37-39 Matthew 22:37-39 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×). What will you wear to serve them both today?