Modesty: More Than Clothing
I understand that everyone has different ideas of what is considered modest or immodest. So this blog post isn’t going to tell you how long your skirt should be, how tight your clothes shouldn’t be, or how much you should cover-up. Rather I want to look at modesty a little deeper, present you with my thoughts, and from there you can make your own decisions. This is also not just a post for females, but males as well.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, that it is not our own and we ought to glorify God with it. These verses can be used to guide us to make the right decisions when it comes to many things we do, for instance, the way we present our body. Essentially, the way we carry ourselves and the way we dress should glorify God. Read that again, and let it sink in a bit.
I’ve heard the argument that “God doesn’t care about what I’m wearing.” While God definitely looks past the outward appearance and focuses on our heart (1 Samuel 16:7), it doesn’t mean that the outside is irrelevant. The way we present ourselves and dress is a direct reflection of what’s in our hearts.
The next time you’re getting dressed, ask yourself, “why am I choosing to dress this way?” Is it for people to praise me? Is it to get the attention I’m desiring from the opposite sex? Is it to show off my wealth? If your answer is yes to any of those questions I would challenge you to take a closer look at your heart, and address the issue at the source. Dress for yourself, and not anyone else.
“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 2:10-11)
The Blame Game
I’ve heard it said many times (and I’m sure you have too) that a woman should cover up so she “doesn’t cause her brother to stumble.” And while I think there is some wisdom behind that, it can start a flawed thought pattern that goes as such: “my body is a source of temptation, and temptation can be sinful, and sin is bad, therefore my body is bad.” This sort of thinking will lead to feelings of guilt and shame, which is not what God intended when He created Eve with all her feminine beauty. Do not forget that you are also made in the image of God, and that your body is good!
Ladies, you are not responsible for your brother’s sin, but if you can help, then why not? I’d rather be on the side that’s helpful (by being modest), rather than on the side that isn’t. That being said, also understand that you can still dress as modestly as possible and they can still fall into lust. At that point, it has nothing to do with you and it’s on him to fight his own thoughts and temptations.
When modesty is taken to an extreme, it places all the responsibility on the female; I believe it should be tackled by both genders.
Fellas, I know sometimes you see things that are out of your control. A provocative billboard as you’re driving down the highway, an inappropriate advertisement or post while scrolling down your social media newsfeed, or a friend you who’s showing too much skin in your opinion. But what is in your control is how you react to it. You can choose to dwell on that image in your mind, allowing the initial gaze to fester into lust, or you can choose to fight off that temptation as instructed in Matthew 5:28.
Don’t be tempted to shift the blame on the female to give yourself a free pass. That’s the “she made me do it” attitude, and we see where that landed Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Rather guard your eyes as best as you could, guard your heart and mind even more, and understand you also have a role in this modesty conversation.
Dressing for Church
Every place we go has a different dress code, whether it’s unspoken or well-defined. Every dress code has functionality. The way I would dress to go to the park is not the same way I would dress to go to an office job. Schools have a strict dress code that we must follow or else be reprimanded. Yet when it comes to God’s holy house we can get a bit lax about it. Putting on our Sunday best should not be taken lightly. We want to offer God our best and put care into how we show up. After all, we are going to meet the King of kings. We should approach communion with God with the utmost reverence in our hearts which should be reflected in our outward appearance. This goes for both guys and girls.
I had a great conversation with Laura Michael and Madona Lawindy on the Raising Up Copts podcast about modesty in church. So many great points came up, and I highly encourage you to go take a listen.
Do Not Judge
Everyone’s interpretation of modesty is different. Don’t judge your sister or brother based on what he or she is wearing. What you might consider inappropriate can be totally okay for someone else. That doesn’t mean you’re better than them, or they are of less value than you. It just means you’re both different, and we should approach differences from a place of love and respect, not judgment.
If you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s comment or judgment (I know I have many times, and it's rubbed me the wrong way), please don’t let that deter you from church or disconnect you from God. Give those people the benefit of the doubt and continue showing up to the place that's your lifeline here on earth. Church is the place where we go to be healed. Not the place where we show up because we’re already perfect. No one is perfect.
Modestly is not meant to chain you, it’s meant to free you to live a holy life. Let us practice decreasing the attention we draw to ourselves so that we can increase the attention we give God.