Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And 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. (NKJV)
1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (NKJV)
(Update, long after this series was written, I put together a report on Modesty. Download it here)
I receive many questions that pertain to modesty; which clothes are appropriate for Christians and what does God have to say about it all? Recently, my local church has re-addressed this issue as well, so I decided that this would be a good time to do a short series on the subject. While the comments and thoughts will be mine, I decided not to “re-invent the wheel” on this, and reference the bullet points below that our church is using. My list is somewhat modified from the original (and will continued to be modified as I write the series). You can find an excellent lesson on the original list (Dr. John Barnett) at http://www.dtbm.org/message_detail.asp?fileid=749.
- Our Clothing Was Invented By God To Cover Our Bodies
- Our Clothing Is To Prevent Confusion
- Our Clothing Sends a Message
- Our Clothing Should Help Us Avoid Sin
- Our Clothing Should Help Us Avoid Being Manipulative In Our Goals
- Our Clothing Must Not Be Ostentatious
- Our Clothing Is To Show Separation From The World
- Our Clothing Reflects Christ
- Our Clothing Is To Reflect God’s Ownership Of Our Bodies
- Our Clothing Must Not Encourage Lust Of The Flesh
- Our Clothing Is To Demonstrate Humility
- Our Clothing Is To Prevent Causing Pictures That Feed Lust
We’ve learned that modesty is a necessary solution to the natural shame humans feel about nakedness. This shame was not always so. It came about because of sin. Looking at today’s world, you certainly couldn’t support this idea of natural shame, but only because the natural shame has been desensitized and suppressed. Step by step, inch by inch…. the boundaries of modesty and decency are pushed further away from God. As always, mankind proclaims as “good” what God has proclaimed sinful.
Modesty comes from Godly heart, not a checklist.
Get the internal right, and the external will follow.
Let me re-emphasize that you won’t find any checklists or sets of rules in this series. There is no set of rules that a rebellious heart cannot violate, stretch or find loopholes in. The issue of modesty starts in the heart. When the heart is right, the external behaviors and choices will follow.
Our Clothing Is To Prevent Confusion
It is far from politically correct today to say so, but guess what? Men and women are different. God created the two genders for specific roles, specific purposes and with specific characteristics. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking there is a very easily identifiable set of qualities that belong to men, and another that belong to women. (even those “exceptions” are not exempt from conforming themselves to God’s plan)
God is very clear about the differing roles and natures of males and females. Only rebellious, prideful humans have distorted and blurred that distinction. Part of the reason for clothing is so that men will look like men, and women will look like women. No confusion, no guessing, no misunderstanding. If anyone reading this thinks this to be an unimportant point, just look around at all the gender confusion in our world and the heartache it causes. I am grateful that I grew up being taught to “be a man, look like a man, act like a man”.
Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God. (NKJV)
The feminization of society has been rampant since the ’60’s and it is just now becoming somewhat acceptable again to be “manly”… not because of any Godly reason, but simply as a backlash to how “pretty” and “soft” men have generally become in the last two decades (at least publicly, ie, celebrities, models, etc.). Even still, the confusion and blending of styles, designs and fashions of both hair and clothing is far from being distinctive. Sadly, the greatest distinction we have today regarding femininity is the overt sexuality and skimpiness of women’s clothing.
Clothing has always solidly identified gender and this is as it should be. Don’t be tempted to get off into the “should women wear pants?” debates. Let’s get real; pants, skirts, whatever… it is very easy as a Christian for you to ask God for direction about your clothing to help you maintain your unmistakable identity as a male or female. I have seen females in pants that could never possibly be mistaken for a man, and I have seen males in robes that would never be mistaken for a female.
Again, it’s not a matter of rules and checklists; it’s a matter of honoring God. Ladies, dress unmistakably like ladies. Men, be men; look like a man; act like a man; dress like a man. In doing so, both men and women will honor God.
Our Clothing Sends a Message
Your clothing sends a message. It can be one of materialism, pride or “look at me”. It can be one of sexuality and provocativeness. Or, it can be a message of Godliness, propriety and modesty.
1 Timothy 2:9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation…. (NKJV)
Anyone with eyes can see that clothing today, especially with our young ladies, is getting just ridiculously sexual. Even an ABC News special called today’s female fashions “hooker wear”. The sad part about this is, a visit to most churches won’t see much, if any, difference in the level of sexual allurement in the styles our young crowd are wearing. Granted, it’s a tough battle for parents to teach their children and young adults to go against the extreme peer pressure, and secondly, to even FIND modest clothing anymore, especially for girls.
I took my teenage daughter shopping for clothes and was dismayed at how hard it is to find anything that is not skin-tight, or leaves the midriff and chest uncovered inappropriately. I’m not exaggerating this point. It was quite a chore to try and find clothing that was of modest length and fit. I found myself having to make moderate compromises in what I would have PREFERRED, while trying to not violate my conscience about modesty in my daughter.
The hardest part is, our kids don’t even realize it is an issue. They only know what they know, and what they have seen. Today’s clothes don’t seem to be immodest to our children because they have never seen differently. The constant bombardment of half-naked women and muscle-flexing males is so common place that it simply doesn’t seem to be an issue to the younger generations.
The other day we received a health and fitness magazine in our mail. The cover, of course, had a women in a bikini next to a body builder. My son picked it up and was looking at the cover and I told him to throw it away. I immediately was treated to the “what’s the big deal” look and question. I asked him to tell me the difference between a barely dressed woman on the cover of a fitness magazine versus a barely dressed woman on the cover of a Playboy magazine. He got the point, but I could still tell that he really thought I was making a big deal out of nothing.
To a degree, he has a point. Everyday he sees billboards, advertisements, commercials, and girls at school who are intensely sexual in their style of dress. So seeing the cover of a fitness magazine is “no big deal”, relatively speaking.
Our clothes send a message. It can be a message of godliness and modesty; or one of lust, materialism or pride.
Our Clothing Should Help Us Avoid Sin
Our clothing should never attract sin, or draw us towards sin. How is that possible? If a young lady is wearing the latest “hooker wear”, what kind of attention will she get? What kind of boy will be drawn to her? Will it be a person who admires her Godly demeanor and wants to get to know her better? Or will it be those who are attracted physically to her, wanting a sexual relationship?
This isn’t rocket science.
Modesty attracts righteousness.
Immodesty attracts immorality.
We are doing ourselves and our children no favors whatsoever by ignoring this issue. We trade the short term attention and adoration that comes with alluring clothing for the long term holiness that comes with modesty. We can’t have it both ways. You can’t dress in a sexually alluring manner and attract the Godly, respectful and faithful man that you dream about. It is never too soon to start teaching this principle to your children; or too late to start practicing it in your own life.
Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (NKJV)
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I hope you are starting to see that modesty truly is an important issue. I’ve seen many people, and many parents who basically just give up, and give in, to the world’s onslaught of immoral fashion. They’ve got “bigger issues” to deal with. Don’t give in, don’t ignore it, and don’t lose heart. Modesty is an issue of the heart and our attitude towards it reflects our attitude about holiness.
Lord, Help us to understand that modesty is an issue of the heart. Help us to know and understand the reason why You have made clothing and modesty a part of a holy life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: What message does your clothing send out? What message does your kids clothing send out? Does it even matter to you? Does your clothing help you avoid sin, or lead you to it? What about your daughter’s? What about your son’s?
Application: Modesty is an issue that is becoming more and more critical. Our kids are being raised in a world where modesty is laughed at as old fashioned and prudish. We must teach them God’s truth on the matter… right after we commit to living it ourselves.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?