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/sermons_read.asp?id=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 Shoul Not Be a Tool of Manipulation
- Our Clothing Is To Show Separation From The World
- Our Clothing Is To Reflect God’s Ownership Of Our Bodies
- Our Clothing Must Not Encourage Lust Of The Flesh
- Our Clothing Is To Demonstrates Where We Are At Spiritually
Let’s review… we’ve learned that modesty is a necessary solution to the natural shame humans should feel about nakedness. We’ve also learned that clothing provides a way to avoid gender confusion which in turn leads to confusion about our God-given roles as men and women. We’ve learned that our clothing sends a message about our attitudes towards God and holiness; and that our clothing should attract righteousness to us, not immorality. Our clothing should not manipulate other people in any way, whether through sexual allurement or “status”. Our clothing should show that we are not attached to what the world holds as important; this becomes more critical as the world descends deeper into immorality and materialism. We learned at the close of our last lesson that our clothing should reflect who owns our bodies. If someone else truly owns us, then we are obligated to dress the way the Owner wishes even if it does not fit our own desires.
Modesty comes from a 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 are no 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 Must Not Encourage Lust Of The Flesh
This is pretty much a running theme through all the points of this series. Given the sexually charged society we live in, it should probably be even more emphasized.
Lust is rampant in Western society. Clothing, male included, but especially female, has reached a ridiculous level of immodesty and provocativeness. Even clothes that actually cover skin are still primarily designed to accentuate and highlight the body.
This point is becoming particularly hard to communicate effectively today, especially to our younger folks. Like the proverbial frog being boiled to death in a slowly heated pan of water, our youth do not have a sense of the rising “heat” in today’s fashions because it’s all they have ever known. A trip to a junior high, a high school, a local shopping mall or any summer time activity is quite literally an opportunity for a “lust fest” should one desire to indulge in it.
Ridiculously short shorts, bare midriffs, vacuum-packed shirts and pants, plunging necklines…. it really is becoming a situation of “Sodom and Gomorrah” proportion. Again, even the clothes that actually cover up some skin are typically very tight, form-accentuating, and unmistakably designed to say “look here”… “now look here”.
Today’s church typically has a”safe distance” mentality
about morality, modesty and materialism.
Is the Church environment any better than the world when it comes to immodest clothing? Sometimes. Often not. We have a “safe distance” mentality about morality. What does that mean? Well consider the safe distance rule about driving…
When driving, you know how they teach the “two second rule” about following a “safe distance” behind the next car? You pick out a stationary object on or beside the road. As the car in front of you passes that object, you begin to count, “thousand one, thousand two”. As long as you have not passed that same object before counting “two”, then you are a “safe distance” behind the car in front of you.
It doesn’t matter if you are going 10 miles an hour, or 90. The distance changes between you and the car in front of you; but it’s all relative. They speed up, you speed up. They slow down, you slow down. As long as you keep your distance of “two seconds”.
This works great for driving safely, but it’s a catastrophic approach to morality or holiness. The world is going “90 mph” down the road of immorality. The typical Christian appears to be pretty “good” because they are a “safe distance” behind the world. But compared to God’s Word, we are driving recklessly. (Thank you to Dr. John Barnett for teaching me this valuable illustration! www.dtbm.org)
We are not to compare ourselves to the world. We are called to keep a “safe distance” but to be “separated”. We are not to judge our level of modesty and holiness against the world. A sheep looks soft and white when standing on dirty ground; but that same sheep appears filthy and dirty when standing in fresh, pure snow. God’s Word is our “fresh pure snow” when it comes to determining what is modest and holy.
Staying a safe distance behind the world is not a Godly approach to modesty. We must find out God’s standard regardless of what the world is doing.
Our Clothing Demonstrates Where You Are At Spiritually
“You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”… well isn’t that a bunch of hogwash! Okay, I know what it’s supposed to mean. It means you don’t judge someone by the color of their skin, or by their level of physical beauty, or even by the quality of clothing they have on.
When it comes to modesty,
the cover says a LOT about the book.
When it comes to MODESTY, the “cover” says an awful lot about the book. I can tell a WHOLE lot about a book that has the word “Penthouse” and naked lady on the cover! In the same way, our clothing, and our attitude about modesty goes a LONG way in making a statement about where we are at spiritually. Our “cover” (clothing) says much about our “book” (heart). Our clothing and the corresponding modesty makes a statement and gives non-verbal indications about topics such as:
- Do I know God’s Word?
- Do I take God seriously?
- Who owns my body?
- What is my attitude about sin?
- What is my attitude about purity?
- What is my attitude towards the opposite sex?
- What is my attitude about money?
- Am I in close fellowship with God?
- Do I take my Christian testimony seriously?
- Am I more like the world, or like Christ?
- Am I more attached to the world, or to God?
There is a lot than can be “judged” about our “cover”, however, I’m not suggesting we start running around and “judging” or confronting every person’s spiritual condition based on a tight blouse or a pair of low cut jeans. What I am suggesting is this:
- Individual Christians should start seriously considering and evaluating what they wear, and in light of God’s Word, what statement is made publicly about our private spirituality
- Parents should quit ignoring/minimizing this issue and realize that clothing and modesty is a integral part, and statement, about the spiritual lives of children and parents alike
- Church leaders should should evaluate the need for teaching and instruction in this area; and evaluate the spiritual effect on your flocks that results from ignoring the plummeting standards of modesty in our culture today.
Whether collectively as the modern church, or as individual Christians, our clothing, and our modesty, make very powerful statements to a watching and dying world about our faith, our God and our commitment.
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Do we need checklists? No. Do we need lists of rules and clothing guidelines? Not at a “group” level, though parents may find it helpful when teaching their children what is acceptable and what is not (and I have seen where “attire guidelines” have been useful and appropriate to determine what is acceptable for a person who represents a local church at a public function). My point remains: external constraints, while sometimes useful and appropriate, will not change a person’s heart.
We don’t need the “mod squad” (Modesty Police) running around like the Taliban in the Middle East beating people every time an elbow or ankle appears. What we do need are leaders, teachers and parents who see the seriousness of this issue and can properly and lovingly convey God’s Word to those under their spiritual care.
As the world grows less modest, and ridiculously immoral, this issue will only rise in importance. It’s not going to get better by ignoring it.
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: Does any of your clothing encourage lust from the opposite sex? For you guys with muscles, do you show them off? Ladies, have you asked your Godly father, husband or another male whether your clothing is provocative to men? What does your clothing say about your level of Christian maturity? Does you clothing send out the message that you are serious about holiness?
Application: This is a matter of the heart. There are times when guidelines or clothing rules will help guide people of certain ages or situations, but generally speaking, a person’s heart must get right about modesty before any real and lasting changes are made. Clothing and modesty are becoming ever more serious, and important as we move into these perilous immoral times.
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?