I wonder what you think about modesty. This is probably one of the most problematic and complicated concepts in the discourse of feminine lifestyle (not to mention, the most difficult topic I’ve written about. It actually took me a month to write this, but you didn’t have to know that, so anyway..). ‘Modesty’ is a word that makes many modern women cringe. It is often associated with the terms ‘out-of-date’, ‘behind the times’, and every single synonym of ‘close-minded’ you can possibly think of. Even within the Christian community, the question of whether modesty is still a relevant principle in today’s free-thinking generation remains highly debated.
It is, however, undeniable that modesty is one of the things the Bible often associates with godly femininity. The Bible may not say specifically what types of clothing are considered immodest or unacceptable, but it does make a clear instruction on what women should wear:
Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 1 Timothy 2:9-10
So you might be asking: where and how does one draw the line of modesty, anyway? Honestly? I don’t know either. After all, nowhere in the Scriptures will you find a command that says “thou shall not expose 75% of your limbs” or “leggings should NEVER be worn as pants”. So the question that remains looming in many women’s minds is: “Where do we draw the line?” The biggest problem is that modesty is highly subjective. We all have varying definitions of what is modest or not, depending on how we were brought up, or the standards of the culture or society we belong to.
So probably the more important question to ask ourselves is, who draws the line?
Pieces of clothing that were once seen as generally “immodest” (e.g. micromicromicro-shorts) have grown increasingly popular and acceptable; but the question is, according to whose standards? Who declared these clothing styles as fashionable anyway?
See, the most important thing to know about fashion is that it is a social construct. Nothing is inherently fashionable or stylish. The stylish-ness of something is dictated either by what is popular, or by a selected few who are delegated as authorities of style (probably people who went to a Paris fashion school). So if you decide to wear something just because it’s fashionable, what can we deduce about your motivation for doing so? Yup, you have decided to follow the said “authorities of style”.
Why, in the first place, is there a need to pay attention to modesty?
FIRST, Our daily choices reflect who or what we value most, and choosing modesty is a reflection that we value the sacredness of the body. At the end of the day, it all boils down to one factor: motive. Do you know why modesty is important? It is primarily a matter of the heart. Never EVER think that modesty is a legalistic command from God to rob us of joy and freedom. God does not condemn based on how we dress or how we look; but he looks at why we choose to dress like we do.
“…for the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7
When confronted with a fashion dilemma, here’s a simple tip. Ask yourself, what is my motive behind this decision? What am I doing this for? Most importantly, who am I dressing for?
If you know in your heart that it wouldn’t be pleasing to the eyes of God then, by all means, flee from it. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. (Prov. 16:2)
SECONDLY, Modesty signifies that your heart is not patterned to the standards of this world. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)
AND THIRDLY, Modesty paves the way for a Godly friendship with our brothers.
Another very very very important reason why we should take caution in wearing, umm, scant clothing is that we should help our brothers guard their hearts, not distract them in their pursuit of purity!
But beware, dear friend. Modesty, like all other things, can be perverted into an idol. This is why modesty, like chastity and sexual abstinence, has to be anchored on our desire to glorify Christ alone, and nothing else.
The main point I am driving at is this: modesty in clothing, in itself, is not a major issue. Our choices of clothing, however, speak volumes about our priorities in life. So as a final note, I would like to leave you with the greatest reason why modest clothing is important: it glorifies God. It radiates a rare kind of beauty that is centred on His grace, reflecting the magnificence of His creation—reflecting the glory of the Creator.
A Sister in Christ
P.S. I still strongly believe that leggings should NEVER be worn as pants.