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There’s so much out there about Christian women, modesty in the Bible, and religion’s interpretation of what the Bible says. Let’s cut through the noise and have a truly blunt, Biblically sound, and Gospel-soaked conversation about Christian modesty in the Bible…instead of in our own opinions, shall we?
Woman of God, you need to know about modesty. And more importantly, you need to care about it.
But what you don’t need is a shame-soaked dialogue that throws all the burden of masculine lust on your feminine shoulders or a discussion on if shoulders are too tempting to show off.
No, it’s time to talk about modesty in the Bible and derive our standards from the Word.
Hear me out, okay? This isn’t me getting all hyper-religious on you and telling you your salvation and hem length are eternally connected. That’s just ridiculous.
This is me being your friend and pointing you toward Scripture (and reminding myself, too, because I need the gentle nudge as well).
The Bible tells you all you ever need to know about modesty; we’re not going to look to religion for answers, but rather examine modesty in the Bible.
These are things you should have already been told, but probably weren’t because the Truth was lost in a debate over your skirt length, cleavage, and nose-ring.
What does the Bible say about Modesty?
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.1 Timothy 2:9-10, ESV
Let’s break this down…to understand it better.
Biblical Modesty Says Women Should Dress Respectably
What is respectable dress? Honestly, that’s a little hard to quantify.
And yet, it isn’t.
If I were having Sunday dinner at my grandparents (which is a nice, dress up occasion in our family), it would be disrespectful of me to show up in my favorite yoga pants and tee-shirt. Nice leggings and a tunic top might pass muster. Preferred would be feminine slacks or skirt with a nice blouse.
I’m respecting them and the standards they’ve set for the event.
Perhaps respectable could also be considered appropriate?
You should dress in a manner appropriate for the audience, environment, and activity you are about to be a part of. This is respectable and modest.
Scripture Says Women Should Dress Modestly
Modestly can be likened to humility here.
It means not drawing attention to yourself, or making yourself the focus. It means being demure or understated.
Your clothes shouldn’t scream, “Look at me!”
Humility points people toward Jesus; pride draws attention to one’s self.
A godly woman will dress modestly in a way that isn’t distracting. It doesn’t eclipse her character or her message, but rather enhances it.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a lovely outfit, being fashion forward, or having a unique flair. This is a heart issue.
Are your clothes drawing attention to you and your agenda, or is your heart and life pointing people toward Jesus?
Biblical Modesty Means Women Should Dress With Self-Control
Well, geez, Paul. Let’s just step on all.the.toes.
I mean, seriously. I can wear a turtleneck and ankle length skirt much more conveniently than I can wear self-control. Maybe that’s just me.
But Paul is pretty clear here: dress with self-control.
That means use restraint when getting dressed, but also use restraint in your interactions.
Bear the fruit of self-control. It looks ravishing on you, girlfriend!
Godly Women Should Not Be Flashy Or Wasteful
It also says not to adorn yourself so that people look at you or to spend excessively on what you wear.
I can’t define “excessive” for you or define “costly.” That’s between you and Jesus.
But I do think that it means not to waste your time and money on something as non-eternal as your appearance. Don’t take resources God intends to use to build His Kingdom to build your wardrobe.
That’s not to say you can’t have a nice leather purse or a pair of killer heels. Or new hiking boots, if that’s more your jam. Not at all.
And it’s not saying you can’t put on your favorite eye shadow and gloss, either.
It is, however, saying to choose those things with wisdom. Remember that your resources aren’t your own; you’re a steward of them. So pray about it.
Again, it comes back to your heart. When it’s focused on Jesus, the rest of this will be logical fruit in the life of a godly, modest woman.
What Does The Bible Say Is Proper For Those Who Confess Godliness?
Paul really gets detailed here. It’s not just about your clothes, but the overall package.
In fact, it’s really not about the clothes at all. He’s getting that out of the way so he can get to what matters.
Paul says that the important thing -the proper thing- isn’t a style, but a lifestyle.
Modesty in the Bible isn’t defined by what you put on your body, but rather by what you put in (and therefore comes out of) your heart.
Walk the Walk
There is a way that is proper for those who confess godliness. It has to do with pointing people toward Jesus and not drawing attention to yourself.
It’s about loving the unlovable. It’s about feeding the hungry. It’s about giving life to the dead.
Your choice of outfit only matters if it pulls the focus off of the Jesus in you and on to you.
What really matters is that you are walking the walk. Put actions to your words and to the Bible; that’s what matters the most.
Modesty in the Bible is about who you are, what you do, and who you shine. Your outfit is truly secondary (unless it’s so loud no one can hear your message).
Related: 5 Ways To Make God Happy
Wear Good Works
While you can’t earn your salvation, you can walk it out.
Any true belief in God will be evidenced by a lifestyle that supports your beliefs. So what do you need to wear, sweet sister in Christ? What does a modest woman of God clothe herself with?
She loves people. She gives generously. She is kind. She cherishes her home and all within it. She sees the world that needs Jesus and runs into it to shower it with His love.
If a toddler knocks her cup of coffee over and it splatters all over her favorite sweater, she laughs and is thankful for the hug. She isn’t hung up on the sweater.
If a teenager borrows her favorite jacket without asking, she corrects the character issue with love because that matters more than the jacket. The jacket is replaceable; the teenager’s heart isn’t.
If she’s getting dressed up to go out, she looks feminine and lovely without drawing undue attention to her body because she doesn’t want to distract anyone from her message. She wants to please her husband, no one else’s.
The message she lives out is 24/7 because she loves Jesus.
Know About Modesty But Don’t Be Obsessed With It
I challenge you, sweet friend, don’t get hung up on the details. Just get hung up on Jesus.
It’s not whether your hemline is below your fingertips and no more than 2 inches above your knee. It’s about whether your legs are getting more attention than your Lord when you walk into the room.
It’s not about whether your earrings and necklace are too sparkly, but about whether or not they make people look at you more than at the Jesus you are presenting to them.
A preoccupation with modesty is still a preoccupation with self.
Don’t let it be an issue that distracts you or causes division; instead, let it be part of your walk with God.
What Are We Missing?
Immodesty has been linked to being brash, and somehow shame has become the driving force behind modesty.
It’s become a list of things not to do: don’t show your cleavage, don’t tempt boys, don’t flaunt your assets, don’t be the prettiest girl in the room, don’t enjoy clothes too much…and on and on it goes.
What if we took back the narrative and made it Biblical once again?
Be Radiant & Unashamed
I sought the Lord, and he answered mePsalm 34:4-5
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Be Bold & Courageous
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9
Be Pure In Heart & Deed
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart1 Peter 1:22
We could keep going…but you get the point. Modesty isn’t hiding your light under a bushel lest someone should see you shine.
Modesty isn’t playing small so that people don’t think you have a big ego.
Modesty isn’t a list of what you do and don’t do at all; it’s looking to God and shining Him.
How To Talk To Your Daughter About Modesty
And a special note to the mamas out there: don’t let your daughter be shamed into hiding her God-created beauty.
Don’t you dare let society make her feel guilty for enjoying her pretty shoes or lovely dress, shining her femininity, or her make her think that looking lovely is inviting negative attention.
You have the most beautiful opportunity to speak life and truth and identity into her, from the time she is very young. You get to shape the narrative here, Biblically, and give her the filter she needs to catch the religious crap that’s going to be hurled her way eventually.
Teach her to walk boldy in her gifts. And teach her to love (1 Corinthians 13 tells us this is essential!).
If she has the gift of encouragement, teach her too encourage. If she has the gift of prophecy, teach her to follow God’s leading and prophesy. If she has the gift of teaching, equip her to teach well.
And if you do this? If you teach her to love God and walk in her identity? Then she will be modest: a woman not drawing attention to herself, but also not playing small.
She will grow up with a confident grace, radiant and unashamed as the daughter of the King. She will grow up with a sense of identity not anchored by her hem length or influenced by her accessories, but defined by the Word of God. And she will radiate His glory to a dark world that needs His grace so much more than it needs her ankle length skirt.