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Why Modesty Matters
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I wanted to address the topic of modesty for Christian women through this post because I’ve seen far too many professing believers completely disregarding this issue in their day-to-day lives. Obviously, not every girl who calls herself a Christian is a true born-again believer, so she might be dressing a certain way because she genuinely feels zero conviction about it. But I know there are actual Christian girls out there who love the Lord but are still new in the faith and have not stopped to consider the significance of their clothing choices.
In order to help out my sisters who love the Lord and desire to please Him in all that they do, I am offering three reasons why I believe modesty matters, in addition to a few rules to help you dress more modestly as well.
So first, why does modesty matter? Why should you care about modesty if you are not bothered by your own outfits?
Because it’s not about you! Christian girl, you don’t live for yourself—we are commanded to die to ourselves and pick up our cross daily. This may look like giving up certain outfits you like for the sake of helping your brothers in Christ overcome their temptations and battle with lust.
1. You do not want to stumble other believers
It should not be shocking for you to learn that men, for the most part, struggle with lust. Of course, there are women out there who struggle with this temptation as well, but it is far less common of an issue for girls than it is for boys. If you read through the book of Proverbs, there is a large portion of it dedicated to telling young men to flee from sexual temptations and the seductions of the adulterous woman. Even in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says that looking at a woman with lust is the same as committing adultery with her in your heart. Of course, these commands and warnings apply to all believers, including women, but they are specifically directed toward men in the Scriptures because this is a sin that men are more susceptible to falling into based on how they are wired.
So in short, the carnal man’s mind is perverted and he is bound to lust. But the man of God who has been crucified with Christ has died to that old man. He is a new creation in the Lord, with a regenerated heart that longs to honor God.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
However, his flesh is still fallen, and so while the spirit may be willing, the flesh is still weak.
“18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” Romans 7:18-19
That’s why he must die daily to his flesh and pick up his cross to follow Christ. He must shield his eyes from unholy things and guard himself against sinful thoughts, lest he gives the devil a foothold and falls into sin. In fact, Psalm 119:37 should be the prayer of all believers in this day and age where so much immorality is thrown at us in the media we consume:
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” Psalm 119:37
So…where do we, as girls, come into all of this? Well, our more revealing clothes might be a stumbling block to that man of God who is seeking to steer clear of unwholesome sights.
The culture we live in is SATURATED in pornography—the minimum we as a church can do is shield the men of God from such temptations as they seek refuge from the predations of the world. These are not men who indulge their carnal desires or slavishly follow their depraved minds. These are men washed by the blood of the Lamb, who battle against their fallen flesh every day to bring glory to God.
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:4
Again, these are guys that shield their eyes and guard their hearts because they know the flesh is still weak. Out of love for our brothers, we must do our part and dress with decency. We have to look out for those who are weaker in faith (who have more sensitive consciences) and we cannot knowingly cause them to stumble.
"But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak." 1 Corinthians 8:9
I have not even an ounce of expectation for nonbelievers to care for how they dress and how it affects the men around them. But if you claim to love God, it truly matters how you present yourself. We cannot dress sensually and expect men to just get over it. It’s not that simple, and it’s incredibly selfish of you to think that way too.
I understand the temptation of wanting to dress a certain way because you know it’ll get the attention of guys. We're at that age where we want to impress the boys, and the boys are in that stage of life where they can’t get enough of scantily-dressed girls. So I totally understand the pressure to dress just like the rest of the girls in the culture, especially when it feels nearly impossible to get guys to find you attractive unless you do so. But if you feel like you need to expose more skin to impress a guy, he’s not someone you should even want to be impressing in the first place. If you are a Christian woman, you need to find a man who finds you beautiful when you’re dressed with dignity and who is deeply impressed by your heart for the Lord above all else.
I am also fully convinced that it is infinitely more difficult to overcome lustful thoughts than it is to just throw on a cardigan or wear a longer skirt. This is the least we as women can do to help the men in the church. If you’re aware of the fact that your outfit is really revealing and that it may tempt men to have lustful thoughts, you would be sinning if you proceed to wear it still because you are ignoring your convictions and violating your conscience.
2. You should not be violating your conscience
Romans 14 discusses matters of conscience and how we as a church are to approach issues that aren’t explicitly permitted or prohibited in the Bible. While Scripture does tell us as women to dress modestly…
“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control...” 1 Timothy 2:9
It does not explicitly say, you must not expose your shoulders or you must wear shorts that come down to your knees. That’s where prudence, discretion, and our consciences come in. Romans 14:5 talks about believers having different convictions, but it also says that…
“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 14:5
Again, in verse 23, it says that
“whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Romans 14:23
In simpler terms, if you’re convinced that something is wrong and you do that certain thing anyway, you are sinning even if that thing in and of itself was not a sinful action. It’s a sin to you but not others because you were personally convicted that it was not right. You had to willfully violate your conscience to do that certain thing, and so your motives are impure since you have knowingly done what you believed to be wrong.
Let me be clear, you are NOT at fault if a guy cannot control himself and has lustful thoughts looking at you. You are not guilty of his sins. You are at fault, however, for knowing what you ought to do and not doing it. You are guilty of your own sin of going against your convictions and conscience.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17
I don’t want you to feel burdened by believing that somehow your body is a dangerous and wicked thing that can cause men to sin. Again, it’s not your fault if a man lusts after you. You aren’t guilty of his sins, nor is your body sinful in and of itself. Your body was wonderfully designed and created by the Lord, so you should not be ashamed of it.
However, this does not mean you are to parade it around for the entire world to see.
3. You are valuable and should regard yourself with dignity
Mrs. Midwest said it best: “Some guy over there has not earned the right to view my…body. He didn’t marry me. He didn’t commit to me for life. I owe him nothing! It’s an exclusive VIP party of one: my husband.”
And that’s how we should treat it. Your body is not wrong or sinful: it’s actually good and sacred. We don’t go throwing diamonds around everywhere because we recognize that they are precious and valuable. You are infinitely more valuable than jewels, Christian girl—you have been bought with the blood of the Son of God!
"for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:20
You should not just allow random dudes to gawk at you by revealing more than you need to. You benefit nothing from this exchange; a perverted man gets to gratify his base desires while you are simply used and discarded as eye candy. There is a reason why you feel uncomfortable when strange men stare at you and your body—it feels invasive and violating. You instinctively know that it’s wrong and unpleasant because you weren’t created to be a doll paraded around for the pleasure of carnal men.
So why would you allow them to use you like that by exposing yourself to them?? Do yourself a favor and cover up a bit!
Here's the full video from Mrs. Midwest on her views on modesty! I highly recommend her channel in general for any woman looking to grow in her femininity.
Now that I’ve covered why you should dress modestly, let's talk about some rules for determining what is modest or not.
I believe there are certain types of clothing that are objectively immodest and should be avoided by all Christian women. So right off the bat:
Don’t wear tops or dresses that reveal cleavage ever
Don’t wear shorts that are short enough for your rear end to be exposed
Don’t wear clothes that are super tight and hug every nook and cranny of your body
Don’t wear clothes that expose your undergarments (make sure to actually put on undergarments first too)
There is a video I watched of a pastor who gave a sermon on modesty, listing 10 specific clothing items that Christian women should not wear because it can draw unwanted attention from men even within the church. I found the sermon incredibly helpful, but I know a lot of girls will be put off by an old white man telling them what they should and should not wear. However, if you are a born-again believer and you care about the body of Christ, I believe that you will find this video helpful as well so I encourage you to check it out!
Here are some other tips to help you make more modest outfit choices:
You want to make sure your chest area for the most part is covered (so avoid V-neck tops that dip too low unless you layer a camisole underneath it)
If you're going to wear a sleeveless top, try to wear ones with straps that are a few inches thick
If you choose to wear a spaghetti strap, try to put a cardigan/jacket over it or layer a t-shirt underneath it
When wearing tighter pants, try not to wear a top that is too cropped or short
Wear a shirt with your yoga pants—do not do the sports bra and yoga pants look
Try to ensure your skirt or dress at least comes down to your fingertips (and carry around a scarf or shawl to cover your legs when sitting down in public while wearing a short skirt or dress)
If you wear shorts that don't come down around mid-thigh, wear a pair that at least covers your behind, even when you bend over or lean forward
Don’t wear tube tops on their own; wear them under shirts that might be a bit sheer and see-through
Cater to your body type too. If your figure is a bit fuller and curvier, try to avoid tighter stuff and stay away from v-necks and bodycon dresses. But if you’re a bit more slim and straight-figured, there’s more room to wear certain stuff that might be immodest for other body types.
The key is to exercise prudence and discretion. Be reasonable and realistic! You don’t have to dress like the Amish or a cottagecore larper. I am fully aware that standards of decency change with time, so it’s okay to show your ankles, alright? No one is throwing a fit over your elbows being exposed! But be reasonable for our time and culture. Don’t conform to the ways of the world, but also don’t box yourself into the standards of a time period that is outdated. I mean, if you want to dress as they did in the past, knock yourself out! But for those of you who want to stay stylish and trendy, exercise discernment in deciding what clothing trends are modest and still relevant for our age and culture.
I also wanted to mention real quick that I personally think women’s two-piece swimsuits these days are incredibly immodest because they are literally no different from women’s undergarments. I may discuss that topic further in the future, but for now, my point is:
Use personal discretion. Listen to your conscience and convictions. They’re there for a reason! The Bible doesn’t tell us what skirt length is appropriate and if bikinis are okay to wear or not. This is why it’s important to take into consideration cultural norms (to an extent), your heart’s intentions for wearing a certain outfit, the opinions of men in your life, and your conscience.
For example, sleeveless tops are completely fine for certain people (I’m one of those people). But to others, showing shoulders is a big no-no, and so those people should not wear sleeveless tops then. If you feel convicted about wearing a skirt that doesn’t go past your knees, don’t wear it!
If you are daily seeking the Lord and studying His word, then your conscience should be in line with His desires and it’ll give you a good idea of whether what you’re doing is pleasing to Him or not. If you’re not sure if something is immodest, air on the side of covering up more than not. Better safe than sorry.
Check your heart’s motives, but also get the opinions of men in your life that you trust. Why are you dressing a certain way? Is it to get attention from men? Even if it's purely because you think it’s a cute outfit, you still have to consider the ramifications of your decisions. Guys don’t see things the same way girls do. I’m not saying that you have to orchestrate your every action and decision to accommodate the needs of men, but you can’t just neglect the basic standards of decency either.
What you have to keep in mind is that you won’t be able to keep all men from having lustful and perverted thoughts, even after doing all that you can to be as modest as possible. What’s important is to have a clear conscience before the Lord. We will all have to give an account to the Lord one day for our thoughts and deeds, so it’s important that we seek to honor Him in all that we do, including the clothing choices we make.
You are a daughter of the King of kings—so carry yourself with dignity and be set apart from the world.
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called," Ephesians 4:1
Anyways, thank you so much for sticking around until the end. I hope this was helpful to my sisters in the Lord and I pray that the Lord will continue to sanctify us even in this area of our lives.
Hannah Kim is a graduate student at Liberty University working to get her Master of Arts in Teaching and become a conservative Christian voice within the secular liberal educational system in America today.