Category Archives: Modesty

The issue of modesty in the church today

Does the way we dress show respect?

Have we as Christians forgotten that manners are a way of showing respect to others?

For example, if you are going out for a special occasion such as your wife’s birthday, and she dresses in her best dress, nice shoes, special necklace and has her hair done and you simply wear jeans, a t-shirt, and an old jacket and boots, this may show you place more emphasis on yourself and your comfort than on honoring your wife.

What about occasions such as weddings, funerals, and memorial services? Most show respect by dressing nicely; men wearing a suit and tie and women dressing appropriately, but others do not. Some men come dressed like they are going on a camping trip or to the beach; therefore being very disrespectful to the family whom they are honoring or the people they are remembering.

Scripture talks about showing “courtesy to all” (Titus 3:2, esv). Someone said “Manners are kindness in action.”

Although appropriate dress may not be a “fashionable” topic, it is still a good idea to teach in our churches. Proper dress is one way to display the kindness of Christ and honor others to whom honor is due. Spread the word!

Why Do So Many Women Dress Immodestly in Church?

from crosswalk.com

My wife brought up the topic as we drove by cornfields on the way home from church. “You just can’t wear something like that on stage.”

I knew exactly what she meant. During the worship set, one of the praise leaders wore a dress that covered about as much skin as a tight-fitting, low-cut swimsuit with a short skirt. Remembering the lessons from Every Young Man’s Battle, I’d locked my eyes on the praise lyrics or simply closed them so that I couldn’t see her.

“When you dress like that,” my wife added, “you take the focus off God and put it on you. You’re undermining the whole reason we’re there.”

In a trending article from CharismaMag.com, Jennifer LeClaire suggests that this issue of revealing clothing in church is troubling:

Some women—and I am talking about so-called “mature believers,” not lost souls or baby Christians—come into God’s sanctuary on Sunday morning wearing clothes you might rather expect to see them wearing at a dance club on Saturday night. Their blouses cling to their bodies, their necklines dip so low and stretch so wide that they reveal cleavage, and the slits up the sides of their skirts offer more than an innocent glimpse of their thighs. Again, I’m not talking about sinners seeking God or new believers who plain don’t know better. I’m talking about those who claim to be “born-again, baptized, blood-bought” (even tongue-talking) members of the church!

Paul instructed Timothy that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation” (1 Tim. 2:9), and he told the church at Corinth that “our unpresentable parts have greater modesty” (1 Cor. 12:23). Regardless of how hot it is outside or how busy we are, there’s no justification for Spirit-filled women to come to church wearing clothes that cause some men to pay more attention to the things of the flesh than the things of the Spirit.

However, other Christian women think that such a push toward modesty is rooted in shaming the female members of a congregation. Using such slogans as “modest is hottest” makes women feel as if they are the root cause of temptation, rather than teaching them how to view themselves as beautifully made in God’s image. Last year, Sharon Hodde Miller suggested three ways to tackle the problem:

How do we discuss modesty in a manner that celebrates the female body without objectifying women, and still exhorts women to purity? The first solution is to dispense with body-shaming language. Shame is great at behavior modification, even when the shaming is not overt. But shame-based language is not the rhetoric of Jesus. It is the rhetoric of his Enemy.

Second, we must affirm the value of the female body. The value or meaning of a woman’s body is not the reason for modesty. Women’s bodies are not inherently distracting or tempting. On the contrary, women’s bodies glorify God. Dare I say that a woman’s breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honors Him. He created the female body, and it is good.

Finally, language about modesty should focus not on hiding the female body but on understanding the body’s created role. Immodesty is not the improper exposure of the body per se, but the improper orientation of the body. Men and women are urged to pursue a modesty by which our glory is minimized and God’s is maximized. The body, the spirit and the mind all have a created role that is inherently God-centered. When we make ourselves central instead of God, we display the height of immodesty.

Miller makes an important point here. The church must do a better job teaching a “theology” of the body that isn’t rooted in shame. We are all designed by God and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Everything God gave women was created “very good” (Genesis 1:31). But at the same time, our fallen nature has impacted the way we (especially men) see women’s bodies. The flesh nature gets in the way of what was once a perfect posture of purity toward each other. While we’re no longer slaves to our sin nature (Romans 6:6), that doesn’t mean our minds don’t harbor impurity (Romans 13:14). Both men and women must live and dress in ways that humbly help each other in our weaknesses (Galatians 5:13).

In addition, we should also consider the motivations behind those who design such clothing. Are they making skin-baring outfits because they view women as God’s creation or are they doing so to exploit their bodies?

http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/why-do-so-many-women-show-off-cleavage-in-church.html

What Not to Wear

by Mary Kassian

In 1 Timothy 2:9, the Lord provides three guidelines that help Christian women figure out what and what not to wear: “She adorns herself with respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” Let’s examine these three guidelines to help us ensure that our looks are in good order, properly arranged, and ready to display Christ.

Is It Becoming or Unbecoming?

Kosmio is the descriptive form of the Greek noun kosmos (to put in order, trim, adorn, or decorate), which is related to our English word cosmos—the universe. The Greeks regarded the universe to be an ordered, integrated, harmonious whole. Kosmos is the opposite of chaos. So when Paul told women that their adornment should be kosmio, he meant that like the universe, all the parts should be harmoniously arranged with the other parts. It should be “becoming”—that is, appropriate or fitting. Given the context, I believe Paul was implying that our adornment ought to be becoming on a number of different levels.

First and foremost, your clothing ought to be becoming, fitting to, and consistent with your character as a child of God. But it also ought to be becoming to your body type, becoming to your femininity, becoming to your husband, becoming to the other clothes you are wearing, and becoming to the occasion and place you intend to wear it. There’s a tremendous amount of guidance in that small word, becoming. It challenges you to evaluate your clothes, shoes, purses, makeup, and hair from multiple angles as part of the harmonious, integrated whole of your life—to line up the seen with the unseen and the temporal with the eternal. It challenges you to bring a cosmic perspective to bear on your everyday decisions.

I like the word Paul chose. It has enormous implications. Kosmio means that a Christian woman’s “look” ought to be consistently put together, inside and out. This challenges those who put an undue emphasis on external appearance as well as those who neglect their personal appearance. It’s a corrective to women who dress extravagantly. It’s a corrective to those who dress seductively. But it’s also a corrective to those who think that “holy” means frumpy, ugly, unfeminine, and out of style. Becoming indicates that running around in baggy jeans and T-shirts all the time is just as inappropriate as being obsessed with stylish clothing. It means that a woman’s appearance ought to be put together nicely. It ought to be pleasant and attractive—on the inside and the outside.

Is It Decent or Indecent?

The second word, aidous, is based on the Greek term for shame and disgrace. The word is a blend of modesty and humility. When I think about a word picture that personifies this concept, I think of approaching God with eyes that are downcast.

It involves a sense of deficiency, inferiority, or unworthiness. It suggests shame, but also a corresponding sense of reverence and honor toward rightful authority. It’s the opposite of insolence, imprudence, disrespect, or audacity. Downcast eyes are the opposite of defiant eyes.

So does dressing with your eyes downcast mean that you are self-conscious? No. It means that your clothing tells the truth about the gospel. Your clothing shows the world that Jesus covers your shame and makes you decent. Your clothes cover your nakedness as the clothing of Christ covers your sin.

Dressing “with eyes downcast” means that you choose clothes that are decent in His eyes . . . not clothes that are provocative, seductive, and that honor nakedness. When you dress decently, you recognize that God ordained clothes to cover, and not draw attention to, your naked skin. You cover up out of respect for Him, the gospel, your Christian brothers—and out of respect for who He made you to be. Decency means you agree with the Lord about the true purpose of clothing and set aside your self-interest to dress in a way that exalts Christ.

So in that dressing room trying on that skirt, take time to sit, bend, and stretch in front of that mirror, and ask yourself, Is this skirt decent? Does it do what it should do? Does it properly cover me up? Does it showcase my underlying nakedness—or exalt the gospel of Christ?

Is It Moderate or Excessive?

The final thing to ask yourself about clothing is whether it is moderate or excessive. Paul uses the Greek word sophrosunes. It means “of a sound mind; curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate.” The word indicates that our adornment should be reasonable and not crazy. We ought to rein in our impulses and avoid extremes in fashion, hairstyles, and makeup. We also ought to avoid spending crazy amounts of money or stuffing our closets full of crazy quantities of clothing. We ought to govern our wardrobe choices with a sense of moderation, simplicity, and self-control. If the outfit is crazy extreme, crazy expensive, or if it’s crazy for you to be buying another one, then you ought to pass it up.

Understanding the purpose of clothing and asking yourself the three questions, Is it becoming? Is it decent? and Is it moderate? will help you figure out how to dress. And don’t forget to include your “Helper” in the process. The Holy Spirit is an invaluable source of assistance when it comes to figuring out whether or not your appearance glorifies God. If your heart is right and you seek His guidance, He will be your personal wardrobe consultant and teach you what and what not to wear.

© Moody Publishers. Adapted from Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, pp. 103-108.

 

As Christians, let’s teach and practice modesty in how to dress

by Doug Nichols

I attended a memorial/funeral service recently and the dress of the attendees, even the elderly, was very embarrassing! Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! People were dressed as though they were going to work in the garden. One woman even had a bright flowered sun dress that was very immodest.

Dressing neatly, tactfully and modestly shows respect for the people being honored at the memorial service, wedding, special occasion and so forth, and does not draw attention to oneself.

Often in attending a conference, instructions are included stating something like, “Dress will be business casual” or “Dress is formal.” Perhaps as Christians, we should add a note in our church bulletins, memorial services, special occasions or wedding announcements something like, “Please dress neat and modest as a testimony to Christ and respect to others.”

Wedding Modesty: Has it Gone Out of Style?

by Carolyn Mahaney

A few years ago, CJ (Mahaney)and I had the privilege of going to a church where CJ spoke on the topic of modesty. At the conclusion of my husband’s sermon, the church’s worship pastor, Todd Murray, presented an additional appeal in his closing remarks. He urged all girls to consider modesty even when shopping for formal attire and wedding dresses. His words were laden with care and compassion, yet they carried an appropriate soberness. We felt Todd’s exhortation was too important to be heard only by the girls of his church, so we asked if we could post his words here. He graciously agreed. Let’s listen in and be challenged by one pastor’s heart and plea to the women of his church:

Ladies, please don’t forget to apply these principles of modesty to formal events and weddings. In recent years, I have become increasingly grieved by the immodest dresses of both brides and bridesmaids at the weddings that I officiate. I have observed a number of young ladies in our fellowship who have dressed modestly all their lives appearing on their wedding day in extremely provocative dresses, exposing more of themselves than on any other day of their lives.

I assume the best about what is going on in the hearts of these young women. I don’t think that they went to the wedding dress shop determined to be provocative. No doubt, they just wanted a dress that would be elegant on this day that they have dreamed of all their lives. When a bride and mother set out on their expedition to find a wedding dress, they are, quite naturally, thinking like… women! Unfortunately, there is no one in the shop who is thinking like a man! I’d like to make a radical proposal, girls. Why not take your father with you to the wedding boutique? If that thought is just too much for you (or your Dad!) at least consider taking the dress out on approval and allowing your dad to see it before you make your final purchase.

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when shopping for a wedding or bridesmaid’s dress:

1. Does this dress reflect the fact that a wedding ceremony is a holy service of worship and not a fashion show?

2. Can I picture myself standing in this dress, for an extended period of time, just a few feet from my pastor as he opens the Word of God and leads me in my solemn vows?
Pastor Todd Murray isn’t the only one concerned about immodesty at weddings. I know the pastors of my church share this concern as well.

Having three married daughters, I know the challenges involved in finding modest wedding attire. However, with a lot of time and effort, it can be done! As Todd mentioned, the dad’s role is crucial in this process. CJ helped our girls by providing guidelines for appropriate bridal wear and giving final approval to their choices. Quite simply, the standard of modesty and self-control didn’t change. Here are some criteria CJ gave to the girls:

1. Find a wedding dress with a neckline that completely conceals any cleavage.
2. Avoid dresses without sufficient covering in the back.
3. Strapless gowns or dresses with only spaghetti straps are revealing and thus do not serve the men in attendance at your wedding.
4. A modest gown should not be excessively tight and draw unnecessary attention to your figure.

We hope these specifics assist you in evaluating modest bridal and evening attire. However, please be on guard against the temptation to be self-righteous toward those who choose differently. If you think a bride is dressed immodestly, her wedding day is not the appropriate occasion to comment on her dress! Simply rejoice with her in the goodness of God displayed in her marriage.

And if you are preparing to get married, we hope these thoughts serve you in your effort to plan a ceremony that brings glory to God. May He give you much joy on that special day!

Originally posted on CW in June 2008