The invention of the internet has been a mixed blessing. It used to be that the values, and how you conducted your home, were learned from either your parents, your church and/or from friends. The same was true in how you dressed. I think most people could easily spot someone immodestly dressed, if it were extreme. But what is being taught in homes and churches about what’s truly appropriate for Christian women (and men) in regard to what they wear? In most homes and churches, not much I’m afraid. It is with all seriousness, and in the spirit of Titus 2, that I address the matter of modesty and femininity.
With the current teen pop culture of scantily clad girls, and a society that is pushing ‘tolerance’ of all
lifestyles and choices, it’s no wonder that children are confused as to what’s appropriate. In the majority of homes across the country, the pop stars are role models for these girls. They strive to be like them; with the clothes, looks, popularity and attitude that goes along with it! I’ve seen talk shows where parents are at their wits end with their teen daugthers dressing like prostitutes and the parents saying they don’t understand how and why their daughters got this way.
Let’s look at what the Bible says on the subject of modesty and femininity:
Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.”
1 Timothy 2:9 “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
1 Peter 3:3-5 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.”
It would seem clear from the above verses that we aren’t to dress like men, there should be an obvious difference in our appearance; we need to cover ourselves up properly and shouldn’t overly concern ourselves with expensive clothes and jewelry and that our beauty is to shine from within, via our “gentle and quiet spirit”.
In today’s society, women try to use clothing and hairstyles to make themselves appear beautiful (obviously this was a concern in biblical times as well!), when God is mainly concerned with our heart being right with Him and our attitude toward others. If you’re thinking then, that God must not be concerned with what we wear, consider the following verses:
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said ‘Do not commit adultery’. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Romans 14:21 “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that will cause your brother to fall.”
WOW! That’s some pretty serious warnings. If all it takes for a man to commit adultery is for him to look at a woman lustfully; then I think we, as sisters in Christ, had better seriously consider Romans 14:21 when choosing what clothing we wear. Romans 14:21 makes it clear that we are responsible for the choices we make and how it affects others.
I’ve heard many say that there will be men who will still look lustfully, no matter how a women dresses. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean you have license to push the envelope! And honestly, squabbling over the finer points of modest dress gives the impression of a heart of rebellion in obeying the word of God. Remember, Romans 14 is talking about a brother in Christ. It can be assumed that a fellow Christian would have higher standards than the world (read: unsaved men), so what may not turn a head by worldly standards, may be inappropriate in God’s church of believers.
So what clothing constitutes modest dress? Most definitely dresses for women would be considered modest, and gender appropriate, clothing. Our clothing should be distinctly feminine. Our demeanor and attitude should be feminine. Not suggestive or seductive. Have you noticed that when you put on a dress, your whole attitude changes? You feel more feminine. Your mannerisms are more feminine.
Does this mean that women should never wear pants? In light of Deuteronomy 22:5, I would have to say yes, because it is always clear that dresses are women’s clothing. This would not leave anything open to question. However, I have seen some very immodest dresses and some very modest pants. So I do believe that a woman should seek the word and the Lord for direction on specific articles of clothing she may choose to wear.
It is imperative that Christians take a stand for modesty in today’s world. If you are not a parent, I’m sure there are children in your life (read: nieces, neighbors, friend’s children, etc..) who are watching you. You are still a role model and what you do matters!
Luke 17:2-3 “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a milstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”
Is what you wear worth potentially causing a brother in Christ, or a child, to stumble/sin? It would be best to err on the side of caution, and wear the dresses with a happy heart!