I did not write this article, but I am grateful for the pastor who did. I believe it will be helpful for godly women. The Bible emphasizes the modesty of women & thus the emphasis of this article is directed towards women. But the sad fact is that our society has devolved to such levels that even men show off their bodies. So this article should be read by men as well. All Christians are held to the biblical standards of “modesty, propriety & moderation.” We don’t hear those words often in our day, so if you need to Google their definition, have at it;-)
I’m sure that some people feel that such an article shouldn’t be written by a man. But I would like to defend the author by pointing to the example of the Apostles Paul and Peter. In 1 Tim. 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-5 both Apostles, by the Spirit of God, were not shy about addressing the apparel and adornments of women. And though some might call it unfair that the author didn’t also address how men adorn themselves, I must note that that neither Peter nor Paul felt compelled to address men on this point.
Others might feel the author is blaming Bathsheba for David’s sin. I disagree; I believe he means that David had his sin and Bathsheba had hers. Whatever might have been the situation in David and Bathsheba’s case, I believe the author’s point is that men have their responsibility and women have theirs. I believe this is a valid point.
Lastly. I have been in Asia for close to 2 decades now. So my sensibilities are a bit different than Americans. The mention of body parts makes me blush. But I believe the author mentions such details so that reader will know exactly what he is referring to. He is not being crude in my opinion; he is being clear.
The Godly Woman’s Wardrobe
1 timothy 2:9-10 “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works”
Before reading the rest of this article please be aware that the content is truly spoken in love and respect for all the women that will read it. If read in the wrong spirit it could possibly be taken as a word of condemnation or accusation. That is not the intention or motivation at all! However the reality is I have chosen to speak and write about this topic in a very direct manner thus it may be embarrassing, confrontational and even painful for some to read. However I feel the only way to truly communicate the truth concerning this issue is to be plain, direct and to the point. To ignore this issue will not produce godly fruit. To speak vaguely or indirectly about it will not make it clear enough for the women who truly do not understand the issues that are created for men as a result of their immodesty. Therefore even though for some it might not be pleasant to read, yet I urge you to allow the truth of what is said to transform your mind, your life, and even the way you present yourself and your physical bodies and appearance before God and man. I urge you to read it humbly, as a godly woman and disciple of Christ and understand the intention is not to control you, condemn you or restrict you, but to show you the truth concerning this issue and to help you know that you must have a proper response. This issue cannot be understood and then ignored, action must be taken!
- Purpose of clothing: from the beginning of the world the purpose of clothing was to cover up the body
Genesis 3:21 “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them”.
In the book of Genesis we see that God gave clothing to cover Adam and Eve after they sinned (He gave them animal skins to cover their nakedness). He did this to ensure modesty and propriety and to hold back certain desires that would be stimulated without it. Throughout the Old Testament we see that to look upon the nakedness of someone was extremely sinful. For example when Noah’s son looked upon him as he lay naked in the tent and then brought his brothers to see, Noah cursed him severely bringing everlasting shame and reproach upon his offspring for doing such a wicked deed (Genesis 9:20-27). Clearly we can see that there was something very improper in his actions in Gods eyes. In fact the priests in the Old Testament were forbidden to wear clothing that would reveal their nakedness in any way when performing their duties (Exodus 20:26). They were specifically instructed to not allow anyone to see their nakedness as they climbed the steps to the altar. So they must be careful what clothing they wore so as to keep themselves properly covered. Here we can see that there was a burden of modesty and propriety placed upon the individual and the way he dresses so as to avoid having others see things that they ought not.
One of the most tragic stories of the Old Testament is that of how King david fell into the sin of adultery and murder because he looked upon the nakedness of a woman (2 Samuel 2-5). King David fell because a beautiful lady bathed naked near his palace, what was she thinking?! David is to blame for his sinful actions, but was her public exposure of herself not also part of the problem? Would David have ever committed such a sin if he was not led astray by the lust of his eyes due to a woman disrobing in plain view? (Not to mention she also consented to the relationship thus committing adultery herself as well).
So from this brief summary we can see that from the beginning God gave clothing as a way of covering the human body in order to restrain certain thoughts and desires that could otherwise be aroused without them and lead to destructive sinful actions.
Improper uses of clothing:
Since clothing was given to cover, hide, to promote modesty, and propriety and to keep certain thoughts and desires out of the mind, any use of clothing that is against this purpose is wrong and works counter to Gods intention for giving clothing. There are two primary areas where the world under satans’ control constantly misuses clothing. The first is by using clothing to reveal:
To reveal: The easiest way to misuse clothing is simply to just not wear enough of it. Short skirts, short shorts, short sleeves, no sleeves, low cut, high cut etc.
Short skirts/short reveal far more of the legs than is proper, either when sitting or walking, it gives the impression of not wearing clothing, it doesn’t cover up, it reveals. It is sensual. It draws attention to that part of your body and almost says: “look at me”. if you don’t want a man (who is not your husband) looking up and down your legs and buttocks lusting, you better not wear them at all. (If you do want to be looked at in this way then you need to repent and get saved!) If the rule given for priests (that nothing could be revealed when they went up the steps of the altar) applies to us could a mini skirt or short skirt possibly be worn? Never! it reveals the nakedness very easily, both during normal positions of standing/walking and especially when sitting down, if the legs are not crossed etc it is exposing/revealing. Mini skirts or short skirts of any kind are not proper for godly women to wear in public–ever! because they are clearly made to reveal more of the body than is proper for a godly woman, thus potentially stirring up sinful and sensual thoughts in men. Clothing is meant to conceal and cover and thus hold back sinful thoughts or ideas, not stimulate prompt and promote them!
Sleeveless, tank tops, spaghetti straps: Anything that is purposely revealing more skin is defeating the purpose of clothing. Its drawing attention to the body. Even if certain sensitive parts of the body are covered, the exposure of more skin is creating the illusion of not wearing clothing. Clothing is made to cover, not to reveal!
Low cut blouses or loose shirts: reveal the chest, showing cleavage, instead of covering it actually reveals and draws attention (though still covering) in a sensual way it hints at what is there making it more noticeable and obvious rather than modestly covering it and making it “out of sight out of mind” (this is the general rule) so also the opposite is true: “in sight in mind” It’s a tease, a hint and an invitation. This part of the body is only for one’s spouse to be seen! It should never be revealed in public in any way! This is revealing the nakedness in a severe way! In fact if not careful when leaning forward this sort of clothing is extremely revealing of a woman’s nakedness, thus making this sort of clothing completely inappropriate according to the rule of “not revealing the nakedness” If you can’t wear it comfortably without revealing in both normal postures as well as bending down or leaning forward etc (which must be done in every day life) then you run the risk of exposing yourself in a completely inappropriate way to men who are not your husband! Solution? Change your clothes! Keep yourself pure and only expose yourself to your husband in private!
See through clothing: it may not reveal the skin but it reveals the underclothes, it is also something that is not covering, but rather exposing and revealing–this is sensual and immodest, it is not appropriate for godly women to reveal their breasts, bras, underwear etc. Any clothing that is doing so is not functioning properly as God has designed it. Instead of becoming a tool of God it has become an instrument of the devil. The world has twisted the use of clothing made it something to entice, to reveal, to accentuate with the purpose of inspiring impure thoughts and desires for what it is supposed to be hiding and covering.
skin-tight tops/pants, skirts
These don’t reveal skin, however they clearly accentuate what is below, thus basically doing the same thing as clothes that reveal skin, they point to what is their and almost offer an invitation to look and lust. They don’t cover the chest they reveal it. They don’t cover the buttocks, they accentuate it, etc. When satan tempted Adam and Eve the first thing he did was get them to look, then desire, then eat (Genesis 3:6). If clothing is tight, it reveals what is below only covering it with a thin layer, its accentuating the body below. How can it be good and right to show off the breasts or buttocks or legs in a sensual way through exposing curves and shape with tight clothing? This is certainly a misuse of both clothing and the body! Proverbs 5:19 says “let her breasts satisfy YOU at all times” the body is for the man in marriage, not for any man on the street to look at and lust. Cover it up and you will be innocent, reveal it and accentuate it and you will be guilty and have sinned!
Why the focus on women instead of men:
The world is filled with pornography (mostly for men), look around the world and see the advertisements, billboards, magazines, it almost always shows beautiful women immodestly dressed, (as opposed to men). This is because men are easily drawn and tempted by their eyes. We don’t usually see men wearing mini skirts or showing off their breasts, or wearing tight see-through clothing.Thats because women and men are usually stimulated in different ways. Proverbs is filled with exhortations and warnings to young men to stay away from adultery and prostitution etc. But their are no warnings to women. King David fell because a beautiful lady bathed naked near his palace, what was she thinking?! (David is to blame, but that woman was an foolish as well). Godly women need to wake up to this reality and avoid at all costs causing men to stumble by the way they dress!
I have discovered that often times Christian women are ignorant of how easily men are distracted or tempted in this area. Sadly so often they are not even aware that by the way they dress they themselves are often part of the problem! Sometimes ladies are only following the latest fashions when they dress immodestly. They are not intentionally trying to tempt men, however the result is the same. Men will be tempted by sensual exposure of the female body regardless of the motivation of the one doing it. Therefore Godly women must learn to dress differently and modestly as the scripture clearly teaches. Women often don’t understand the way visual images and their own dress affects men because they themselves are not affected in the same way. This is why the Bible specifically commands women to dress modestly (and not men) because this is where the problem is (and not vice-versa).
Another issue that this issue affects is interaction and fellowship between Christian brothers and sisters in the church. When women dress in ways that reveal and accentuate their bodies it makes it very awkward to interact with them. Godly men guard their hearts, by guarding their eyes. Sin will come in to the heart through the eyes. If women are wearing revealing clothing, short skirts, short shorts, low cut blouses, or tight clothing, it makes it very difficult to interact with them comfortably because the clothing is revealing and exposing what we do not want to see, and just to look at you and talk to you we are forced to see it! So don’t wear it! Keep it to yourself and for your husband at home! Make it easy for the men to look straight at you without awkwardness or having to try to guard their eyes just to talk to you! Otherwise even in church fellowship there can be an awkwardness and a distraction simply because the lady is not dressed properly and modestly. All women should be clearly aware that if you dress with clothing that is tight, low cut, short, revealing skin, the body, etc, in church (or anywhere for that matter) you will become an object of lust to the men that are not holy, and an object of temptation and stumbling to the godly men! Our goal should be to lead people to Christ, not to our bodies. The world doesn’t understand this and often uses clothing (or lack of) to sensually draw others, and for them it is normal. But for those that are in Christ this is wicked and every sister who is seeking holiness and to please God and not be a stumbling block must reconsider her clothing and dress. You must question if it is truly pleasing to God and truly helpful to men. In many cases you will find you need to throw away much of your clothing and start over with conservative, modest, and maybe even unattractive clothing! However the true and Biblical purpose of clothing is not to be fashionable and attractive but to be godly! Though our flesh doesn’t like this, it’s pleasing to God and helpful to the purity of the church. This is the way of the disciple, we put godliness before fashions, holiness before personal preference, and the glory of God above all else!
A caution to the readers to not miss the point of this article:
Many ladies that read this will think “that doesn’t apply to me but to other ladies” or, “I am already conservative enough!” but the question is, when the lady herself is not sensitive to the issue of visual stimulation, how can you be sure that your standard (that is conservative enough for you) is actually conservative enough for God and for the men around you? What standard are you really going by? Because you dress a little more conservative than the world does that make your standards and dress already conservative enough?
The reality is you cannot be the only one to decide that your dress and presentation is already conservative enough. The reason is simple: because you are not supposed to be dressing for yourself but for God and the men around (again the true and original purpose of clothing is to cover up not to reveal, accentuate or expose). Therefore beware of the attitude of pride and self righteousness that says “I’m already conservative enough” if you were this article would not need to be written. Because even though probably most the people that take the time to read this are already conservative in their dress to some degree, (or at least according to your own standards you are) this is being written to help you see your blind spots that still remain and to show that your standards are actually too low and not nearly conservative enough. This is not because you are an evil woman or ungodly women but because you are ignorant of some of these issues (as a women cannot understand what its like to be a man) and also because your thinking has been formed by the world concerning clothing fashion and beauty (rather than the word of God).
Many years ago when bathing suits were first made they would cover the full body of a woman from head to toe. That was the worlds standards. However as time went on they because less and less conservative and more and more revealing. To the point that bikini’s are one of the most common and popular bathing suits for women! So for Christians, if we make our standards according to what others wear (we just try to be a little less revealing and more conservative than them) does that mean that now Christian women should wear a modest bikini to the beach?! God forbid! We must not look to the people around us to determine our standards but to God and his word! So be aware of the dangers of your own proud heart and self-righteousness that will want to rise up and say “I’m already conservative enough!” “Thats too extreme! “”Thats legalism! “”That goes against my concepts of beauty” etc. The point is that clothing is not for you to enjoy, but to be a practical means of defeating sin, not promoting it! As this truth penetrates your heart and spirit more and more, you will truly be on the path of godliness and true beauty. You will truly begin to help defeat the devil by taking away distractions, temptations, and also becoming a true example to the other ladies around as to how godly women should truly dress!
May God help each one of you to have a time of personal reflection asking this question: Does the way I dress bring glory to God? Could the way I dress possibly cause men to be tempted in any way? In what ways do I personally need to reevaluate and change my dress and presentation?
It may be necessary to talk to your Christian spouse for more clarity on this issue. But if you just follow the basic rules presented about and using clothing to cover rather than reveal then you cannot go wrong. On this issue it is far better to err on the side of being too conservative, too modest, than to be immodest and lead men into temptation or sin! You must resist your inward instinct to put beauty, fashion, and attractiveness above purity, modestly and godliness!
2 Corinthians 7:1Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.