The WHY Behind Modesty

Recently, my wife and I had a heated conversation with our daughters about modesty.  It was all born out of our personal parental standard that we don’t let our girls wear a bikini as a swimsuit.  Please hear me, that we do not condemn anyone who wears a bikini or allows their girls to wear one, it is just a personal parental decision we have made that we are comfortable with for our girls.  This has become an issue as they get older because nearly every swimsuit offered is a two piece.

“Why can’t we wear a bikini dad?  It’s just a swimsuit!”  “Would you go out in public with just your bra and underwear on?”  “NOOOOO!”  “Isn’t a bikini the same thing?”  “Whatever dad.”  (Anyone ever hear that from their kids?)  We ended up having a good conversation with our girls about modesty and what our standard of modesty is.  I read to them a couple verses that I pray over my daughters every week.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 says And I want women to be modest in their appearance.  They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.

We ended the conversation by saying that this is our standard of modesty and we aren’t asking them to like it, just to respect it and abide by it.  Then just this last week I came across an amazing article by Jessica Pigg.  Jessica is a pastors wife and writer who wrote about Modesty.  You can read the article below or read it HERE.  It was super helpful for my wife and I and I hope it is for you as well:

Modesty. It’s an out-of-style word that makes most people cringe, even in the church. Debates about modesty have divided believers for years.

But, no matter how long you search, there is not a list of do’s and don’ts in the Bible pertaining to modesty. There isn’t a skirt length or style listed for all Christian women to wear. Modesty isn’t a list of rules; it is a reflection of our hearts.

Fig Leaves

The first clothing ever worn by man and woman was fig leaves. These fig leaves were a sad attempt by Adam and Eve to cover their sin and feeling of shame and guilt (Gen 3). But God, in His great mercy and grace, killed an innocent animal to provide for them durable, more suitable clothing. Like Adam and Eve, we have all tried to hide behind “fig leaves”—whether it be our clothing, our appearance, our titles, our family or our good deeds. When we, as women, wear clothing that barely covers our bodies, we are covering up insecurity, a need for affirmation or self-gratification. However, dressing modestly acknowledges the beauty and power of femininity. Dressing modestly doesn’t mean you’re ashamed of your body. Modesty is simply valuing what has value.

We have to evaluate why we wear what we wear. As Christian women, who are ambassadors for Christ and “citizens of heaven,” which kingdom are we representing through our clothing and dress? The attitudes of our hearts directly affect the way we dress and the message our outfits send to the world around us.

Do we point others to Jesus? Or do we distract them from the gospel? Our lives should look the same behind closed doors at it does at church. Our dress should be a reflection of who we worship. In his book When People Are Big and God Is Small, Edward T. Welch states that we either worship God, others or ourselves. Since Christ purchased my body on the cross, I am to steward it for His glory.

You Are a Temple

As a Christian woman, your body is the temple of the Living God. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 6:19-20 states:

“Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.”

“Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.”

In the Old Testament, the Temple was cared for with extreme attention to detail. In Exodus, there are chapters of instructions given by God as to how the Temple was to be set up and cared for. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the Temple was torn in two. This veil originally separated the people from God’s holy presence. His sacrifice opened the door for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. We are now the temple of the Living God. Modesty is more than we have deemed it. It is not about rules and regulations, but about the state of our hearts and the object of our worship.

Our clothing reveals where we find our worth. 1 Peter 3:3-4 states, “Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes.” When people look at me, I want them to see Christ. I want them to see someone who has been changed by the gospel and looks different from the world.

Questions to ask yourself before getting dressed each day:

  • Does this display the gospel or distract from the gospel?
  • Is what I am wearing going to bring someone down, make someone envious or cause them to struggle?
  • Am I dressing to make myself known or to make Christ known?
  • Do I find my worth in my outfit or in my identity in Jesus?
Jeff Maness
I am a follower of Jesus first, husband to a beautiful wife, father to four amazing children, lead pastor of Element Church in Cheyenne, WY, and blogger of all things life.

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