You know, America used to be a nation that knew how to dress. Femininity was honored, and the difference between men and women appreciated. Today it is such a rare thing to see that, at times, it causes people to stop in silent awe! There have been a few occasions when I have been sitting in the car, outside of a store, just watching people go by. A lady, well dressed, feminine and modest, catches the attention of everyone. Men quietly watch her until she is out of view. I see the women watch her, struck dumb with a look of anger, jealousy, or wonder. Old men look, smile, and – I am sure – remember when. The reaction of the individuals is, in my opinion, very sad because it speaks to how far our society has fallen. Our culture is all twisted and tangled up now, as we sink deeper into the pit of depravity. One doesn’t have to look too closely to realize the purpose of God’s Word regarding the difference between clean and unclean, holy and unholy, male and female.
We live in a society that praises immodesty both inside and out. Being ladylike is virtually unheard of today as women are crude in their conversation and have no decorum in how they carry themselves. Individuals, skinny or plump, are encouraged to “show some skin.” Clothing is made to fit tighter and more revealing than ever. Our shallow, hedonistic, body worshipping society’s way of doing things can be seen more than ever in the church as hemlines creep up, necklines lower, and outfits for both women and men become more form fitting. I have seen men (including a preacher) and women in church with slacks so tight one could see the outline of their undergarments and dresses so snug the wearer’s form was easily distinguished – rumpled skin and all. We may try to excuse this away, but God’s people are not to fit in with the world’s way. We are to please God, fit in with His Word. Every aspect of a believer’s life is to be lived modestly.
I think believers should all agree that we are not to live life loose, wild and excessive; therefore, I would like to know why the issue of clothing seems to be so hard for today’s believers to understand. Why is it such an arduous thing for professing Christians to dress right?
I have heard the arguments such as God not being concerned with what we wear because He looks on the heart (Prov 21:2; Heb 4:13). I have even heard it said that 1 Timothy 2-9 was not talking about modesty in the sense of how much skin we do or do not show; he only meant for us not to be monetarily excessive in our manner of dress. Others argue that we are not responsible for what others think, feel or do in regards to how we dress (1 Pet 1:22;Rom 14:13;1 Cor 8:13; Matt 18:6-7); um, where have we heard that one before?! And of course, the biggest bone of contention, women in breeches, has received the biggest backlash – bringing forth attitudes that are cause for great concern. My question is, why all the variance?
I submit that, for the believer, argument should not be necessary when it comes to the subject of clothing. We know that we are not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2). We know that we are not to love the world or the things in it (1 John 2:15-17, James 4:4). We know that, as children of God, we are to live a life of obvious moderation in all things (Phil 4:5). We also know that we are to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:22). This means some things we don’t do because of how it looks…we shouldn’t want to be associated with the wrong things; you know, don’t let your good be evil spoken of and all that.
I also submit that this is actually a heart issue (Prov 21:2; Jer 17:10; Heb 4:12; James 4:8). Though we profess to be Christians we have to choose to walk in newness of life. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to work, developing in us a concern for our fellowman and a heart that wants to represent Christ wherever we go. Only then will it become less about what we want and more about what pleases God (1 Cor 6:19-20). Less about a fear of being constrained and more about loving others enough not to trip them up with our so called liberty – even if it means I don’t get to wear the skin tight leggings and T-shirt to choir rehearsal (Phil 2:3; Rom 14:13; Gal 5:13; 1 Cor 8:9,13; Gal 5:16-26).
In addition to this, it is a relationship issue. Where are we in our relationship with God (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:1-2)? Are the things of this world more important than His will? I grew up in the Holiness church and I have witnessed some disturbing attitudes in regards to what we wear. I have heard some say, with certain haughtiness, “Yes I wear it, and I’m STILL saved.” I believe that more important than any particular garment is the attitude and motive behind what we do (Prov 21:2; Gal 1:10), our readiness to obey God, and whether or not we truly have love in our heart for others.
Is our relationship with God true? If He asked us to wear a flour sack dress, no jewelry, only one pair of flats, and a plain hairdo everyday for the next month, would we do it? Would we do it without griping? Or is our will more important than God’s? Is our relationship with God true, or do we have a relationship with a god of our own making? Our answer is so important.
God has always wanted there to be a difference between those who are His and those who are satan’s. In addition to the way we carry ourselves and how we treat others, this difference has to do with our outer appearance – whether we like it or not. Because the church has, for the most part, explained away modesty and relaxed the standards (mainly to appease parishioners) many professing Christians care not for moderation in anything, including appearance. So the church now allows the world to dictate their style and other life choices; however, instead of “bringing sexy back,” believers need to be bringing gentlemanly and ladylike back!Instead of “bringing sexy back,” Christians need to bring gentlemanly and ladylike back! Click To Tweet
I believe we have a God given desire to look nice, and I realize the influences of the world are indeed strong. I also understand that we don’t want to look like we just hopped out of a time machine from the past. Although every era has its form of immodest dress, we need not return to 19th century for clothing choices or to the apparel of the Bible days in order to be on point. If we keep a few things in mind when choosing what to wear and how we behave, we can please God, look great, encourage fellow believers, be a much needed example in our communities and maintain modesty all at the same time.
I hope you will join me over the next few weeks for a new series entitled “Modest Mondays.”
Until next time,