"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some Thoughts on Modesty

Ahhh....spring. Flowers are blooming. Leaves on the trees are coming out. Birds are chirping. Garden work is beginning. Women are prancing around in public barely dressed.  That's not a typo, by the way.

Because it appears that the onset of warm weather seems to give people (especially women) the license to wear as little material as possible, as tight as possible, while showing as much skin as possible.  Sometimes I wish I didn't have to take my children out in public at all..to protect their eyes and innocence for as long as possible.

Maybe many of these people I see out in public aren't even  Christians, which explains their behavior. As my hubby says, "Dear, if they're not believers, then they're acting exactly like they're supposed to."

But what about Christians...women, in particular? Do we have a dress code?

And  how did this all begin in the first place?  Jeff Pollard, author of The Public Undressing of America , says that what was illegal in clothing 100 years ago, and would cause your arrest, is now popular  and accepted everywhere - even in churches. His book is excellent and I highly recommend it. He believes that the modern-day trend of immodest clothing began years ago...with swimwear.

For example, in the 1890's, swimwear was modified street clothing
                                  1910: arms were exposed
                                  1920's: legs and backs were exposed
                                  1930's: cleavage was exposed and men began to swim bare-chested
                                  1935: two-piece bathing suits appeared with a small break break between upper and lower half
                                  1940's: new fabrics appeared which hugged the body
                                  1960's: navels were exposed

Today, if you have been to your local public pool or if you've been to the beach, you will notice that anything goes.  (Which is why we, as a family, don't go to either place.)

But it apparently doesn't stop at the pool or the beach. I have been in Walmart and seen women exposing just as much cleavage as any swimsuit.  Shorts that are so short, there's very little left to the imagination. Bellies are on display.  Again, anything goes.

So back to the dress code question. Does Scripture give instructions for modest dress? Of course. We're probably all familiar with  1 Timothy 2: 9 &10 and 1 Peter 3: 3 - 6. These passages very clearly teach that Christian women should dress in a modest manner, as it says in 1 Timothy 2:10, "..which is proper for women professing godliness.... with good works." So, according to that verse, a Christian woman's heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance. Maturity in heart = modesty in dress.

All respectable clothing is the fruit of a godly heart. But there's also a flip side to that. Proverbs 7:10 describes a woman  dressed in "the attire of a harlot".

Our clothing sends a message whether we realize it or not.   I am not suggesting that we go back to Little House on the Prairie days (although I love the way the ladies dressed back then!).

I am simply saying that as Christians, we need to be careful of how we dress - for 2 reasons:

1. As mentioned above,  Scripture commands it.

2. Also, so that we will not cause our brothers in Christ to stumble.  Men are visual. That's how God created them. Dressing to show off our bodies or to attract men's eyes is wrong, and a stumbling block to them.

The word "modest" in 1 Timothy 2 : 9 means "not attracting attention to oneself".  Do we dress to attract the eyes of others? Or do we cover our bodies properly and reserve them for the eyes of our husbands only?

I realize that each one of us has our own idea of what modesty is. And I have some guideline for  myself...

...for shirts and dresses: no see-through or skin-tight material. For all other shirts and dresses, I do the "bend over test: I put  it on and bend over in front of the mirror. If I can see down that shirt (or dress), then so can everyone else when I bend over. So I  put on a cami  underneath, or I don't wear it at all.

...for skirts and dresses (length): I put it on, sit down, and cross my legs. If I can do that without pulling and yanking to hide my thighs, then I wear it. If not, I don't. But I prefer long skirts, so I hardly ever have a problem with the length.

...no tank tops for me:  I don't like the clingy material they're made out of and I don't like having to continually hide my bra straps under the tank top. 

What about you, dear readers...what are your thoughts on modesty? Do you have guidelines for what you wear/don't wear? I'd love to hear from you. :)

Instead of dressing to attract the eyes of others, may we "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24), bringing glory and honor to our Heavenly Father.


2 Corinthians 6:17 :  "Therefore  'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.' "

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