I feel like it’s been long overdue since we’ve had this discussion, but, well, it’s a hard one to have so if I’m being completely honest, I’ve been avoiding it. I have read my fair share of modesty blog posts and most of them make me want to scream “What I wear is not your business!” at the top of my lungs and then I realize I am a Christian and behaving like that might be frowned upon by some (maybe most) Christian circles.
In all seriousness though, what I wear kinda is your business. I mean, there is always that small part that dresses nice to make ourselves feel good, but most of the time we are trying to look good for someone else. For instance, have you ever noticed that the girl who used to let it all hang out when she was single suddenly started covering up more after she got married? Or maybe you noticed that girls dress up more when they’re out for a ladies night? Whether you’re dressing to impress a man or your gal pals, we all love to be noticed, and that’s why we dress the way we do.
When I first met Jesus, I said to myself, there is no way any of these “church people” are going to tell me what to wear. Jesus loves me for who I am, not what I am wearing. Yes. That’s correct. It still is. And those church people shouldn’t be telling you what you can or cannot wear. You’re right. What you wear doesn’t make you any more or less of a Christian. Modesty should never come from a place of you can wear this but not that.
I dated this guy once right after I became a Christian and he came from a strict religious family. Let’s just say what he had to say about the way I dressed at the time was less than kind. I remember him quoting 1 Timothy to me like it was supposed to mean something and me being like, excuse me? My heart wasn’t in a place to hear what he had to say, his approach was totally wrong, and I just wasn’t ready to change yet. If you’re in this place right now, maybe what I’m going to say will offend you. I hope not, but it’s okay if it does, Jesus changes hearts pretty quickly, and as I mentioned, I wasn’t ready to hear this the first time either.
It was actually a couple of months after this guy and I broke up (it was a
At the conference,
I’m by no means saying you now need to walk around wearing a potato sack for clothes and get rid of everything cute you own. I do not want you to go and throw away your entire closet and start shopping in the grandma section. Nobody really wants you to do that. God doesn’t want you to do that. What God does want is for you to dress for HIM first. Is what you’re wearing today pleasing the Lord? Or is it pleasing your boyfriend? Did you wear it for the
Honestly, I’ve been struggling with this whole modesty thing for years now and to be frank, modesty is different depending on your culture, what’s comfortable, and what the trends are. There is no one size fits all when it comes to modesty, but a good rule of thumb is, if it’s causing your neighbor to stumble, then maybe you shouldn’t be wearing it. And by that I mean, if what you are wearing is causing your brother or sister to take their focus off of Jesus and onto you, then you have now become a distraction and a stumbling block in your Christian brother or sister’s life.
In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he writes “and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” In this letter, Paul is referencing the church as the body of Christ with all parts working together.
I just love the imagery he uses here. Paul says “our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require”. Here he is definitely drawing a word picture to show how we are to treat other members of God’s Church but I mean come on! He couldn’t be more clear than that. Our unpresentable parts are meant to be covered up! Because these are the parts of the body, when exposed, that will cause the rest to stumble and lose sight of God. I love how he also says, “if one member suffers, all suffer together”, because how true is that?
Let me give you an example. Say you’re at church and a girl walks in wearing something that makes you uncomfortable and causes your husband’s (or boyfriend’s) eyes to wander. Instinct will cause you to blame your husband and now you’re having a fight about his gaze wandering to look at this girl. Her outfit ignited the natural desire of a man to look, and you blamed him. Yes, absolutely, as a wife I totally would be upset if my husband looked at another woman and we would for sure have a conversation about that. But I couldn’t be blind to the fact that what this girl wore was tempting him. And he, being human, isn’t always going to make the right choice 100% of the time. So since this outfit caused one man to stumble, the wife is now quarreling with her husband, this tension probably made its way home with them after church, and I can guarantee no one was fully listening to the sermon that morning. Because one man suffered, now all are suffering together.
When I met my husband, I knew I wanted to do everything I could to protect his purity while we were dating. For us that included modest apparel. I didn’t want to tempt him with sexual sin any more than what was already naturally there. I still wanted him to like the way I dressed, but I made sure to keep all the “unpresentable parts” covered so as not to make it more difficult than it needed to be.
It was at that point in my own walk that I realized I needed to not only be protecting my husband’s purity, but the purity of my other Christian brothers. What I wear could be a distraction for one of them, and to make an effort not to do that is game-changing. That meant if I wore leggings, I was wearing a shirt long enough to cover my butt. I started to look for higher cut tops that didn’t show much cleavage. And I did all of this while still staying on trend (mostly) with fashion.
Ladies, we all know I am not a fashion blogger and the number one reason why is because I am not current on the latest trends. But nonetheless, I still managed to look and feel pretty while choosing clothes that covered up the unpresentable parts. I used to think it was really hard to do this and that I would look like a grandma, but my husband will tell you I don’t. He will tell you he loves the way I dress. And he will tell you he’s grateful that I am not dressing in a way that’s distracting.
It’s been a process learning to dress in a way that is respectable and not distracting to other members of the body of Christ. I’ll share more about where I shop and the things I look for in another post. But for now, I just wanted to focus on why modesty is important for protecting the purity of our Christian brothers and sisters.
Does protecting the purity of your Christian brothers change the way you view modesty?