Modest vs Immodest.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NIV UK)
9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
I started thinking about modesty at the start of my salvation; “What does it mean? Does it affect the clothes that I already have in my wardrobe? Does it affect the clothes I have in my wishlist? What can I and what can’t I wear now that I am a Christian?”
In the grand scheme of things modesty is more of a small issue? but it does affect young people and people who are new to the church because they don’t really know what’s in the Bible and what’s cultural. Modesty is something a lot of young people struggle with before and after coming to know Christ because we don’t understand what modesty actually is. There are scriptures that people use for their own selfishness to try and condemn believers who dress and present themselves in a “worldly manner,” and this then leads young women down the road of condemned fashion and style, which is very frumpy, unattractive and doesn’t allow for self expression as far as I’m concerned. Through my search for an answer I think I have found one that works for me; which takes all things into consideration, the church, the world, my body and my relationship with God.
Illustration by Daisy Bernard Art.
My Cleavage Is A Snare – Jessica West
Lets dive into this topic…
When I started searching for answers about Christian modesty I came across a video via twitter but this video was placed into my life by God for a different lesson. The topic was “Can a Christian Girl Wear This Much Makeup?” by Caitlin Nunez (also below) before I even watched the video, I firmly believed “this was a question that didn’t even need to be asked, makeup doesn’t restrict your belief in God.” I then watched the video and the young lady spoke in such a humble, God filled manner and explained her own relationship with makeup and through her story and scriptures, my own stand point was confirmed but I also gained a new Biblical and personal understanding of outward appearance and a relationship with God.
I then watched this video “Should Christians wear Bikinis? Shorts? / Modesty” by Yumi. Like Caitlin, Yumi shared her own experiences with dressing “modestly” there were a lot of good talking points in the video and I had plenty of questions and statements about what she had to say. I returned to the video recently because I didn’t want to share and comment on the video incorrectly. These words; “dress for your body” and “boys / men still might have that lustful idea of what’s underneath,” stood out amongst everything else that she said. “Protecting your brothers eyes” can only go so far, if they have lust within them there is nothing that you can wear that will stop them lusting after you.
My evolving understanding of clothing and modesty within Christianity is constantly being challenged but I try to think back to these two phrases “dress for your body” and “boys / men still might have that lustful idea of what’s underneath,” and I stop myself from wrongfully condemning / judging someone from one Instagram picture.
After watching those two videos I still had / have questions about what I can and can’t wear mainly because I don’t want to purchase something because it’s fashionable and then have to put a t-shirt or vest underneath it to make sure that it is “modest.” I also thought about my own body and I knew that a lot of the things that other people would consider “modest” wouldn’t work that well on my ever changing body. I thought back to some of the former ideas I had about clothes and my own experiences with fashion choices.
- I liked my legs and was starting to feel comfortable outside of jeans and in shorter than calf length skirts. But people looked at me weirdly when I wore very – short dresses or skirts but they didn’t look at short girls in the same way when they wore similar clothes. (I am a tall girl)
- I didn’t feel comfortable in clothes that fit me a little tighter so I would put something else on / on top that covered my bum a whole lot more than my original outfit did.
- I rarely / never wore low cut tops, because I had never been comfortable with showing that much flesh and I was uncomfortable with the looks I would get.
- I followed the “fashion rule; never show boobs and legs at same time.”
My past with clothes shows me that I worried more about what other people thought more than I actually got to enjoy the clothes that I wore. In the same way that non-believers would look at me and immediately judge me, many young people experience the same thing within the church. They are judged because of an outward appearance and not the inner being.
Note; “Something that is viewed as modest in one country may not be viewed as modest in another.” Modesty in terms of how much of your body is on show has more to do with culture and fashion and not a lot to do with the Bible. In countries where women wear saris/sarees and this is a part of their tradition, that traditional outfit would not be acceptable in a more conservative country. When it comes to modesty we have to remember that what we say has to apply globally, we can not tell women that they need to be covered up to be viewed as modest. We currently see western media and people speaking on burqas and ignoring the women who wear them. My answer to this lies in the below image.
After a lot of searching for answers I realise that whatever I wear someone will judge, sexualise and even condemn me for my choices and the only way that I can have peace about the representation I am for God and other Christian women lies in my heart and intentions.
- I need to always remember my body before I make any purchases.
- I need to think about my environment before I purchase or wear an outfit.
- If I wear my clothes for the attention of men then I am not living like a Godly woman.
- If clothes are an idol in my life, I value them and their reception over my walk with God and I need to fix this by handing it over to God.
- Ultimately I need to be comfortable in what I am wearing, covered up or not.