MODESTY, CLOTHING & GOD.

“Our Clothing Sends a Message”

In today’s world, modesty is a very serious issue for the Christian. Even ABC News referred to the modern female fashions as “hooker wear.” If the unsaved can recognize that clothing has become inappropriate and immoral, then why is the modern Church mostly silent on the issue? The simple answer is because we are “competing” for church members and “friendliness” has become priority one for the unchurched. As well, teaching on modesty is seen as highly judgmental and not “seeker-friendly” towards those we seek to make comfortable in our churches.

On the other end of the spectrum there are segments of Christianity that dictate exactly what can be worn in terms of style, length and coverage. As I have personally witnessed, the rules are obeyed often times with the greatest of lawyerly care, and while keeping the letter of the law, the spirit of it is violated resulting in some very provocative and alluring styles of dress (even though length and coverage complies).

So, if you are looking for a list of rules, “do’s and don’ts” or a checklist…. you won’t find them in this article. Foundationally, this is not a matter of fabric inches, but one of a right heart.

 

Get the internal right, and the external will follow. This principle is something that I repeat over and over in my writing. Some many times we are looking for a checklist, or set of rules… which is the easy way out. Checklists foster a “minimalist” attitude about Christianity… “how little can I do and successfully keep the rules?” The motive behind that is “how much can I sin, and still be acceptable?”

 

This is the very opposite of what a true Christian should be thinking. We should be asking, “what can I do to bring the most glory to God?”. And when it comes to the issue of modesty and clothing, this attitude alone is capable of cultivating true modesty in us and our children. Any time we take that approach of “what can I get away with?” our standards will plummet predictably. You can always find ways around the rules. But when you are dealing with attitudes and motives of a heart that is directed and monitored by none other than the Holy Spirit Himself, the externals will take care of themselves.

The Truth about Modesty

How should Christians dress? Pst Sam Adeyemi examines the truth about modesty and what the Bible says.

So as we discuss this list, keep in mind my main point:

Modesty comes from Godly heart, not a checklist.

Get the internal right, and the external will follow.

 

Our Clothing Was Invented By God To Cover Our Bodies

 

It is appropriate to understand the purpose for clothing. If you grasp why God desires us to be clothed, then conversely you will understand why the increasing LACK of clothing is inappropriate.

 

Originally, the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, did not need clothing. Why? Because they were “not ashamed” (Gen 2.25). They had not violated any of God’s holiness by sinning. There was no lust, no immorality, no lewdness. The human body was the perfect creation of God. After Adam and Eve chose to sin and disobeyed God, that perfect holiness was lost and sense of shame came upon them (Gen 3.7-11).

 

Shame wants to be hidden. Shame wants to shrink back, cover itself and not be exposed. So from that point on, their bodies were now a source of shame because they were no longer in perfect fellowship and holiness with their Creator God. So Adam and Eve took large leaves, sewed them together, and covered themselves.

Modesty is the natural solution for the shame caused by sin and that shame has to be desensitized in order to be ignored.

This brings us to an interesting point about today’s culture. We are constantly being bombarded with the idea that the human body “is beautiful” and “God’s creation” and this is constantly used as an excuse for ever-increasing exposure of skin, and the intensifying of the sexual allurement of clothing. “Show what God gave you” is one of many wicked statements justifying the accentuation of the human body.

Deep down, every person knows that this overt immodesty we are seeing today is wrong; that’s why a person doesn’t go from one day dressing appropriately, to “hooker wear” the next. It happens in small steps, whether on an individual level or a societal one. The inborn sense of modesty has to be desensitized and suppressed. The shame of “nakedness” is overcome through a series of small steps that push the “modesty boundary” a little further each time.

We are teaching our young children to ignore the natural modesty they have.

Modesty and the Christian Woman

 

Pst Bimbo Odukoya in one of her write up gives this passionate exhortation for women to dress as would be fitting a Christ follower. Fountain of life Church

“Does How You Dress Cause Men to Lust?

Does how you dress honor God? Does how you dress cause men to stumble and lust? I pray this message will awaken some of you ladies consciences.

 

Today, we think it is “cute” for our little girls to wear clothing that would be considered immodest on a teen girl or grown woman. What message is this sending to them? Are they supposed to figure out that “real” modesty begins at a later age in life? Just because a child is young and physically undeveloped, does not mean that modesty is not an issue. As children grow, they become naturally “ashamed” or embarrassed to be seen naked. Then we start chipping away at that modesty by teaching them to wear all the “cute, little-girl versions” of grown up sexy clothing (miniskirts, short shorts, bikini’s, etc). This desensitizes their natural sense of shame that comes from being uncovered.

 

For boys, this more typically begins in the teen years when “muscles” start showing. While we may see modesty as an issue for girls, boys showing off their muscles is basically a non-issue. Again, we are teaching them the ways of the world and stunting the natural “shame” that should come with showing off the human body for the purpose of attention and allurement.

God created clothing as the result of the appropriate and resulting shame that comes from sin. The basis of modesty comes FROM a desire to glorify God; it comes BECAUSE it is the natural result of the human shame for sinning against a perfect and holy God.

God then created clothing for Adam and Eve from animal skins. Why? Because the “shedding of blood” is always necessary to pay for man’s sin. This was a foreshadowing of the blood that Jesus would shed to “cover” our sin, and “clothe” us in righteousness (Gen 3.21)

 

Remember, modesty only STARTS with what clothes you wear…. it is an attitude of the heart; a statement of holiness about your entire life; and a part of being a “living sacrifice”, pleasing and acceptable to God.

Modesty

 

Young Christian men and there view of modestly dressed women.

Modesty – A Guy’s View

Our Clothing Is To Prevent Confusion

It is far from politically correct today to say so, but guess what? Men and women are different. God created the two genders for specific roles, specific purposes and with specific characteristics. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking there is a very easily identifiable set of qualities that belong to men, and another that belong to women. (even those “exceptions” are not exempt from conforming themselves to God’s plan)

 

God is very clear about the differing roles and natures of males and females. Only rebellious, prideful humans have distorted and blurred that distinction. Part of the reason for clothing is so that men will look like men, and women will look like women. No confusion, no guessing, no misunderstanding. If anyone reading this thinks this to be an unimportant point, just look around at all the gender confusion in our world and the heartache it causes. I am grateful that I grew up being taught to “be a man, look like a man, act like a man”.

 

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

 

The feminization of society has been rampant since the ’60’s and it is just now becoming somewhat acceptable again to be “manly”… not because of any Godly reason, but simply as a backlash to how “pretty” and “soft” men have generally become in the last two decades (at least publicly, ie, celebrities, models, etc.). Even still, the confusion and blending of styles, designs and fashions of both hair and clothing is far from being distinctive. Sadly, the greatest distinction we have today regarding femininity is the overt sexuality and skimpiness of women’s clothing.

 

Clothing has always solidly identified gender and this is as it should be. Don’t be tempted to get off into the “should women wear pants?” debates. Let’s get real; pants, skirts, whatever… it is very easy as a Christian for you to ask God for direction about your clothing to help you maintain your unmistakable identity as a male or female. I have seen females in pants that could never possibly be mistaken for a man, and I have seen males in robes that would never be mistaken for a female.

 

Again, it’s not a matter of rules and checklists; it’s a matter of honoring God. Ladies, dress unmistakably like ladies. Men, be men; look like a man; act like a man; dress like a man. In doing so, both men and women will honor God.

 

Our Clothing Sends a Message

 

Your clothing sends a message. It can be one of materialism, pride or “look at me”. It can be one of sexuality and provocativeness. Or, it can be a message of Godliness, propriety and modesty.

…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation…. (1 Timothy 2:9)

Anyone with eyes can see that clothing today, especially with our young ladies, is getting just ridiculously sexual. Even an ABC News special called today’s female fashions “hooker wear”. The sad part about this is, a visit to most churches won’t see much, if any, difference in the level of sexual allurement in the styles our young crowd are wearing. Granted, it’s a tough battle for parents to teach their children and young adults to go against the extreme peer pressure, and secondly, to even FIND modest clothing anymore, especially for girls.

 

The hardest part is, our kids don’t even realize it is an issue. They only know what they know, and what they have seen. Today’s clothes don’t seem to be immodest to our children because they have never seen differently. The constant bombardment of half-naked women and muscle-flexing males is so common place that it simply doesn’t seem to be an issue to the younger generations.

Our clothes send a message. It can be a message of godliness and modesty; or one of lust, materialism or pride.

Modesty vs. Immodesty

More Young Christian men and there view of modestly dressed women.

Modesty – A Guy’s View

 

Our Clothing Should Help Us Avoid Sin

Our clothing should never attract sin, or draw us towards sin. How is that possible? If a young lady is wearing the latest “hooker wear”, what kind of attention will she get? What kind of boy will be drawn to her? Will it be a person who admires her Godly demeanor and wants to get to know her better? Or will it be those who are attracted physically to her, wanting a sexual relationship?

 

This isn’t rocket science. Modesty attracts righteousness. Immodesty attracts immorality.

We are doing ourselves and our children no favors whatsoever by ignoring this issue. We trade the short term attention and adoration that comes with alluring clothing for the long term holiness that comes with modesty. We can’t have it both ways. You can’t dress in a sexually alluring manner and attract the Godly, respectful and faithful man that you dream about. It is never too soon to start teaching this principle to your children; or too late to start practicing it in your own life.

 

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (NKJV)

 

I hope you are starting to see that modesty truly is an important issue. I’ve seen many people, and many parents who basically just give up, and give in, to the world’s onslaught of immoral fashion. They’ve got “bigger issues” to deal with. Don’t give in, don’t ignore it, and don’t lose heart. Modesty is an issue of the heart and our attitude towards it reflects our attitude about holiness.

Lord, Help us to understand that modesty is an issue of the heart. Help us to know and understand the reason why You have made clothing and modesty a part of a holy life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Contemplation: What message does your clothing send out? What message does your kids clothing send out? Does it even matter to you? Does your clothing help you avoid sin, or lead you to it? What about your daughter’s? What about your son’s?

 

Application: Modesty is an issue that is becoming more and more critical. Our kids are being raised in a world where modesty is laughed at as old fashioned and prudish. We must teach them God’s truth on the matter… right after we commit to living it ourselves.

 

Our Clothing Should Not Be a Tool of Manipulation

 

Our clothing should not be used to manipulate people. How’s that, you say? A woman could use alluring and immodest clothes to get a male co-worker or employer to favor her in some way. A man might use clothing to give someone the impression that he is something or someone he is not, in order to get the desired outcome.

 

Manipulation of fellow humans for personal gain or desire, in all forms, is deceitful and dishonoring to God. Our clothing should never help us to manipulate others.

 

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t dress to make a good impression; or dress appropriately for a certain occasion or circumstance. Yes, a suit and tie might be called for at a job interview, when you rarely ever wear one otherwise. That is just good manners and respect. But borrowing a $1500 suit one time to give the impression of wealth and status would surely be manipulative.

 

For females, it’s a little more cut and dried. If you wear certain clothes (or less clothes) in order to help you control and manipulate others, then you are dishonoring God. It’s no secret how idiotic and brain-numbed a man can become when a beautiful woman in provocative clothing turns on the charm. Ladies, to resort to using your body and your beauty to manipulate men, is a very sad and dishonorable way for a Christian woman to behave.

 

Your clothing should have no other purpose or intent other than that of glorifying God.

 

Our Clothing Is To Show Separation From The World

This is where we start hearing the cries of “judgmental!” and “prude!”. Our clothing should show that we are different from the world. This point is becoming even more intense and important given the ridiculously sexual and immodest trend that we see in today’s fashions.

 

We hear it most vocally from our kids, but I think we adults are just as guilty sometimes: we want to wear what is POPULAR and impressive. We want to fit in, be in style. Now remember, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any style of clothing, assuming it is modest. But there is something wrong with the attitude of wanting the latest fashions and styles in order to fit in and be accepted by the world.

 

This fashion dilemma betrays a very deep and real problem with the modern, western Christian… we want to look like the world, act like the world, talk like the world, have the same material goals as the world, enjoy the same things as the world, be accepted by the world… but yet claim to be “separated” from the world. In any other universe, that would be considered absurd; but it is common place with today’s Christian; and a big part of it has to do with clothing (followed closely by entertainment).

But we live in a world today where you can look, walk and act like one thing, while claiming to be another. Christianity is no exception, especially when it comes to what we are wearing.

Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Our clothing does not have to be Amish (and I would say they are certainly nearer to the right idea than the typical church is, IF you had to choose one or the other). However, our clothing SHOULD show that we are not following the ways of the world. How? By showing that we don’t have to have the latest fashions and styles to impress people. By wearing clothing, ladies, that is modest and does not draw attention to your body.

 

The world uses clothing to say “look at me!” Christians should wear clothes that say “look at God!”

 

Our Clothing Is To Reflect God’s Ownership Of Our Bodies

 

Along the same lines, our clothes should help in the overall statement that we belong to God; that we serve Him; and that all we do, including our dress, honors Him.

 

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)

 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

 

Our bodies our temples in which the Holy Spirit of God Himself dwells. If we were to ever really grasp the true meaning of that, it would drastically change our lives. We would surely not sin as much or take sin so lightly; and we most certainly would not clothe God’s temple in something shameful or immodest.

 

We are “living sacrifices” laying down our lives on a daily basis, a minute-by-minute basis and surrending to God’s will and God’s way. Our clothing should reflect this attitude. God owns us. Are you asking God, the owner of your body, what type of clothing He would like to have on His temple?

 

Modesty is an issue of the heart and our attitude towards it reflects our attitude about holiness. Clothing today has become (like most material posessions) a way to make a statement about “SELF”. That was never God’s intention. Clothing has two main purposes: to cover the shame of our nakedness produced by our sin; and to honor God through our modesty and obedience.

 

As Christians we can’t have it both ways. We cannot serve two masters. We can’t walk and quack like ducks and claim to be eagles. It is most especially true with our young ones and our ladies, that we need to seriously reconsider how conformed we have become to the world’s standards concerning modesty and clothing.

 

Lord, Help us to understand that modesty is an issue of the heart. Help us to know and understand the reason why You have made clothing and modesty a part of a holy life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Contemplation: Does your clothing in any way allow you to manipulate those around you, either through a statement of “status” or through lust? Does your clothing keep you firmly associated with the world or make a statement for Godly modesty? Does your clothing make a statement about Who owns your body, and Who indwells it?

 

Application: Today, clothing has become mainly a “statement” of status, a way to allure, or an attempt to fit in. None of these reasons are what God had in mind. Clothing has two main purposes: to cover the shame of sin, and to glorify God. Those purposes are becoming lost in our collective conscience even while retaining them has become increasingly more important in this age of immodesty and materialism.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 

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