Modesty - A Biblical Perspective
By Shon Roy
Over the past few months my heart has been grieved by what I’ve seen portrayed in our
society today, but more importantly what’s being depicted in our churches. Unfortunately,
many Christians have chosen to embrace the world’s standard for what is considered
proper dress. However, we need to understand what the word of God has to say about how
we, as believers, should mirror Christ-likeness. I Timothy 2:9-10 declares, “I also want
women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or
pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to
worship God.” How women dress should be an outward reflection of the inner working of
the Holy Spirit in their lives. The Word of God teaches us in Romans 12:2 to be
transformed by the renewing of our minds so we may prove what is that good, and
acceptable, and perfect will of God.
It’s the church’s responsibility to inform and enforce what God considers proper attire.
Because of a lack of instruction and guidance, too many young women are going to church
with clothes that are more suitable for a day at the beach or a night at the club. When I
observe this I have to ask myself “why would this person wear this type of clothing to the
house of God?” Is it to draw attention, lack of maturity or is blatant disrespect to God,
themselves and fellow believers? I believe the leadership role in this area is exceptionally
weak, the Word of God says that scripture is given for reproof, correction and instruction in
righteousness, therefore God’s word is the standard we should use. Titus 2:3 admonishes
the older women to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not giving to much wine,
teachers of good things in order to train the younger women to love their husbands and
children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to
their husbands, so that no one will smear the word of God. Clearly, this responsibility falls
on the mature women of the church, who must be diligent about teaching what the will of
God is. If we don’t, who will?
The look of lust
If we look at what Matthew says in chapter 5:28, “but I say to you that whoever looks at a
woman to lust for her has already committed adultery.” We can plainly see that a woman’s
disregard in what she wears can cause a man to fall into sin. There are men that seek to
obey God fully, yet are bombarded in church with having to see half naked women. I
believe this puts too much of a burden on the brothers, young and old. When I drop my
son off at teen ministry I can’t help but wonder how in the world these young men will be
able to pay attention to what’s being ministered with the way the girls are “letting it all hang
out.” Young ladies please understand that when it comes to the clothing you wear you need
to care about others. Romans 14:13-14 commands us not to put a stumbling block in our
brother’s way. It says that if your brother is distressed because of what you wear, you are
no longer acting in love. Don’t let your attire destroy your brother for whom Christ died.
Some might say, “Well, it’s not my fault that he’s weak or can’t control himself.,” Well the
word of God has an answer for that too. Paul says in Galatians 13, that we have been
called unto liberty, but are not to use this liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love,
serve one another. In other words, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
What message are you sending?
Proverbs 11:22 says that a ring of gold in a pig’s snout is like a beautiful woman who shows
no discretion. Women of God should know and understand that in the world we live in,
perception is everything. When we dress in a manner with what our society identifies as
“hoochie” then we are saying that’s who we are. I’m sure most of the women that are
dressing this way have no intentions of sending an ungodly message but yet this is what’s
being communicated. Proverbs 7:10 says a man met with a woman that wore the attire of a
harlot (hoochie). This verse doesn’t say that she was a harlot but that by her dress she
was perceived to be. Furthermore, this scripture also infers that this woman intentionally
dressed in such a way to lure men to her body in a sexual way. This is WRONG! We need
to understand that in the setting of the Jewish culture in biblical times, much of the modern
ladies clothing that we see today would be even more revealing than the harlots clothing
years ago. Has the nature of men changed? Absolutely not! What has changed is our
society’s attitude towards God and His moral standards and principles. When I see a
woman, young or old, dressed provocatively I tend to think she must be simple, desiring
attention or suffering from low self-esteem. On the other hand, a man isn’t thinking about
her low self-esteem or her frailties, but that this might be an easy opportunity. This is not
the message that faithful women of God should be sending.
The message you want to send
What should men and women see when they observe each other? Should they see
someone trying to tempt and lure others or should they see “character,” godliness and
clothing that represent inner godliness? For believers, this answer should be obvious.
Here are some guidelines on what is not acceptable dress:
• Short’s that are too short, pants that are too tight, dresses and shirts that are to tight
or too short
• Clothes that begin to reveal what should be covered, such as low necklines, skirts
with slits up the side. Many young ladies have fallen to the trend of wearing spaghetti
straps that don’t cover their undergarments. Don’t be tempestuous!
• Shirts that allow the navel to show
God has given a special relationship for men and women to reveal their bodies to each
other. That is the marriage relationship. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honorable in all,
and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
Things that should be taken into consideration in regards to your clothing:
• Am I buying this because I want to look sexy? Don’t buy it!
• Am I wearing this because I want someone to look at me in a sexual way? Don’t wear
• Am I trying to be more like the world and less like Christ? Don’t do it!
Again, I believe Romans 12:2 says it all, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies
of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is
your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the
renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect,
will of God.” Also, please take to heart what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “For me all
things are legitimate, but not all things are helpful. All things are legitimate, but not all
things are constructive and edifying.” Paul goes on to say in verse 24, “Let no one then
seek his own good and advantage, but each one seek the good of his neighbor.”