Monday, March 10, 2014

What is Modesty Really?

What exactly is modesty? I imagine if I asked ten women this question I would get ten different answers. Do you know the good thing though, I am not to live by what women (or men) think, I am to live by God's word. 

Let's look at what the scripture says...

"And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes." 1 Timothy 2:9 NLT 

Now, I know some of you will not agree with me and that is okay, you must follow the convictions God has laid upon your heart, just as I must do the same. My hope though is that you are following God's word and HIS leading, not what some Bible teacher has said or whatever your church tradition is. Search the scriptures yourself.

When I read the scripture above it becomes very plain to me that not only am I to dress modestly, but that means I am not to draw attention to myself by my dress, hair, jewelry or anything. 

The Noah Webster 1828 dictionary defines modest as not bold or forward; moderate, not excessive or extreme. 

There are many other verses that get brought up when this subject comes up, but I'm not going to go into those today. I'm not here to debate the issue or even to do an in depth bible study. My goal is to encourage you to search for yourself and let God lead you in what He would have you to do. I also hope you understand that modesty can mean different things in different situations and God can lead us in different ways at different times in our lives.

When I attended a church where the women dressed very immodestly, showing cleavage without even a thought about it as well as tight and short clothing, God led me to dress VERY modestly and thus began my skirt only period. I believe He was using me as a bold contrast to what those women were doing. I was to be an obvious example of modesty in an immodest church.

Then He moved us to a church where the women dressed modestly but not skirts only. I still continued skirts only for awhile and then to skirts mainly, but always maintaining what I considered to be appropriate dress. By still being skirts most of the time, I was known for my standard of modesty and was used as an example to the youth girls. It opened many discussions on the subject of modesty and standing up for my convictions even when it goes against the grain.

God has moved us to another church yet again, this time to a cowboy church. If you've never attended a cowboy church, I'll give you just a little insight. They are a very laid back, come as you are because we love you no matter kind of church. It's a jean and boots wearing crowd that doesn't dress differently just to go to church. Well, I should clarify, they wear their good boots and jeans to church, not their cattle working jeans that have manure stains on them. However, if anyone showed up in those stained, ripped jeans, nobody would even flinch - it just doesn't matter to them. Your heart is what matters to them. Period. They are concerned with your heart being right with God, knowing that the rest will follow. They still follow God's word, living by His guidelines and yes, the women dress modestly. 

I hope that I can put these next thoughts into the proper words so that you understand my heart. Sometimes words escape me but I will do my best. Do you remember in scripture when Paul discussed becoming as those that he was ministering to? He said when he was with the Jews, he became as a Jew and when he was with the Gentiles, he became as a Gentile. I think that is an important lesson for us to remember. He never sinned and went against God's word, but he did fit into the culture he was in. He met them on their level and related to them, he showed them he cared about them and wasn't "above" them. I'm learning to do this same thing, even in my dress.

Now, I have no doubt some of you will balk at what I am about to say, that is your right but this is my blog and my post, so I will share what God has placed on my heart. You search for yourselves.
I know without a doubt that  wearing a skirt in certain situations draws more attention to myself than wearing jeans. Doesn't that go against the scripture above? 

I know all the arguments, I've made them before - but God says women are to dress like women, we aren't to cause our brother to stumble, we are to be set apart. Yes, you are right, those are true. I can dress like a woman in jeans, I do not believe Deuteronomy was talking about pants, it was talking about cross-dressing to purposely look like the opposite gender. I do not have to dress in such a way to cause my brother to stumble just because I am in pants. I can wear looser pants and longer shirts without being "frumpy".  Now what about being set apart, I'm not convinced that has anything to do with dress, it has to do with not living like the world, which I don't. 

Oh and here is the one I clung to for years - skirts are MORE modest than jeans so in order to be the most modest possible, I should always be in a skirt. To be perfectly honest, I have changed my mind on this stance. Here is why, because if modesty means not drawing attention to myself - which is what the verse says - then there are times that wearing a skirt would draw more attention to myself and therefore be more immodest than jeans. I have been in these instances, I know that I stood out like a sore thumb, even though it wasn't what I was trying to do at all. 

To conclude this post I want to say a few things so that you can really see my heart in this. I don't care if you are skirts only, skirts sometimes or not at all. What I care about is that you are seeking God's will in this area. I do believe that long flowing skirts are beautiful and modest, I love them! When I'm going to town, around the house, or things like that, I wear them. I do believe that we are to dress in a manner that will not be tempting to our brothers, we are not to cause them to lust or have impure thoughts if we can help it. We are to dress in such a way that brings glory to our God and our husbands (or fathers), it does matter how we dress. We are to dress like women, just as God created us. 

For me, I look at the situation I am going to be in and decide if skirts or pants are more appropriate and I dress accordingly. For example, this weekend we went to a college rodeo with our church, some of the boys on the rodeo team attend our church and we went to support them. Our focus is always to share the gospel with others and be examples to them. I chose to wear jeans, knowing that for that situation they were the decent and appropriate choice and would not draw attention to myself. While I was with the cowboys, I became as a cowboy.

Please search for yourselves, not based on what I said or what you might hear or read anywhere else. Seek God and His way for YOU!



  1. This was an excellent, well thought out post! Thanks for sharing your views on modesty. It is obvious that you have put much thought and prayer into this topic. I appreciate your wisdom and your grace and your focus on the heart of the issue.

    I guess I came to a similar conclusion as you did, only in my case it applies to going to the beach or swimming pool. We live on the HOT Georgia coast and we go swimming. At one time my daughters and I wore extremely modest "bathing suits" - but as you said, I realized that these drew a lot of attention because of their weridness. So, in the spirit of moderation, we chose to wear the most modest one piece swim suits we could find, usually with a skirt or shorts over the bottom. I feel like we are able to apply the spirit of modesty to our beach excursions . . . but, of course, others many not agree.

    This is a really touch topic, and one where it is a challenge to settle on just the right point of balance in not being too extreme in either direction.

    Thanks for being courageous enough to share your views here!

    serving Him joyfully,

    1. Thank you, I did put much thought and prayer into this post and into this topic. I think it is great how you worked out your modest swimsuit issue. I know others won't agree with me either, but we must remember we are trying to please the Lord and our husbands, not the world or even brothers and sisters in Christ.
      This is definitely a touchy topic, your thoughts on that are right on.
      Thank you for the encouragement!!

  2. I LOVE your statement - "we must remember we are trying to please the Lord and our husbands, not the world,or even brothers and sisters in Christ."

    If only we could remember that about every issue we face, it would prevent many problems and save us much heartache!

    1. Oh yes, that would prevent many problems wouldn't it!

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic.Clearly you were led by the spirit of God. I totally agrre with you when you say modest depends on the situationand that we should all seek God' struth for ourselves.

    I go to a church that prohibits women to wear trousers at all, even pijamas.But beacuse i am a Civil Engineer sometimes i have to go to construction sites to supervise and have to wear trousers.The spirit of God in me would not convict or condemn me for doing that but many of my church memebers would and they would often call me a backslide

    This used to break my heart knowing that i dont do it for attention and is actually more modest to wear trousers on site than a skirt. And i have come to a place where i understand what modest and im at peace with my God regardless of the my church views.

    Great article. Welldone :)