A frequent objection I’ve heard raised when the topic of female immodesty arises is, “Well don’t guys need to be modest too?” This is a legitimate question; however, more often than not, this is only meant to be given as an argument for women to dress more immodestly, rather than a call for men to be more modest. In fact, we even have women participating in topless protests today. Men can take their shirts off? Women should be able to do so as well, right? Or so goes the reasoning of such protesters (if equality really is their true motive.)
The argument that women should be able to be less modest because men are less modest strikes me as incredibly juvenile. It is children who often think, “Oh, my brother didn’t put his plate in the dishwasher, so I don’t have to put my plate in either.”
I also find it insanely ironic that these Feminists are still letting men dictate what they do. Feminism is supposed to be about equality, and independence and empowerment for women…and yet it’s still, “Men do X. It’s considered improper for women to do X. That’s not fair. I want to be like men and do X too.”
What others do should not dictate what we do, rather, we should do what is right and good for others.Young Keepers of The Home
wrote a great article about this which I recommend you check out if you’re a girl.
However, while it’s true that how guys dress should not dictate how girls dress, it is certainly true that the Bible calls for everyone, not just women, to be modest.
Female immodesty gets more attention because it seems to be much more noticeable. Practically every girl and woman these days is dressing in revealing clothing, whereas guys typically wear adequate clothing which isn’t as revealing. I think male immodesty generally takes a different form unrelated to clothing.
As I’ve said in previous posts surrounding female modesty, the core of male modesty is the same. It comes down to humility, and humility is a matter of the heart.
A couple years ago, I wrote a series defending the belief that women and girls should dress modestly
. I thought that modesty was good because it was considerate of others, allowed women to be treated with more respect, and accented femininity.
But, according to opponents of humility in dress, modesty actually sexualizes girls.
It’s always baffled me how some could make such arguments. Modesty is the exact opposite of objectifying!
On Facebook, some of my Christian, homeschooled, friends were sharing this article, (don’t waste your time reading it) which explains how modesty apparently sexualizes, specifically, through the banning of leggings and yoga pants in schools.
There are several very poor arguments and assumptions made in this post which Christians should never buy into.
Here are three of them.
1. Your comfort is more important than the comfort of others:
The article makes the point that the our own comfort is more important than the comfort of others. The article states that, “Girls clothing is not and should not be responsible for boys’ behavior.” This is a true statement, however, the article goes on to argue consideration of others should not be a factor in determining what to wear. I find it troubling that Christians are buying into this line of reasoning.
Those who defend the wearing of yoga pants always claim that their reasons are solely based on comfort. While I highly doubt that’s the only reason for many woman, that is still not a good reason.
We don’t have a right to do whatever we want if it harms other people. (1 Corinthians 8:13)
I don’t like waiting in long lines. Those are very uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean I have a right to cut to the front of the line. I would be satisfying my own comfort at the expense of others. This is wholly unloving, and a display of immodesty and arrogance. It’s pure narcissism to believe that your own comfort is more important than others.
This idea completely contradicts the teachings of the Bible.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” – Colossians 3:12
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12
“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” – Proverbs 11:22
All of these verses, and more, point to the fact that we should not merely do what pleases us, or seek to draw attention to ourselves at the expense of others.
2. The only alternative to immodesty is baggy pants:
This idea is just ridiculous on several levels. I’ve heard many homeschooled Christians make this objection to modesty, and the article does as well: “Traditionally ‘cute’ clothing for young women is notoriously restrictive and often painful.” No, that’s false. Traditionally, ‘cute’ clothing was not restrictive. That is still not the case today. There are many modest alternatives to yoga pants that still look nice and aren’t excessively baggy. In fact, there are even many fashion blogs and websites today that deal with only modest clothing. Here
is one example.
Second of all, this article is making the argument that looking “cute” is again, more important than other people. As the article says,
“Keep in mind that loose or baggy clothing for girls is neither “popular” nor “attractive” and even borderline socially unacceptable. Professional women: would you show up to the office in a baggy pantsuit? No? Then why would these girls show up to school in baggy jeans? Lycra and Spandex make for supremely comfortable pants…it’s not about looking “sexy.” It’s about comfort.”
Professional women would not wear yoga pants to the office, or a job interview
, and yet, apparently many are beginning to adopt the idea that yoga pants go with everything—including professional attire. Yoga pants are not classy or nice or cute—they are exercise clothing, like sweat pants. Yoga pants don’t look nice. In fact, the definition of “cute” is, “attractive in a pretty or endearing way.” Yoga pants are not pretty, or endearing, and they are only attractive to those who like to enjoy the view of your legs and rear-end. You would not say a person wearing yoga pants is “well-dressed.” It’s actually rather sloppy.
The article also seems to be arguing that we should encourage the wearing of yoga pants because they are “popular” and “attractive”. “Keep in mind that loose or baggy clothing for girls is neither “popular” nor “attractive” and even borderline socially unacceptable.”
I find it interesting that most liberals push for individuality, and following your heart, while here this article is arguing that the social pressure to conform is just fine, and should be adhered to. Don’t ask girls to dress modestly, because then they won’t fit in. How horrible! A lot of bad things have been popular in the past, and are popular right now. In some societies, eating people was very popular. If cannibalism came back into style today, should we go ahead and join in? We should never seek to do what is popular. Instead, we should seek to follow Christ and do what is good, right, and true. It is possible that something which is popular can be good, but we still should not participate merely because something is popular. While I don’t expect non-Christians to understand this concept, it’s shocking to see many Christians adopting these ideas too.
Also, we should never dress for the purpose of attracting others, especially the opposite gender. That is purely manipulative and fits the definition of immodesty to a T, which is the trait of being vain or conceited. Rather than trying to draw attention to ourselves, we should seek to draw attention to Christ through modest behavior and dress. Dressing to attract, again, is an expression of narcissism, since we are trying to put all of the focus on ourselves.
Please, don’t let your self be controlled by the whims of the culture. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean you should too. Don’t be a mindless drone
It’s so ironic that in our culture we preach that everyone should “be themselves” and “follow their heart,” but we also make sure that everyone conforms to their same “self” and that everyone’s heart follows the same thing—self-worship. Additionally, there is nothing attractive about yoga pants, unless you want to attract guys who are purely interested in you for your legs and rear-end, which brings me to my final point about this article.
3. Showing off sexual parts of your body isn’t sexualizing:
This part of the article made the least sense to me. It’s claiming that covering up the sexual parts of one’s body…is consequently sexualizing them…but revealing clothing is fine and innocent? What?
The article claims that, “I think what we’re hearing online is girls expressing that the strange, inconsistent enforcement of the dress codes is sexualizing them against their will…Until [the idea that yoga pants should be banned] changes in schools, I highly doubt the more mature, serious variations of unwanted sexualization — street harassment, sexual assault, and victim-blaming — will ever fully disappear.”
No, just the opposite is true. The idea that women should show-off the sexual parts of themselves is what has led to these more serious issues. Displaying one’s self as a sex object conflicts with the idea one is not actually a sex object. The article claims that, “Female bodies are not public art. They are not for your viewing pleasure,” and yet the article believes that women should be able to show off and draw attention to different parts of their bodies.
That’s like putting up a billboard that says, “Don’t look at me,” or wearing a T-shirt with the words, “Don’t read this sentence.”Billboards are built to be seen, words are meant to be read, and tight clothing (or no clothing at all) draws attention to the body. That’s just a fact.
Modesty doesn’t sexualize a person, it reveals their dignity. Modest dress draws attention to a person’s character—and who they are. Hopefully, such modestly dressed people are seeking to live for Christ, which means Christ will be revealed through their dress.
On the flipside, wearing clothing that exposes or draws attention to parts of the body that are sexual, do sexualize a person. By definition, this is true. Only in a world so warped by the influence of Feminism do we get the idea that being modest sexualizes someone. Immodesty objectifies women, not the other way around.
The article would disagree, however, because the writer claims that, “Everybody wears leggings and everybody has butts. And there is nothing inherently sexual with either of those things.” That is just incredibly naive, and I don’t think I need to go into explaining why this is so.
Are there cases where modesty can be taken too far and turned into legalism? Yes, of course. That can and does happen. Anything can become legalism. The Biblical command to love others can become legalism, but that doesn’t mean we should do away with love, but it seems we have no problem doing away with modesty at the first rumor it has led to legalism.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
This passage creates a stark contrast with those who despise modesty. The article I have been referencing seems to have no notion that we should count others as more significant than ourselves, or that we should look to the interests of others rather than our own. And yet, so many Christians have easily bought into the cultural idea that we are so much more important than everyone else that we should be able to do and dress how we want without a care about how it might harm or impact others. It’s our “right,” we say. We talk a lot about our “rights” in America, but you don’t hear people talking so much about our duties or responsibilities, such as our duty and responsibility not to harm others. Granted, if you are not a Christian, then it would not make sense to have duties (or rights for that matter) but as Christians, we have no excuse.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4
Even though Jesus was God, He did not consider His comfort or interests as more important than others. He made Himself a servant. How much more should we seek to serve others?
This is the core of modesty. It’s not about what you wear, it’s about the heart. Do you really care more about others than yourself? This article from the Huffington post (which is a great authority and Christians should definitely turn to it for wisdom [sarcasm]) clearly reveals that the anti-modest are champions of narcissism, not humility.
“Why should a woman be responsible for the actions and or thoughts of men? Why can’t we as women be able to go on living our lives without being pegged as moral brigades for our “brothers”? Galatians 6:5 for each will have to bear his own load.”
This is a common objection I’ve heard given in response to those who champion modesty, but is this a legitimate concern? Are women really supposed to be responsible for the thoughts of men?
No, of course not. We are responsible for what we allow our minds to dwell on. While I believe modesty greatly benefits those who practice it, and the others around them, in ways that go beyond merely protecting men from temptation, it is still the case that we are each responsible for our own actions. If a man sins due to immodest dress, that is his problem. However, that does not mean the immodestly dressed woman is free from responsibility.
Ideally, when a man encounters a woman dressed immodestly, his spiritual development will be to the point where giving into sin in that situation holds no allure. Rather than feeling temptation, perhaps instead the man will feel compassion toward the woman who has chosen to represent herself in a way that communicates disrespect to herself and others. A woman dressing immodestly is never an excuse for sin on the part of a man.
First all, the verse this particular commenter cited to defend her argument is taken out of context. If you read back just three verses prior, Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2.
What? Paul is contradicting himself in the same paragraph? No, not at all. This is why context is key. I would encourage this commenter to go back and read Galatians chapter 5 (or just reread the whole letter). In the larger context, Paul is telling us to “love” and “serve one another,” Galatians 5:13.
Leading into chapter 6, Paul is telling us to put the good of others above our own needs and wants. This is why it makes sense when Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens,” and a few verses later when Paul says, “For each one will bear his own load,” he is saying that—while we are to help one another—ultimately we are all accountable before God for our own actions. Bear the burdens of others, but don’t be
(Part 3 of 3) Part 1, Part 2
Part 3: Modesty: Bringing Heaven to Earth
In part one of this three-part series on the topic of modesty, I explored several different arguments against modesty and showed how none of them stood up under scrutiny.
In part 2, I focused on the positives of dressing modestly and the negatives of dressing immodestly, while describing how immodesty hurts men as well as women. I also explained why women, even for purely selfish reasons, should want to dress modestly.
To conclude the series, part three will explore the nature of modesty as, fundamentally, a matter of the heart. Throughout the series, my purpose has been to provide a view on the particular problem of immodestly dressed women from the perspective of a young man. We will return to focus on this particular problem, but first we must take a brief detour in an attempt to go deeper to the nature and source of the problem.
When turning our thoughts toward the nature of modesty, it doesn’t take long before it becomes evident that immodesty isn’t just a problem for girls. It’s a universal issue for both genders that typically manifests itself differently in males and females and extends far deeper than external clothing. The particular problem of immodesty among males is beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say, with regard to males, immodesty of dress tends toward an egotistic expression and attempt to garner admiration. Now, when it comes to immodesty of dress in general, the most common and immediate defense comes as a particular application of the undeniable truth that, “…man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. See 1 Samuel 16. Many who get defensive about the topic of dressing modestly will espouse that it is not what is on the outside that matters, but rather, it is the heart that counts. This is completely true, yet how we dress is a major factor in how we represent ourselves to one another. Failure to acknowledge this reality will cause difficulty in making sense of other passages of Scripture that draw attention to specific details concerning external adornment. What is on the outside will, in a very important sense, reflect the inside. You can’t change the inside by changing the outside, but in many cases, the outside is a picture of the inside. So, if we agree that what really matters is the condition of the heart, why is there a problem?
At this point, we must take the next step toward understanding the inner condition of the heart that, among other things, produces an external….
Modesty is just one facet of the virtue of humility.
Humility is an attitude that acknowledges the importance of others in opposition to self-promotion. Dressing modestly is just another way of being humble, of acknowledging the importance of others instead of elevating yourself.
Humility is a heart condition. While it’s true that wearing different articles of clothing can make us feel a certain way, humility isn’t a feeling. Humility, like so many other virtues, is not something we can attain by merely trying harder. Force of will isn’t good enough.
You can’t be a good writer simply by willing yourself to be one. You have to practice often, and employ different strategies. Then, after a time, you will be a good writer, and good writing will simply flow out of you, though that’s not to say that it won’t be hard, or that you won’t have to keep practicing. Learning a virtue is like learning any skill.
When we are humble, humility will flow out of us. We will talk with humility we will act with humility, and we will dress with humility. If we are humble, everything we do will be done with humility. It won’t be a burden, we won’t even have to try very hard. We’ll just do it because it’s who we are and we love to do it. That’s what a transformed heart looks like.
However, the truth is, many of us are not at the point where humility, just flows out of us. Why? Because our hearts are corrupted and not correctly calibrated to Christ. So to become humble, we need to practice. We may not like it at first, we may even hate it at first, but it all comes down to whether or not we want it.
Maybe you don’t want it, but do you want to want it? You have to start somewhere.
But we can become humble if we practice. What does that look like? Maybe we intentionally try to talk about others instead of ourselves. Maybe we sacrifice doing something that would bring attention to ourselves instead of God. Maybe we start wearing clothing that doesn’t display so much of our bodies in order to catch the eye of others. We may not like it. We may not like the new style of dress, or the new style of talking, but with continued practice, and the work of the Holy Spirit, we can change, and grow to love the things that God loves.
Once our hearts have been transformed into the image of Christ, then humility will flow out of us. We wouldn’t even think of wearing something immodest that isn’t humble; it’s just who we are. Those who have not reached the same level of transformation, immodesty will show. It’s true the outside itself doesn’t make one modest, but the outside is what displays the inner condition of the heart. Just as we can’t see the wind, we can know it’s there because we see its effects: the leaves rustling in the trees. This means that often one who dresses immodestly, has a heart that is not humble: an immodest heart.
What does this mean? Should we shun and condemn those whom we see are dressed immodestly? Absolutely not. On some occasions, people do not even realize their mistake by dressing immodestly, and really are humble at heart. This is rare, though. Usually it is the case that immodest dress follows after a prideful heart. However, even if that immodestly-dressed person really is arrogant and prideful, they should still not be condemned. They just need more practice. Their hearts are in need of transformation, just as everyone’s heart is in need.
Humility is a matter of the heart, solely a matter of the heart, yet the external still matters because the internal and the external are not separate. The heart bleeds through to the surface. We are led by our heart. That doesn’t necessarily mean emotions; it means our character. Who we are inside. What we do and experience will shape who we are, and who we are will shape and influence what we do. What we choose to wear, whether we consciously realize it or not, is often a reflection of who we are. If we choose to dress immodestly, it probably is because our heart–our character–is leading us to choose that style of dress. Our preferences are off.
God allows us to have freedom in taste. God will let us decide on whether we should wear a red shirt or a blue shirt. That being said, when our tastes conflict with God’s will, that is when our tastes become wrong. If I had a taste for cursing, or for watching bad movies, or for dressing immodestly, those would be tastes I would have to forfeit. I would have to get new tastes and preferences. Yes, many preferences are good or neutral, but what we prefer isn’t always innocent or good. Having a preference for immodest clothing is not a good taste to have, and should be discarded for a better taste. Some may say that’s impossible, but just as we can acquire a taste for vegetables, we can acquire a taste for modest clothing.
The same thing goes for everything else we do. When people do bad things, we often like to make excuses for them. We say things like, “Oh that’s not really Bob. He just had a bad night,” or “Bob didn’t mean to beat his wife. He just made a mistake.” Yet, if Bob really wasn’t the kind of person who would beat his wife, then why did he do it? Because he obviously IS the kind of person who would beat is wife. He did it, so therefore, he is the kind of person who would do such a thing. It wasn’t just that he had an off night, it was that fundamentally there is something wrong with Bob’s heart. He needs that area of his heart to be transformed into the image of Christ so that he can become the kind of person who doesn’t beat his wife.
Everything we do flows from our heat, from who we are. Our actions, and how we walk, talk, act, and dress, all flow from our heart, whether we realize it or not. That’s why the external matters. Not because the external itself is important, but because the internal heart makes it so.
We can’t dichotomize. We can’t separate the inside from the outside any more than we can separate our spiritual life from our home life, our social life, or our career life. We have one life. We are one person.
But let’s not forget that clothing is only one aspect of humility. Humility includes respecting others, sacrificing for others, selflessness, freedom from vanity, and meekness (the harnessing of strength.) However, all of these aspects boil down to one thing: love. If you love others, you will be a humble (modest) person. If you worship yourself, consideration of others will be of little importance to you.
Now what do I mean by “love”? I’m talking about the love Jesus spoke of, the unconditional “agape” sense of the word “love.” An action, not an emotion. That means you don’t have to feel warm fuzzy feelings toward other people, but you seek out their good. Their good comes before your good. If you care about the good and well-being of other people, you will be humble, and dress modestly. That’s what love is. Sacrificing for the good of others.
If you love someone, you will put their needs above your own. If something you do hurts another person, then you will cease to do that action. If you care more about your own desires over the needs of others, then it will not matter to you if they are hurt or not. You do not love them as Christ loves them. Instead, you say, “that’s your problem.”
Therefore, if we’re dressing just to please ourselves, regardless of the people we trip up, then we don’t love them. We are not loving them as God commanded us. We are doing quite the opposite.
Again, it’s not the outside that really matters, it’s the inside. Love comes from the inside, but how we are on the inside will dictate what we do on the outside. The Bible tells how inner beauty far outshines any supposed outward brilliance that stems from an ugly heart.
Proverbs 11:22: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.”
It is not the outside that really matters. It is the heart. All of the immodesty we see around us it’s not so much a problem of the clothing, but the heart. Sure, I bet there are a lot of people who have no idea that they are being immodest, or why it is important, but there are a good deal who do, even if it’s for as “innocent” a reason as not wanting to be unfashionable. I find it rather pathetic when individuals would rather hurt another person than be “out,” and as the Bible says, that is “like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.”
It’s the heart. The heart will express itself outwardly whether we want it to or not. It’s the heart that needs to change, not the clothing. If you change the heart, the clothing will change with it.
What are our hearts expressing in us? Are they displaying humility in speech, action, and dress? Or are they displaying arrogance and self-indulgence?
At this point, even if modesty still sounds like a bad thing, that’s too bad, because the Bible explicitly supports and demands modesty.
1 Timothy 2:9-10: “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.”
It doesn’t get any clearer than this. The Bible comes right out and tells women to dress modestly. It seems that even back then female immodesty was an issue. It’s not about how much attention you can bring to yourself, but rather, doing good works, “as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.”
Still, some may be concerned that dressing modestly will cause them to feel bad about themselves; however, our bodies are not us. They do not give us our worth. At best, they can only reflect the state of the treasure inside of us, if we have decided to store up any treasure there at all. The creator of the universe sent His only son to die for you. You must be pretty special. To demean yourself by attaining self-worth from how you look, or from how others perceive you, is a sad and gross underestimation. (see What Are You Worth for more.)
Proverbs 30:31 says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
This verse makes the important point that fear of the Lord is the most important quality we should be nurturing and growing. Why waste time on charm or beauty which can be deceitful and vain? That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with beauty or charm. Our bodies are temples after all, so we shouldn’t let them fall into disrepair. Yes, it’s better to be charming than uninviting, but charm and beauty misused can be very harmful, and even at their best, they are external, and not as important as internal strength of character.
1 Peter 3:1-4: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Again, here the focus is internal, and not external. Don’t focus on your environment. Don’t worry about attracting the opposite gender, or what other people will think. Adorn the hidden person in your heart which will never fade away. How do you do that? By having a gentle and quiet spirit (a.k.a. modesty). And this is very precious to God!
1 Peter 5:5-6: “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
Humility is a very beautiful thing. It’s not about putting yourself down, quite the opposite. It’s about seeing yourself as Christ sees you, which is with a tremendous amount of worth. Then it’s taking that and realizing how important others are too. It’s not elevating yourself above others, but it’s not lowering yourself either. It’s not about you at all. It’s about other people. It’s about seeing how important others are that you don’t even think about trying to promote yourself.
In fact, you have to be very confident in yourself to be humble. You have to be sure enough of your worth in Christ to be able to see the magnificent value and importance of others.
Humility lifts everyone up. Modesty lifts everyone up.
If you dress immodestly, then you will become an object. A tool to be used by others. People will not respect you. You are not being considerate. You will be tempting your brothers to sin. You will be sinning against your brother and against Christ. Your brothers in Christ will feel betrayed and frustrated, even enraged. And by dressing immodestly you are listening to the culture and aligning yourself with the world, which is leading you towards the edge of a cliff.
By contrast, if you dress modestly, you will be seen as an intelligent human being that deserves respect. You are respecting others and being considerate of them. You’re not tempting your brothers to sin, and you will not be sinning against them and God. Your brothers in Christ will be very appreciative and thankful toward you for your decision to be modest. They will think more highly of you because you are not trying to manipulate them and, because you are following the ways of the LORD instead of the world.
Modesty is important; it is of the kingdom of God. It is what God calls us to as humans. We are to be spreading God’s kingdom on earth; being modest is one way to do that. Have you ever thought of that? By living a modest life and wearing modest clothing you are fighting for God here on earth.
In other words…Be MODEST! It’s bringing Heaven to earth.
(Part 2 of 3) To read Part 1, click here.
Part 2: Modesty: What Guys’ Think
The weakness of the male has been known and well documented for thousands of years. Girls know they can attract guys by what they wear (or what they don’t wear). Yes, it’s true. It’s not a myth. However, the kind of attention girls attract by dressing immodestly is not the kind of attention they want to attract.
In our culture today, the average male wants to indulge in this weakness. He likes immodesty. In fact, he may even prefer women wear less. However, for the Christian man who is trying to live a God honoring life, immodesty can be a major obstacle. A Christian guy I know (guy A) described it well when he said, “Life is a battle over lust for men and boys. I only ask that you don’t give aide to the other side.”
Sure, the responsibility is 100% on the guy not to stumble. He has the power to control himself. It’s no one’s fault but his own when he stumbles. But! It’s very frustrating when girls, especially his sisters in Christ, are aiding the side of Satan. You wouldn’t talk about cigarettes in front of a person who was trying to stop smoking, right?
Many girls don’t even realize how difficult it is for guys. Like girl B said, “I think people (sometimes) overestimate the impact of immodesty vs. modesty. Because immodesty is normal. It’s what society is USED to, so much so that it almost becomes unnoticeable.” Yes, immodesty is normal. Does that mean it’s not noticed? Absolutely not! It is normal and it IS being noticed, which means men are stumbling and struggling on a normal basis.
Occasionally a person will throw out the point, “Well what about guys? Guys need to be modest too!” This statement is very true. Males need to be modest just as much as females, however, the issue of female immodesty is so much bigger than male immodesty. Also, men are much more sight oriented, and are much more susceptible to lust through immodesty than women. God created this facet in men to be a blessing, but like all good things in God’s creation, it has been abused and corrputed by mankind and has led to sin.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:9, 12-13, “But TAKE HEED lest by any means this Liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak…but when you sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, YOU SIN AGAINST CHRIST. Wherefore, if meat makes my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh while the world stands, LEST I MAKE MY BROTHER TO STUMBLE.”
Like I was talking about in part 1, if your liberty causes others to stumble, then you no longer have that liberty. So girls, you can’t just wear whatever you want. If it causes others to stumble, then you are not just sinning against your brothers in Christ, but you sin against CHRIST! So if wearing something causes your brother to offend, then don’t wear it. Wear something that won’t slight someone else.
Why is it so hard for girls to be modest? Well then, this brings up the question, “What is modest?”
People like to make a big deal about it. They like to make it sound hard, but it’s not. Now, the stores do make it hard to find modest clothing (Who’s telling you what to wear again? Legalistic oppressive men? I don’t think so). However, it’s not impossible to find something. Just wear enough and make sure it’s not too tight. I mean, I don’t like wearing tight clothing. That’s uncomfortable. The same goes for not wearing enough clothes. That’s not fun either. Do girls really like forcing themselves into tight clothes, or being half naked? I don’t believe it.
Pants are fine, they just can’t be too tight. Shorts are fine, they just have to approach the knees. I don’t think that’s asking too much. All of my shorts reach my knees and none of my pants are skin tight. There is no practical or good reason for pants to be too tight or shorts to be too short. They don’t have to come right down to the knee, but they should be decently close, you know, for decency. Skirts, in general, probably should reach the knees though. T-shirts are fine, but again, they can’t be too tight, and they can’t expose anything. Not that hard. Now, I’m just talking about what’s modest and what isn’t. If you want to talk about what girls should wear, as in, what’s feminine or what looks nice? That’s an entirely different subject.
The Rebelution came out with a great modesty surveythat goes through the different kinds of clothing guys consider immodest. It’s a very valuable resource for any girl who wants to respect her brothers in Christ, but is unsure how.
Additonally, modest clothing is typically a lot more feminine. Long skirts and dresses…that’s feminine. Jeans, shorts, t-shirts, those are a lot more masculine or gender neutral. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a girl wearing those things if they’re modest. Jeans, shorts, and t-shirts can be modest. A lot of them aren’t because they’re too short or too tight, but they can be modest, and there are practical reasons for wanting to wear these articles of clothing. There are times when jeans or shorts can actually be much more modest than a skirt. Or, there are times when doing a certain activity wouldn’t be possible or practical in a skirt or dress, and it would be better to wear a t-shirt and shorts. However, there is no denying that a skirt is feminine.
I also really like what this article, Clothing and The Character of a Child Part 1, has to say about the importance of clothing. This blogger makes some really great points about how clothing goes far beyond covering up, and I wholeheartedly agree with his thoughts.
Not too long ago, women would pretty much always wear a dress or a skirt. But with the Feminist movement, women were convinced that they were “oppressed” or not equals to men, so they started wearing pants, and cutting their hair short (among other things) to try to be more like men. That doesn’t mean if a girl today wears pants that she is trying to be masculine, but that’s how it started. That was the idea behind it. And today, a lot of women do reject femininity. The culture has told them that it’s wrong to be feminine. So you see a lot more females acting and dressing like males. That’s not empowering women, that’s enslaving them. Forcing them into a role that they weren’t created to fill.
Men were meant to be masculine, and women were meant to be feminine. A feminine woman is more appealing than a masculine woman, and a masculine man is more appealing than a feminine man. Modest skirts and dresses are more feminine, so they’re naturally going to be more attractive. And that’s a general statement. Of course there are going to be individual cases where this isn’t true. But those are exceptions, not the rule.
Some fear that being feminine or modest is unattractive, but that’s a lie. You do NOT have to be immodest to be attractive. Here is what guy B has to say, “Something that is immodest is something that is designed to arouse lust within me. Attractiveness is a far more mysterious quality, a mixture of spirituality, personality and physical beauty.”
I really like this quote. Not only do I 100% agree with it, but it brings up another good point. What effect does a girl have on a guy when she is immodest?
I know a lot of girls dress immodestly to attract guys, and as I said at the beginning of this part, it works. However, it’s not the kind of attraction that any girl would want to receive.
First of all, a girl shouldn’t waste one thought or action on how to attract a guy. Girls (and guys) shouldn’t spend any time thinking about how to attract the opposite gender. We should focus instead on living for Christ and growing into the men and women He wants us to be. If we do that, people will be attracted to us, not because we have done anything to manipulate them, but simply because a person living for Christ is someone other people want to be around.
Second, when a girl attracts a guy because of immodesty, she is attracting him with her body only. The feelings she is stirring up in him are lust and desire, not admiration and nothing that even resembles love. Guys who are attracted in that way are attracted because they see an object they can use for selfish pleasure.
Brain scan studies published in National Geographic News February 16, 2009, have revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up (is activated). Tool use! For example, areas of the brain that normally activate in anticipation of using tools, like hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc. The researchers also found that a part of the brain that usually turned on during social interaction actually de-activated when they saw the pictures. Do girls realize they’re making themselves into objects—tools–when they dress immodestly? When you cease to dress modestly you can actually cease to be a person in the eyes of men.
However, there are good God-fearing guys out there who are striving to live for Christ. They want to respect women and treat them as equals and sisters. But in our culture, it can be a struggle to treat them the way they deserve because they insist on dehumanizing themselves. Immodesty invites guys to treat girls poorly. It can make it hard for guys to even see girls as people.
Immodesty is extremely unappealing to such God-fearing guys, but that doesn’t mean they don’t/can’t fall to their fleshly weaknesses. Lust is a weakness for guys, and I don’t like girls trying to prey on my weakness. When girls dress immodestly, I feel like they’re trying to take advantage of me because of my weakness. I feel like they’re trying to manipulate me. I don’t like that. Who does? Who likes people trying to take advantage and manipulate them? I don’t know how many girls consciously realize what they’re doing, but whether they realize it or not, that’s what they’re doing. They are attempting to manipulate and trip up men when they are immodest.
Because of these feelings, guys (at least ones trying to follow Christ) are extremely appreciative of girls who try to dress modestly. Also, a modestly dressed girl clues guys (and people in general) into a girl that potentially has a modest spirit, and a girl who is seeking to honor Christ rather than the world. In our culture today, a modest girl is going to stand out. It takes guts to go against the grain like that, and that’s impressive. So I just want to personally thank all the young women out there who are seeking to honor Christ and respect others by choosing to dress modestly.
It comes down to this: you can decide to dress immodestly and be treated as an object and a tool, or you can dress modestly and be respected and appreciated. Which do you prefer?
Guy C also makes this great point about immodesty, “It’s a testimony to insecurity when women dress immodestly. A woman who knows she is beautiful doesn’t have to walk down the street half naked to be noticed.”
Like in my post, What Are You Worth, if we get our sense of value or security from what other people think of us, we are dehumanizing ourselves and making ourselves out to be objects. But Jesus says that we are so valuable that he would die for us while we were yet sinners. While we were still in rebellion against Him, he would rescue us by dying for us! Yet so many s girls still think they have to show off their bodies to be thought of as valuable. That is so wrong. You show off your body and you’ll be thought of as cheap, not valuable. Have enough security in your life in Christ to know that you can dress modestly. And the truth is, modesty is infinitely more beautiful than immodesty.
So girls, do yourself and your brothers in Christ a favor and put some decent clothes on. If you want people, let alone guys, to respect you at all, you’ve got to dress modestly!
I really like what this girl (girl E) had to say about the whole issue, “The thing about immodesty being the norm is that it shouldn’t be. Sure, it is, and maybe some people tune it out, but I, for one, don’t. And it makes me, even as a girl, feel uncomfortable.
Yeah, lots of guys are going to ‘think bad thoughts’ anyway, no matter how girls dress, but that’s no reason to throw basic standards to the wind. That’s just a really bad argument. And yeah, I do agree that everyone’s standards can be different. My friends have different standards than I do, but I still think they’re modest (usually) and attractive. (They, however, still haven’t gotten over the fact that I, GASP, actually like wearing skirts. Geez.) Still, there has to be some rule of thumb, some basic starting point for Christians, or you can justify going back to wearing the trampy stuff because it ‘feels good.’”
And I also sincerely agree with the sentiments of this girl (girl F): “I think it’s VERY important to dress modestly. Not only does it please God, but it makes it easier for the guys. You can be very cute and fashionable, and also dress modestly. You can wear colorful and fashionable shirts, and jeans too (that aren’t tight), and skirts. They are very pretty and feminine. I think people these days are so careless in how they dress. It’s actually disgusting. When I walk past billboards with girls in bikinis, showing off their body, it just sickens me. It always makes me happy to see girls wearing skirts or modest clothes. It’s hard to find. To me, they’re much more beautiful when they’re modest, than when they’re exposing themselves.”
Immodesty really is a sad thing for everyone involved. A lot of girls do it to attract guys, which is totally wrong. Girls shouldn’t be trying to attract guys. Plus, the guys they do attract through immodesty are not the guys they want to attract, because those guys are not interested in those girls as people, but as objects for their own personal enjoyment. Girls think they’re being loved, but they’re really being used.
And then you have men who really and truly are trying to live for Christ, yet women are placing so many obstacles in their way. It’s frustrating and even infuriating. Sometimes there can even be a temptation to hate or resent the girls who dress that way, which is as wrong as giving into the temptation of lust. So, loving these girls and women the way Christ would have us love them becomes extremely difficult as well. You’re battling your fleshly weakness on one hand, and you’re battling not to resent the people who are trying to manipulate you and cause you to stumble on the other. Terrible situations to be in, I can assure you.
But again, if a man does fall pray to immodesty and sins, he can blame no one but himself. He is responsible for his sin. However, when a man sins as a result of a woman’s immodesty, the woman has also sinned.
1 Corinthians 8:9, 12-13, “But TAKE HEED lest by any means this Liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak…but when you sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, YOU SIN AGAINST CHRIST. Wherefore, if meat makes my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh while the world stands, LEST I MAKE MY BROTHER TO STUMBLE.”
Immodesty: It’s bad for everyone.
However, I couldn’t finish my examination of the issue of modesty without touching on the attitude of modesty that goes along with the physical clothing. Also, I can’t skip on what the Bible says about the matter. I’ll delve a little more into these two topics in Part 3.
Check out this site for more great modesty resources: Pure Modesty
What’s the deal with Modesty?
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that women are wearing less clothing than ever in our Western society. Is this good or bad? Is it freeing women and improving society? Or is it having the opposite effect?
First off, what is modesty? It has become a “buzz” word today in our culture. “Modesty” has become synonymous with oppression, unattractiveness, judging, Legalism, and a host of other unpleasant words and ideas. But what does modesty really mean? Here are a couple definitions.
- the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
- regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
Just looking at those definitions, they look really good! Who wouldn’t say that a person should be free from vanity and boastfulness, and that a person should act decently in behavior, speech, and dress? No one would refute that those are good qualities to have, right? So then why are so many men and women advocating immodest dress?
Could it be that there is some benefit to wearing immodest clothing that we are not seeing? Or are there problems with modesty that go beyond the definition? What’s wrong with modesty? Here are few common objections I’ve heard.
Dress in whatever we “feel comfy” in?
One thing I hear often is that dressing modestly isn’t comfortable. For example, one girl (girl A) has told me, “I’ve always hated skirts and dresses as a child, because being forced into them so often, and I feel bad for girls that dress like Muslims because of it – though, I have met girls that prefer it. It depends on your mind set – wear what you feel comfy in!”
I don’t know what gave her the impression that a girl has to dress like a Muslim to be modest, but does she have a point? Should comfort be the number one factor in what we wear?
That’s a very relative statement. What’s comfortable for one person may not be for another. What if someone feels most comfortable going naked? Should they because it’s comfortable? I think almost everyone would agree absolutely not. Why? Because it’s not respectful to others.
I very much dislike waiting in long lines. It’s very uncomfortable. Should I just start cutting to the front of lines from now on? No, because that’s not respectful to all the other people waiting in line. I have to sacrifice my comfort to respect others. Can you imagine if everyone just ran around looking out for their own comfort, disregarding others? A frightening thought, don’t you think?
So if our comfort will slight other people, then we should forgo it in consideration of others. But is dressing modestly so uncomfortable? Are wearing jeans that are less than skin-tight really that unpleasant? Are shorts longer than underwear really that unbearable? And what’s so uncomfortable about skirts? I’ve never worn one, so I can’t say, however, my two younger sisters say skirts are much more comfortable than pants. I have a guy friend who won’t even wear jeans because he says they’re uncomfortable. So I don’t think anyone can say skin-tight jeans are more comfortable than skirts. Now, I know a girl who has said that she only wears cleavage exposing shirts because anything higher is uncomfortable. *blink* Really? I almost exclusively wear crew neck shirts, and they are not uncomfortable at all. I think V-necks are actually less-comfortable. But I’m not a girl, so what do I know?
There are many ways to dress modestly. Comfort shouldn’t be an issue.
Immodesty is unnoticeable?
Another girl (girl B) has said this about Modesty, “I don’t consider myself immodest, but I think some [people] would. And, frankly, I don’t care what [other people] think in this regard because I dress in ONLY what I would feel comfortable wearing in front of a good guy friend. In a way…I think people (sometimes) overestimate the impact of immodesty vs. modesty. Because immodesty is normal. It’s what society is USED to, so much so that it almost becomes unnoticeable.”
Here, the focus is again on the self. It’s on us. What we feel. However, we’re supposed to be considerate of others in everything that we do. God freed us from our selfishness–why? So we could go right back to being selfish? No! He didn’t free us so we could go back to being slaves. He freed us so that we would have the strength to serve others. Before, we were enslaved by our selfishness. We couldn’t help but be selfish. Now that we are free, why should we go back?
If my expression of liberty causes someone else to stumble, I give up my privilege to take that liberty. If my freedom causes me to infringe on another person’s freedom, I don’t have that right. We are not free to do evil. God has freed us to do good, not to do evil. We are to leverage liberty lovingly. That means we shouldn’t just steamroll through other people. We can’t just say, “I don’t care what you think! This is what I want!” As Christians, we need to be respectful and considerate of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Also, girl B’s claim that the impact of immodesty vs. modesty is overblown, and that it is unnoticeable because it is normal does not hold water. Immodesty is VERY noticeable. If it wasn’t, then why are scantily clad woman so often used in the commercial world to sell products? BECAUSE IT WORKS! Businesses want to sell their product or service. They would stop using immodesty to market themselves if it had become unnoticeable and wasn’t working. (More on this in Part 2)
So, we’ve established that wearing immodest clothes because they are more comfortable isn’t a good reason. Wearing just what pleases us has also proven to be a bad reason. However, there has to be some real problems with modesty, right? I mean, Modesty is bad. If it wasn’t bad, then why are so many people against it?
Dressing modestly = fashion disaster?
Well, one girl (girl C) brought up this issue, “I think dressing modestly is a good thing, but some people take it too far and it’s a living hell to be the home-schooled fashion disaster, so would I push some limits? Probably. But I do believe in saving yourself for your husband, but I’d prefer to at least look decent while doing it. My wardrobe is jeans and graphic t’s – I have a lazy and neutral fashion style and don’t care because it’s my choice.”
Okay, she has a couple arguments here, the main one being that dressing modestly is ugly, a “fashion disaster.” Her other argument is that we have a right to choose what we wear. Let’s start with analyzing the former argument against modesty.
Is dressing modest ugly? And what about fashion? Is it good to be fashionable? Fashion is different from beauty. Beauty is a good thing. Beauty is of the kingdom of heaven. But fashion is not. Fashion is like the wind: it blows one way, and then the other. Fashion is just what is “in.” It doesn’t have to look good or be objectively beautiful, it just has to be popular. Christians shouldn’t strive to be fashionable, but objectively beautiful while maintaining Modesty. Now, that doesn’t mean fashion and beauty can’t overlap, but being fashionable just to be fashionable is not a good idea.
How about girl C’s second argument? Do we have a right to choose what we wear? Is it our choice? Do we have a right to “express ourselves” as we see fit? Yes and no.
Like I said above, God has freed us. He has freed us to do what? To do good! Not evil! So we are free to do whatever we want, wear whatever we want, so long as it’s good. God WANTS to be able to let us do whatever we WANT. The problem is, what we want is often bad. Our will has to be transformed to His will before we can just do whatever we want. Well what does this mean for modesty?
Our bodies are not our own. First of all, they belong to God. He bought us with a price which was the blood of Jesus Christ His only begotten Son. “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Second of all, our bodies belong to our future spouses. They are to be gifts to them.
So is it, “Our bodies. Our choice?” Now that sounds like an argument right from the mouth of an abortionist. We do NOT have the choice to wear what we want if what we want to wear is sinful. Our bodies are sacred. They are temples. By dressing immodestly we profane God’s temple and give away the gift of our bodies to people that are not our spouses.
Modest dress is oppressive?
Yet modesty has other problems, right? Girl D says, “If you live in the US, you have the freedom to express your religion. If that means that you wear a scarf on your head (that to me signifies oppression) then do it.”
Now, I don’t believe you have to wear a scarf on your head to be modest, but many people believe that men telling woman what to wear is oppressive. This is ridiculous. That’s like if a girl was about to walk off the edge of a cliff, and I told her to stop and she accused me of oppressing her.
“No!” she yells. “It’s my right! I can do what I want and express myself how I want, and no one can tell me what to do!” So…she walks off.
Now, some of you are probably saying, “That’s different! Walking off a cliff isn’t the same as being ‘immodest!’”
I beg to differ. It’s a cliff whether you realize it or not. (More on this in Part 2).
But hey, I’m flexible. Let’s entertain the notion that telling a girl what to wear is oppressive. If this is true, then we would have to say that all of popular culture is oppressing women! That’s right. Turn on the television, open a magazine, surf the internet…what do you see? The culture telling women and girls how to dress. Hollywood says, “if you don’t look like these movie stars, you have no value.” Magazines say, “If you don’t wear this outfit, you aren’t beautiful.” And the internet says, “If you don’t look and act like these woman, no one will like you.” The culture has been telling women how to look and act for a very, very long time. The culture has been pushing, tempting, and encouraging girls to walk closer to the cliff for decades, and millions of girls have bought in, and they’ve been throwing themselves off the edge in droves. Mass suicide at the urging of popular culture. Sort of makes pop culture sound like a cult doesn’t it?
So by the line of reasoning that men are oppressing women by telling them what to wear…then that must mean the culture is murdering them.
Comfort is not a good reason to be immodest because elevating our comfort over the liberty of others is wrong, and modest clothes are comfortable anyway. And if they aren’t comfortable, maybe you just need to get used to it. Wearing just what pleases us is selfish, and therefore a no-go. That doesn’t mean we can’t like what we wear. On the contrary, we should like what we wear, but what we like to wear shouldn’t slight other people and God. Modest clothing can be very attractive, and therefore, the argument that modest dress is ugly doesn’t hold, and being a “fashion disaster” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our bodies are not our own, so we can’t just choose whatever we want to wear. Also, being told to be Modest isn’t any more oppressive than being told to be humble, or to take out the trash (okay, I take that back. Being told to take out the trash is pretty oppressive). Just because someone tells you to do something, doesn’t make it oppressive by default.
Right now, I’m not seeing any good reasons not to be Modest. It seems like there is nothing wrong with Modesty. But are there good reasons to be Modest? (Other than dogmatically following what “oppressive” people say?) Well, let’s look at Modesty from the male perspective next.
(Part 2: Modesty: What Guys’ Think)