Dresses vs. Pants: A Look at Modesty
Read the response of our readers, as they have sought the Lord and share with us what God has faithfully taught them.
Disclaimer: This discussion has been left very open to give room to the Holy Spirit to open truth to your heart as you seek the Lord in this area. Please keep in mind that we do not agree with all the thoughts expressed, and have, therefore, tried to present how we understand the Word of God on these points. If you have any further questions about how we believe, please feel free to write and ask.
The Motive Behind Our Clothing
By writing this, I am not trying to change your personal convictions, tell you that ours is better than yours, or sow discord among us (Proverbs 6:19). Though many of you will probably not agree with everything I say here, I really feel that the issue of dresses vs. slacks is so unimportant compared to all the other issues in life. Instead, I believe it is the motive behind our dress that is important.
We do wear slacks on a regular basis; my parents don’t see anything wrong with it, and for me they are more comfortable. Slacks can be more modest during activities such as horseback riding, exercising, skiing, sports, or outdoors on windy days. We make sure our slacks aren’t too tight or too loose. We always wear dresses or skirts to church and music lessons or other such occasions. It denotes respect. I believe that the head of the home chooses how his family should dress.
Jesus rarely mentioned raiment in His earthly ministry. Why? He wanted to change the spiritual lives of people. As Christians, we can very easily argue about what we believe is right or wrong. I recall a time when I was at a week-long seminar in Tennessee. We had just arrived, and I was in slacks. Dad, my sister, and I went for a walk and decided to go into the main building. While in there, a girl passed me and wrinkled her nose at the sight of me in slacks. She probably didn’t realize it, but she was judging by appearance. Once I heard someone (I don’t remember who) say that when we get to heaven, there will be a sign before us that reads, “They Would Have Known You Were Christians If You Loved.” Do we judge others because of how they look? Do we wear clothing to look outwardly “holy”? Should we spend our whole lives arguing dress?
When we all get to heaven, God is going to commend us for our spiritual lives and deeds. There is no reward for an argumentative spirit. To sum up my views on dresses vs. slacks, I would say that clothing choice must be based on your personal walk with God and the choices your parents have made.
What Should Our Focus Be?
I would like to share briefly some things I have learned during five years of exploring the issue of modest dress….
My mother and I first were introduced to this idea after reading the testimonies and convictions of other ladies in a Christian magazine. We quickly saw the truth that was taught in the Scriptures, once our attention was drawn to it. We readily embraced that we needed to wear dresses all the time, and soon I made the complete change.
During the years following, I spent more time and thought than ever in my life on what I was going to wear. Dresses are expensive if you buy very many, so we made everything ourselves. I always was behind with something to sew; but since everyone else we knew who wore dresses was too, I thought nothing of it—this was just what being modest required. To sum it up, I completely missed the point. I was quite modest as far as the cut of my clothes, but of (what I thought was) necessity, I was completely preoccupied with dressing. Instead of now being free of the slave of fashion, I was spending more time than ever with my dress. I thought modesty meant basically the cut of your clothes, and since you can’t wear the same dress day after day and not have it look repetitive, (like you can with jeans), you must therefore have quite a variety, a new dress every day of the week. This translates into a lot of sewing, especially when the season changes. I did not then realize that also of great importance should be not taking thought for what we should wear—to have inward humility which would cause us not to dress in a prideful or revealing way. It always troubled me that I knew of Christian women who wore jeans and they were always feminine, modest in their actions and posture, in no way drawing attention to themselves. One family in particular I always felt like such a hypocrite around—the girls and the mother were of such a sweet Christian spirit; I have never felt “looked down upon” or “odd” around them—they seem to possess a truly humble spirit. At times I knew in my heart who was truly of a modest spirit and was least concerned with their appearance! (And it wasn’t be-jumpered me!) Outward modesty should be the natural by-product of an inward humility and desire not to draw attention to oneself. I did not have this change of heart, therefore changing my dress profited me nothing! The author of a commentary on 1st Peter [An Obedient and Patient Faith, by Robert Leighton, available from Calvary Press, (800) 789-8175], written during the 1600’s, expresses it more clearly than I can:
It is as sure as any of these, that real excess and vanity in apparel will creep in, and will always willingly convey itself under the cloak of some of these honest and lawful considerations. This is a prime piece of our heart’s deceit, not only to hold out fair pretenses to others, but to put the trick upon ourselves, to make ourselves believe we are right and single-minded in those things wherein we are directly serving our lusts, and feeding our own vanity.
To a sincere and humble Christian, very little either dispute or discourse concerning this will be needful. A tender conscience, and a heart purified from vanity and weaned from the world, will be sure to regulate this, and all other things of this nature. As conscientious Christians will not exceed in the thing itself so in as far as they use lawful ornament and comeliness they will do it without bestowing much either diligence or delight on the business. To have the mind taken and pleased with such things, is so foolish and childish a thing, that if most might not find it in themselves, they would wonder at it in many others, of years and common sense.
The Apostle doth indeed expressly, on purpose, check and forbid vanity, and excess in apparel, and excessive delight in lawful decorum, but his prime end is to recommend this other ornament of the soul, the hidden man of the heart.
I wish I had spent five years seeking a meek and quiet spirit, instead of vainly becoming consumed with endless sewing. The problem was not caused by wearing dresses, and that was not wrong, but my focus was wrong. My purpose in sharing my mistakes is to warn others so they will not fall into this trap. Since becoming awakened to the truths above, I have made some changes in my dress. I needed to do whatever would be economical of my time and money, and what would allow me to spend the least time taking thought for what I should wear. I began wearing loose fitting pants and overalls to chore and milk in. What freedom—no longer do I soil two dresses per day during muddy seasons! It saves on the laundry and wear on my dresses, which I usually change into after chores. But now I am not bound by a certain mode of dress and realize that a meek spirit set on heavenly things will cause us to choose that which is not revealing or expensive, whether it is dresses or pants. I personally am more comfortable in dresses; perhaps from wearing them so long. But now I am perfectly free to accept my sister in jeans without feeling there is a barrier between us.
I have talked to some of my friends who have fallen into the same mistake of being consumed with dressing as I have, so I assume this must be a favorite attack of the adversary. If our heart is not renewed by the Spirit, pride and vanity will simply express themselves in other ways despite outward changes. I am concerned for all the young girls growing up that are being taught that all wearing of pants is unacceptable. Certainly many styles are immodest, as are some dresses, and we should discern that (I have very strict standards for my pants!), but to focus so much on outward appearance seems dangerously to me like having a righteousness of the law, and not of faith. Let’s not substitute one form of pride for another. If we focus first on a renewed heart, the fruit of God’s Spirit will be naturally manifest in our lives.
In Christian love,
Lord, Teach Us Your Ways: A Personal Testimony
The issue of the way we dress has come to my mind much lately and I believe that the Lord would have me write how He dealt with me in this area.
I grew up in a standard, conservative American home where we knew our parents loved us and desired for us to grow up to be loving, kind, and obedient, as well as become productive members of society. We went to church regularly as well as attended Sunday School. I was not supervised as I should have been, and as a consequence I had gone through some very bad experiences. In this way the Lord was able to deal with my soul when quite young. I was gloriously saved when I was nearly eleven years old and peace was brought to my troubled soul. I now abhorred evil communications and I delighted to do all to please God. Most of our training was in the public schools and the influence had a great impact on me, in spite of the fact that I wanted no part of anything that was not pleasing to God.
During my teen years, I grew up going to public schools in Southern California where miniskirts were the rage. Soon pants were being accepted as a means of dress for girls and it was easy for me to make the transition to wearing them. I felt more modest when I wore pants since I often felt very uncomfortable in wearing dresses even though I wore them at a “conservative length” of two inches above the knees. My parents had no Biblical understanding that women are not to wear the clothing of men and so I never saw it as an offense to God and enjoyed the freedom of wearing pants.
It was not until nearly ten years ago that I saw dresses in a different light from that of my youth, as women were starting to wear longer dresses. I bought a couple of dresses that were mid-calf length at that time for special occasions, and I no longer felt self conscious in dresses as I previously did. Shortly after that time the Lord brought me in contact with a “very conservative” family. The mother and I were visiting one time, and the topic of dress and hair came about in our conversation as I must have mentioned something to my ignorance of these things in regards to the Word of God. In 1 Timothy 2:9 it says that women are to adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls or costly array. The Holy Spirit had witnessed these things in my heart, but I’m afraid that I often gave into the temptation of desiring others to think highly of me. The years of our youth are hard ones to go through without godly instruction and I can say that the training I received was far from godly as my parents didn’t understand the importance of guiding the heart in attitude as well as deed. I am thankful to say that the Lord has been faithful to my soul, and has helped me out from the pitfalls of Satan that I once so often fell into. I had no idea that God had specific instruction to our dress. Deuteronomy 22:5 states that “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” Here, in God’s Word, is a shadow and type of the heart covenant that we can now receive through the blood of Jesus. I am reminded here that God made men and women differently and we are blessed when we work under the guidelines that God has put out for us—both in work and in dress. I had new things to think and ponder about.
It was not long before I put aside my pants. It took longer for me to understand what the Lord required of me in understanding the specifics of all this. As I have prayed about and witnessed the working of the Lord in the liberated heart I see that the specifics in regards to length, color, pattern, etc. are governed under the witness of the Holy Spirit to the individual heart that desires to be taught of God. The Lord will teach us those things that draw those around us into various temptations. This is not easy as we are all individuals, and others may have different convictions than ourselves and may feel free to wear that which you may not feel free to wear or vice versa. Look to the Lord and be taught of Him as to what He requires of you. You need to know that you are clear before God in regards to modesty in dress as well as in heart. The adorning the Lord desires for us to wear is that of the heart, and the outward adorning is to be as not to draw attention to oneself so that others will not be hindered in seeing the life of Christ working in you. I have found that the Lord will help you to do all that He requires of you.
One more thing I would like to remind us about is our garments are used merely to clothe or cover us. As Christians our concern should be focused on serving God “without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:74-75) As soon as we understand God’s standard for us He will help us to measure up in a way that pleases Him. He will help us to put aside our own wishes or desires. We are called to be a vessel of honor and glory—often in the world we are concerned with our looks and dress to the point of vanity. The Lord gives us a meek and quiet spirit that is content with the necessities of life. I have been content and blessed to have a few garments with sweaters and leggings to help keep warm in colder weather. I wear the same dress throughout the week. I try to make sure to have a garment that is “new-like” in the closet to have to wear away from home or when company comes. Most of all I need the Lord’s help to keep a balanced view of my needs.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)
—A Sister in Christ
Seeing Christ Through You
Dear Sisters in the Lord,
I would like to share my family’s opinion on the dresses vs. pants issue.
Our family came to the conclusion that we wear dresses all the time quite a while ago. I remember the time. At first I was actually quite happy about it because I always liked dresses. But soon afterward I thought, “When I’m old enough to do as I like, I’ll wear pants.” But now as I am older, I feel that I cannot wear anything else but dresses. First of all, I feel that wearing pants brings attention to my figure. Also, when women first began wearing pants, which was at the time of World War II, they were becoming “working women,” and it is the husband’s role to support his family. Our role is not a man’s role. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) A scripture that has been special to me is 1 Peter 3:3-4, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) Our ornament is a meek and quiet spirit. All I want the world to see is Christ through me. Modest apparel is fitting for a godly person. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10) Modesty is more than covering up. It is concealing the body properly. Modesty, according to The American College Dictionary (1958 version), means “a conformity to propriety and decorum; a becoming shyness, sobriety and proper behavior; quiet simplicity. Distaste for anything coarse or loud; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness.” So it means modesty both inside and outside. Inward modesty is important, so is outward modesty. What is in our heart will show. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45) I do not want the world to see my fleshly body; this one that will be exchanged for a heavenly one.
I can very much understand the difficulty of staying covered up. As a small girl it isn’t so bad to see a dress fly up. But as you grow older it gets worse. With running, I have had to realize that I will not stay a little girl. I’m growing up, and is it really proper for me to run about, especially outside the family? With riding my bike, I have found bloomers to be very helpful. My little sisters wear bloomers all the time, and so do I, although it is not as important as with the little girls. Full skirts are more modest than straighter ones, and help on a bicycle, also. It is our rule to wear bloomers on the trampoline.
We sew all our clothes. We have a very nice, loose pullover jumper, and another that buttons down the front. Our dresses go near to our ankles, and the full width of the fabric helps to keep us covered when we’re on the floor with the children, etc. We try to stay simple, and keep the same patterns, especially since there are a lot of girls in our family. We stay away from T-shirts, and make our own blouses, with 3/4-length sleeves with elastic so we’re able to move freely and not be concerned about showing parts of our body that should be covered. For winter we wear turtlenecks. My mother has one jumper pattern that she has made to a maternity and nursing jumper. It is drop-waisted and very modest (no unbuttoning needed to nurse).
For swimming, which we don’t really do, but we do go wading, we wear old clothes; and in case you decide to go up to your neck in water, bring an extra change of clothes. We have decided to stay away from swimming pools, not only for our thoughts on dressing but also for our own sakes, because of the dressing of others.
I know the subject was dresses vs. pants but we feel that modesty is for the men an boys, also. We see many times the modesty is carried out in the women and girls, but not in the men. If the women should be modest, how much more so the men, who are the head of the home? He is the example for the whole family. My father is the only man in the family besides my baby brother. He wears long, loose pants and nice shirts (no T-shirts). He never wears shorts, and the pants are so loose he must wear suspenders, because a belt would not look nice, but are not so loose they’re sloppy. Overalls are very practical for little boys. I would encourage all of you who are studying modesty for women to also do it for the men. It are just as important, and maybe even more so.
May God bless you all as you study this subject out.
Love in our Savior’s Name,
Castle Rock, Colorado
Legalists or Examples?
Greeting to you in the name of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May God bless you as you and your readers search the Scriptures about this topic. My daughter Elisabeth has already written you with her thoughts (and basically shared our family’s views on this), so I’ll not repeat it. I did come across something in my reading yesterday that I thought might be appreciated. Since we do dress very conservatively, many people might consider us “legalistic” in this area, though we prefer to just live our lives as examples rather than try to convince with words. When asked, we do share our interpretation of modest dressing. The following is from some writings by a man named H. Foster. He was addressing the issue of legality.
Legalists are always occupied with externals. They attach the greatest importance to the niceties of orthodox practice and language as things in themselves. By them the simple practices of the New Testament are made into a ritual. The spirit of a thing is lost sight of in an exaggerated devotion to the thing, whereas to God nothing has value apart from the spiritual truth it is meant to express. Moreover the legalistic mind is always obsessed with deciding what is right and what is wrong. That, after all, is what the law is for! Far be it from us to encourage any laxity in the matter of what is morally right or morally wrong. If however, we make ourselves judges or arbitrators; if we let our relationship with other believers be governed by our own interpretation of what is right and wrong; if, indeed being right, we insist upon our own rights, we have been overtaken by legality.
These comments seem to be especially applicable to this particular topic. As far as I know this material has no copyright. It is from a collection of writings by a number of godly men from previous generations. The title of this collection is The Refiner’s Fire, put together by David Wilkerson and Leonard Ravenhill. This is from Vol. II. and is available from Rare Christian Books, phone 573-336-7316; e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Their address is 19275 Highway 28, Dixon, MO, 65459.
God bless you all as you seek His will in everything you do.
Castle Rock, Colorado
Modesty: Representing the King
My name is Jodie Kooistra and my family is attending a conservative Mennonite church at the present time. All the females in our family wear dresses and I feel that the wearing of dresses is in obedience to Deuteronomy 22:5 which states: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5) I believe that this is a very convicting verse as to why women should wear dresses. I have found that I am treated more like a young lady when I am wearing dresses. People are more polite and considerate in their actions and deeds when I am wearing my dresses. I have also found that I watch my speech and the things I think about when I remember who I am representing by wearing my dresses. I truly feel more feminine and like a “daughter of the King.”
I truly enjoy playing outside and being very active (i.e., ice skating, baseball, dare base, roller-skating, bike-riding, etc.). I wear shorts underneath my dresses if I feel that need is there. Most of the time I have found that the games and things I enjoy are easily done while still being modest. I can run much easier in dresses than I can in the pants I used to wear.
I have found that there are quite a few very simple but nice-looking dress patterns put out by Simplicity. If you look closely at some catalogs you can find some simple jumpers and turtleneck dresses.
As for tips, I already mentioned wearing shorts while being active. I also think that it helps if you bend at the knees and not at the waist, therefore not letting your dress ride up. Like anything, it will feel strange at first, but eventually you will not be able to stand wearing your binding pants.
I have not really encountered a group swimming event yet, but when my family took a vacation and we stayed in a motel with a pool, we waited until there wasn’t anyone down there (which was almost all the time) and we went down as a family. I used to be on the swim team and I absolutely adore swimming! Right now I wear a T-shirt over my swimming suit until I can obtain a more modest suit. The one I have right now was my racing suit so it is a bit tight and close. My parents don’t mind us swimming in our back yard or at a motel but we do not go to public pools.
I hope I have helped you and that these thoughts can encourage and help someone!
In His light,
Jodie L. Kooistra
Excelsioc Springs, Missouri
Interjection from Skye: If we are unwilling to wear shorts because they show our legs, is it much better to wear bathing suits? Dear sisters, we swim in dresses and jumpers with bloomers and have no problems. For pactical tips, I have found that dark, heavy-weight jumpers are much more modest, as they don’t cling to your body as much as light cotton. I wear denim jumpers with a blouse underneath and bloomers. Perhaps some of you might feel a little “weighed down,” but you get used to it. We feel comfortable in our modest swimwear and are able to swim easily.
Are We Stumbling Blocks?
Modesty is a very important issue, and I feel that we, as daughters of the King, should dress modestly at all times. I started wearing dresses all the time a little over a year ago. I made this change after receiving HopeChest magazine. At first I thought it seemed different that many of the girls I read about wore only dresses, but then the Lord started speaking to my heart—I started to feel uncomfortable wearing pants in public.
My own reasons for wearing dresses are: it helps me to be more submissive to my parents; it helps me to not fall into the spirit of the world; and, dresses are more modest. In contrast, when wearing pants I seem to have a harder time being obedient, I have a much harder time staying away from the world in my thoughts, and I’m not as comfortable (modestly) in public.
With a few exceptions, I wear dresses, jumpers, and… skirts all the time. With regard to Micah’s question about sports, I personally do not exercise much in public, so I just wear a sweat outfit for my exercise at home. When my family and I go bike riding, I wear a split-skirt, or, if the weather is cold, loose pants to stay warm. When going on hikes, skirts can be difficult, so I wear a split-skirt. For swimming, I wear a bathing suit covered by long shorts and a T-shirt. I would like to have something more modest, but since we’re not real confident sewing on bathing suit fabric, this works for now. (Even a skirt can be immodest in the pool, which is why I feel it is best not to swim when boys are present.) My family and I play tennis sometimes, and that is one sport for which a long dress definitely does not work. For tennis, again a knee-length split-skirt works well.
When I must do something that is much harder to do in a dress, I will wear loose, long pants or loose, long shorts—but that is seldom anymore.
Where to get dresses…. As far as catalog shopping goes, some carry modest dresses, but we have found they are usually very expensive. We haven’t been successful finding dresses at the malls as they do not carry much in the way of modest styles. So last year my mom and I took sewing classes. We usually buy our fabric at Jo-Ann’s Crafts and Fabrics or Wal-Mart. Our Jo-Ann’s frequently has patterns on sale for $.99, so you may want to get on the mailing list of a store near you. Wa1-Mart has great fabric prices. Below I have listed a few patterns you might want to look at—they have worked well for us.
I feel strongly that as Christian young ladies, we are to dress and conduct ourselves so as to not make our brothers in Christ stumble. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to not cause our brothers to stumble or make them weak (Romans 14:21). To put it very plainly: what we wear can cause others, as well as ourselves, to fall into sin. Modesty also involves more than just our clothing it also includes our mannerisms and our hearts. We are to keep our hearts “with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) As I shared ear1ier, for me, wearing dresses is an added protection for my heart to be obedient.
I was surprised when I was reading the Word in Deuteronomy 22:5 that it is an “abomination” for a woman to dress like a man. Likewise in Zephaniah 1:8, the Lord says that He will punish those who are clothed with strange apparel. The Amplified version of that verse explains, “all who are clothed in [lavish] foreign apparel [instead of the Jewish dress, with its reminders to obey God’s commandments].” There is a very strong pull in our society today for women to be like men—independent and bold—and that is wrong. Dresses are feminine. It is important for us to stay as feminine as possible. Our future husbands (Lord willing) will not want to marry women who are like men. As I mentioned earlier, dresses can help some women walk in obedience—“reminders to obey God’s commandments.” One lady at a church we once attended said that dresses had helped her to be more submissive to her husband.
Pray and ask the Lord if He would wish you to wear dresses all the time. Of course, ask your parents. Our parents have much wisdom and can discern things that we often can’t…. [this] is also something for us to take to the Lord….
Butterick 6075 (view “D”) is a good split-skirt which has worked very well for us. This pattern also has a nice skirt pattern, which I am working on.
Simplicity 7118 is a nice wrap-around skirt. My Mom and I made view “B” of this skirt. If you are a size “small” you will want to make this a size “medium” anyway because size “small” does not wrap around far enough. It can easily blow open. Just place the “button hole” on the waist to fit your waist.
Simplicity 8564 is a good basic jumper pattern. (This pattern’s size only goes up to 14.)
Butterick 4272 is a nice jumper (you can dress it up a little more if you wish). It is more fitted, and I raised the neckline a little. (There is also an adult size of this pattern the number is: Butterick 4250.)
Simplicity 8165 is one that I have not tried yet, but it looks really nice. I’m thinking of making views “A” and “B.”
May God bless you dear sisters as you serve Him!
A Spirit of Modesty
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) Could you pause as you read this and ask the Lord to give you wisdom concerning this subject of modesty? “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD… and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:3)
God asks that we be obedient to His word: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) What does the word of God say about His desires for us, as His children? There are many principles which we can also apply to our choice of clothing.
1) Holiness. God said, “be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 20:7) The word holy means ‘set apart”. Romans 12 begins with a plea for personal holiness: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye 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.” (Romans 12:1-2) By not being “conformed to this world” we should live a life set apart for God: a life of holiness.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” (1 Peter 1:15) The Greek word translated “conversation” doesn’t just mean the words you speak. This verse could also be interpreted, “be ye holy in all manner of living, in your conduct, behavior, in every aspect of life.” We should consider our clothing in this light, then. Is it, “set apart” from the world?
2) Purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) One definition of purity is: free from anything that taints or impairs, clear, simple, faultless, free from sin or guilt; blameless. The word chaste is a synonym for purity. It means: decent, or modest in nature and behavior, restrained and simple in style; not ornate.
The person who has a “pure heart” will not act or dress in a way that causes a brother or sister in Christ to sin. “That no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way…. Nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:13,21) The opposite of pure motives would be seeking to attract attention by speech, actions or dress. Examine your own heart to see if its motives for the way you dress are pure and chaste.
3) God’s Perspective. Other than these general principles, the Bible also gives women some guidelines specifically about clothing. These are probably familiar passages, but let’s look at them again: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) When I read this, I often hurry through it, without fully realizing the meaning of that last phrase! “Which is in the sight of God of great price.” God values highly a woman with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.” (Psalm 25:9)
Since God looks at our hearts, and we realize that a spirit of meekness is so special to Him, why should I be worried about “looking pretty” outwardly? How important is it to try to hook “perfect” or “just right” to others, when the Father looks down on a quiet, simply dressed, meek-spirited woman and smiles with delight? Shouldn’t we all long to please Him this way?
Let’s look at 1 Timothy 2:9-10. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10) Read that verse again to yourself. Are you “professing godliness”? Then this very much applies to you. Here we read that not only is meekness valued, so are the “good works” of a woman who is adorned with “shamefacedness and sobriety” rather than “costly array.”
What image do the words shamefaced and sober bring to your mind? A girl who isn’t trying to catch the eyes of a fellow? One who is friendly and comfortable around others, but not seeking attention and favor from the boys? These both would be girls who are striving toward a spirit of meekness, sobriety and shamefacedness.
I realize I haven’t specifically stated whether dresses or pants are best for the godly young woman to wear. I have my own convictions, of course, following what I know is the Lord’s will for my life. Personally, I don’t wear pants because I believe it pleases the Lord when I am dressed in a way that is distinctly feminine and modest. Let’s pause and look at that idea, of looking “distinctly feminine.” First, what does the Word of God say about it? “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5) I believe this implies that there must be a difference, a distinction, between the clothing and appearance of men and women.
For hundreds of years in our society, dresses were the established garment for women, and only men ever wore pants. It was a lady who was very much for women’s rights and all that who first started the trend for women to wear “bloomers.” These were loose-fitting pants, and they shocked the entire nation. Eventually, however, people became accustomed to it, and as they say, the rest is history.
I used to wear jeans, and never knew anything different. But after becoming a Christian when I was 12, I began to question what the world termed “normal.” After reading the Word of God and listening to other godly young ladies, when I was 15 I decided that I would start wearing skirts, dresses and jumpers. But the Lord has brought me a long way since then, showing me even more I could do to please Him. That’s how it goes, when you allow the Lord to begin working in your life: He begins to lead us along His path, showing us new truths every step of the way.
I can’t judge those sisters who choose to wear pants, since I don’t know their hearts as the Lord does. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.” (Romans 14:4) I know many Christian women who don’t feel convicted to wear dresses or skirts, and I can see by their lives that they love and serve God. I believe God looks past the outward appearance, and sees the heart that is humble, seeking to love and please Him. Yet, if you are convicted in your heart that you shouldn’t continue to wear pants, and hesitate to follow the “still, small voice,” consider: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) Spend time in prayer, study God’s Word, and talk to your parents.
We know that modesty is a state of the heart, not just a way of dress. So the question is really: “What’s wrong with my heart?” more than, “What’s wrong with pants?” Evaluate your motives, searching your heart and the Scriptures. I even need to step back at times, and look at my dresses through the eyes of the Lord. Even though it’s a dress, does the waist fit too tightly? Is the skirt long enough? What does Dad think about it? I have found that one can still harbor impure motives with a seemingly outward “modesty.” Just because it’s a dress or a skirt doesn’t guarantee anything.
I wish I had time to share all the tips on everyday dress-wearing I had thought of, but I’ll leave that to another sister as I feel I’ve gone on long enough! I hope these thoughts have been helpful to encourage each of you toward a spirit of modesty. May God bless you, as you strive to follow Him. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)
Our Clothing: A Distinclion Between Male and Female
I wear only skirts, dresses, or jumpers because I believe they are more modest and feminine than shorts and pants. I cannot, however, say that pants and shorts are for men only, because in the Bible times, both men and women wore robe or dress-like apparel. However, I think it raises less questions if men only wear pants/shorts, and it also puts a greater distinction between men and women.
But on the modesty side, I feel that I know dresses, skirts, and jumpers are more modest. Shorts reveal far too much of my body, and pants reveal too much of my figure. Men are affected (much easier than you or I can imagine) by the sight of a female in shorts/pants. Scripture says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel… not with broided hair… or costly array.” (1 Timothy 2:9) And in Romans 14:21 we are told not do anything that might cause a brother to stumble. Deuteronomy 22:5 also commands women to not wear men’s apparel, and vice-versa; I feel it is safer to place greater distinctions between our clothing and men’s.
I wear skirts/dresses/jumpers that fall about 1/2 to 3 inches above my ankles and I feel those lengths sufficiently cover me. But for riding bikes and certain other activities, skirt-like culottes are probably the way to go.
I usually find my clothing in consignment stores or the Salvation Army. However, options are limited, so I’d suggest that you find some modest patterns to sew.
Tips? Well, not really…. Mmm, I’d say to make sure your skirts, etc., aren’t too long/full or you’ll trip on them (I learned the hard way!) Oh, I live in Pennsylvania, where it gets quite cold, so I have to make sure I can keep my legs warm. My solution is: to buy leggings! Land’s End sells very well-made leggings, and I love my pairs! They fit just like tights, except they’re about four times as thick and warm!
About swimming guidelines… well, I do not believe in mixed swimming (men and women swimming together who are not closely related, as in brothers and fathers. I feel it is immoral and tempts our Christian (or non-Christian) brothers to think lustful and wrong things.
Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania
Set Apart from the World
I would like to share something with you that the Lord has revealed to me and my family concerning the subject of “modest apparel,” and I hope that you will benefit from it as we/I did.
First of all there is the question of women and girls wearing pants. But what’s wrong with it? Hmmm… well, let’s allow the scripture to take care of that question: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man [pants, huh?]… for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5) But why does God say that? What’s the reason? Well, isn’t that what the “world” does? And if we do the things the “world” does won’t we be associated with the world? And do we—who are God’s chosen ones—want to be associated with the “world” and its people?—which will be destroyed at the second coming (2 Peter 3:10). “Wherefore come out from among [the world] and be ye separate, saith the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 6:17) But (and I know about this argument because I used to use it) “don’t pants keep you warmer in winter?” Maybe. But that seems like a poor excuse to give to God’s command. You can even wear bloomers under your skirt.
Pants show what dresses and skirts are meant to hide. We wear clothes to conceal and not to reveal. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety.” (1 Timothy 2:9)
We should make sure whatever we wear is not tight or formfitting. Whatever we wear should be backed with Biblical significance, and we should be able to know without any doubt that God is pleased with what you are wearing.
I hope I have not come across too strong—it is not my intention to offend anyone nor to be too harsh. If you do not agree with what I have said then it is up to you and the Lord—the only One we are truly accountable to. I hope that at the last day, when we stand before the judgement seat of Christ, that we may all say, “I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4) And then hear Him say, “Well, done, thou good and faithful servant… enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
The final scripture I would like to close with is: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is a sin.” (James 4:17)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
Our Actions Speak Louder Than Words
My dear sisters,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)
When the first humans sinned they realized their nakedness. Because they were ashamed they attempted to cover themselves with fig leaves. However when God found them, He saw that their sorry attempts were not sufficient and the first death occurred in the garden; God killed a beast and sewed them coats of skin and clothed them.
In 2 Corinthians 6:15 it says: “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” It clearly states here that we as Christians are the temple of God! Because God lives in us all that we do should reflect Him, His love, and His will.
Continuing on in 2 Corinthians it says: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
We are commanded to come out from among the world. We are not to go with the flow, we are not to mingle with the rest, but rather we are to go against the grain and stand alone.
One very vital way in which we can make a difference for Christ is in how we dress. This is also one of the ways that the world around us will notice our testimony the most, though we should not “be different” simply for attention. In a world where fashion, fame, and beauty seen to be the ultimate goal it is most important that we keep ourselves pure.
How might we remain pure in an impure world? By not allowing the many things of this world to control how we live, but rather God and His Word and His will.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.” (Hebrews 12:l) The world is watching us. It sees our every move. They know that Christ lives in us. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” (Galatians 2:20) If by our actions, talk, or dress (or over all) we do not testify of our salvation, how them can they believe the words, “I am a Christian”?
When we dress as the world does, with tight, contour shirts and short shorts or skirts/dresses, or even pants, we are accepting what society says is acceptable. “It’s cool”; “Everyone else does it.” Why should we be different? Because the Word of God commands it! (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
“But,” you say, “I don’t want my peers to think I’m weird, or holier than they.”
First of all, if the think we’re weird, chances are that they feel uncomfortable with you dressed modestly, and that is probably because they are convicted.
Secondly, if your attitude is right, then it’s only a figment of your peers’ imaginations about you being holier than they. However if your attitude is not right and you do act holier, then it’s time for you to change that. The old saying goes: “Actions speak louder than words,” but… attitude speaks louder than both.
There is yet another reason we should be dressing modestly. It is of great importance; as great as the first. “Girl’s skirts started creeping upward in 1964…. Simultaneously… crimes against women began a dramatic increase. FBI crime files show the rate of forcible rape… shot upward in 1964 and each year since.”
What about pants? They don’t have to be worn tightly, and they cover all of a person’s legs.
“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)
Jeans and pants are generally men’s clothing, not women’s. Have you ever noticed the signs on public bathroom doors? The men’s room has a silhouette of a person in pants and the woman’s room has a silhouette of a person in a dress. Now obviously if you were a small child or illiterate, you could still tell which bathroom was which… the dress makes the distinction.
Likewise, in real life we should dress in such a way that there could no mistaking our gender.
However, there are times when dresses would be immodest. For instance, if you are standing on a ladder painting a house or walls, it would be most inappropriate to be wearing a dress or maybe even culottes (because they’re baggy). Any person could inadvertently look upward…. Also, though this is not really immodest, it is a safety issue—when skiing it is unwise to wear dresses. Skiing is a relatively dangerous sport anyway, there is no need to place oneself in a more dangerous position. There is yet one other instance in which dresses should not be worn, and that is when jumping on a trampoline….
In closing, here are some things to consider doing:
a) I’ll ask the Lord for an honest, submissive, open-hearted attitude as I study this topic.
b) I’ll ask my father/husband if anything I wear is in the least bit immodest or suggestive.
c) I will purpose in my heart to wear… what I would feel comfortable wearing should Jesus come and see me wearing
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (Ephesians 4:23)
God bless you as you pray about and consider this very important issue.
Andrea M. Pratt
Livermore Falls, Maine
A Sister’s Testimony
Hello to all the other Princesses out there.
I would like to share my opinion on why I wear dresses.
First of all, I think it is between me and God. I think Jesus wants me to wear dresses, because I am a girl. Some people, out in the world, you can hardly tell if they are male or female. Also, when people look on us, they usually think, “Oh, there is someone who loves the Lord.”
I also have a scripture: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)
That is why I wear dresses.
An Essay on Modesty
“Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)NASB
I suppose some people will argue what you wear doesn’t really matter. I don’t agree. I believe what you wear shows your attitude, or is deliberately covering it up. According to the above verse, wolves can wear sheep’s clothing, “you just have to be careful.” Have you ever seen a sheep wear wolves’ clothing? Of course not! Sheep don’t need to deceive, they are wonderful just the way they are. (I don’t have anything against the canine wolf, this is just illustration.) Why should you, as one of God’s sheep, try to wear the clothing of your enemy? A sheep’s clothing is modest, quiet, and tries to reflect God. So how do you manage that? What is modesty?
What Is Modesty?
Modesty: That lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one’s own worth and importance. In females’ modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used as synonymous with chastity or purity of manners. (Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).
So to be modest is not to be forward or bold, boastful or arrogant. That includes the way we dress, but especially our actions. However in this essay we will dwell on the outer covering we call clothing. Why Skirts?
I’ve hear many people say we, as ladies, should wear skirts because pants are too masculine. Personally, I don’t hold that idea. In Jesus’ time, the men wore clothes that would be considered girl’s clothes today (in America at least). [Interjection from Editresses: although this is true, in Bible times both men and women wore robes, it is also true that there was a border of cloth around men’s clothing, making a distinction that was very important to the people. It was considered very disgraceful for anyone to wear the clothing of the opposite gender. Why else would God consider it important to mention that to do so was abomination to Him?] The styles are just changing. There are women’s pants as well as men’s pants. Yet, I do wear skirts, but for a different reason. I believe [pants] are immodest. You see, a man has a different mindset than a woman. That is why Jesus said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) He knew the male mind had lots more trouble [in temptation] to lust than the female. They are enticed by visual stimulants. Just ask your dad, or brother, if tight-fitting ladies’ clothing doesn’t cause second glances. If being modest means not attracting attention, [we should not want to cause a stumbling block to our brothers] by wearing pants. Short skirts, knee-length or higher are not any better and may be worse in some cases.
Some of you may be thinking, “Why should I have to worry about someone else’s mind? If they lust, it is their problem.” Cain asked the same question. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) God said, “You sure are!” He says the same to you.
Are the Skirts Practical?
Well, I wear skirts all day, every day. Even when I’m riding my bike or playing ball. The only thing is, don’t wear skirts with buttons all the way down the front when you’re being active. The buttons pop off or rip along with part of the skirt. For bike riding I wear a tighter skirt, that’s just loose enough so it’s comfortable to pedal. In other active endeavors I wear really loose skirts that are about mid-calf length or longer. Be sure to wear something underneath so if you fall you aren’t immodest. I wear stirrup pants almost all the time and bike shorts when I go barefoot.
The winter is a slightly different story. In the house it’s alright to wear skirts, and I suppose in warmer climates you can wear them outside without much discomfort. I happen to live right next to Canada and its cold! Sometimes its 20° or 30° F with strong winds. Not wearing proper protection can be life-threatening. I enjoy dog sledding and so I end up going out in all weather (except the worst blizzards). I put ski pants on under my skirts to stay warm.
What about the other parts of my body?
We’ll go from top down and start with our hair. In a hairstyle I look for practicality and beauty, not flashy. I also like them to be quick to put up. A single braid is the simplest and best for a lot of things. It keeps your hair out of the way, in good condition and is very simple. A bun or snood (a sort of hairnet) is the next in simplicity and timewise. Pigtail braids are fine for younger girls, but they do get in the way sometimes. My favorite, and the one I currently wear is the Heidi braids. Of all the styles I use this is the most time-consuming. The Heidi braid is pigtails wrapped around over your head and pinned in place. You need fairly long hair to do it correctly. For the night I just let them down and sleep in the pigtails. This keeps the part, and it is really easy to brush out one at a time in the morning. So pick a hairstyle you like, one that fits your face and stick with it.
Your face is the most important part of your body. People should be able to see Jesus in it. A character of peace and serenity will make the plainest face beautiful, and will attract people to what is right. That is part of the reason I don’t wear makeup. It may shock people to think of it, but I truly think makeup destroys beauty. My dad is happy because I don’t, even though sometimes I wish I could cover some things up. No makeup means you’ll have to take better care of your face so you don’t get embarrassed. It needs to be washed at least once a day, and junk food (pop and chocolate mostly) makes acne worse. Zinc and cod liver gelcaps are said to help. Let the love of Jesus shine through, and you will have the most beautiful face in the world.
I see my hands as things to be used, but not abused or pampered. I do a lot of hard work that has, over time, given me quite a few scars on my hands. I don’t wear any rings, though for awhile I wore a simple ring my brother gave me, just to remember his kindness.
Your top needs to show modesty as well. I generally avoid T-shirts, as they are rather clingy and form-fitting. Words or designs across the front may do everything from proclaiming your beliefs to advertise for some company, but it attracts attention where you don’t want it. V-necks and low necklines also attract away from your face. A blouse with a high neckline stops any wandering eyes, and puts the attention on your face. I’ve found with no-sleeved blouses that if I move my arms anyone who happens to glance my way gets an eyeful, and I don’t want that. See-through material is equally as bad, while heavy sweatshirts look and feel a little too sloppy for me, though some like them. Please, make your choices carefully!
I don’t know what to say about feet. I’ve worn everything from bare feet to heavy winter boots. I think high heels are bad for your ankles, as well as drawing unnecessary attention. I have a pair of hiking/work/riding boots that I wear almost all the time. They are comfortable and work well. For church I have some black lace-up shoes.
What Will Others Think?
Well, I do get asked what I’m up to, sometimes by complete strangers. An interpretive guide at a historical site once asked if we belonged to a special group, as both my sister and I were wearing long skirts and black shoes. I’m sorry to say we didn’t have a good answer for him, but we did think it was funny. If he asked me now, I would simply answer, “We just believe this is the way we, as ladies, should dress.” As far as I know, people respect me more for living up to my beliefs.
If you wear dresses, you’ll have to be really careful in public. When I see ladies wearing modest clothing, I automatically assume they are like-minded, and most likely home schoolers if there are young children around. If you do something un-Christlike, someone will see you and wonder if you’re as real as you look. None of us want to give anyone a bad example of Bible-believing Christians!
God bless you, dear sisters.
Modesty: An Attribute of a Servant of God
Written by Amy Zander (18) with much help from her mother, Mrs. Mary Zander.
Modesty is said to be: “Decency, humbleness, not bold or forward, not extravagant or excessive, chastity, purity of manners. Modesty results from purity of mind, and unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.” (Gathered from Webster’s 1828 dictionary). The issue of modesty is one that has generated much discussion. There are many different views on this subject, and it is easy to get perplexed when trying to find out what is the truth. However, if we keep our focus on the Lord, Who is The Truth, all confusion will clear away. The Lord has mercifully revealed many truths in His Word to my family and me, and He has blessed us for our willingness to follow Him. As Christians, born-again believers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should always seek the truth in the Bible. What does the Bible have to say about modesty? And how does the world’s (or our human) view differ from the Word?
When I was younger we joined a church that had many members who firmly believed that pants were wrong and a sin for women to wear. We had never heard about this before, but we soon did. We always wore dresses to church and church activities and desired to be godly in what we wore, but we did wear pants at home. No one ever explained to us clearly from the Bible why it was wrong for ladies to wear pants. As God moved us to a new area five years ago, the Lord started to gently open our hearts to see what He had to say about clothing. At first, when He started to deal with us about it, we didn’t want to consider the matter. Yet God was very patient with us. He truly is a longsuffering, loving Lord! We then learned what the Bible had to say about clothing, what was pleasing, or not pleasing, to God. Our conviction on the issue of modesty is now firmly based on His Word, not on what a church said to do, traditions, or what man said was appropriate. Colossians 2:8 cautions us by saying, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Main Clothing of the Christian: The Attire of the Heart and Soul
The first step to being modest is clothing your “insides”—after all, the work of salvation that beautifies sinners like you and me and makes us children of God begins in the transformed, blood-washed soul and heart! If you are a born-again believer (and I pray and trust that you are), you are now a daughter of the King, and Psalm 45:13 says, “The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.” Our ardent desire should be that we would be “all glorious within,” and thus please our Savior by having a lovely spirit, soul, heart, and mind. Notice that this verse in Psalm 45 mentions that the king’s daughter has clothing wrought of gold. What is gold? Gold means (besides money and a precious metal): to be clear, something pleasing, shining, excellent, pure. Do we put on clothing of gold? The opportunity is presented from our Heavenly Father, we can have golden clothing! How? By adorning our spirit with purity and allowing Jesus to shine through us. Purity, such a noble word! Once we become Christians, our Lord cleanses us from all our sin and He purifies us. Gold, when it is 100% pure, is transparent (like crystal), not yellow. Isn’t that interesting? A servant of God who adorns herself/himself with garments of pure gold will have a crystalline spirit that shines and radiates only Christ!
What is the spiritual “clothing” that we should possess? Most importantly, and first on the list is mentioned in Psalm 132:16. We should be clothed “with salvation”! Isaiah said, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10) Have you garments of salvation, and the robe of righteousness? If you do not, if you are not a born-again believer, then please, won’t you get saved, and get right with God? So you may be clothed with the righteousness only He can give? Job said, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.” (Job 29:14)
After salvation and righteousness, there are several other significant articles of clothing the Bible mentions. We should all be “clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5) We should “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12), and strength and honor should also be a part of our inner clothing (Proverbs 31:25). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25) This, too, is part of our inner garments. As we grow in Jesus, our life will bear good fruit, and the modest servant of God will manifest “garments” of love, longsuffering, faith, a life crucified with Christ’s and a life that has submitted all to her Savior.
This spiritual clothing is not like the fable of the “Emperor’s New Clothes.” They can be seen in our lives; for example, you know when a person is clothed with humility… and you also know when a person is full of pride. A person clothed with these spiritual traits will be: teachable; wanting to learn and know God’s Word; grateful; a good testimony; submissive, not rebellious; meek, and not look down on others; they will be a reflection of Jesus.
A Modest Spirit
A modest heart (inside) will produce a modest Christian for all to see (outside). As Christ said, what is in man’s heart will come out (Matthew 12:35; Luke 6:43-45). Inward holiness will work itself outward! If modesty were just wearing the right clothing, oh how easy it would be! Modest clothing does not guarantee a modest spirit and heart. “Dressing up” before God is a matter of inner condition (1 Peter 3:4) and outward conduct (1 Timothy 2:10). Modesty reflects a godly, humble, loving, spirit all the way through. Which of the following is of a modest spirit?
“I believe that I am to wear modest clothing. I would never even dream of wearing immodest dothes, it would be so disgraceful. Really, I don’t know how others can be so blind about this. I’m so thankful that I saw the truth. I’m wearing this type of clothing as a sign of my obedience to God.”
“The Lord has been very good to me and I love Him so much! I was lost in sin when Jesus found me, but He took me and saved me. I used to wear clothes that gave glory to the flesh, and remembering that brings grief to my heart, but when the Lord became my Savior, my desire was to wear what would please and glorify Him. Even though I have struggles with many things in my life, God is so faithful to daily help me!”
One portrays an immodest, prideful spirit, and the other a modest, humble spirit. Example 1 points others to self and its beliefs and accomplishments, while Example 2 points others to God and properly magnifies the Lord.
Consider the following passage: “And [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
When we believe God wants us to wear certain dothing, it is important to obey. But let us be careful to not forget our position… a humble servant of the Lord. Remember, “A gracious woman retaineth honour,” (Proverbs 11:16) and “what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8) Modesty quietly obeys, portraying the meek heart of a servant. Immodesty by word or manner paints a picture of the proud heart, saying, “Look how well I follow God.”
God’s Reaction to Man’s Fall: He Clothed Them
Does it really matter to God if we wear modest clothing or not? In Genesis 3, right after man fell into sin, notice one of the first things God did as He dealt with their sin. “Unto Adam also and to his w~fedidtheLORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21) God clothed Adam and Eve! Adam and Eve had dressed themselves with aprons of fig leaves sewn together (Genesis 3:7), but apparently it wasn’t enough in God’s sight, for He made them “coats of skins.” The world’s standard is an apron, God’s standard is a coat. God’s approach was to clothe them modestly, cover their nakedness, even though no one else was around. As children of a Holy God we should desire to please Him and be clothed in a manner that is pure in His sight.
What is nakedness? In Genesis 3:7 we see human reason deciding what is modest (aprons, mini-skirts, swimsuits, etc.), and in Genesis 3:21 we see God’s standard (coats, long tunics, long, flowing dresses, etc.) God clothed both male and female, both needed to be modest and have their nakedness covered. “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach.” (Exodus 28:42) God was very concerned with the priests’ modesty and holiness. God allowed no steps up to His altar because He didn’t want their nakedness to be revealed. The Lord took another measure to insure holiness, the priests wore robes plus breeches. We see this same truth in Isaiah: “uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh…. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen.” (Isaiah 47:2-3) We’re to be covered down to our knees, if not, God considers it nakedness.
What is revealed when nakedness is uncovered? Shame. When Moses went up into Mt. Sinai to commune with God, the children of Israel fell into sin. When Moses came down, he “saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies).” (Exodus 32:25) Revelation 16:15 admonishes, “Blessed is he that… keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Shame is likened unto a garment. “They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame,” (Job 8:22) and David asked, “Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.” (Psalm 109:29) Pride also produces shame: “When pride cometh, then cometh shame.” (Proverbs 11:2) Jesus Christ told John, “of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen… I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot…. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Revelation 3:14-18) Truly, what a picture of professed Christians today! Naked, full of pride, and not even realizing it. God is counseling us today to be clothed, so that “the shame of [our] nakedness” does not appear.
Could displaying our nakedness actually mock the Son of God and the Cross of Calvary? Isaiah often spoke of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and our Savior speaking says, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6) Our Savior did not hide Himself from shame. Do you realize that He hung naked upon the Cross? He suffered more shame than you and I can ever imagine or experience. God manifested in the flesh, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:22-24) Dare we make a mockery (even subtly) of what He went through to redeem sinners like you and I, by exposing nakedness? God does care about covering nakedness.
Don’t Do as Egypt (the World)
The person who has the spiritual clothing of a Christian right, will also be concerned, teachable, and eager about getting the outer clothing right as well. Are we more concerned with being in style today, or with being right with God? The serious Christian will not follow the fashions of the sinful world. “I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do…. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances.” (Leviticus 18:2-4) Worldly dress draws attention to the body, reflecting what is sensual, extravagant and rebellious. Is what we wear a true statement of who we are in Christ or is there confusion about who we belong to? “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
One day I was in a store with my mother and sisters, and as usual we were wearing dresses. In the store I noticed a young woman who looked nice in feminine attire. I thought to myself, “I wonder if she a Christian?” While shopping, the young woman actually approached me and spoke to me. “Hello! I was just wondering if you are a Christian, are you?” I replied that, yes, I was and she said, “I thought so, you and your mother and sisters look like Christians” (emphasis added). And I said that I had thought that she was a Christian because she looked like one, too. What we wear does send a “message” out to the world. If we don’t look like Christians on the outside, could it be that no one would know that we are Christians? We need to live in a way that will leave no doubt in any person’s mind of Who we belong to, and we need to be a faithful witness for the Lord in all areas of our life.
Police have noticed that as immodesty prevails, ungodliness prevails (like abuse or assault). The world’s way of dressing is dangerous. We are each responsible before the Lord that we are not a cause of someone’s stumbling (Matthew 5:28; 1 Corinthians 8:9). Sadly, many Christians blend in so well with the crowd at the mall, that you don’t know they are Christians. Instead of demanding purity and holiness of ourselves we often cave in to the lure of the world. We should desire to be dressed according to Heaven’s design, not Hollywood’s.
As God looks upon us will He be pleased? Often 1 Peter 3:3-4 is cited when discussing modesty, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Modesty, using 1 Peter 3 as a partial definition, involves having a meek, quiet, godly heart and spirit, as I’ve mentioned already. In 1 Timothy 2:9 we find modest clothing defined again, with overdressing being contrasted with “shamefacedness.” I am reminded of the many birds that surround our little farm. The males are bright and beautiful with their coloring, but have you noticed that most female birds have quiet, neutral features? The male cardinal, for example, is dressed in brilliant scarlet, and stands out from the other birds and the trees and bushes. In contrast, the female cardinal is dressed in a rich but subdued brown, with touches of red here and there; she is always in the background, though close to her male companion. This distinction between male and female is also true of many other creatures that God has created, can we not learn a lesson from nature (Job 12:7-10)? [Of course, God has a higher standard for mankind than for His birds. They have no sense of modesty as we, men and women should have. —Ed.] We, too, as young single women, and as married women, should dress and live in a serene, virtuous manner. Does this mean that we can never laugh or be lighthearted? By no means; but we should not seek to be so prominent that where ever we go, we draw unnecessary attention to ourselves. Rather, we should draw attention to our Heavenly Father, and if need be our father/husband and brothers/sons. So much sorrow and shame would be spared if only we would be satisfied with the “umbrella of protection” God has provided!
A Little History
What is modest clothing for men and women? Biblically and historically, the men have always worn the “breeches” or pants, and the women the long “robes” and dresses. Yes, in Bible times men did wear robes, but they were not as long as women’s and they wore breeches underneath. It is interesting to study the history of clothing in North America. From the time the first Pilgrims arrived, to the beginning of this century, clothing for women did not change that much. Women basically wore long skirts with blouses or long dresses. Can you guess who started the move toward pants and shorter skirts? It was the first feminists in the late 1800’s. They insisted that women had miserable lives, and should be liberated. The feminist thought that part of the answer was for women to dress and act like men. One of these women was named Mrs. Bloomer (we still use the word bloomer to describe the baggy pants she advocated). In 1851 the early feminists were denied admission to most churches and buildings even though they had a skirt past the knee and bloomers to their ankles. When she realized it was hurting the women’s movement, Mrs. Bloomer gave up trying to wear men’s clothing, and no more was heard of women wearing pants for many years. As the feminist movement grew, the push to dress like men grew, too. Shorter hair and pants (to name a few) are all socially acceptable today, less than one hundred years later. Wouldn’t these early feminists be pleased to see the way most women dress today?
The Concealed Abomination
Abomination is a forceful word that means God hates with strong hatred certain things. There is an abomination that is, for the most part, never mentioned. We speak out strongly against the abominations of sodomy or adultery, but there is one we seem to forget. “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5) Now, I know that this verse gets quoted a lot, but it is very serious. You may object, saying it is an Old Testament passage and can’t be for today, yet it is, for “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable.” (2 Timothy 3:16) We are to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) If God hates something, would it not be evil? Are we avoiding even the appearance of evil?
The one thing that caught my family’s attention when we were studying this issue out was that it is an abomination for a woman or a man to wear clothing not meant for them. Abomination links you up to several kinds of people: those that make graven images and idols (Deuteronomy 27:15); those that are involved in witchcraft and the occult (Deuteronomy 18:10-12); sodomites (Leviticus 18:22); murderers (Prov. 6:16-17); and the proud (Proverbs 16:5). God mentions that these are all abominations to Him in the Bible. Did you see what kind of people? Sodomites! Why would a woman wearing slacks be linked with sodomites? Well, what is a man called when he dresses (or acts) in a feminine way? It can lead to sodomy. Cross dressing or unisex clothing blurs the separation between sexes that God desires. This “line of thinking” really grabbed our attention and grieved our hearts!
In Jeremiah we learn something about what our attitude should be toward what God calls abominable, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush.” (Jeremiah 6:15) Israel had no shame for her sins. If our heart is clothed with humility, will we not be ashamed and blush when God shines the light of His Word on our lives and we see that we have need of repentance? We are to exhort one another “while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13) Oh, how careful we must be, sin deceives and hardens our hearts! We need the Word of God in our hearts to keep us from sin and as we esteem it, it will guide us in the way that is right. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee…. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:11,128)
Excuses We Use
Many excuses sound spiritual at first, like, “I’m not a legalist. I have liberty in Christ.” Are we explaining away our obligations to obey the Word of God? A legalist is not a person who is following the Bible and living a separated, holy life. A legalist is in reality a person who is keeping the law for salvation, a person who is saving himself by his own works. Liberty in Christ? Of course, but our Savior set us free from sin, not setting us free to sin. Romans 6 through 8 show us plainly that we are to live holy “unto the Lord” and be pleasing to Him.
Many like to be excused from the “hindrance” of wearing dresses by saying their life is too active or rough. I will admit that there are some things that we can’t do in a dress, but those things are not necessary for us to do (if we’d be honest). If you have dresses that are long and not too full, you can lead an active life. I have a special friend who is a missionary with her husband and two children. They live in Papua New Guinea, which is a very primitive country. No place for dresses? My friend wears dresses and is able to live a modest life. This young woman walks miles with her husband through the jungle “bush” as they reach out to the lost with the Gospel. If she can wear dresses, then there are no excuses for us.
Perhaps you are saying, “But the Bible says that God looks on the heart, so it doesn’t matter how I dress.” 1 Samuel 16:7 does say, “for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” Our Savior does look inside us and knows who and what we truly are, but man doesn’t. People can’t see inside us like God can. What man can see is the outward appearance, so we should be peculiar and different from the world… everyone should be able to tell that you are a Christian.
I’ve heard some say, “But I don’t feel convicted about that.” Just because we don’t “feel convicted” about something in the Bible, doesn’t mean that God changes His Word. I will be honest, there have been some things that I’ve read in the Bible and have said, “Ouch! Do I really need to change that in my life, Lord?” How foolishly we cling to the worldly and fleshly things, and resist God in taking them away from us… the very things that hinder us from becoming even closer to our Savior and more like Him! We must ask ourselves, What is the final authority on what we believe and how we live—the Bible, or how we “feel”? Human feelings are very deceptive (Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 17:9). Proverbs 28:26 is quite plain in saying, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” Follow the Bible, and our lives will reflect Biblical soundness, peace, and God’s blessings. Follow our emotions, and our lives will be subject to destruction, confusion, and “every wind of doctrine.” (Ephesians 4:14).
[The following quote selected by the Editresses from Remove Not the Ancient Landmarks, by O. B. Wilson]
Now let us realize that the teaching of conscience in the New Testament covers only things which are entirely neutral in principle and involve no moral principle of right or wrong at all. Paul brought it in under the heading of eating meat which was sacrificed to idols and said in his discussion of it in 1 Corinthians 8:8 that if we eat, we are no better and if we eat not, we are no worse. This covers a principle that should be applied and carried through all consideration of conscience matters. It applies only to things of an entirely neutral nature which would neither make one better nor worse either way. If it goes beyond this into something which involves moral principles of right and wrong, then we are to be governed by God’s Word and not by our conscience or what we think about it.
There has been a great cry in recent years for liberty of conscience. But let us realize that this tendency generally runs into a liberal conscience, and there is a vast difference between a liberal conscience and liberty of conscience. But God has talked to me some in times past on the text in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore the the liberty wherewith Christ hath made [you] free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” People today are contending for a great many liberties which Christ did not give them. He has never, at any time, liberated you and me from the obligations of His Word and the standard it sets forth. All He has done in that respect, at the best, is to just be patient and merciful and long-suffering with us and allow us time to get to the standard and get straightened out in our conscience and light, etc. But if we would not try to get to it but just contended for our own “think-so” in it, His patience, long-suffering and forbearance would run out on us and we would be cut off. The liberty Christ gave us was never liberty to follow our own conscience alone as a standard of holiness and spiritual life. Many other liberties which people contend for and with which people do not want to be interfered are liberties Christ did not make them free in, also.
God has never given to you and me free license to follow any questionable thing, even slightly, but has instructed us to “abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) The more we do this, the fuller and richer and more complete our spiritual lives will be and the more God’s blessings will abound in our souls. Brother Fred Pruitt and I were together in a meeting in Minnesota some years ago, and were staying in the home of a man who was pastor of the congregation where the meeting was being held. This man was accused to us by some of the members of his congregation that he drank beer. Brother Pruitt talked to him about it, and he never said if he did or did not, but his answer was that the Bible said to be temperate in all things, and that would include drinking beer the same as anything else, and one could not be condemned for drinking beer if he were temperate in it. But the liberties Christ gave never extended to such things as this, and He does not grant us license to indulge in any evil thing even temperately.
There seems to be a great fear with some of our people today with respect to extremism. I know there is such a thing and I fear it, too, to a certain extent. But I feel there is not much widespread danger of it within our ranks. There is much more danger of compromise among us at this time than of extremism and fanaticism as I see it. Those who are a little on the liberal side anyway seem especially fearful of fanaticism, but I certainly feel this is a trick of the devil to get their focus on this and pull them into compromise and liberalism to avoid it. It would not be so bad if people who feared extremism so much would fear compromise just as much and religiously steer away from both of them. But it is not usually this way. I am fully aware that an extreme spirit can never be satisfied. But neither can a compromise spirit; but when given way to, it will demand more and more and yet more, never being satisfied.
We need to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts [and live] soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” (Titus 2:12) What a wonderful blessing to live in such a way that we will “not be ashamed before him” (1 John 2:28) when we meet our Savior face to face. As Paul says, I pray that “very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
A Brother’s Testimony
The first time I ever saw this young woman was when she started a job of cleaning a business place. She was modestly attired and had a pleasant, sunny disposition, with a good spirit about her. I wondered why she was working. Surely, a woman attired as she would not work unless pressed by necessity. I imagined my wife, a godly woman, in circumstances where it was imperitive that she work out in public. Surely, she would conduct herself with that godly dignity, that respectable attire, that would say to all: “I am a woman who loves God. I do not wish to work in this way; I would rather be at home. But until the Lord works something else out for me, it is what I have been given to do. It is honorable work, and I am a honorable woman.”
This young woman’s outward attire caused me to believe that she was inwardly attired in the same manner. And I saw nothing in her attitude or demeanor to suggest otherwise. So I carried within me an inner respect and appreciation for her stand.
Now I have known a few women/girls who have some of this modest, humble spirit about them which was at odds with the clothing that they wore. But not very many, and not very long. For there is a basic instability when the inside and the outside do not agree. The one works on the other, and eventually one becomes dominant in the individual. This is true of men, also, and applies to things other than outward attire. But it is especially true of womenfolks in general with respect to dress, I think. They are more focused in general on personal appearance by nature.
Months passed by. My business took me frequently to the building that this young woman cleaned, and I often saw her about her duties. She was diligent about her work; the place looked much better than it had under her predecessor. It was good to see her from time to time. Good examples are only too rare in this ignorant and evil world in which we live, and the sight of this young woman, appropriately attired, was a bright spot to observe.
And then, changes began to take place. She switched from skirts and blouses to culottes and split-skirts. It still appeared distinctly feminine, but the over-all effect was a little marred, and I was, a little to my surprise, a little disappointed. She had presented a little more uplifting appearance before, I thought. I was led to meditate a little upon the capacity that we have to inspire each other, whether we are men or women, and how that capacity can be used to inspire others higher or lower.
The freedom that the split-skirts gave her changed her attitude just a little—so little, indeed, that I think that only individuals deeming these things important would have really noticed. She began to walk a little differently. Her priority was becoming her job values more than her womanly values, and the change that she had made seemed to give her more freedom to bend, stoop, etc., in the performance of her duties. It was not so much that she willed to be different, but a change was taking place, nonetheless.
I have never seen her with an improper attitude or taking part in an improper conversation. The only change I have observed was in her external attire.
A number of months went by, perhaps even a year or longer; I really do not know. But one day, I was startled to see her wearing jeans. No doubt, she feels a freedom now to do her work better than ever, but the work, the so important and vital work that she was doing before, has become neglected. What is that? The work of elevating the relationships between men and women, of upgrading their inner images of each other, of inspiring each other to respect the opposite gender.
“But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6)
The differences between male and female are myriad and profound. It is our privilege and solemn responsibility to focus on aspects of those differences that are ennobling and inspiring. There is vastly too much attention focused on the fleshly differences between men and women, and the result is a debasing and brutish characterization of the relationship between the genders which is unworthy of what God meant for us to be.
Oh, that all, men and women alike, would be stirred to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” (Ephesians 4:1) God created us to live higher and better than most are living. His salvation elevates and lifts up. “And an highzbay shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness.” (Isaiah 35:8) God has a high way, up above our ways. Behold, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8). God wants to bring us up to His thoughts, His way of apparel, His way of living.
At one time, I was often around a professed Christian sister who was an immense trial to me. Why? Well, I could not look at her comfortably. Her hair was all chopped off and I felt a sense of shame for her, for, according to the Bible, her glory (as a woman) was gone (1 Corinthians 11:15). She wore dresses which gaped at the neck at times, insomuch that it would have been immodest to have continued looking at her. I had no desire to look at her (for the Lord has taken that out of me; praise His name!), and would turn my head. She was unconscious of the effect that these things were projecting, and, as I and my wife became more acquainted with her, we found that she did not have an immodest spirit. She had cut her hair, thinking that the less time spent in taking care of it was pleasing to God. Her outside and inside did not agree. The wrong signs were up on the outside. We began to pray for her that she would learn from God to be a true example outwardly as well as inwardly. That she would be fruitful, inwardly and outwardly. Her ignorance was hindering her light (that God had given her) from shining and appearing unto all. God takes care of the inside so that the outside may be as it should, also. “Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23:26)
As you can see, dear reader, the outside does matter.
Suppose I came to your home. I was carrying a machine gun, wearing two pistols, assorted knives, various explosive devices, and a huge machete. And I earnestly entreated you, “I am really a very peaceful person. I abhor violence. I love everybody and would do no harm to anyone. It is not in my heart to do anything like that. Look at my eyes—cannot you see the kindly, benevolent light that is shining in them?” What would you think? Would you say, “Well, I haven’t seen him actually do any harm to anyone… so I must not judge him…. Maybe he does have a very gentle heart.” Or would you be inclined to ask me what I was doing with all those weapons?
I note that Lot was vexed with the seeing as well as the hearing of the filthy conversation and unlawful deeds of the unrighteous (2 Peter 2:7-8).
If you are modest and humble inside with a meek and quiet spirit, I beg of you to let it shine out to the glory of God. Dispense of everything that would hinder it. Pray until you know that the Lord has His approval of you in every way, inside and out. Let Him cover you.
If you are plain within, but ornamented without—humble within, but proud without; modest and retiring within, but a hoyden without—then seek Him who is able to make holy both body and spirit. Knock as one who desires what God has to give. Oh, get delivered from the double mind and find the precious stability that He has for your life (James 1:8).
I anm glad to report that the sister who had a heart to live for God learned the way of the Lord more perfectly (Acts 18:26). It is a great blessing to be able to talk with her comfortably. I am perfectly aware that she is a woman, a godly woman, but her womanliness is not portrayed in such a way as to be a distraction to spiritual conversation.
I would to God that all men and all women everywhere lived in such purity and godly understanding before God that their relationships were all wholesome, profitable, and edifying. I’m sorry that they don’t. What a better world this would be if all would take this to heart and live, inwardly and outwardly, as they should.
“Are you adorning the doctrine,
By meekness, and love, and goodwill?
Gentleness, patience, and trueness,
Liberty’s law to fulfill?
Jesus will shine if within you,
Showing these graces divine;
Jesus will shine if within you,
Showing these graces divine.”*
—A Brother in Christ
What is modesty? What is the underlying principle in being what is termed “modest”? Is it in dressing a certain way or having your dresses and skirts a certain length or a certain style? Is that really what makes you modest? I don’t think so.
Have you ever been to the library or store and seen someone who, by outward appearances, looks modest? I have and I’ve also noticed that some of them, young and old, do not conduct themselves in a modest way. Outside they have the appearance of a godly person, but inside they are far cry from modesty.
So, if modesty isn’t just the way we dress—what is it?!
I believe modesty is a combination of two things: contentment and obedience. The sense of modesty is being content with how God made you. Many people who defend pants accuse us of having “holier-than thou” attitudes or being fanatical because we believe that to be modest, we must wear dresses. “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5) There is a principle to this law. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27) There is a distinct difference between men and women. We were made differently. We think differently. Our places in life are different. We are women—not by accident, but on purpose. God has a special place for us, as He has for men; each has places that are unique and purposeful alike, but in different ways. Are you willing to accept that? Are you willing to accept your role as a woman and all that goes with that? God made us women and our clothing should fit with our roles that God designed for us.
Modesty is not just wearing certain styles of clothing. Modesty begins in the heart of the child of God, and I want to stress that God cares infinitely more about the condition of the heart. However, if you are saved and there is nothing between you and God, your heart will naturally desire to please God in every area of life. This is how it was with me.
Before the Lord changed my heart, I held on tightly to my pants. Aunt Krista and Uncle Rick required me to wear dresses outside the home, which I did, but I still had my pants in the closet. I wouldn’t give them up. However, after I was made a new creature in Christ, I willingly and eagerly gave up my pants, my makeup, my jewelry—all the things that belonged to my old man. All the outward baggage that I used to hide my identity under. And indeed they did show who I was on the inside insecure, unsure of myself, discontent with how I looked, hungry for things to make me look pretty.
Our clothing shows our outward appearance and who we are on inside. It shows our attitudes, our heart condition, and who we are. I recently went into a small store and saw another lady there with a very short skirt on. When I saw her I thought, “Her clothing shows what she is inside!” Dressed to draw attention to herself and be attractive to men, she had an immodest heart.
How does our clothing testify of us? Does it speak of a pure and modest heart within? Or does it hint of a vain and proud heart? What is on the inside will speak of the outside.
I want to mention that there are people who are pure and modest in their hearts, yet not measured up in this area of modesty. But again, what is on the inside will come out. A proud heart will say, “Well, God hasn’t convicted me yet!” Whereas a humble, modest heart will say, “I am willing to do whatever the Lord wants. I am waiting for Him to show me what His standard is.” Be open, dear sisters, to what God has for you. No matter how hard it will be to give up something, God will reward you abundantly for the sacrifice and obedience to Him.
Many women today have complained that men don’t treat them as they should. Men take advantage of them, or there isn’t any more of that old-fashioned gallantry. Perhaps if ladies would be in their place, and not in men’s, the men would respect them and treat them as they should. I once heard of a woman who, if she waits long enough, has had even the toughest looking truck driver open the door for her. This person was being the woman God called her to be, which causes men to be who they are called to be. I have found that even some rough young men will be extremely polite to those who are dressed in a quiet way. Those same young men will act awful with other young ladies who are dressed much like the young men.
Sadly, many women today are aware that men are visually-oriented. Accordingly, most women out in the world today dress in a way to attract men to themselves. As daughters of the King, are we supposed to dress in a way that will be a stumbling block for a brother in Christ? I beseech you to check your wardrobe and pray that there is nothing in your closet that will cause another to sin.
One lady talked about the spirit of modesty as if it were a peach. Over a peach is a soft, fine, skin of lovely fuzz, protecting the peach from outside dangers—it is the peach’s covering of modesty. It is beautiful and becoming to the peach. But once the skin is broken, the modesty taken off, all you can see is the bold luster of the peach. Soon the peach will spoil without it s covering of “modesty.” We too will “spoil” without our covering of modest clothing.
Perhaps you are thinking, “but I just can’t believe in all this. I love being able to ride horses with the freedom jeans give. I don’t know how to sew. Besides I dislike sewing and I know I could never have the patience to sew myself a dress. And it takes up too much time… I never have enough time anyway…. God looks at our hearts….” Yes, dear reader, God looks at our hearts. He looks down and sees the unsurrendered part of your heart that clings tightly to your own ways and reasoning… and He longs to change you. He longs for you to want to let Him shine supremely through you. He wants to give you a heart that says, “Yes, Lord, I will go all the way. I will wear what you want me to, even though I didn’t think You really cared.”
I think it is profitable to dwell a little on the argument that God does not care about our apparel. A good father cares about his children—he wants them fed properly, he is concerned with the friends they play with. All things that concern his child concern him too. So it is with our Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father is concerned with all aspects of His children’s lives. If a child wears a thin swimsuit in the dead of winter, a most unpractical thing to do, her action reflects on her parents… who let her do such a thing? So, again, it is with us. Anyone should be able to look at us and say, “Who lets you do that?” Or, “Why do you dress like that?” And we should be able to answer, “Our Heavenly father commanded us to; and we love to obey Him.” Someone told me once, “But I don’t love to obey the commandment to wear modest apparel.” Dear reader, if you feel that way, God can change your heart so that you will long to please Him in every aspect of your life.
Consider the testimony of this sister: “After I had seen the Word of God teach that I should wear modest clothing, I wanted to obey, yet loved wearing pants. I really struggled with trying to obey and finally cried out to God, ‘Oh, Lord, please make it easy for my to obey Your commands.’ The Lord changed my heart and indeed made it easy for me to love to wear modest clothing.” This dear sister found the sweetness in following God’s commands, though she also adds that she didn’t entirely understand why God asked her to wear those certain clothes.
The example of an earthly father and child come again to mind. A child cannot see the dangers of playing on the busy street… but the father can. Perhaps we cannot see the dangers of not being properly covered in such a (seemingly) small matter of dress. But our Heavenly Father does. He sees the large “cars” ready to run us down as we dangerously play out on the street…. A child cries at the restraint put on him; the street is such an interesting place—there is so much freedom there. But the wise father knows the dangers and does not allow him to do as he naturally would. By and by, the child also sees the dangers and is glad; he is now happy he obeyed his father and loves him all the more for his protection. It is the same with our Heavenly Father and His infinite love toward us.
With the subject of modesty, it may not be always easy to obey our all-wise Heavenly Father. His standards may seem unreasonable. Wait. Trust in the Lord, obey Him, and by and by, you will see the dangers and be glad you obeyed. I remember a time I wanted so much to have a horse. There were horse barns near us where you could rent a horse and a stable, and oh, how much I wished that my mother would allow me to rent a horse there. But my mother knew that the people there were very ungodly and I would have to spend time with them, alone, cleaning the stables and taking lessons from them. She refused my pleas and I had to submit and obey. For many years I did not understand… slowly things began to unfold and I saw the dangers…. Recently I thanked my mother for holding the line and not allowing me to do what I naturally wanted.
Does it seem hard to simply trust? Will you take the alternative? Will you defy the Father’s plan and, as the songwriter says,
“Do you love the world, in its pomp and show?
In its course of sin will you onward go?
Is the pride of life more than heav’n above?
Will you lose your soul for the sins you love?”*
Dear sister, please, do not count anything as more worthwhile than simply obeying the Father’s commands. I cannot help but think of the young woman, Judith, who embraced Christianity, and lost everything—her home, family, fiance, and life. Through it all, though, she felt that obeying the Lord was worth it all and gladly suffered for His sake. I cannot help but feel that wearing our natural garments that modestly cover us, as ladies, is a very small sacrifice in comparison, however big it may seem. Let us yield all to the Lord, sisters, even though we may not see the whole picture.
With Love in our dear Savior,
Skye and Abigail