One of the key issues of modesty is not drawing attention to yourself but rather drawing attention to your countenance and to Christ. In order to truly be modest, a lady should be revealing Christ in her life, not her body.
1 Pet 3:1-4 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; (2) While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. (3) Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; (4) 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.
The lady should be respectful of her husband’s wishes. When he is asking her to be modest, she must respect his wishes. In fact, the lady should seek her husband’s opinion about modest. She should allow her husband to consider what she is wearing and determine what is or is not appropriate. The husband knows what attracts a man’s eye and can help steer the wife away from things that would not be appropriate.
Unmarried young ladies should seek the advice of their Godly mothers. If their mother is unsaved, they should look to another Godly, married lady in their church. In either case, when dealing with an unmarried young lady on the subject of modesty, a man should not directly deal with the issue. He should guide his wife and allow his wife to deal with the issue. Of course, if someone is unsaved, the very first issue to deal with is salvation.
Part of the adorning of a lady is her chastity or quality of having a chaste spirit. To be chaste is to be free from sexual defilement. A lady who is unmarried would be sexually pure – having never touched a man in a romantic context. A lady who is married would be loyal to the marriage bed. In addition, whether married or unmarried, a chaste lady has pure conversation; she is free from the obscene. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary says, “In language, pure; genuine; uncorrupt; free from barbarous words and phrases, and from quaint, affected, extravagant expressions.” To compare, the harlot is loud, boisterous and explicit.
Finally, the passage above reinforces that the adorning of a lady should not be her outward appearance. Wild hairstyles and gaudy jewelry scream for attention, and the admiration of others, instead of pointing people to the Lord. People are attracted to the modest lady by her meek and quiet spirit, by the spirit in her that is controlled by the hidden man of the heart. She should reflect the Holy Spirit of God.
1Ti 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 Tim 2:9-10 echo’s the sentiments in 1 Pet 3. It is amazing how the Word of God never contradicts itself. Again, the lady should not rely upon her jewelry, hairstyles or costly array to make herself attractive. She should rely upon the Spirit of God dwelling within her. If she is attracting people to the Spirit of God, then the Spirit of God may use her to get people saved.
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
As someone who is legitimately a Christian, you are also a new creature. The things of the world you once enjoyed should no longer be pleasurable to you. If you drank liquor, the Spirit of God should convict you of that. If you were one who spent time in dance clubs, and you are saved, the Spirit should have shown you that modern dancing is a sin! Likewise, when you were saved, the Spirit of God should show you that immodest apparel is a sin also. As a new creature, you have the individual soul liberty to do what you want to do, but what you want to do should reflect becoming a new creature through salvation.
So what should a modest lady avoid? Over the years, styles of dress have changed. Sadly, the styles of dress have become more revealing to the point where many women, whose character is far from harlotry, are dressed in ways which could easily cause a man to stumble into sin. Hollywood, the popular music culture and the fashion industry all encourage you to show off your body, but a Christian lady should know that her body is not her own.
1Cor 6:19-20 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.
As a Christian, you have been purchased already. Paul referred to himself as a servant. Literally, a bond-slave belonging to Christ. Therefore, since we are not our own, we belong to Christ and we should do the will of Christ. For a lady, dressing modestly is the will of Christ. The following notes are a practical guide intended to help a Christian lady who desires to glorify God in her body and spirit.
The modest lady will not be ‘naked’.
In other words, nothing above the thigh should be revealed. Whether sitting, standing or hanging from a tree, everything from the thigh to the top of the chest should be covered. In most cases, this means the garment should extend below the knee when standing, because the garment will gather up and shorten when sitting. The garment should also completely cover the rear (crack-free zone). If you constantly have to tug your skirt down to cover your knees when sitting, then it is too short. The same goes for having to keep pulling your shirt down to keep your stomach or backside covered. Why fight that battle all day?? It is so much easier to wear clothes that aren’t on the border line of being too short, that way you can relax!
On top, she should not reveal her chest. A good rule of thumb here is that the neckline should not be lower than three fingers widths below the notch at the top of the breastbone. Cleavage should never be seen. Also, sleeves should not reveal the lady’s under-garments. A good rule of thumb here is covering the armpit. If someone cannot see the armpit, they cannot see anything else.
The modest lady will not wear tight clothing.
The modern harlot will dress in a way that advertises what she has to offer. This means that the little she covers will still be revealed through tight garments. What is tight? Today just about everything has spandex or some type of stretchy material in it. This is not by accident. If you have to stretch open your shirt to fit it over your head and shoulders, then it is going to be tight and form fitting on your chest and torso, revealing every curve. Clothing that is tight is revealing and leaves little to the imagination. This advertises your chest size and the curves of your waist and hips. A Christian lady should not want to “show off” her body; after all if she truly is a Christian, her body is not her own and she will want to advertise the Spirit of God and not her body.
A modest lady will not reveal her underwear. “Teacher, teacher, I declare. I see someone’s underwear!” Remember that? In a time now past, it was an open shame to reveal your underwear. Now, it is common. This concept should be simple enough. If the garment is tight so that it reveals the outline of underwear (or that there is no underwear at all), then it is also drawing the guy’s attention away from the lady’s countenance and to her undergarments. Additionally, if the garment opens in a way that reveals the undergarment, it is inappropriate. For example: sleeveless garments (or garments with very short sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, etc.) allow a guy to see into the blouse revealing the lady’s undergarments or chest. Another modern trend is to actually show off the underwear. Many women are wearing low-waist skirts/pants. As a result, they are revealing their underwear. In a similar way, women are revealing their underwear on top -almost to the point of showing off their underwear. Lace peaking out of the top of a shirt draws curiosity and attention to that point. Once again drawing attention where it doesn’t belong. A Christian lady should be pointing people to her Saviour, not to her body.
A modest lady will not draw attention to her jewelry.
The verses on modesty also mention gold, pearls and costly array. A Christian lady should not be “flashy” with her jewelry and clothes. People around her should not look at her and admire or even covet her expensive clothes and jewelry. When people look at a Christian lady they should first see her sweet spirit and testimony. Our clothes and jewelry should never over power, or stand in the way of people seeing Christ in us. This is not to say that all jewelry is wrong, but it should be kept in balance as an accent, and not a focal point.
A Modest lady will not adorn herself with overbearing makeup. God gives each lady a natural beauty from within. That beauty can be accented with mild, natural makeup. However, when the makeup becomes a focal point, it has already become too much. Unlike nakedness, there is no hard and fast rule we can point to here. However, the Bible does give us an example to look at. Jezebel was a queen who has the reputation of being the wickedest of women. She was a murderer, a prostitute and, overall, an enemy of God. How did she adorn herself? Among other things, she “painted her face” (2 Kings 9:30). We do not know what she looked like, but I think it is safe to assume that her makeup was distracting, so much that it was noteworthy.
In today’s culture, makeup has drifted toward a dark tone. Many young women use very dark makeup, especially around the eyes. Dark makeup has always been associated with Satanism. Many of the young women today may not consider their association when wearing the black or dark colors, but the association is there. Also, when she paints dark colors around her eyes, she is drawing attention to her eyes. A woman’s eyes can be very enticing. If the woman is sly, she can use them to entice a man into her snare.
A modest lady will not wear unnatural hair coloring or gaudy hair styles.
In 1 Peter 3 and 1 Timothy 2 the Bible refers to hair styles. The references here point to braiding and folding hair in an excessive way. They were styling their hair so that the hair became a focal point instead of God living within them. Today, we see many different bold and attractive hair styles. Styling your hair is not necessarily wrong. It is only when the hair style becomes overwhelming or when the hair style draws someone’s attention away from your countenance.
Hair colors that do not naturally occur are immodest. The sole purpose of such a color is to draw attention to the person and not to Christ. Likewise, coloring styles are immodest. You will never see a modest Christian lady wearing un-natural colors or stripes in her hair!
Romans 12:2 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.
2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
A modest Christian lady will be separated from the world.
Anything which could be written about modesty in relation to today’s fashion or style will change. As the world’s standards change, the Christian’s standard should not. Christians, and sadly, the church, seem to keep the worldly standards at arm’s length. However, as the world’s standards become worse, so do the church’s standards. The church is keeping the world at arm’s length and moving away from the Word of God. Ultimately, the standard of modesty should be one of separation. Our appearance should set us apart from the world. People should visibly see a difference in Christians. The ungodly fashion industry, and Hollywood stars should not be our examples of how we should look. Quite frankly it is a good measure of what we should NOT look like. From the top of their self absorbed heads to the bottom of their anything for money and attention feet, the Hollywood crowd is the complete opposite of what a Christian should aspire to look like.
Separation does not mean drab. Christians do not have to wear muted colors, and dress plainly. But at the same time the Christian should look distinctly different. The Christian should not be constantly trying to keep up with every crazy fad that comes along, especially if it is extreme and draws attention to the body and not the Spirit of God.