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I realize that the issue of modesty and clothing can be very controversial. It is an issue that is not completely lined out in scripture and yet, it affects who we are a great deal. I feel that it is a necessary issue to address. Each and every one of us has an opinion already before even heading into this discussion so, I advise to simply read the material and consider the matter. Please check your heart and listen to the Holy Spirit leading you. This article is not meant to be a list of dos and don’ts, but rather an expounding of my own personal convictions for you to consider. I hope that the following can be well communicated and I pray it can be received with a willing and obedient heart to God.
Before heading into the meat of this article, I would like to present a defining of terms for this particular context. I am sure that there are more exact words that would communicate this better, but for a lack of exact terms, here are my definitions of these, sometimes, arbitrary words. Notice the contrast between these two.
Clothing is an expected covering of your body that is designed for discretion, decency, and protection. It is clear when you cross these boundaries, because it is an outward appearance.
Modesty is a desire, which originates in the heart, to avoid indecency. More so than the amount of clothing, modesty is a purity of mind that is gracefully displayed outwardly, because it is no longer an expected requirement but an inward decision.
Based on the definitions above, I hope that each of us would desire to have a modest spirit and appearance. However, there are many views on what the boundaries are of modesty. How do we know what clothing is modest? Is there a standard for modesty? Let’s explore more about this issue to answer those questions.
Your Clothing gives off a Message.
Whether you realize it or not, the way you dress gives a clear and distinct message. A person has a natural impression when seeing the way that a person dresses. Often, in the Bible, clothing was used to indicate the inward condition of the heart. For example, there are many references to people who wore sackcloth as a sign of distress or repentance. One instance was the people of Nineveh. After Jonah reluctantly preached the word of the Lord, the people of Nineveh, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth as a sign of their repentance. (Jonah 3:6-10)
Even in our modern cultures, certain clothing has ties to wealth and nobility, while others, poverty and shame. There are appropriate outfits, colors, and styles for many occasions or places. Black is often worn at funerals as a sign of soberness and awareness to a death. Brides often wear white dresses as a symbol of pureness. I could go on and on into the different messages that clothing can give, but for the sake of my readers, I will boil it down, to perhaps the loudest and clearest messages that clothing can give, particularly, for this modern time.
Here are major distinctions that your clothing can give:
Purity vs. Sensuality
Clothing affects you to a certain degree. You have your style and you have likes and dislikes in wardrobe. However, what you wear has a greater effect on those around you. As I am writing to young ladies, the way you dress has a particular effect on guys. You must guard what and how you wear clothing, because you have the possibility of being a stumbling block for a fellow believer, if you do not guard what you wear. Here are three practical questions that might help put modesty into perspective, when it affects others.
1. Would I be able to wear this outfit, without any regret, in front of my parents?
Your parents are your authority. They have expectations of what you should wear because they have responsibility to ensure your safety. Sometimes, young people, find it easier to slip into worldliness when authority is not holding them accountable. If you are not comfortable wearing something Infront of any godly authority or influence, then please reconsider your choice of apparel. That is to say, that there are some extremes, of which I will address later on. However, the general concern should be to appeal unto those whom God has placed as your authority.
2. If my future husband glanced at a woman dressed in this outfit, would I be upset or concerned?
As a single person, you may not even think about the gravity of this question. Why does this matter? Alright, their are certain ploys that clothing can give. When you are married you will want your husband to give you full attention and affection. Sadly, there is a lot of filth in the world and often times in the places we choose to go. If your husband is a godly man, he should want to guard his eyes from evil. However, you cannot hide everything. Wouldn’t you want there to be an environment of purity everywhere? In order to do this, start with your decisions. You can’t change everyone else, but you can change you. Whether you are single or not, don’t play games with affection. Don’t be a stumbling block! If you allow God to work in you, you will become a pure light for Him. Be holy because God is holy. (1 Peter 1:16)
3. Would I wear this outfit if I knew that Jesus was coming to dinner?
And finally, question three. That question is the most important. What would you wear, if you knew Jesus was coming for dinner? You probably know what you wouldn’t wear. Why? Because Jesus is the King! Even before earthly kings you would wear something nice and pleasant. The truth is, Jesus is with you now. Would He be pleased with your manner? Not saying you have to look nice all the time. No. Rather, do you have the appearance of purity, godliness, loveliness, and innocence. He is before you now, not only looking at your manner, but your heart. What does He see?
Through your clothing and appearance, you can give a clear distinction on the God given role of male or female. This should be elementary, but in the world we live in, I find that this is a huge issue. This world is consumed with perverseness. They use tactics through movies, internet, books, and magazines to condition our minds to a sense of “normal” that is indecent and perverted. When you are conditioned through outlets like these, you cannot help but conform to their ideals. Conforming is a process that is so slow, that you may not even realize the change. God given and ordained gender is a gift. Do not fall for the trap of doubting God’s best for you. He made you the way that you are! Fulfil who God designed you to be in dress, appearance, and manner.