I can’t say I’ve arrived at any sort of authority at all on this subject. I mean, I would say my standards are more modest than MTV, for example, but modesty is totally subjective unless we pair it against the ULTIMATE standard.
Before I give you guys that standard I mentioned, thought I’d explain why I’m not an authority. Throughout my life I have struggled with the issue of modesty. Not so much with knowing the concept, but with knowing the line. What’s too low? Too short? Too tight? Too loose? Lots of questions. In my life I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel to lots of different places and meet lots of different people. Even in Christian circles, I notice a difference. My British friends who are Christians and my American friends who are Christians have totally different standards of dress BUT, compared to their contemporaries, I’d say both sets are modest.
And, in some ways, I have struggled with the line of modesty because my rebel’s heart bucks against rules. I don’t like rules, unless they’re rules I make. In fact, at my worst times, in some sick and twisted way I want to push boundaries just to push people’s buttons. That attitude alone, regardless of what I would be wearing, is immodest.
Before we get to the MEAT, I want to plug a book. One of the most helpful books I have read on modesty was called Return to Modesty by Jewish writer and thinker Wendy Shalit. Be warned, she does write from a more secular viewpoint (if you’re more conservative, you may not want to engage in some of her content) but she argues SO well for the case of modesty. Need to re-read one of these days.
What you should MOSTLY care about is the rule Scriptures set for modesty.
Check out 1 Timothy 2: 9-15 (ESV)
“likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”
Seems like the big idea is that the modesty of your heart is of utmost importance. All else follows suit. Please, don’t get caught in a list of man-made rules about clothes, because that’s legalism. And don’t get caught in a brazen abandonment of principle in the name of grace, that’s lawlessness. Are we to sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1) By no means.
A woman who is conformed to the image of Christ cannot be immodest, inappropriate, or of ill-repute. In a following post think I’ll break down that passage and look at it line by line. Don’t freak out with words like “quietly” or “submissiveness”, Jesus has such an amazing plan for women and how they can, like men, life richly purposeful existences that glorify our Lord and Savior.