June 19, 2010 by Stacy McDonald

The Beauty of Chastity: What is Biblical Beauty? (Part 2)

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If you haven’t read Part 1 of The Beauty of Chastity begin HERE

What is biblical beauty?

In Part 1, we discussed what it means to be chaste, and how even married women are called to chastity (Titus 2:5, 1 Peter 3:2). Today, we will discuss biblical beauty (what it means and what it does not mean).

Biblical beauty and how it pertains to chastity is often misunderstood. We seem to see one extreme attitude or the other. While one side appears to obsess over outward beauty, vainly (and often, carelessly) taking pride in this withering flesh (1 Pet. 1:24), the other side sometimes rejects beauty altogether, attempting to avoid sin through fleshly means (and sometimes taking pride in the attempt).

Have you ever heard the term, “Beauty is as beauty does?” It’s a good saying, but I have a better one: “Beauty is when the beauty’s His.” The beauty of the Lord in us is what makes us beautiful.

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17, NKJV)

If you are His child, the beauty of the Lord is within you, and it should certainly be evident by the way you treat others and avoid sin; but, it should also be reflected in the way you speak, carry yourself, behave, and, yes, even by the way you dress.

Hillary Hotstuff

Let’s discuss for a moment the two extreme attitudes. The first extreme is demonstrated by Hillary Hotstuff. She dismisses a woman’s duty to dress modestly (which is included in her call to be chaste) by misconstruing the biblical concept of “Christian Liberty.” But, the Bible clearly calls women to:

“Adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety [what is decent and proper] and moderation [self control], not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10, NKJV)

While these verses do not condemn braided hair, gold, pearls, or nice clothing, they do make it clear that a godly woman’s modest heart should be reflected in what she chooses to wear, whether it is her jewelry, her hairstyle, her clothing, or the smile on her face.

Paul was not being “legalistic” or trampling the “Christian Liberty” of women. God’s Word is true and unchanging. And as the foolish young man in Proverbs 7 discovered, there is a type of physical beauty that is not beautiful at all (Prov. 7:22-23).

Although immodesty and nakedness are celebrated like never before in our country, it is nothing new to sinful man. John Bunyan (1628-1688) preached against immodesty in his day as well! Consider his words:

“Why are they for going with their…naked shoulders, and paps hanging out like a cow’s bag? Why are they for painting their faces, for stretching out their neck, and for putting of themselves unto all the formalities which proud fancy leads them to?

“Is it because they would honor God? Because they would adorn the gospel? Because they would beautify religion, and make sinners to fall in love with their own salvation? No, no, it is rather to please their lusts…

“I believe also that Satan has drawn more into the sin of uncleanness by the spangling show of fine clothes, than he could possibly have drawn unto it without them. I wonder what it was that of old was called the attire of a harlot: certainly it could not be more bewitching and tempting than are the garments of many professors this day.”

My, wouldn’t John Bunyan be shocked by the “bewitching and tempting” garments of today’s professors?

Notice how “Hillary Hotstuff” justifies her immodesty:

“God doesn’t care how I dress. All He cares about is what’s on the inside. It doesn’t matter if I look like a wild girl because God knows I’m not a wild girl. Besides, I have the “Christian Liberty” to do what I want. I’m just wearing what everyone else wears. If a guy lusts, that’s his problem. God knows my heart.”

But, does Hillary know her own heart? (Jer. 17:9)

Fanny McFrump

While this next extreme may not draw anyone into sexual sin, the false theology and Gnostic tendencies it promotes may be equally as damaging. There is no specific “modest uniform” that is officially “godly.” In fact, you can dress a girl up in a strict “modest uniform” and she may still display an immodest or sensual heart. Have you ever been to a private girl’s school? Modesty truly is a heart issue; and heart issues are not solved by physical means.

Throughout Christendom, our tastes and styles have and will look very different; but, the commonality should be this: What we wear should point others to Jesus, not to ourselves. And the way we dress should speak honestly of the beauty and purity of Christ.

Fanny McFrump exchanges one form of pride for another:

“Beauty equals vanity. To be truly modest (spiritual), I must dress as plain or as frumpy as I possibly can. It proves my dedication to God. People who dress in pretty clothes, or who wear make up, are vain and obviously trying to attract attention. “‘My modesty’ beats ‘your modesty’ any day of the week!”

If we begin to think that there is one particular style of “modesty” that is more holy than others, or if we think we have outdone someone else by how wonderfully “modest” we are, then we are walking in pride, and we are not modest at all.

Ezekiel 16 is a perfect example of God’s allowance for outward adornment, but at the same time a stern warning against the pride that can accompany feminine beauty. It’s also a reminder of who it is that makes us beautiful:

“I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.

“Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth…You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 16:10-14, NKJV), emphasis mine

Did you notice God said, “Which I had bestowed upon you?” The King James Version says, “Which I had put upon thee.” If there were any shame in wearing jewelry or beautiful clothes, God would not have adorned His Bride this way.

“But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it.” (Ezekiel 16:15, NKJV)

There is nothing new under the sun. Throughout the ages, women have failed to trust in the Lord, and have instead “trusted in their own beauty.”

“Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, making a jingling with their feet…” (Isaiah 3:16, NKJV)

But dressing beautifully isn’t the problem—dressing beautifully is sinful only when we become lost in our pride and “forget the Lord.” And then it’s not the clothing or the jewelry that’s sinful, it’s our own wicked hearts.

“She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, and went after her lovers; but Me she forgot,” says the Lord.” (Hosea 2:13, NKJV)

The views of both Hillary Hotstuff and Fanny McFrump are in error; and, ironically, neither view is very modest. Both seem to disregard the fact that our outward appearance matters. Biblical beauty (not sensuality) is important, since it reflects the splendor and creativity of God. He could have created the world in drab colors, with a boring, shapeless landscape; but, He didn’t.

God’s creativity and love of beauty is clearly evident in the exquisite masterpiece of all His creation—from the depths of the ocean, to the brilliant stars in the Milky Way. From the amazing microscopic creatures we rarely see, to mankind, whom we can’t help but see. God has created beauty in all of it; and He has chosen to create a world that is far from bland, plain, or predictable.

Join me for Part Three of The Beauty of Chastity where we will examine the term, “It’s what’s inside that counts.” If God sees our hearts, what does it matter what we wear or how we present ourselves to others? Click HERE to read Part 3.

[Please don’t think that anyone you know who in your opinion appears to dress plain or frumpy is doing so out of pride. Likewise, someone who is immodestly dressed may not realize what they’re wearing is inappropriate. I have purposely used two extreme examples to make my point. And judging the motives of individuals is not my point!]

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16 Responses to “The Beauty of Chastity: What is Biblical Beauty? (Part 2)”

  1. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for covering this topic in depth. For the past several months, I have felt the Lord calling me to dress more modestly, but I wasn't sure what to do or where to go from here. I also did not want to become legalistic. While I do think, I dress modestly by today's standards, I feel that he is leading to dress more feminine. We have just had our first daughter, and I want to be a godly example for her. I am so glad I found your blog and I look forward to reading your posts.

  2. Trina says:

    Interesting article. It is truly about the heart, not about the outside of a person. It is interesting because sometimes getting to our heart is the hardest thing to do. Like, maybe you think you have a right heart with God becasue you are dressing like a frump, but that is actually not showing God's heart becasue he created beauty (look at the rainbow!), or maybe you think you have a heart for God because in dressing "wild" you are thinking God loves me no matter what, so I can do whatever I want. But both of these attitudes are disrespectful; it is not about what "I" want, it is about what God wants, and just being his. I want to be his…

  3. Ginger says:

    Some of the strongest words were in the disclaimer at the end of the article. ha! :D
    This was really insightful. I am curious how you handle questions from your kids, such as: Why were all those girls (who we thought were Christians) wearing such short skirts/low cut tops/tight clothes?
    I put it back on my kids and ask: Why do you think they dressed that way?
    What is a wise way to handle these questions as I want my kids to be discerning, but not judgmental?

  4. Deena - says:

    These recent posts on modesty are a great resource and checklist for me. Thank you for taking the time to tackle this!!


  5. Wendy says:

    Two things which have been laid on my heart regarding the way we clothe ourselves and wear makeup and jewelry…

    One: If you find yourself wondering with some hesitation if what your wearing is modest… if you have to ask, then the answer is probably "don't wear that/put that on, etc." That hesitation, that check in your spirit is God's way to protect you.

    Two: Asking your husband what he thinks about what you wear, if he is in a right relationship with our Lord, can be very revealing to our hearts. What we think of as innocent, might be provocative to him. Consider well what he thinks, because his mind is created differently from ours! We may *think* we know how men will view something, but we are not men… your husband is your protector… ask him what he thinks.

  6. The Wintons says:

    Thank you, Stacy, so much wisdom. I remember reading a chapter years ago about clothing in Edith Schaeffer's 'The Hidden Art of Homemaking' that expressed much the same idea of God's creativity and expression of beauty.

  7. Step says:

    Amen to what you wrote here. The topic of modesty has been on my heart for some time now. Moreso recently as I have an 8yo daughter who is very aware of fashion. During the course of my life, I've been both Hillary and Fannie. Like you said, both miss the point. Prayer, balance, digging into God's word — these are the ways that I get to the heart of the matter on the modesty issue. Looking forward to part 3!

  8. Laura says:

    This was a beautiful post! Thank you for being biblical and bringing out the most important part when speaking on the subject of modesty… the heart. I felt a leading too to dress more femininely and modestly, and have felt so much FREEDOM in that.

  9. Cheri says:

    This is beautiful and well balanced. I love how you have Scripture to back you up. Thankyou for sharing!

  10. mosey says:

    I am enjoying this series of posts so much… I am gleaning much to share with a group of young teen women I am preparing to speak with on the subject of modest, these articles have come at perfect timing and you are writing them from the exact perspective I have been taking in my studying. Excited for part 3…

  11. The Happy Little Homemaker says:

    Thank you so much for these posts! I'm thoroughly enjoying them. I love that you're addressing both sides of the coin-the sleazy and the frumpy. I was having a discussion with someone the other day who thought track pants and muscle shirts were perfectly acceptable get-up for girls, because, at least she was being modest. I think I might pass this article along!

  12. The Happy Little Homemaker says:

    Oh! I also meant to ask if you wouldn't mind sharing sometime the guidelines your family has implemented for the way your daughters dress. We have a 10month old daughter, and we'd love to have some kind of standard in place before she's old enough to know any different. ;-)

  13. covering4him says:

    What a refreshing article! Just last Tuesday at a Bible study, one man in the group voiced how he felt at a recent wedding he attended. Some women were so revealing in their dress that he wished he worn blinders. Even though he has been a Christian for many years, he had to look away to keep his thoughts pure. We need to remember we can be a stumbling block to others in the way we dress.

  14. Katie - D says:

    Thank you so much for posting, so encouraging!

  15. Lydia says:

    Oh, thank you so much for this fabulous post! This kind of teaching is SOOO needed today, unfortunately, especially IN the church! God Bless you for your honest and true post on this subject. Love it!
    What do you think the Bible says to men? I agree wholeheartedly with all that you, and others, have boldly, and lovingly, proclaimed. But there seems to be very little spoken to the men. Perhaps it isn't such an issue with them. God Bless you and your family!
    Please feel free to visit my blog sometime, if you have the time. Feel free to leave a comment. Your blog is such an inspiration indeed! Keep it up.:):)

  16. Cherry says:

    Wonderful post, again Stacy. Beauty truly radiates from the inside out. I particularly like your remarks about judging others without knowing them. Sometimes others just need a good example and some insight on the Word of God. I think alot of women struggle with this area in life. I tried the plain, frumpy look one time because I thought perhaps it came across more modest. My husband came home and said "Are you sick?" I realized then and there that part of my dress was what he liked too! I am comfortable in plain dress and in colorful dress, as long as it is modest. Most of all in my life, I just want people to see in me, that I love Jesus Christ…

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