February 25, 2012 by Stacy McDonald

Modesty Promotes Friendship

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An excerpt from the New and Revised version of Raising Maidens of Virtue.

Even though the Apostle Paul makes the principle clear in 1 Timothy 2:8 that women are to “adorn themselves in modest apparel,” and even though older women are instructed to teach the young women in their lives “to be discreet and chaste” (Titus 2:4–5), too often, the subject of modesty is either treated as a legalistic, optional teaching for the weak, or it’s handled by creating a very distinct and detailed list of rules.

At times, rather than getting to the “heart” of the whole purpose for modesty, we get hung up on the letter of the law—often, a law we’ve accidentally created; and in so doing, violate the most important purpose for modesty—love.

As mothers and mentors, we need to understand that before our daughters will embrace God’s call to be chaste, and before we can properly teach it, as Titus 2 instructs us older women to do, we need to understand how it directly relates to the royal law: loving our God and loving our neighbor—both our weaker brothers…and other women.

We’re told in Titus 2:5 that the reason we are to teach young women, among other things, to be chaste (and chastity includes modesty) is so that God’s Word is not blasphemed. I suspect this has much to do with our obligation to love and honor God. If we allow His Word to be blasphemed, then we are not concerned enough with how He is represented among those who do not know Him. Immodesty misrepresents His holiness.

Before I begin, I’d like to make it clear that when I use the word “modesty,” I am neither referring to “pants vs. dresses” nor some sort of Christianized burka. This chapter has nothing to do with personal opinions regarding styles of dress. Instead, this chapter is all about love and it is directed only to Christians. So, please don’t bring to mind the casual visitor to your church who doesn’t know any better, people you don’t know at all, or unbelievers in general. This word is to us.

Lovingly Confronting the Naked

I was 22 years old and a brand new Christian when something happened to me that forever impacted my opinion of how to approach immodesty in new Christians. A precious older woman who had been mentoring me became very frustrated by the way I was dressed after she and her family invited me to visit their beach cabin.

I had been walking around in front of my friend’s husband and teen sons all weekend long in a bikini, with just a light, open, button down shirt thrown over the top of it. Finally, in obvious frustration, she told me I needed to “go put some clothes on!”

I was horrified and so embarrassed! I still remember standing there on the beach wondering if I should run to the cabin or bury myself in the sand. Maybe a wave would swallow me. I felt like the “emperor who had no clothes!” All of a sudden I realized I was practically naked – and had been, all weekend!

I recall wishing that she would have been frank with me about modesty at the beginning of the weekend (privately and gently). Her hesitancy caused her own unnecessary frustration, and it cost me immense humiliation. While I had noticed her coolness toward me that weekend, I hadn’t realized what was causing it.

Confrontation, especially in an area that is so personal, can be very, very difficult. It’s no fun. In fact, it’s downright painful! And, it’s important to remember that immodesty isn’t always purposeful – at least not on a conscious level.  So, sometimes we just need to gently say something early on and the issue is easily resolved. In fact, the “loving thing” to do is to say something – hopefully before the person has humiliated themselves completely.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34–35)

Who will Love the Wife?

And, on the other side of the coin, if you are the one who is confronted, remember that the “loving thing” to do is to dress modestly – especially around the husbands and sons of others.

Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own… (1 Corinthians 13:4–5)

Years ago, I was sitting with a friend at church when a young woman (with solid Christian parents) who was showcasing her assets in skin tight jeans and a low cut blouse walked by. My friend glanced over at her husband and sons who were standing nearby and said, “I realize she is very proud of her breasts and all; but, it would be nice if she kept them to herself.”

I was a bit taken aback by her bluntness, but it struck me that day that she was onto something. Although, I think a more accurate observation would be that this young woman should have been glorifying God by “keeping them” (as well as other things) for her own husband, instead of “sharing them” with everyone else’s…because, well, because that would be the loving thing to do.

I find it amazing that those who panic when the subject of modesty comes up—those who are scared to death of offending the potentially weaker sister who dresses immodestly (even when that “weaker sister” has been a Christian for years) don’t seem to be worried about the other “weaker sister,” the one who is hurt when she has to sit beside her husband in church with a mini skirt in her face all service.

Why isn’t anyone concerned about her? And who is concerned about the poor visiting family who has to sit with their teen sons behind the pastor’s daughter, a young woman who appears to have come to service in her underclothes? Obviously, Christian men need to learn how to be on guard (Job 31:1; 1 Thessalonians. 4:4), but they shouldn’t have to be on guard against their sisters in Christ who should know better—who are also called to walk in love. It is them to whom I appeal. Sometimes the church behaves as though Christian women who dress immodestly are the only ones exempt from loving their neighbor.

“Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own.” – John Calvin

I remember one friend whose husband struggled with pornography. In tears one day, she shared with me how she didn’t even want to go to church anymore (at least not with her husband) unless they were able to sit in the front row. She said she was tired of catching her husband staring at the backsides of the girls in skin tight jeans in front of them (this particular mega church had a huge problem with sensuality – almost as big as her husband’s lust problem).

Sadly, even when they sat in the front row, they had to look up the skirts of the choir members on stage when they sat down. For a woman struggling in this type of marriage, it was torture. But, nobody seemed concerned about her. If she complained to leadership she would have likely been called judgmental or legalistic.

Of course, this husband was totally responsible for his own sin. In fact, my friend wound up divorced; but, that isn’t the point. In fact, the point isn’t my friend’s husband at all. The point is that my friend was hurt, not only by the wandering eye of her own husband, but by her many sisters in Christ who gave him such ample opportunity, and who should have known better.

Love One Another

If you are a woman who already understands modesty:

  • Love your sisters in Christ by loving the women in your midst. See beyond their sin (or their ignorance), to who they are in Christ (or the potential of who they could be in Christ). Remember to be merciful and long suffering with them, as Jesus is with us.
  • Love your sisters in Christ enough to let them know when they are dressed immodestly, hopefully before they humiliate themselves, but after you have built a relationship with them. Also, make certain you are indeed addressing real issues of indiscretion – not simply your opinion of a certain style.
  • Consider how you would want someone to confront you of sin. Be gentle and take things slowly, but be honest (Matthew 7:12). Be prepared to love your sisters enough to be misunderstood, mocked, or even hated.
  • Love your brothers in Christ enough to endeavor to be that Titus 2 woman who is called to teach the younger women, among other things, to be discreet and chaste (Titus 2:4).
  • Do not assume false motives of your sister. Remember that we are all in different places on the path of sanctification. Always think the best of others.
  • Most of all, love your God enough to trust Him with your husband, your sons, and your marriage. Love Him by fearlessly and humbly loving His people.

If you are a woman who has not seriously considered the Christian’s call to modesty:

  • Read your Bible and earnestly pray that God would show you how He would have you dress. Consider the fact that our bodies are to be used to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:20) and that we are called to love others sacrificially.
  • Love your brothers in Christ (and other men) enough to want to help them not to sin, rather than risk being a likely stumbling block. Yes, some guys will lust regardless; just make sure you aren’t an actual participant in the problem. Love your husband (or future husband) enough to save yourself for him.
  • Love your sisters in Christ (and other women) enough not to hurt them by flaunting yourself in front of their husbands, and not riling up the “mama hen” in them in relation to their brothers and sons.
  • If you are confronted about modesty, do not assume false motives of your sister (or brother). Know that it is likely that she has your best interest in mind. Try to be teachable and always think the best of others.
  • Most of all, love your God enough to be willing to lay down your “favorite outfit” if you know that it may tempt someone else to stumble. Remember that your body belongs to God:  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works… (Hebrews 10:24)

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)

For more lessons like this to do with your daughters or young women in your church, CLICK HERE to order Raising Maidens of Virtue, a Bible study for mothers and daughters (recommended for ages 11-18)

Q. 137. Which is the seventh commandment?

A. The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Q. 138. What are the duties required in the seventh commandment?

A. The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency, conjugal love, and cohabitation; diligent labor in our callings; shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto.

Q. 139. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.



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40 Responses to “Modesty Promotes Friendship”

  1. sonya says:

    THANK you for sharing your heart. I have been having a hard time with this very thing. Not myself but the women of the church not caring about others. Thank you for helping seek God to help me love them right they are and be the light in their life by building a relationship! Blessing very well said!

  2. Lori says:

    This was a great article. I went to a church where the pastor’s wife dressed very immodestly. I finally wrote her a letter and she dismissed it and me. We finally left that church after 19 years but it was very hard on me. Even the elders confronted the pastor but to no avail. Immodesty is rampant in our society, even among Christians who see nothing wrong with bikinis…

  3. Theresa says:

    I was just recently so frustrated with a situation where a new Christian dressed very immodestly and instead of those who are friends with her trying to help her they said to extend grace. Yes, extend grace but do what is hard and talk to her about it. Don’t just accept it and not address it. I don’t think that is one anothering one another. Thanks for the reminders given in this post.

  4. Shirley says:

    I so appreciate this article and am going to print it out. What a fantastic look at modesty, and in particular how we can approach other women on the subject with honestly, frankness but with kindness and in love. Thank you.

  5. Amber says:

    This is a beautiful balance. At different times of my life, I have been each of the women you mentioned here: the one dressing in a revealing manner and MEANING to, to get attention; the one not being careful enough and showing cleavage on accident (bending over, etc.); and finally the one having to confront other women who chose over and over again to show off their bodies to my husband. It is never easy to deal with this issue in today’s world because just as you said, so many supposed-Christians tend to overlook it all and pretend like it’s never an issue. However, after being married as many years as I have, I know for a fact about how much curve or skin a woman has to show to raise the eyebrows of a man standing near her. We need to teach and help one another in this area. And we need to do it in love and understanding. It’s that important!

  6. Ashley Ditto says:

    Your blog is so inspiring! Very wonderful post!

  7. Adrienne says:

    I totally agree with your post. Christian women need to be the example to modesty and I know your post is only talking to believers but the truth is that every time we walk out the doors into society immodesty is EVERYWHERE! Our church is small so we don’t really have a huge issue with immodesty. And since we are only in church 1 to 2 times a week it’s not a bombardment of flesh.

    I’m raising 5 boys. 2 are already adults. They understand modesty but it is hard to be out anywhere and not see naked women. It’s in the stores, on billboards, on tv, Internet, etc…. You just can’t get away from it.

    Thanks for your post. It reminds me to make sure I am raising my 2 daughters in a modest way. I can control their clothes but I also need to help them with their attitude. I noticed my 7 year old posing and walking in an imodest way! Sigh….. Where do they get these things from? We have TV but we monitor it VERY closely.

    It’s a battle for sure.

  8. christine says:

    I am a happily married mom to 5 children, yet I find it very distracting to myself when other women choose to reveal and sexualize their bodies. I only ever hear this topic addressed regarding how it affects husbands and sons – just wondering if anyone else out there finds this a difficult issue as a woman?

  9. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for this post. You give such a wonderful balance of grace and truth. I especially appreciated when you said, “I find it amazing that those who panic when the subject of modesty comes up—those who are scared to death of offending the potentially weaker sister who dresses immodestly (even when that “weaker sister” has been a Christian for years) don’t seem to be worried about the other “weaker sister,” the one who is hurt when she has to sit beside her husband in church with a mini skirt in her face all service.”

  10. Thank you for sharing this. I teach a wives and daughters group and I am sending it to all of them on my facebook. What a great way to encourage women to “Think” before they react!

  11. Mary Korte says:

    Thank you for the awesome article! This issue has been a real challenge for me. One church we went it seemed that many of the wives of leaders dressed immodestly, including the lead pastor. Another church it seemed that everyone did, they were trying to be a ‘safe’ place for worldly folks to come to church. It seems to me that you can dress stylishly and still set a good example.
    Also, I agree with Christine, it is a distraction to me when someone is dressed immodestly, not just a concern for my guys.
    Everyone should read “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn, everyone.

  12. Louisa says:

    What a wonderfull post. Adrienne, to act and walk that way seems to be inbuilt in girls, I have 3 of them, (20,19,17,) They all did that when they were that age, we homeschooled them, had no tv, I very closely monitered their reading material, etc. But they need close and constant direction to teach them how to use their femininity to catch the man God has for them. As stacy said in the article, it has to start with us. Now that they are young adults, praise God, we are seeing the fruits, with godly courtships, and honourable friendships with other men.

  13. ahjirasa says:

    Written by a Muslim Woman:

    I never in my life thought I’d read an article (and such a comprehensive and frank one) about modesty, written by a Christian.

    The general Christian society seems to revel in the whole freedom from clothes thing and actually, it seems to put down and condemn the beautiful women who cover themselves to please their Lord.
    I’m so pleased to see this article, especially considering how well written it is, because it appeals to the sister to consider their fellow sisters and also their men (in general or in a family setting). It also reminds those self same sisters about pleasing the Lord.

    I also think our society will benefit from increased modesty, Christian style or otherwise. As a happily covering Muslimah (woman who submits to God), I’m appalled at how immodesty, nakedness, and flesh exposure is so rampant. I mean at the pre-K level we see children who are more undressed than dressed! And they have boyfriends too (oh, don’t let me get started on that!).

    In Islam, the call to modesty helps both genders to focus on worshiping, sacrifice, giving, etc, and not on how outward looks. We hold that God does not look at our outer appearance (why would He, He created and fashioned it right?) He instead looks to our hearts, our intentions, our submission to Him, our following His decrees and living rightly. The same way a clock maker would not check and double check the appearance of his clock, but would focus on the mechanics inside and how to perfect them, or fix them, or improve them, etc.

    God is Great, and His Plan is perfect and we are but created beings who will benefit through sincere submission to Him alone, yet if we deny to do so, the way Satan did, then God is not reduced nor is His Kingdom diminished.

  14. HP says:

    Thanks to a friend who posted this article on Facebook. I had just led a Bible Study on this very topic to the 9th and 10th grade girls at my church. We talked about modesty and causing others to stumble, but I liked how this article put it–it is an act of love, not just for men, but also for the women, the wives and sisters who are concerned/nervous about their partners struggling with lust…
    THANK YOU!

  15. Thank you for a well-written and truthful article about modesty! I will be teaching our Christian school girls about this idea of loving others enough to do right. Therefore, I am very thankful to see this article while I am preparing for the all-girls’ chapel.
    A Muslim friend of mine asked me why Christian women are so immodest. I believe it is because churches and parents have not properly taught their daughters what God said about modesty. Christians need to stop dressing like the world and start dressing to please and glorify God.

  16. Martha says:

    Before I make my comments, I want to be clear that I have nothing against anyone who peacefully practices the Muslim faith. While I would disagree with their beliefs, I certainly respect them as individual people who should be free to practice whatever they believe. But, I have to ask…are any Muslim women truly free?

    That said, I find it incredibly disturbing that certain “Christians” find it to be a positive thing to receive an endorsement from those in the Muslim world. While clearly not all Muslim women are forced into subservient roles in their societies, most are. I find it very telling that modesty teachings coming from people known to be associated with the so-called “biblical” patriarchal movement is receiving endorsements from those in the Muslim world. Doesn’t it make you a bit uncomfortable that members of what is arguably one of the most oppressive (particularly towards women) religions in the world are agreeing with your teaching? What does that say about what you teach?

    Let’s not forget that while women should be responsible to dress according to the individual convictions that God has placed in their hearts, men are every bit as responsible for where they look and what they allow themselves to think on. Women are NOT responsible in any way, shape, or form for a man’s sin anymore than a man should be responsible for mine. When I get to heaven I will be held accountable for how I responded to the individual conviction of the Holy Spirit in my own life, not for what a man thought of me.

    Also – I find it surprising that you used the photo that you did at the beginning of this article. Don’t you think the dress on the woman on the right is cut a little too far in? It seems to be revealing just a bit of her breast. I hope no one who has read your article has been forced to lust by viewing this photo.

  17. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Martha,

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about. What “endorsement” are you referring to? Do you mean the comment made by a Muslim woman a few weeks ago? Do you believe that I should have deleted her comment because she is not a Christian? For what reason? I did remove her words of praise to her false god, and added the clarification that it was written by a Muslim woman, but I allow anyone to comment – atheists, Buddhists, Muslims…whoever. As long as they are respectful, aren’t here to provoke, and don’t proselytize my readers, I will welcome their comments.

    What I find telling is that modesty, which is commanded in Scripture, is so blatantly ignored by so many Christians; and, as a result, is a stumbling block to those who don’t know the One True God. We look like hypocrites because we are.

    The older women are told to “admonish the young women to…be discreet and chaste [among other things], that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” (Titus 2:4–5)

    While it’s true that Muslims who ascribe to the whole Burka thing would likely view most any Christian woman as “immodest,” it’s still shameful when Christian women flaunt the sexual areas of their bodies in public and cause those who don’t know God to scoff. We often live a life and portray ourselves counter to our testimony. When we do this, we allow God’s name to be blasphemed among the heathen.

    It is time we live in a way that is consistent with our testimony. May God be hallowed in us before their eyes.

    “The nations shall know that I am the Lord when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” Ezekiel 36:23

  18. Martha says:

    I think you should allow anyone to post who wants to regardless of faith (although I find it kind of ironic that you felt the need to edit her comments…why not just let them stand as they are if you’re so open to letting anyone post?). That’s not the point at all. The problem I have is that you can’t seem to recognize the horrific dangers of allowing the freedom we have in Christ to be mingled with the oppressive nature of the Muslim faith. As for the “whole burka thing,” do you have ANY idea what the women who are forced to wear those are subjected to? It is not to be dismissed or shrugged at – it is horrific and completely opposed to everything Jesus is about. I would be embarrassed if my modesty was compared to and approved of by such an oppressive religion.

    I want Muslims to be drawn to me by my love and by Jesus shining through me and the freedom He gives. I could care less whether they think I dress appropriately or not. I care what God thinks of how I dress, yes, absolutely. But I don’t think HE gets nearly as worked up about modesty as a lot of Christians. After all, He made our bodies, and while we should be careful not to flaunt them, too many Christians engage in shaming that is from the pit of hell, not from the God of heaven.

  19. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Martha,

    I think you’re missing the point. First, I’d like to mention that I didn’t exactly “edit” her comment; I simply removed the “Praise Allah” that she started with. To me, that bordered on proselytizing and I couldn’t bear those words on my blog. I’m sure she understood.

    Second, I don’t think you’ve been getting what I’m saying. We’re to glorify God in every area of our lives. And Titus 2 points out that when we ignore God’s call to live according to His Word, we give the heathen opportunity to blaspheme God’s name.
    The fact that a Muslim woman agreed that modesty is a loving act toward other women (and men) simply demonstrates an area where she observed the hypocrisy of many Christians – Christians who claim to love others, but prove by their actions they love themselves more. “Why do you Christians claim to obey your Bibles, but ignore your own God’s call to be chaste and discreet (which includes modesty)?” Hmmm…good question.

    If a Mormon came on my blog and commented favorably about an article that was focused on family unity and the blessing of many children, should we all gasp and come to the conclusion that family unity and bearing children must be cultish?

    If a Jewish woman came on my blog and said she was happy to see the Psalms in our worship, should we question whether or not we should use the Old Testament? No. We might want to clarify where we’re coming from on these matters, as our reasons for doing what we do would probably be significantly different, but it doesn’t mean we run the other direction in fear.

    If God tells us to do something, we don’t reject that because some false religion happens to have some lifestyle similarity. We’re to compare ourselves to Scripture – not to the heathen.

    I found your comment here interesting:

    “I want Muslims to be drawn to me by my love and by Jesus shining through me and the freedom He gives. I could care less whether they think I dress appropriately or not.”

    If I am indeed dressed modestly and a Muslim woman thinks I’m dressed inappropriately based on the man-made standards of her religion, then I’m not going to worry too much about it (that is, unless I invite her over for dinner…then out of kindness I will do what I can not to offend her).

    However, if I’m showing half my breasts to her husband and sons by wearing a low cut top or a revealing skirt or whatever, then how can I expect her to be drawn to me “by my love and by Jesus shining through me” as you describe? You see, that isn’t very loving. And she will be so distracted by my lack of chastity and by my indiscretion that she won’t be able to see Jesus shining through me at all.

    In fact, it may cause her to think of Christian women as the wicked vixens they are often told we are.

    You also said:

    “After all, He made our bodies, and while we should be careful not to flaunt them, too many Christians engage in shaming that is from the pit of hell, not from the God of heaven.”

    I can agree with that. However, I hope you’re not implying that teaching chastity and discretion to young women as Titus 2 commands the older women to do, is some sort of wicked “shaming.”

    Perhaps you should reread the admonition I gave to women in the above article:

    Love One Another

    If you are a woman who already understands modesty:

    Love your sisters in Christ by loving the women in your midst. See beyond their sin, to who they are in Christ (or the potential of who they could be in Christ). Remember to be merciful and long suffering with them, as Jesus is with us.

    Love your sisters in Christ enough to let them know when they are dressed immodestly, hopefully before they humiliate themselves, but after you have built a relationship with them. Also, make certain you are indeed addressing real issues of indiscretion – not simply your opinion of a certain style.

    Consider how you would want someone to confront you of sin. Be gentle and take things slowly, but be honest (Matthew 7:12). Be prepared to love your sisters enough to be misunderstood, mocked, or even hated.

    Love your brothers in Christ enough to endeavor to be that Titus 2 woman who is called to teach the younger women, among other things, to be discreet and chaste (Titus 2:4).

    Do not assume false motives of your sister. Remember that we are all in different places on the path of sanctification. Always think the best of others.

    Most of all, love your God enough to trust Him with your husband, your sons, and your marriage. Love Him by fearlessly and humbly loving His people.


    If you are a woman who has not seriously considered the Christian’s call to modesty:

    Read your Bible and earnestly pray that God would show you how He would have you dress. Consider the fact that our bodies are to be used to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:20) and that we are called to love others sacrificially.

    Love your brothers in Christ (and other men) enough to want to help them not to sin, rather than risk being a likely stumbling block. Yes, some guys will lust regardless; just make sure you aren’t an actual participant in the problem. Love your husband (or future husband) enough to save yourself for him.

    Love your sisters in Christ (and other women) enough not to hurt them by flaunting yourself in front of their husbands, and not riling up the “mama hen” in them in relation to their brothers and sons.

    If you are confronted about modesty, do not assume false motives of your sister (or brother). Know that it is likely that she has your best interest in mind. Try to be teachable and always think the best of others.

    Most of all, love your God enough to be willing to lay down your “favorite outfit” if you know that it causes someone else to stumble. Remember that your body belongs to God: For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

    Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works… (Hebrews 10:24)

    For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

    But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)

  20. sara says:

    stacy, thank u for this thought provoking article..very recently (like last week) the LORD has been changing my heart on this topic. I am a person who wears fitted clothes, at times a little too fitted. It was never to show off to other men, maybe, if I dig honestly, to flaunt what the slimmer body frame I have. I have asked my husband in the past if he minded my clothes (I never bear cleavage or breasts, but the v-necks are just about there- nor do i wear mini skirts or mini shots). He never has had a problem with what I have worn, and our logic is that I am married and so it should be ok. We don’t have a lot of extra money lying around (who does really?) to buy alot of clothes frequently so I make due with what I have.

    I am careful about 99% of the time when I bend forward or down to cover the necessary revelations.Well, now we have a 2 year old daughter and i have been more and more concerned about what impression she will get from this. I can’t tell her, she can’t wear tighter fitting tshirts ir skinny jeans if I am doing so. I cannot expect her as a young girl to remember to cover every time she bends or moves. Even though she is young, she knows to cover her belly and sit right. And my husband and I are careful about the length of her skirts and dresses. As I said, this past week, I have given my dress sense some more thought and I shared it with my husband and he agreed and said,that’s true.

    I was wearing a tshirt that was fitted and my little girl was sitting on my lap, and she looked over at me and my chest and said, what’s that mama?, playfully. It struck me that if she notices my body with the clothes I wear then I better start changing my sense of fashion. I immediately changed into something-looser. I never thought of ‘loving your sister enough not to flaunt in front of her husband’. I never ever looked at it from that perspective. I am the one who is a little daring in my dressing at church, although as I said, not revealing at all. I always felt it was ok bcz I was married and my husband thought I looked good in whatever I was wearing.

    thank you for just confirming now what I know was the HOLY SPIIRIT’s dealing with me.

    About the whole burka conversation – I think the mere fact that women of other faith are reading and taking part in this conversation is wonderful. If other women view christian behavior in the light of Jesus-ie, our dress sense being loving or not to our sisters and brothers in Christ as well as to non believers, then we should def make it a point not offend. Many people nowadays, wait to point a finger at Christians and the way they live-good or bad. The WORD says be careful how you live. As you said Stacy, if I have a friend coming over for dinner who covers up a little, I will def try my best not to offend. The WORD says, do everything out of love. And here he means, love of others.

    I guess the basic thing we need to remember is love- loving and honoring the LORD with our bodies, loving and honoring our husbands by really ‘saving it for him’, respecting other men by not provoking them to lust (though they are fully responsible for their own actions, they are wired by visual stimuli), and loving other women by ‘loving them enough’ not to cause their husbands, fathers, brothers to stumble (sin of lust).
    thank you

  21. sara says:

    clarification of the sentence:

    It was never to show off to other men, maybe, if I dig honestly, to flaunt what the slimmer body frame I have.

    I meant in general- just proud of the slimmer body I have. not to catch the attention of other men.

  22. Soft Breeze says:

    I agree that women are too physically exposed these days. I am not a Christian. But, even I feel uncomfortable with what I see out in public and in movies and television. It seems like the way women are defined in mainstream society today is by their “sex appeal”. Like, that’s the only valuable aspect about them, or something. I find it really disrespectful. I feel bad for women who dress that way because they feel like they have to in order to be socially acceptable or fashionable. I would like to see women have a sense of dignity and pride in themselves based on who they are as human beings. It seems like over the last few decades, we have lost some very precious things in society. I feel bad for young people today, there are totally missing out on the good things in life. Like civility, decency, honesty, responsibility, character building hard work, and modesty.
    They have been cheated.

  23. Puddings Mom says:

    Thank you for this challenging post Stacy. I have been pressed in my heart to tell my sister (biological & spiritual) about the way she has been revealing a lot of skin lately…to the point of not even wearing a bra.. sigh.. I will be loving because I suspect she is struggling with this area.

    sara: I’m so happy and proud of you for setting an example for your daughter. My 2 year old inspired me the same exact way.

    Soft Breeze: Amen to that!

  24. Melissa O says:

    Thank you for writing this article. The timing is perfect! I have been talking to my daughter about the importance of dressing modestly and this was something I was missing…the perspective of dressing modestly as an act of LOVE! Thank you!
    A few years ago a friend of mine asked me if the shirt she was wearing was OK and not cut too low. I thought it was somewhat strange for her to ask. It was just a v neck T shirt. After I left I realized that she asked me this as a way to get me to think about my own shirts being on the low cut side. Clever! She’s a very loving friend!

  25. Thanks; and good clarification concerning the Muslim woman comments.

    I will be printing this article and giving it to all the people in my church aged 14-20: of which there are about 6 or 7 ladies and 1 young man.

    Please pray that they will understand, and in many of their cases, that they may become truly born-again by God’s Spirit and that He will lead them in the ways of Righteousness.

    I understand people are at different “places,” but I know there is a problem when I have believer friends who I would not want to visit my own church because I know their struggle and I know they would be tempted there by flesh and tight-fitting clothing.

    I find it pathetic that I feel like I have to make sure I avoid certain people who are considered members of my own church – in the same way I avoid looking certain directions at the mall. And the pain that is causes my wife…thanks for bringing this up. I have spent so many afternoons counseling my wife due to her pain from what she saw at church and wondering if it was tempting me.

    The problem starts with the husbands and the fathers. It is my responsibility to help my wife to be modest and my responsibility to teach my daughters as well. But there is no doubt that women are sinful beings prior to Christ and still have a flesh after…and often that flesh desires attention or just to “feel pretty.” Women must take responsibility for their part as well. Rick Thomas calls it a backward porn addiction at rickthomas.net (http://www.rickthomas.net/2011/08/16/backward-porn/)

    Although we are responsible for our own sin…there is enough scripture which uses the phrase “cause them to stumble” which can indicate that we do, in fact, contribute to our brothers’ and sisters’ sinning, something I want no part of, by God’s grace.

    I apologize for the excessively long comment. But after being saved by grace FROM this type of sin in my life, I was quite the disappointed young Christian when I found that my brothers and sisters in Christ were not as loving a they ought to be toward the God that saved them and toward their brother who has endured and seen such pain from this type of sin.

  26. This was a wonderful post! Praise God, I’ve been so convicted of this the past few months and your approach and advice is very much appreciated. I used to think that I shouldn’t be concerned with what I wore because that’s “his problem” if he’s looking at me lustfully. Thank you so much for bringing this to light in a Christ honoring article. I hope I can convey the importance of modesty to my sisters in Christ with the same ” iron sharpens iron ” approach without the petty judgement. THANK YOU!!!!

  27. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for this. I’m having a real problem with a friendship right now. I’ve come to the point I don’t enjoy being with this friend, especially as a family – with my husband and pre-teen/teen kids (boy & girl). I’ve beat myself up about it for a while but I realize it’s not my insecurity that’s the crux of the issue.

    I need to pray about my own attitude and about how to handle this situation with my friend. I think she’d be horrified to know how I feel when we’re all together – and no denying part of it is my insecurity. But she’s divorced and I think this is all so far off her radar. It’s a big can of worms.

  28. Melissa says:

    Thank you for speaking out on this! As an Orthodox Jewish woman, modesty is taken very seriously in our home and community. We do not have children (yet), but I know this will be a hard lesson to teach as they will be out and about at the mall, etc. I understand some Orthodox Jews take this issue a little too far, but we try to be very reasonable. I do not wear an ankle length skirt every day nor do I wear long sleeves all the time. I cover myself as I feel is appropriate. While covering my hair, I attempt to have my scarf or other covering coordinate with what I am wearing and not stand out so much that the first thing you see is my hear covering. I have friends of other faiths and they don’t see me as odd for dressing the way I do, and we’ve had discussions regarding this. When they come to our house, they are respectful enough to my husband that they aren’t in a mini skirt and tube top, but my husband really doesn’t mind them wearing pants or short sleeve shirts (I do not wear either) as he can’ t force someone to do something they do not believe. I kind of love the fact that when I am walking anywhere, I know I am not forcing a man to look at something he shouldn’t.

  29. Cecilie says:

    I believe the correct word for the issue of this blog post might be “chastity” or “purity”, but all the points made for loving one another still apply! We ought to address a problem with semantics, the issue is not modesty, exactly — let me explain: God’s Word needs to be carefully divided when studying the epistle containing the exhortations to be modest, taking into consideration the context of the times in which Peter wrote. He would not have been speaking in this passage about women making public the beauty of their physical bodies, as in his time only harlots or women of the street would do so, and other women would have been ashamed to, betraying themselves to be a woman rejected by society. The modesty passage referred to the showing off of monetary RICHES by braiding gold and jewelry into the hair, by adorning oneself with displays of wealth. (Giggle note here: as a young believer I misunderstood the passage to the point of fearing that God did not want me to wear braids!!!)

    In OUR time flaunting still goes on with displays of monetary wealth, but a new kind of currency has been introduced since Peter’s time, that is, the “currency” of how closely one’s body resembles whatever the media promotes as being beautiful. The ungodly attitude of wanting to “show off” is the same, whether a person hopes to show themselves to be wealthy in DOLLARS or in the nebulous currency of physical beauty. A woman is mistaken who flaunts expensive jewelry or expensive designer clothing, designer bags, cars, cell phones, technical gadgets, etc. (and even MEN of our day are guilty of flaunting of some of these things), or she may also have taken on the world’s values involving physical beauty or fitness and, throwing away the values of chastity and purity, she may flaunt these things if she is “rich” in them, perhaps not understanding the damage it does to our brothers to behold a “beckoning harlot” around every corner and in so many seats in a worship service. SHE may not intend to be beckoning, but her lack of chastity simply DOES beckon men as they were MADE to be attracted to the beauty of a woman’s body — it was assumed a man’s only opportunity to see the beauty of a woman’s body would be in the private context of his own marriage, or he would be traveling far off the beaten path to willfully go into a harlot’s neighborhood. I have such compassion for any godly man of our day who wishes to remain pure and chaste and would never travel to such a neighborhood, but the women around him IN EVERY SETTING have placed the physical enticement in his path.

    Thanks for your post. Excellent points about how to lovingly help women who have bought into the world’s values and not seen the harm they cause others.

  30. Jim Maust says:

    Could you elaborate on the sin of “dispensing with unlawful marriages”?

  31. Stacy McDonald says:

    “Dispensing with unlawful marriages” – Permitting marriages which God says are not lawful.

  32. Jim Maust says:

    So what you meant to say is the sin of not dispensing with unlawful marriages, correct? Could you give some examples?

  33. Stacy McDonald says:

    No; “dispensing” here basically means permitting or establishing. I didn’t write the Westminster Larger Catechism, and I’m sure the Westminster divines worded it the way they intended. :-) I suppose in modern English, it could have said “allowing, legitimizing, or establishing marriages that God has said are unlawful.”

    An example: “John had said to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’” Mark 6:18

  34. Jim Maust says:

    Thanks. That makes perfect sense now that you’ve explained it.
    I appreciate your work.

  35. Jennifer says:

    So what’s the overall consensus of that issue now? I heard there are different places in the Bible where passages disagree about the matter of marrying a brother’s wife (supposedly Henry VIII argued different ones with his first wife, Catherine). I have no idea what the general conclusion is.

  36. [...] And beyond that, ladies, it’s about love—loving our brothers and their wives. After all, modesty promotes friendship in women; and, when we remove the awkwardness of sexual immodesty, it promotes a relaxed, comfortable [...]

  37. […] We should love our brothers (and their wives) enough to care about whether or not we contribute to their temptation. See Modesty Promotes Friendship. […]

  38. Jane says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I had never looked at modesty this way.
    I always saw it as a set of rules forbidding this and allowing that, but never as love for you fellow family in Christ and the struggles they might face.
    I have a brother and I shrink at the thought of all the times I have not dressed in a loving way that would help him flee youthful lusts.
    With God’s help I will dress in a way that will glorify Him and show love toward my christian brothers and sisters.

  39. shelley says:

    Thank you for this post. Once again I did not read the comments only your post. I completely understand extending grace to those new to the church and those who have not yet been confronted with issue of modesty on their heart. I do struggle though with women in ministry that dress immodestly. Women who men can see up their skirts from across the sanctuary, women who wear short tight shorts (because we live in a hot summer climate) and a pastors wife who once dressed modestly but is now dressing very immodestly. My son is young and he notices how I dress, in skirts and dresses and tops that do not accentuate my curviness. He has asked me questions already at his young age of 5, as to why these women at church show so much of their body or dress like the boys do. I have tried to explain that we all receive our convictions at different points of our walk with God, but it is still hard for him to understand. He also notices the loud brash woman and asks why she is so loud. I pray that women would take heed to the word of God and start performing and dressing only to Gods glory and not to attract the eye of the opposite sex or even the eye of other woman as a fashion plate. All said in love

  40. Laura says:

    I am a new believer and I had felt very convicted to dress modestly however the other women around me don’t and sometimes I feel too modest (frumpy) around them. I have gone back to pants, but God willing I will wear modest skirts full time. Also as a single I see the few young men chasing the immodest women which sucks sometimes.My point is just that immodest women are an issue for other women even those of us w/o husbands in many other ways.

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