July 7, 2012 by Stacy McDonald
Technically, just as an inanimate object can be neither sinful nor virtuous, it’s impossible for an article of clothing to be modest or immodest. Both sin and modesty reside in the heart of man, not on a shelf or a clothing rack. However, since whatever is on the inside eventually shows up on the outside, our choices communicate something; and, good or bad, they affect others.
A modest Christian woman is motivated by her love for God and for her neighbor, and it shows. She doesn’t seek to please herself or gain attention; rather, she seeks to give God all the glory by honoring the marriages of those around her, and representing the Lord with dignity. You’ll see Jesus in her by the way she loves and honors her neighbor, by her chaste behavior, by her gentle demeanor, and, yes, even by her clothing choices.
Strength and honor are her clothing (Proverbs 31:25), rather than impudence and indiscretion (Proverbs 7:13). A modest heart, especially after being taught, doesn’t have to be restrained by a list of rules or by a dress code; instead it is happily governed by discretion and meekness, which expresses itself in love and in the beauty of holiness.
A Note to Parents on the Modesty of Daughters:
I think sometimes parents feel like they need permission to be parents. They rightly want their older children to obey God from the heart. They want the inside of the cup to sparkle, not just the outside (Matthew 25-26). But when an older child’s “heart obedience” isn’t quite there yet, they’re left wondering what to do.
Because of God’s Word, Christian parents know that once a child’s heart is right, the outward results will follow. However, sometimes, we behave like we aren’t sure whether or not we have the right to restrain an older child’s sin until he/she finally “gets it.”
But the Bible tells us that rules are there to govern the actions of those who refuse to be governed by virtue.
“The law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners…” 1 Timothy 1:8-9
Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you. (Psalm 32:9)
And this is true in the area of modesty as well. That’s why it’s still against the law to go streaking down the road (though many come close to doing just that, and we foolishly call it Christian liberty).
And that’s also why for years Christian schools have resorted to dress codes. Even some public schools include a dress code which typically requires covered thighs, shoulders, midriffs, and cleavage.
This quote came from a high school faculty member who was defending the school’s dress code during a publicized “Slutty Wednesday” student protest:
“The bottom line is, some things are a distraction, and we don’t need to distract students from what is supposed to be going on here, which is learning.”
Even the secular world understands and recognizes that immodesty distracts people. I wonder how many churches on a Sunday morning would come close to satisfying even a secular school’s dress code.
Not that I’m endorsing a dress code at church! I just think it’s ironic that teachers understand that certain types of dress are a distraction, but we as Christians sometimes forget that. May we as Christians value the worship of God more than secular schools value education!
Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble. (Psalm 119:165)
Where this verse says, “nothing causes them to stumble” it literally means “they have no stumbling block.” This is important because to the extent that we despise His law, we invite stumbling.
Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:13–14)
How are we teaching our children to “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” – whether it’s a lust for sex or a lust for attention?
I love to hear my children cheer when I give them good news or treats; it makes me feel good. But, I have to love them enough to bear their wrath (and deal with it) when I require something of them that they don’t like or agree with—as difficult and sometimes painful as that may be.
It doesn’t feel good; but, the Bible tells me if I ignore my children’s sins that I “hate” them (Proverbs 13:24).
If your daughter doesn’t “get” what it means to be modest, if you have talked to her and she still insists on flaunting herself, as a protection to her, and as an act of love to those around her, use your parental authority to restrain her sin until she is governed by a chaste heart. Make her put some clothes on! Protect your daughter from herself!
And then help her to work on her heart! Get busy teaching her, praying for her, reading God’s Word with her, reasoning with her. You don’t need anyone’s permission to be a parent; you have a command from God. And your daughter has a command to honor and obey you.
As angry as she may be now, it is very likely that one day your daughter will thank you for loving her enough to say no. And, in the meantime, the rest of us will thank you.
Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction. (Proverbs 19:18)