Is modesty important? Does it really matter? Who defines what is modest and what isn't?
I read an article the other day in which the author stated that the church has fallen victim to letting pop culture dictate its standards and behaviour. I agree. Society dictates what the world does, thinks, says, and how it acts. The church has given in. Christians are letting society determine the answers to questions like "what is modest?" instead of seeking answers from God.
I attended a wedding this past weekend where the pastor's wife was the most immodestly dressed person present. Initially I was shocked!!! I think my jaw might have dropped open right in front of her when she turned and faced my direction. I tried to recover my composure quickly, but I was so disgusted, and also saddened, that a lady in that position would dress so immodestly. I'm not talking about something that was borderline, or showed off just a little tease of skin. It was downright IMMODEST! There's less savoury words to describe what she was wearing, but I'll leave it at that.
My initial reaction of shock soon turned to sadness, as I saw some young teenage girls who attend that church and what they were wearing. Perhaps a nice outfit by the world's standards, but not really modest. Then I thought, what choice do they have? Their pastor's wife certainly wasn't giving them a good example to follow! I started thinking how difficult it would be to raise godly young girls to have a sense of modesty and femininity when the leadership is "showing it all off" per se.
What does dressing to "show off" do to a woman and to those around her? It tells people she doesn't respect herself enough to cover up what's only for her and her husband. It invites men to have a look (i.e. lust). It creates pride that she can show off her good body. It brings the focus to herself, and how she looks.
How we treat our bodies is important to God. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (I Cor. 16:19-20). The way we dress is part of how we treat our body, and this verse tells us we are to use our bodies to glorify God! God designed our bodies with parts that are only for our husband or wife to see. Showing those parts off in public, even if it's only a little, goes against God's design, and is therefore not glorifying to Him . It's actually misusing what God created.
Modesty is an issue every Christian woman AND man must settle in his or her own heart. The Bible gives clear examples and principles about what is modest and what is not. You must decide how God wants you to apply those principles in your life. Being modest is not an option for a Christian. Letting the world decide our standard of modesty is not an option for a Christian either. The world doesn't care about God's design for our bodies. It doesn't care about glorifying God with our bodies. Therefore, its standards of modesty do not stem from the proper motive. Besides, in this day and age it seems the world has NO standard of modesty. Just about anything goes, and that is not what is seen in the Scripture.
God has given us women a powerful tool to determine what is modest. It's our conscience. There have been many times when I've put on a particular shirt or skirt, looked in the mirror, and something in my mind told me I shouldn't wear it. Maybe it was just a bit too tight, or a little too low, or just a bit too short, and my conscience gently said, "you shouldn't wear that." But that's the thing about your conscience. It doesn't scream in a loud speaker, DON'T WEAR THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (well, maybe sometimes it does :). It prods gently. It's quiet and small. It's meek nature makes it easy to ignore. That's why we must be careful not to implicitly trust our conscience. Over time the conscience can be hardened. The Bible calls it seared (I Tim. 4:2). The Bible must always be our final authority. Sometimes I've put on clothes that are immodest and my conscience said nothing, but I know that they don't measure up to the standard in God's Word. We must carefully protect our conscience, so that it will remain a valuable tool in our Christian walk. The only way to protect our conscience is to listen to it!
I know Christians have differing opinions on what is and is not modest; however, I also know that being modest pleases God. I know that when a woman submits to dressing for the Lord, He will lead and guide her to what are the proper clothes. God does have a standard when it comes to modesty. A careful study of Scripture will reveal that. You can be sure that His standard is VASTLY different from the world's standard.
I Timothy 2:9-10 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.