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Does God Have Anything to Say About Modesty?

Question: Between pictures 1-4, which of the 4 pictures can be considered as modest dressing?

If you had picked one or more choices, you need to continue reading this article!

In this world, clothes and dresses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. We all want to be dressed fashionably and comfortably. However, not all clothing choices are equally modest. Some clothing may contain vulgar messages. Some clothing may reveal a person’s nakedness. For Christians, we definitely want to ensure our dressing is modest in God’s sight. Although the Bible does not give the specific dimensions for modest dressing, God does give some important principles for us to learn from, so that we can be dressed modestly.

1. Does It Attract Attention?

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” (1 Timothy 2:9)

The apostle Paul gives instructions for the women to be dressed in modest clothing (of course, men should be dressed modestly too). More specifically, women should not be dressed in excessive jewellery and expensive clothing. Instead, the women should be dressed with godliness and good works (1 Timothy 2:10). In other words, the women should not be focused on showing themselves off through their outward clothing, but to focus on dressing up inwardly.

From Paul’s admonition to the women, we can see that attention-seeking clothing is not modest dressing. Sure, whenever we go out to meet people, it is proper to dress up in a presentable manner. However, if we are not careful, we may go overboard and become attention-seekers through our choice of clothing. We need to ask ourselves: do we seek to glorify God, or ourselves?

2.Does It Attract Nakedness?

And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach” (Exodus 28:42)

While some over-dress in order to draw attention to themselves, others under-dress. It is not uncommon today to see men and women dressed in clothing that reveals too much skin. Certain types of dressing contain so little cloth, that the person is almost as good as naked! In fact, the Bible shows us that it is possible for a person to have clothing on, and still be naked. When Simon Peter saw the resurrected Jesus from his fishing boat, he deemed himself to be naked and hastily put on his outer coat (John 21:7). He was not stark naked; however, before Jesus, his inner clothing was simply insufficient to cover his nakedness.

In the beginning, when God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were both naked. Being husband and wife, they had nothing to be ashamed about (Genesis 2:25). However, when they both fell into Satan’s temptation and ate the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked (Genesis 3:6-7). In an effort to hide their nakedness, they sewed for themselves “loincloths” out of leaves. In modern-day terms, we might call their covering a leafy bikini. Despite the leafy coverings, they continued to hide themselves from God, with Adam explaining that he was afraid because he was “naked” (Genesis 3:10).

God must have agreed that they were naked, because He went on to design a proper piece of clothing (i.e. a tunic) for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). It would be most enlightening to discover what this divinely designed piece of clothing looked like. The Scriptures do not specify the exact dimensions of this tunic, but one lexicon defines the tunic as a “an inner garment next to the skin; generally with sleeves, coming down to the knees, rarely to the ankles” (Gesenius’ Hebrew/Chaldee Lexicon). Hence, we have one guideline now for covering our nakedness: from shoulder to the knee.

Another useful text to turn to is in Exodus 28:40-42, where we see God’s instructions concerning the priests’ clothing. The Levitical priests were instructed to be dressed in “linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs.” Here, we see that in order to cover one’s nakedness, the dressing ought to cover the thighs. Although this is an Old Testament instruction, but the principle corresponds with the earlier guideline of covering from shoulder to the knee.

3. Does It Attract Lust?

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28)

Although we already seen the guideline of covering from shoulder to knee, it is also important to examine the principle found in Matthew 5:28, where Jesus warns about looking at another person to lust. Jesus’ warning reminds us that we need to be careful with what we allow our eyes to look at (cf. Job 31:1). On the flip side, this also reminds us that we need to be dressed appropriately, so as to prevent others from lusting after us. Christians would do well to ensure they are dressed modestly, and in a way that does not incite lust.

Certain types of clothing can reveal a person’s nakedness, and easily invite lustful eyes. Generally, clothing that is low-cut, figure-hugging, and see-through will attract unwanted attention. More specifically, when it comes to swimwear, sportswear, and clothing for special occasions, we need to be particularly careful to pick something that covers us up adequately.

In a world that is filled with temptation and lust, it is easy for Christians to be pulled away with the tide of immorality. May Christians continue to stand fast in God, and to be dressed up modestly, both inwardly and outwardly!


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