Modesty Pertaining to the Christian Lady

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jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
As a 24 year old guy I make it simply a matter of practice to not hang out with girls, even christian friends, if they dress ''inmodestly'' in my judgment. I respect them too much as neighbours in humanity or sister in Christ to take the chance of lusting after them. Yes, there is a subjective element to this, but so what? The Bible teaches we are to love others just as much as we love our selves. We are called to serve. Their is nuance here of course. A girl going to a dance is permitted to show a little more skin than usual, the situation calls for it. And certainly Christian men should never say that women should not try to hand their God given natural bodies. Au Contraire, Scripture wants women to dress like women and men to dress like men so that God is glorified both in manhood and womanhood. The point is if that young lady was in Saudia Arabia they would expect her to dress modestly within their cultural standards, just as in the USA or Canada we expect woman to dress modestly for our standards. We do not permit nudity all over the place, in fact it is regulated by government agencies (local). So all we are talking about is degrees within secular cultures (because Saudia Arabia does not hold the same standard as Iran or Afghanistan or Morocco, etc.). This is where Christian liberty comes into play here. We are to not dress in any way that could cause our brother or sister to stumble.

And let's be honest here. Muscular guys (I'm not one gladly! Proud pasty white and skinny in a geeky sorta way) with developed abbs walking around shirtless in churches or at church outdoor events is a major struggle for young ladies (even married ones whose husbands are less hunky). Young guys need a good kick in the butt on this one.

my two cents.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Young guys need a good kick in the butt on this one.

I disagree, all children, men, and women need to heed Scripture. It doesn't matter if one is a particular age or has a 'better quality' of body than another. All must dress modest based out of a humble and modest heart.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
I appreciate FCC's point that the older women, who are to teach the younger women, can set standards wordlessly. A gracious and dignified older woman will indeed be imitated by younger women. That is how we women work. We are frequently, consciously or unconsciously, noticing what the other women around us wear, and doing a lot of imitating.

Of course if you are in a position of direct influence (a mother, a grandmother, an older sister), you can directly say to an immodestly dressed child or grandchild or sister - "that is not appropriate dress." Or as I might say to a daughter, "You are not going out wearing that thing!" :p
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
The other thing I (as a young man and Christian brother) would encourage young ladies to do is this: dress well according to the occasion. There are ways to dress modestly without being frumpy or prudish. I watch old films a good deal and the stuff you see women wearing in those is a) generally modest b) generally pretty. Dress classic (by the way, this goes for men too).
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Joseph
And let's be honest here. Muscular guys (I'm not one gladly! Proud pasty white and skinny in a geeky sorta way) with developed abbs walking around shirtless in churches or at church outdoor events is a major struggle for young ladies (even married ones whose husbands are less hunky). Young guys need a good kick in the butt on this one.

:rofl:

I hope they start working on their "spiritual abbs" in this church or "church" of yours.
 

kappazei

Puritan Board Freshman
There's a big difference between a barely clothed amerindian and a american woman in a string bikini. In the first case, nakedness (or almost) is the common way to dress, and people expose their bodies naturally, with no intention (some indigenous groups do cover their genitals, by the way) towards others. In the case of the american, however, string-bikinis are not the pattern (which usually includes covering a lot more), but rather an exceptional way of clothing with a specific objective: to attract others. She may say that's not the objective, but only brief examinations of string-bikini ads show that's what they're for. I mean really, why would anyone in a cold place (and, for me, every place in the US is cold; no need to talk about some countries in Europe) dress with such small non-clothes? It is an obviously sensual vestment. If a woman was seem in her underwear she would be uncomfortable, and underwears normally cover way more than bikinis (string-bikinis barely cover anything). Isn't it obvious, then, that string bikinis are not commonplace, irrelevant, customary and neutral clothes?

Hahaha! Because this is a Reformed site, I misread American/Amreindian for Arminian! I was thinking, 'What difference does it make if a Christian woman is a Calvinist or Arminian in this discussion?' :D
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Do you not also find that being attired in modest dress reveals a more genteel side of men? We go to a homeschool conference every April (anyone going to the OCHEC conference here?) and there are a number of long-skirted, head-covered Mennonite women who sell 'Rod and Staff' curriculum. It is interesting to watch how men treat them: men are much more concerned, in general, with their manners because what is before them is obviously a lady and not a tightly-clad nymphette. Also, they demand, by their dress and general demeanor, a certain treatment that is so lacking today. My wife (who loves long skirts and generally modest clothes, though is no Pharisee about it) once walked into a Tim Hortons with a baggy-panted miscreant and then stood slightly to the side of the main door and looked at him. He looked back. She raised her eyebrows in question. He said 'what?' She merely commented: 'I'm a lady, you're supposed to open the door for me.' He flushed red and jumped to it. My point is this: When women, not only through dress, but general behaviour, demeanor, etc. show a desire to be interchangeable with men (not equal, mind you, that is a given) then they become so. The Mennonite women at OCHEC are humble and modest in attire and are treated as such, and receive a level of treatment from most men that disappeared along with top hats and smocked frocks. Demanding to be treated like a man may gain you certain privileges (or 'rights'), but it also removes a good deal of femininity, and one should not be shocked when treated like 'one of the guys' if that is the attitude you exude.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
ASIDE: any good books outside of Scripture on modesty (heart and dress)?

There is Jeff Pollard's book but I haven't read it and thus can't give an informed opinion of it. I seem to recall one or more books on the subject by a woman author as well but I can't remember a title or author at the moment. Nancy Leigh DeMoss may have some material on this issue.
 

Manuel

Puritan Board Freshman
Leah, I encourage you to continue serving the Lord and cultivating this rare virtue of modesty. I suggest that you listen to one of Nancy Leigh DeMoss' series on modesty, they are very good and very informative.

Modesty

My wife just listened to a series that she preached in April 2010 (they are in the link above, you have to look for them in chronological order), and it changed her heart completely on this matter. Praise the Lord.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I think it is interesting that when Leah (whose spirit in asking is exemplary, and I am so grateful for it) asked for advice about this, the 'big sisters' and the mothers in Christ here (to whom Scripture advises us to look specifically in this matter) have generally advised that it would be better to go about this sort of battle another way, even where we must address it 'out loud' and directly; while those encouraging this as a good approach that ought to be furthered have come from men. Could it be that women understand something vital to *feminine* modesty, not just about what we are upposed to put off and on outwardly, but what we are to put off and on inwardly -- and the true impact of that inward aspect on other women -- that has something to do with this difference?

A wonderful and wise friend from this board posted this on modesty some time ago on her blog. I think it sums up the rational behind the feminine responses to this question nicely -- Ruby posted that in part I think for my sake, for I had been asking some questions about it in my own confusion. I appreciated her summary immensely at the time, and still do: Mumma's Place: The Heart of the Matter

Leah I want to clarify in case it should be at all unclear that I think your desire to be modest and help others to think more about being modest is entirely admirable, as is your question about how to go about approaching such discussions. Please know my words are meant only as a sincere reply to a sincere question, and that out of my own still growing and imperfect understanding of these things, and not at all as a criticism of a lovely sister and friend in the Lord. I have similar questions and am still trying to understand so many aspects of this issue. It certainly says something about your own modest spirit and love in the OP that this thread has developed in a much more helpful and less vituperative vein than many of these discussions can be! I hope if you see this today that you have a very blessed Lord's Day. :)
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Two good links: Pyromaniacs: Sister... show mercy! (Repost #4)

a snip: Parting thought. Darlene Johnson pointed me to a statement by Arthur Pink, which makes everything I've just said look awfully mild. But there's no denying that Pink has a point. I'll close with it:

Again, if lustful looking be so grievous a sin, then those who dress and expose themselves with desires to be looked at and lusted after-as Jezebel, who painted her face, tired her head, and looked out of the window (2 Kings 9:30)-are not less, but even more guilty. In this matter it is only too often the case that men sin, but women tempt them so to do. How great, then, must be the guilt of the great majority of the modern misses who deliberately seek to arouse the sexual passions of our young men? And how much greater still is the guilt of most of their mothers for allowing them to become lascivious temptresses?
Now, note, Pink and I speak to different audiences. I speak to those whom I charitably assume are inadvertently dressing in an unhelpful manner. Pink speaks to those whose intent is to allure. Between the two of us, I can pray we've provided food for thought, prayer, reconsideration, and needed change.

One last thought: it is a mistake to think I exclusively have church-attire in mind. That is lifted as a particularly egregious example of what-are-you-thinking? In what I say, I have in mind any place where both sexes are present.


Modesty
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
It is often amazing to me how easily offended people are about what they wear. Our culture now identifies people by their clothes. A person is known by their clothes. Therefore, if you attack their clothes, then you have attacked them. Fashion is certainly one of the undersung idolatries in our age. We need to teach our people not to create an idol out of fashion. In this thread, I have resonated with Kevin's and Heidi's points the most: even though we should not create an idol out of fashion, we are still saying SOMETHING about ourselves (and how we view ourselves) by what we wear. We are telling people how we want to be treated. Anyone knows that going into a high-end jewelry store, for instance, dressed in punk clothes is not likely to procure excellent service, while a person dressed smartly will be treated very differently. Heidi's point is also important: dressing in a way that calls attention to yourself (whether over- or under-dressing) is immodest. I have noticed that modelling (pardon the word!) modesty has a huge effect on other women. My wife's modesty in public, and the way she dresses our children (especially in church) has a definite effect over time. She doesn't generally bring it up herself unless someone asks her about it. Let the pastor do it in sermons on the relevant texts, and then model modesty yourself.
 

FCC

Puritan Board Freshman
Do you not also find that being attired in modest dress reveals a more genteel side of men? We go to a homeschool conference every April (anyone going to the OCHEC conference here?) and there are a number of long-skirted, head-covered Mennonite women who sell 'Rod and Staff' curriculum. It is interesting to watch how men treat them: men are much more concerned, in general, with their manners because what is before them is obviously a lady and not a tightly-clad nymphette. Also, they demand, by their dress and general demeanor, a certain treatment that is so lacking today.

My wife has indeed experienced this exact sort of behavior when out in public. It seems that the dress she wears affects others in ways that one would never suspect. They change their language, they suddenly develop manly manners (such as holding a door open, saying "Please" and "thank you") it is amazing to me to watch! It is a great way to witness for the truth without having to speak a word.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I was reading an article in Christianity Today (yeah I know but I like to see how far they have fallen over the years) about a poll done concerning sexual promiscuity among Christians at colleges. If I remember correctly, it was a couple of years ago; they saw in their poll that Christians at Christian colleges were just as promiscuous as secular colleges.
When asked why the “Christian” women reported that they did it because they felt that they either couldn’t compete for the males’ attention or they thought that they couldn’t keep their current boyfriend.

I am not condoning it or commenting on their spiritual status. I am only saying that this whole issue of modesty is a complex issue dealing with the massive cultural struggles of our time fighting for our attention. Like the article I mentioned this issue of modesty in dress may be driven more by a deeper psychological/cultural level. There is no doubt that some women like “turning” guys on but some (or most?) are more driven on a more primal level. We are made in the image of God but we are biological as well. This is no excuse for immodest dress, only trying to point out that the answer to this problem might be deeper than just admonishing people. Our culture is also fighting to form our opinions about what is appropriate dress (Cosmo, Victoria Secret, etc.). Women are under incredible stress in our culture to be different from what they were created to be.

In a book I read a few years back from a marriage counselor he listed the top 10 reasons why men and women will commit adultery. Not surprisingly the number one reason that a man will commit adultery is lack of sex (or none at all) from his wife. But the number one reason why women will commit adultery is lack of affection. He is only affectionate when he wants sex. Women are primed differently than men are. But our culture says that women are just as sexual as men, so go out and be “sexy” in your dressing habits behaviors. Dresses aren’t pretty anymore they are sexy.

But this isn’t the case and women are pressured into dressing certain ways that causes them to be less than they are created to be. My answer to all this is simple, boys need to man up. Headship starts in courtship, us men should create an environment in which it is at least indirectly understood that the women in this relationship will not be pressured to be “sexual” in any way or immodest. And that being modest is more attractive in the long run. This takes thoughtful and pray full action on both parts but psychology will take over. This is the only time that you will probably see me plug Darwin but he is right here, survival of the fittest. If dressing modestly gets the boys, than that is what most women will do.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Romans 12:2

2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
.
1 John 2:15-16
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Scott, that's just it - we are often so conformed to this world that we do not even see it anymore. We are so many iterations from where we should be that even a slight nudge back to the right path is seen as radical and over the top.
 
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FCC

Puritan Board Freshman
Romans 12 is a powerful address on the change a Christian should undergo when he or she is brought into the family of God! What a blessing that our wonderful Father effects such a massive work upon us unworthy Christians. To be "transformed" or metabmorphasized into a brand new creature, with new thoughts, new affections, a whole new outlook on life! That is what we should be striving to attain and praying that God would continue to work upon us that we would "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" and be clothed with His nature!
 

Jackie Kaulitz

Puritan Board Freshman
Great subject and one God has been convicting a number of women in our church about lately, including myself. I first became aware of how I dressed when going swimming when my college bible study group of young men and women. When two girls came out in bikinis, my eyes few open in shock. I felt so bad for my Christian guy friends. If I as a girl couldn't help but notice them, what were the guys thinking? And when the guys then took off their shirts, I admit I struggled with this. I wish guys would NOT take off their shirts. Society has programmed them that this is acceptable but it is not helping us girls any. Sadly, guys take this for granted.

Still, I noticed the heavier I got, the less modest I dressed. Partly because it is near impossible to find a sleeveless shirt that fit right without making you look like grandma, and partly because I felt bad about myself and wanted to feel "pretty". Yes, I know. :p Well, let me share with you the amazing way God spoke to our church one day? Last month, a group of 5 reformed Christian girls from Maui, Hawaii showed up at our church. They were extremely naturally beautiful and guess what? All covered up in oversized sweaters! And no one made them dress like this. I couldn't help but notice how attractive and wholesome and "Christian" they looked and automatically became more conscious about my clothing. I thought "If I were a wholesome Christian guy, I would be looking at these girls before many of the less modest girls in the church". Within a week of their visit, two other women in my church mentioned the same thing - we all went back to our wardrobes to make some changes. Now there is still one woman who completely hangs out of her dresses everytime. I pray for her and how that by our examples of dressing modestly, she will catch on. If not, one of us will talk to her with love because we shared in our own stuggle with modesty. Honestly, half of the issue is that we women don't realize the affect we have on others. That or we like the attention. And if the later, we should listen to CJ Mahaney's sermon on Modesty. Ignore his yelling at the end. :p It showed that more than tempting guys, modesty is disrespectful to God and is stealing glory and attention from God. I was really convicted on this one. Making men stumble is very bad but stealing glory for God is just unliveable!
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I was thinking about this from a climate point of view. I live in Florida and in the summertime with 100% humidity most women dress in more revealing clothing and it has nothing to do with trying turn anyone on. I don’t think there is anything wrong per se with dressing this way but it an interesting perspective to consider this from. How much discomfort should women endure not to be a stumbling block? I mean at some point she has be given a break due to weather or some other factor.
 

TexanRose

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was thinking about this from a climate point of view. I live in Florida and in the summertime with 100% humidity most women dress in more revealing clothing and it has nothing to do with trying turn anyone on. I don’t think there is anything wrong per se with dressing this way but it an interesting perspective to consider this from. How much discomfort should women endure not to be a stumbling block? I mean at some point she has be given a break due to weather or some other factor.

I think it's only in the US and other "Westernized" countries that we think skimpy clothing is cooler. In other cultures, both men and women wear clothing that covers more skin, to protect themselves from the sun's rays. Think of women in the Sahara, the Middle East, India, etc. If the clothing is lightweight and loose to allow for airflow, it will be quite comfortable in hot weather.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I was thinking about this from a climate point of view. I live in Florida and in the summertime with 100% humidity most women dress in more revealing clothing and it has nothing to do with trying turn anyone on. I don’t think there is anything wrong per se with dressing this way but it an interesting perspective to consider this from. How much discomfort should women endure not to be a stumbling block? I mean at some point she has be given a break due to weather or some other factor.
This identifies a key issue, the duty to one's neighbor. There is also the duty to God.

It's not enough to view this from the standpoint of self only. Not in the Kingdom of God.

It's not merely enough to assume innocent intentions by the one provoking or even rationalizing their own comfort or convenience. Remember, provocation can come by carelessness as well as specific intent to provoke.

We could say for example that someone did not have specific intent to harm someone when they are driving while legally intoxicated. And we can either subjectively or objectively define the limit of intoxication, etc.

It's about doing what is right toward God, and towards one neighbor.

And there are Scriptural principles that speak to that.

And, specifically, to the way women dress.

This cannot be usefully and biblically discerned in isolation from these many considerations.

Not by the Christian woman.

Not by anyone.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I was thinking about this from a climate point of view. I live in Florida and in the summertime with 100% humidity most women dress in more revealing clothing and it has nothing to do with trying turn anyone on. I don’t think there is anything wrong per se with dressing this way but it an interesting perspective to consider this from. How much discomfort should women endure not to be a stumbling block? I mean at some point she has be given a break due to weather or some other factor.
This identifies a key issue, the duty to one's neighbor. There is also the duty to God.

It's not enough to view this from the standpoint of self only. Not in the Kingdom of God.

It's not merely enough to assume innocent intentions by the one provoking or even rationalizing their own comfort or convenience. Remember, provocation can come by carelessness as well as specific intent to provoke.

We could say for example that someone did not have specific intent to harm someone when they are driving while legally intoxicated. And we can either subjectively or objectively define the limit of intoxication, etc.

It's about doing what is right toward God, and towards one neighbor.

And there are Scriptural principles that speak to that.

And, specifically, to the way women dress.

This cannot be usefully and biblically discerned in isolation from these many considerations.

Not by the Christian woman.

Not by anyone.

I get that. I didn’t endorse dressing inappropriately for some “good” reason. I only pointed out that climate may play a part in this question. Should Christian women wear clothes that are non western just to avoid being a stumbling block? That would draw unnecessary attention and look “funny”. Should they wear winter clothes to avoid being a stumbling block? That is just a health hazard in Florida during the summer. That is the question I am raising can it be done in more modest way? I don’t see why not.

I mean if the only consideration is to not to be a stumbling block to anyone than women just shouldn’t leave the house because someone somewhere will be tempted, it is unavoidable. I may not be the most attractive guy around but I’m sure in the course of the day some girl was tempted over me, is staying in the house all day the only answer to that? Or can we say that women need to do their best considering many factors, weather being one of them. But acknowledge that they cannot perfectly avoid being a stumbling block and say it is not their fault?
 
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JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
It's hot and humid and I'm currently wearing THREE layers. I think I may invest in a new wardrobe sometime in the next few years.

I read the book someone recommended earlier. Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America. In it he says something like we should apply a stricter standard to ourselves and a looser one to others. I think most of the time our thinking/talking on this issue should be as it relates to us, not to other people.
We should concern ourselves with making sure we ourselves conform to Biblical standards. Men, guard your eyes and teach your wife/daughters/sisters about modesty.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I mean if the only consideration is to not to be a stumbling block

You are correct to say it's not the ONLY consideration,
but it is a consideration- the good of one's neighbor.

The unregenerate are not naturally inclined to think that way.

Believers, by God's grace, and for His Honor and His Glory,
are.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I read the book someone recommended earlier. Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America. In it he says something like we should apply a stricter standard to ourselves and a looser one to others. I think most of the time our thinking/talking on this issue should be as it relates to us, not to other people.
We should concern ourselves with making sure we ourselves conform to Biblical standards. Men, guard your eyes and teach your wife/daughters/sisters about modesty.

Much fluishness here, but amidst it all, I have spirits to say 'Yea, verily, yea' -- and that one of the things I love about Ruben is that I do not hear him criticising other women all the time for the way they dress. He will tell me if something I wear is over the line (though more often I fear my clothing choices are a source of amusement, even angst -- I have this little jacket with bells on the sleeves . . . ) It does several things for me: I am not insecure in his love; I am not involved in focusing in a critical way on other women, instead of on my own heart; and I know that he takes responsibility for himself before the Lord, regardless of what others may be wearing. All of which are pretty wonderful in a man who hangs around the house every day, asking for endless supplies of cooked food and clean laundry. I know all of us are different and function differently in relationships, but I wonder if that is another thing men might be able to do for their wives and daughters (and sons) in this area.
 
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