8 Questions to Ask Yourself (Biblical Modesty, Pt. 2)

IMG_2096{In the first article in this series, we defined the word/idea of “modesty.”}

Here, let’s consider: what are the common problems in the church?

  • Dresses are too short
  • Clothes’ tightness and cut can often draw people’s eyes to the wrong places. (i.e.: Slits up the thigh. Mesh fabrics and lace draw attention to what’s underneath clothing.)
  • Clothes that are flashy, a certain brand, or obviously expensive divide people into classes and cliques.
  • Husbands and dads not leading/involved in this.
  • Short dresses are even shorter when you’re up on the stage and the congregation is on a lower level than you.
  • Bending over reveals massive amounts of cleavage, or a view of everything under your blouse.(common in the nursery, when working with kids, when leaning down to get your Bible below the seat)
  • Leggings (which used to be called tights) are being worn as pants, and reveal the entire shape of the lower half of the body in exact detail.
  • Sitting down in certain cuts of pants reveals your underwear/part of your backside.
  • Clothes are worn that need constant tugging in order to appear “appropriate.”

 

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But… even if we could all agree on the challenges, we all know this:

Modesty is never best, or fully, addressed by external “rules.”

A set of guidelines or an awareness of potential areas of caution can be helpful for the person who wants to grow more discerning in this area, but no list can ever change our hearts.

The real place for any of us to start is to examine our own hearts. What is happening when we get dressed in the mornings, ***particularly*** on Sunday mornings before worship?

As Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, we should not come to worship only thinking of ourselves. Instead, we should be thinking of how our choices– from the words we speak or teach, to the attitudes we have before/during/after, as well as the clothing we wear/don’t wear– have the power to affect and influence others.

What we do in public affects others.

  • We recognize this in the movie theater (someone talking behind us, or being loud is a distraction from the purpose).
  • We recognize it it on the highway (other drivers’ behavior affects our own driving and safety).
  • We recognize it when a baby starts screaming in almost any setting. (Noise affects our focus.)

Our behavior, attitude, and choices affect others.

We can (and should) recognize it in the worship service. If a person in my community wants to come and gather with our local Body of Christian believers to worship our Lord, there is one time each week they can do that.

I can’t speak for you, but as a believing woman I can say: I don’t want to usurp the attention, glory, notice, and worship God deserves from His people. That is true any day of the week, but especially in the one time set aside for worship. Sunday at 11am is a time when I should be particularly mindful of my choices, so that my body does not become a beacon for attention.

NOTE that this is not a posture of shame over one’s body– this is not saying that the human body is wicked or wrong. My physical body is a beautiful thing, given by God to me and to my husband, but it can be used and dressed in a way that attracts attention, or in a way that quietly allows for God’s people’s attention to go to one right place: to God alone.

Once they were aware of their nakedness, the very first humans- Adam and Eve- covered themselves. But you’ll notice that they apparently didn’t go far enough: God made them coverings of skin. We don’t have all the details of how/what, but I do think the implication is– our first parents’ coverings were inadequate. Our first parents’ judgment was inadequate and didn’t go far enough.

When it comes to clothing in public, and particularly in Christian worship, we can not only “look within” or do what feels good to us. The Bible uses the word “respectable” in regard to clothing, which tell us that our own opinion is not the only view we need to consult.

  • We were made to worship the LORD above all.
  • We were made for community, and to consider others as more important than ourselves.
  • We were made to reflect God’s glory, not to be the center of attention.

 

 8 QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Here are some things we can consider as we get dressed, for worship and for other situations.

#1- Start with “why?” Why am I choosing these clothes for worship? Is there a biblical basis for my choices?

#2- Am I dressing as a representative of Christ?

#3- Am I actively loving (seeking the good of) my brothers AND sisters when I get dressed before worship?

#4- Am I working to be NON-offensive to the specific people in my church Body (people I should love and want to be unified with)?

#5- Am I giving people access to view parts of my body that only a husband would rightly see?

#6- Am I featuring specific body parts by the way I dress, or the particular clothing items I choose?

#7- When they look at me, where are my clothes encouraging people to look?

#8- If I am willing to wear a uniform (or limit my clothing, jewelry, makeup, and appearance in some way) for a job, why not consider limitations for my clothing when I go to worship the Lord?

 

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(all pictures from our trip to Washington, DC in 2011)

 

 

IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: What sort of questions would *YOU* suggest that could help us as we ponder these things, in an attempt to cultivate an inward spirit of modesty?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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6 Responses

  1. Lou Ann says:

    I’m really enjoying this series. I’m eager to see your final conclusions. This is excellent–dress with pleasing God in mind and not wanting to be a distraction to others. Thank you!

  2. Leonie says:

    Hi Jess, I have followed you for a number of years and been encouraged and challenged by you. I am interested to know how your thoughts on modesty relate to dressing for a prom or similar occasion?

    • Jess Connell says:

      Interesting question, and it’s one I haven’t faced as a mom.

      But for my own daughter, I would want to encourage wisdom, discretion, and see to it that her body was not being put on display in that dress in a way inviting lust and sensual thoughts about her. I’d also want to talk with her about how she carries and uses her body at the event, because of the specific temptation to dance/move/act in ways that draw sexual attention.

      When you start with the biblical perspective that our bodies are for 3 purposes: (1) to “image” God and give God glory, (2) for us to use to do the things we need to do, and (3) to give our (current or future) husband sexual pleasure and comfort, it gives stronger boundaries for what we will/won’t do with our body, and how we should/shouldn’t clothe it, even if we are not married.

      I’d want to help her find a special dress that would be fun and show off her personality (favorite color? style? a fun pattern?) without showing off her body parts.

      • Leonie says:

        Thanks Jess. Some good points in your reply there to be reminded of. There are so many factors coming into play – not only the style of the dress but the cost as well, plus the hair, makeup, jewellery, shoes!!! Looking forward to the rest of this series. Keep up the good work :)

  1. May 8, 2017

    […] Then we talked through 8 questions we should consider to discern our heart.} […]

  2. May 11, 2017

    […] Then we talked through 8 questions we should consider to discern our heart. […]

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