A One-Size-Fits-All Modesty?

What attire is ok for a saved woman to wear out in public?

Hi. Thanks for writing.

The Bible doesn’t have any specific requirements about skirt length or spaghetti strap tank tops or anything else. It only asks that we, women and men, be modest, humble:

Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it. (1 Tim 2:8-10, The Message)

Looking and wanting to look attractive is a good thing. But it becomes detrimental to us and our relationships with God and others when attention to outer beauty cheats and diminishes inner beauty. It becomes sinful when it feeds our selfish vanity and inhibits our ability to consider others before ourselves (Phil 2).

So here are some things to remember when considering what (and what not) to wear:

  1. What you wear represents/presents to the world who you are. Who are you? As a Christian, who are you? Are you just a sex object, just a body? Certainly not! When thinking about what to wear, does it represent who you are?
  2. What are you attracting people to? Are you trying to draw attention only to you? your ego, your body? Or will people be drawn to something deeper?

As a woman who is a Christian, you may hear all sorts of things from other Christian women about what exactly is and is not okay to wear. Those rules are arbitrary—they vary among race, culture, and social class—and they don’t come from the Bible. Such rules also tend to be far too black and white, far too totalitarian. Body type, for example, matters a great deal, and yet gets little to no consideration when the rules are made. It’s easier to come up with and follow specific cultural rules, and sometimes those rules, or guidelines, are necessary because of cultural goings on (as was the case in Paul’s letter to Timothy (above)), but all too frequently rules puff up our egos and hinder, rather than help, our spiritual well-being. Rules alone won’t better our relationship with God; it’s what’s behind the rules (like the questions above) that help us develop personal convictions about things, like this, that aren’t spelled out for us in the Bible.

I hope that’s helpful.

Yours respectfully,

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3 Responses to A One-Size-Fits-All Modesty?

    • reneamac says:

      Thanks, friend. As one who exemplifies the true spirit of modesty, your endorsement means a lot. Love you!

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