What Ever Happened To Modesty?

As I write these words, the temperature outside of my home is 101 degrees.  These are the “dog days” of summer, and all of us want to escape the heat.  Unfortunately, many people choose to wear clothing that is not fit to be worn in public.  Many Christians are even guilty of wearing clothing that is not fitting for the faith that we profess.  Even if such clothing is physically comfortable to us, I wonder why we are not mentally and spiritually uncomfortable when we expose our bodies to the view of others.  What has happened to our sense of modesty?

Many modern fashions and styles of clothing expose far too much of the body to be acceptable to a modesty-minded Christian.  Shorts, mini-skirts, low-cut “hip-hugger” jeans, skin-tight tank tops, and other popular styles are highly revealing and leave little to the imagination.  These are worn by people in almost every public place, and worse, they are often worn by Christians.  Even worse than this is the fact that some Christians have been seen in public places wearing swimsuits, which amount to nothing more than underwear!  What has gotten in to us?

Let us not be naïve about these styles.  They are designed to arouse and excite the passions of those who see the people who wear them.  Fashion designers are not ashamed to admit that they design these clothes to be provocative.  Mary Quant, who is a fashion designer and is recognized as the creator of the mini-skirt, once said in a Newsweek interview that the point of her designs was to promote fornication (I am paraphrasing her words to give the plain meaning).  Her designs were radical in the 60’s, but they seem mild when compared to the modern fashions that have evolved from her work.  Is it any wonder that fornication, unwed pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases are epidemic today?

It appears that our society has lost its sense of modesty, and Christians have followed the trend.  Certainly, we should not place an undue emphasis on appearance; however one’s outward appearance does project an image of his inner character.  This is why Paul instructed women to “adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness” (1Tim. 2:9-10, emphasis SED).  A woman making a claim to godliness is claiming to be a reflection on God Himself.  Therefore, we see that it is not befitting of a godly woman to adorn herself with excessive jewelry or flashy garments, for this conveys pride and vanity.  By the same token, we can also see that it is not befitting of a godly woman to adorn herself in provocative clothing, for this conveys unchastity and immorality.  Yet some Christian women are communicating this very message to others by their choice of clothing, and they do not even seem to be aware of it.

Modesty should be innate and instinctive.  The very first thing that Adam and Eve realized when they ate from the tree of knowledge was that they were naked (Gen. 3:7).  They acted quickly to cover themselves because of their sense of shame and modesty.  Notice that they made loin coverings for themselves, but God made them garments of animal skins to give them full, proper clothing (Gen. 3:21).  Why do we not share in that same sense of modesty today?  What has become of our consciences that we may adorn what are is some cases essentially loin coverings and consider ourselves to be decent in appearance?

Truly, worldliness has gotten the better of us.  We have allowed the standards of the world to be our guide in many things, including the immodest clothing that so many of us wear.  As a result, there is often no discernable difference in modesty between one who is Christian and one who is of the world.  Yet the Lord says, “Come out from their midst and be separate” (2Cor. 6:17).  Even if worldly people are adorning themselves with provocative clothing, Christians should be ashamed to do so.

Our lack of modesty has become a serious issue because the true issue is sin.  If Christians dress themselves in provocative clothing, then they promote lust and fornication in themselves and others.  Surely, Christian women do not want to cause men who see them to commit sin (Matt. 5:28).  Yet that is just what they do when they expose themselves immodestly.  This brings shame upon all who are involved, including their Lord who died for them.  Therefore, let us all take this matter to heart and let our outward appearances reflect the love and reverence that we have for God within.  By doing so, we can display true beauty and communicate the love of God.

Stacey E. Durham


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