As a woman who fears the LORD, We as women have an obligation because of our freedom in Christ to honour the Lord Jesus and our brothers in the LORD by our dress and by our behavior. Years ago I became totally aware of how my dress affected others. I was aware to the fact that I was, by the clothing I chose to wear, capable of causing a brother to stumble. I realized I had an obligation to the LORD to avoid the appearance of evil, that I had a responsibility to protect the gift that I am to my husband and the duty to my brothers in the LORD to not be a stumbling block. Could our dress be evil, you say? Yes… if I disregard my dress and am careless about the message of the cross, I see this as evil. How frequently and easily we apply this to “drinking” and how acceptable it is for a Christian to not “drink” so as not to cause a brother to stumble, but how seldom this is applied to the area of modest dress. I believe that this can help us as women by sharing the ‘hard things’ concerning our dress.
I am aware that whenever this subject comes up, there will be accusation of legalism or of “bondage.” I am perfectly comfortable hearing these allegations because I probably at one time rejected these truths or thought the same thing until I began to understand the difference between legalism and obedience. When a woman is in the bonds of legalism, she depends on behaviors or thoughts and the performing of these duties as necessary to keeping or obtaining salvation. So then, fundamentally, legalism becomes a religion unto itself. So where does obedience to the Word differ from legalism in behavior and thought?
In the last several years I have thought on this question perhaps thousands of times… wondering what in this world should a woman wear, how should a woman behave, where should a woman spend her time, how should a woman go about loving her husband and how should she live pleasing the LORD? So… here goes: It matters what a Christian woman looks like. It matters what she wears and doesn’t wear. She is a representative of the LORD. She is an “advertisement,” if you will, for the LORD.
I would like to share with you how important it is for the reputation of the LORD and other Christian women how one looks to the “watching world.” I am not referring to the physical appearance of a woman’s body, whether she is tall, short, thin, large, small, etc., etc.; but her appearance: When a Christian woman is out to shop or to run errands, it does matter what she looks like. It matters what statement she is making about the LORD and about the reputation of her sisters in the LORD.
Today, I am not simply referring to the appearance of neatness or cleanliness, but I am concerned about another area, and that is the area of modesty. Modesty is about as foreign to some as living in a mansion or in a hut or fluently speaking a foreign language. What is modesty… and what does the Word say about modesty? Not the world, but the Word. 1Timothy 2:9 says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…” Why is it important for a Christian woman to dress modestly? How modest is modest? Well, I have been mulling over this question for years… How low is too low and how high is too high… and what does it matter anyway? I used to think a one piece bathing suit was a modest thing to wear to the beach. But now a one piece can be skimpy too.
I began to ask the question: what attire is appropriate to the LORD? I began to ask myself what I would think were I to open the door and see the LORD standing on my porch… would it be pleasing to Him? Would it bring glory or shame to His name.
Many have written articles on the meanings of the verses in 1 Timothy and in 1 Peter 3 regarding the dress of a woman. Sadly, these articles rarely appear in “mainstream” Christian magazines and so to many Christian women, the discussion of modest dress either never comes up or it is rejected as under the category of legalism or fundamentalism. After reading these and other verses in the Bible, what would you say? Studying the meanings of the different words rendered “apparel,” would you say that modest dress is for legalists? I don’t think you would, in fact, I believe a careful study of the Scriptures necessitates a trip to the closet and a “weeding out” of inappropriate clothing.
Maybe you are thinking right now that you already do dress modestly but perhaps there are a few things that may attract attention to you in a way that is not appropriate. I share this with you today, because I can recall a time getting instruction from the pulpit or from a Sunday School teacher in appropriate or inappropriate dress. At the time I did not know that it was even something I ought to be concerned with. However, the more I read the Word, and the more I prayed to be a godly woman, the more I realized that my appearance really did matter and I began the journey to appropriate, modest dress.
I am still studying to understand what it means to dress in modest apparel—apparel that does not cause a brother to stumble. I will tell you about a time ten years ago where I sat watching women and men watching women. I was amazed that the women in tight or low or short clothing were completely unaware of the distraction they were to some of the men. I was (in this “Christian” setting) further aware of the women who *did* know that the men were watching and the subtle entertainment and deception that was taking place… Entertaining to both the man and the woman and deceptive because of the emotions that were being stirred that were inappropriate and could or would not ever be rightly fulfilled. It was an occasion to entertain lust of the eyes and the pride of life. No matter what the world says about fantasy and entertainment… it is wrong. Does this matter? Yes, it matters. You might say something like, “well, I am not like that…” You are probably not like that… and then again, it is flattering to be found attractive by a man. You might say you no longer have an attractive figure or appearance… I think we would all be surprised at the different things men find attractive.
Good men, married men, dedicated men…. You might say, “those men should learn to control themselves!” I’d reply, you’re right and jokingly say that that would be like telling them to stop breathing. You might laugh a little, but I would exhort you to pray and ask the LORD what He would have you to do regarding this subject of dress and appropriate clothing for the godly woman and then to talk candidly with your husband or significant other, about men and what they see and what they think, how easily their thoughts are tantalized by the sights they see.You may feel like you have dressed in a certain way for so long that you wouldn’t be able to change now. Or, you may feel like you *like* the way you dress and it’s too bad what others think. Would you be open to the LORD and His promptings? I do join you in praying for what is best and seeking what is or isn’t appropriate. I would just say in closing, that it really does matter what you wear and how you represent the very God we serve. He has given us all we need in the Word for instruction as to what we ought to wear and how we ought to appear.2Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.