Teaching Christian Ladies to Dress Modestly

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

I shouldn’t have to teach you this.  A Christian woman should want to dress modestly - to dress differently from the world.  Unfortunately, since the 1950’s, mothers (even Christian ones) have often failed to guide their children in matters of modesty.  Although you probably already have some sense of what it means to dress appropriately and modestly, we live in a fallen world.  Perhaps you really are truly “clueless” regarding to this subject – possibly not completely due to your own fault.  Many women these days have grown up in homes without proper authority or spanking.  Perhaps you have been raised by those from the Hippie Generation where there was no one willing and/or able to teach you how to dress properly.  Although this will not be learned overnight, it nevertheless should not take you very long to learn the basics.

God sees everything.  The fact is that Jesus can see you just fine right now, from all of the way up in Heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father.  Jesus knows how you dress, and He knows whether or not you are trying to dress in a manner which ultimately glorifies Him.  Does dressing in a way that glorifies Jesus matter to you?  I pray that it does. 

Therefore, here is a basic rule to keep in mind:  Never wear anything you would not want to wear in front of Jesus.  Would you want Jesus to return while you were wearing “that outfit”?  (You know - the “hot” one).  Also, what image are you presenting to the world?  As a Christian, do you not represent Christ to this lost and dying world?

I realize that sanctification in the matter of wardrobe selection can be a rather difficult matter to discuss.  Nevertheless, how a Christian woman presents herself in the church, and to the unsaved world is of extreme importance.  Sadly, Hollywood and Madison Avenue often dictate so much of the world’s concepts of a woman’s image.  Therefore, it can seem difficult to go against worldly trends and seek beauty in purity and simplicity of dress.

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety;  not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (I Timothy 2:9-10)

Why is modesty in women's dress preached so rarely today?  Sadly, most pastors are too afraid of loosing members to enforce a dress code of any kind at their churches.  It’s an uncomfortable topic for a pastor to discuss, because it will not help him to win any popularity contests with his youthful members, (or their parents – who nowadays often rush to the defense of their children whether their children are right or wrong!).  Not surprisingly, it will tend to make people angry when their sin of immodesty and vanity is exposed.  Therefore, most preachers today, (most of whom care more about money than about pleasing God), just simply side-step this issue and do not deal with this matter of dressing modestly.

"...that women adorn themselves in modest apparel...” (I Timothy 2:9)

If we wish to please God, let us be frank here about dressing modestly.  Whether you are 13 or 60, or anywhere in between, your private parts and knees should be kept covered.  Don’t make ushers blush in church.  A woman who has been "blessed by God" must not proclaim it to the world.  God’s blessing is to be enjoyed by your husband and your infant children.  Remember, it is not necessary to reveal and/or display "cleavage".

Should you show off the skin on your arms?  Is this modest?  The fact is, sleeveless blouses (“tank tops”) and halter-tops or halter dresses are not necessary.  Remember, God sees how you dress.  Dress in a way that pleases Him.

What about showing off the skin of your legs?  Do you think that God wants you to show off your legs to strangers on the street?  Is this modest dressing?  Remember, your knees are best used for kneeling in prayer.  There is no need to show them off to men.  Therefore, keep your dresses and skirts below the knees.  Longer is definitely more modest than shorter.

Is there a point to be made here?  Yes.  Does Jesus care about more about fashion or about modesty?  Does Jesus teach us to call attention to ourselves, or does He teach us to live our lives in order to bring others to Him?

“To be discreet, chaste...that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:5)

Great care should be taken to ensure modesty in dress.  This care will show that you respect the body that God has given you.  It will also help to point people to your Savior, rather than pointing them toward you and your body.

Am I saying that you necessarily need to wear a floor-length black wool skirt and a crisp high-necked 1890’s style white blouse?  Am I saying that you are not allowed to be colorful, creative and beautifully feminine?  No.  I am saying that the Bible should be utilized to provide the basic guidelines for how one dresses.

“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:12)

How about jewelry:  Gold?  Pearls?  Costly array?  Does The Bible say not to wear jewelry?  No.  Nevertheless, the Bible does say:

“...that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety;  not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

This verse doesn’t say that woman cannot wear jewelry, or try to fix up their hair in a clean and pleasant manner.  It does say that you should be modest and have an air of seriousness about the way you present yourself to the world.

God’s word reminds us that a major part of a woman's beauty is the work that she does in serving others.  Women therefore do not need to call attention to themselves by "piling on" jewelry in today’s garish fashion.  Do not fall prey to the lust of the world that some women call “the BLING thing”.  Any jewelry worn should be modest.  Women are to have:

“...the ornament of a meek (teachable) and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (I Peter 3:4)

Makeup:  The same goes for makeup.  As the late John R. Rice once said, “If the barn needs painting, paint it.”  But, when you get ready to “put on your face”, ask yourself:  "Do I want to look like Mary Magdalene before she was converted?  Do I want to look a whore or like Jennifer Lopez or some other Hollywood star?  Do I want to please Jesus Christ by looking my best, (without looking like if I scratched my face you could "plant corn in the furrows")?

Perfume/Fragrance:  Someone once said, “If your perfume enters the room before you do, it’s too much.”  (The same goes for your fragrance lingering in a thick cloud after you’ve left a room).

Pants:  The Bible gives the guideline:

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment:  for all that do so are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Does a dress pertain to a man or a women?  To whom therefore do pants pertain?  To men of course.  Don't sin against God.

Yes, I have heard all of the arguments.  Here are a few: “That’s from the OLD Testament!”  “We’re under grace!”  “Why wouldn’t God want me to be comfortable?  I’m not hurting anyone.”  Let me quickly agree, -- and then disagree.  Yes, this verse is in the Old Testament.  The Old Testament still has a bearing on our lives, doesn’t it?  The Ten Commandments also appear in the Old Testament.  Should we go out and kill someone because "thou shalt not kill" is in the Old Testament?  I think you can see my point.  Yes, we are under grace.  Nevertheless, the Bible says:

“What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  God forbid.  How can we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6: 1-2)

Does my wife own a pair of pants?  No.  Would she be willing to sin against God by wearing, "that which pertaineth to to a man"?  Definitely not.  Instead, she has learned to become quite comfortable in modest skirts and dresses.  The key here is conversion.  If you have trusted Jesus to forgive you for your sins, you will naturally want to please Him and displease the world, the flesh, and the Devil.  Therefore, examine your heart.  If you were to choose between pleasing God and dressing modestly on the one hand, and pleasing the Devil and dressing like the world on the other hand, which hand would you choose?  In fact, which do you choose right now?

If you choose Satan rather than Jesus, the reason is probably that you are lost and on the road to Hell.  Hell is real.  Heaven is also real.  Either way, your choice will be for all Eternity.  Life is so very short.  It is "as a vapor that vanish away."  "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof".

Your sins are all written down by God in His books.  You will be judged one day for those sins and cast into Hell.  Jesus died on a cross to pay for your sins.  He can save you from your sins if you will trust Him to do so.  Trust Jesus today.  Then put Jesus and the Bible first!