As many of you know I have been thinking a lot about the topic of modesty lately, and what exactly that means for me as a woman. I have searched through scripture, researched on the internet, read some books, and asked lots of questions. I don't know that I have a perfect solution yet, but I have learned quite a bit along the way. The following post is a response to several of those questions graciously provided by Gina, from Home Joys. I know Gina has been a wonderful blessing and inspirations to all of us this past year, so I am thankful that she has allowed me to post her reply. Also I am hoping to post my personal thoughts on modesty in the next few day.
My thoughts on modesty (Gina)-
First, thanks for asking! I was very glad to know that I'm not on any sort of pedestal - because I'm still a work in progress! But it has been so good for me this last week to think about what I do believe about modesty, if it is just a preference, and what the Bible says on the topic. I think I was on your blog but I don't remember at all what you look like or what you wear, so don't think I'm preaching to you specifically!
I'm not sure where to begin, so this will probably just be a ramble of my story and thoughts on the topic.
Growing up, my mom always wore skirts or dresses. I just took it for granted. When I got older I realized not everyone's mom wore skirts and when I asked about it, I was pointed to Duet 22:5 where wearing the opposite gender's clothing was described as an abomination. Now, of course, that is in the Old Testament and we don't attempt to follow the Mosaic law concerning sacrifices and such. But the laws described as abominations are applicable to today. The signs on a public restroom show that in our culture - pants are still thought of as a man's garment. While there may be activities that are more appropriate with slacks, I am glad I had the foundation of wearing feminine skirts.
Maybe you've noticed that the Bible doesn't contain many specifics about what to wear or what not to wear. I think that is good. I'm rather glad we weren't told to wear a robe like Jesus and His mother! I do believe that God provided enough Scripture and principles that we can come to an understanding of what a Christian lady should wear in our time and culture. But I also don't think we can just go along with what is worn in our time and culture without applying God's Word to see where it lines up. It may be more difficult today because the world around us has lost the basic principle of modesty like they may have had 100 years ago. None of us thinks it is "fun" to stick out and buck against the tide but as daughters of God and the temple of the Holy Spriti, we need to make sure are wardrobe is a proper reflection of our Lord.
In my teen years, I slid a little in my clothing. I would wear long (knee length) shorts and my t-shirts were probably too tight. I noticed that I didn't sit, walk or stand as femininely when I was wearing shorts then if I was wearing a dress. In my 20's I got back to wearing dresses, skirts, and jumpers again. I had a lot of good friends that were very dedicated Christians who didn't follow my standard of modesty. I sometimes wondered why I felt like God was calling me to dress like this - when other Christians wore whatever they wanted. I also didn't want to appear that I thought I was better then them because of my dress convictions. But I really felt like that it was a conviction. Not just a preference, or what my parents or church would want, but a conviction - a belief that this was how God wanted me to dress.
And (I don't want this to sound proud) but I felt like the Lord blessed my stand for modesty. Especially when I was in the city or with a crowd, there was a measure of protection from wearing a covering on my head and a dress. Men treated me differently, with respect. They held the door open and generally treated me like a lady. Maybe the Lord just gave me some of these experiences to encourage me, when I was the only one in the group that dressed differently. No one likes to stand out like a sore thumb - like you are dressed in some sort of strange costume. I'll never forget being in the metro in DC on Halloween night. Many people were in costume. I was with a group of Christians friends but I was the only one who dressed like I did. I figured others looking on guessed I was in some sort of Amish costume! Standing alone isn't not fun sometimes but I feel like there was advantages, beyond just obeying the direction of the Lord (which of course needs to other reasons!)
Some of the Scriptures that we can glean insight on what a Christan should wear.
1 Cor 6:19-10 - We are to glorify God - not just by our spirit but also by our body. Our bodies are not our own and the decision is not just depending on what we want but since our body belongs to God, what we wear should reflect His glory.
1 Peter 3:3-4 - A Christian woman's beauty is not the outward appearance but the meek and quiet spirit which the Lord says is valuable.
1 Tim 2:8-10 - This may be the only place that it specifically mentions modest apparel for a Christian woman.- at least that I could think of.
Rom 12:1-2 Again, our bodies belong to God - we should not be patterning our lives after the world around us. Rom 14:13 - This is maybe the greatest reason to me to dress modestly. We are not to be a stumbling block to others. Can a man be in our presence, sit behind us at church without being distracted by too much skin. This time of year, when it is hot, I'm just in shock at how ladies dress/undress in public. Where is a Christian man who want to be pure in his eyes and thoughts supposed to look? Can I be a "safe place"?
1 Samuel 16:11 "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God on the heart." I've heard this used as an excuse to dress however you like because God is looking at our heart and as long as my heart is right it doesn't matter how I dress. But if people around me are looking on my outward appearance - and they are- what are they seeing? I would prefer to fit in with others. But maybe God's idea is that when others look at me they immediately notice that this woman is someone different.
We women like to "look good", to be attractive. But the danger is when we dress to attract attention to ourselves. In Proverbs it talks of the harlot who dresses to attract men. Maybe our modest clothing will be so different from what everyone else is wearing that it too will attract attention. Just make sure it is a good reflection of the Lord. Not a slob but definitely not a slut.
I would suggest you ask your husband what he would like you to wear. Maybe he doesn't care. Or maybe he does. In some cases, a man is afraid if their wife starts to dress modestly, she will be some frumpy slob. A husband may want his wife to dress immodestly just to show off his "hot" wife.
As a wife, my body belongs to my husband. I don't want my body to be pawned over (even with just eyes) because it belongs to my husband alone. While modesty is very important, I don't think it has a place in a married couple's bedroom. Throw out the sweats and the granny nightgown, this is the place to dress provocatively. Our Christian husbands are expected to keep their minds and eyes pure all day long. Let's make it easier for them by having one place where they can purely enjoy their wife.
I hope you can make some sort of sense out of this ramble! Please feel free to ask more questions.
I pray that the Lord will give you wisdom. I know that God does not want to hide His will from His children. He will answer your questions when you seek His direction.