Dear Sisters in Christ,
First, I want to tell you that I love you. I really do. Trying to be a godly woman in this godless society is tough. We need each other. We need to be one another’s most enthusiastic cheerleader. I have a friend and mentor who closes all of her emails and messages with the phrase “Cheering you on!” That has been so encouraging to me over the years, and I want to cheer you on as well. I truly desire to do that.
There’s a word used frequently in the New Testament called “exhortation.” Sometimes we use it interchangeably with “encouragement.” The words are definitely similar, but there’s a little different aspect to exhortation. Encouragement says, “You are doing great!” Exhortation says, “You are doing great! But I know you can do even better!” Exhortation pushes you forward and deeper into your walk with Christ and out of your comfort zone.
With that in mind, my precious sisters, I would like to give you a word of exhortation. I believe that there is an area where we can do a whole lot better than we’re doing. And I hope when I say what area it is that you won’t shut down. I hope that you will listen with a heart that desires to hear and learn and grow together. I hope that you will know that I say it because I love you and I honestly want to spur you (and myself) on to a higher level of holiness.
Are you ready? It’s about modesty. There. I said it. Are you still with me?
Even though social media isn’t responsible for immodesty, it has definitely given it an expanded platform. The Bible has a good bit to say on the subject. I could quote the Scripture references on modesty, but I won’t because I believe that most of us are familiar with them. (If you’re not, you can see some here.) Our problem isn’t that we don’t know that we should be modest or that we don’t know what the Bible says about it. Our problem is how we interpret that information.
There’s the rub, isn’t it? I say something is modest, but you say it isn’t and vice versa. We can read and study the Scriptures, but there aren’t any pictures inspired by God in the original manuscripts to show us clearly what is modest and what is not. So much of deciding that is subjective.
I want you to know that I am not saying that dressing like a Pilgrim that just landed at Plymouth Rock makes a person holy. A woman can be covered in loose fabric from head to toe, but if her heart is filled with sin, her clothing doesn’t sanctify her. However, clothing can be a good indication of what is going on inside our hearts. Many times dressing immodestly reveals deeper issues of insecurity, inadequacy, and unworthiness. The Bible frequently identifies an immoral woman by her clothing. Just like we can identify what kind of sport an athlete plays or what team she is on by her uniform, we proclaim what team we are playing for by our clothing. I want to ask you, sister – what team are you on?
Team Baby Christian – If you are a babe in Christ, the first thing I want to say to you is – WELCOME TO THE FAMILY!!! Members of this team need much grace and love from more mature players. They also need biblical teaching. With the help of the Holy Spirit and time, these players usually change into more appropriate uniforms eventually.
Team My-Value-Comes-from-My-Body – Players on this team need affirmation and attention from others in order to feel valuable. These players wear uniforms that show as much skin or form as possible. You can recognize some members of this team by the plethora of pictures they take of themselves and post on social media – especially pictures taken from up high looking down into their cleavage. Or pictures in bathing suits. Or pictures working out. Or pictures of their legs from the thighs down sitting at the beach. They also frequently mistake leggings for pants.
Sweet sister, is this your team? Does the attention you receive from people admiring your body feed your self-esteem? Maybe you recently lost a lot of weight or started working out. (If so, great job!!!) Or maybe you’re older (like me!) and it’s scary and unfamiliar so you crave some positive comments to help you feel better about the aging process. I understand. I do. But you don’t have to show the world every line and curve of your body. God created us to be so beautiful that men want to look at us. In fact, it is their favorite thing to do. But I encourage you to save the majority of your body for YOUR man to enjoy. If you aren’t married, then save it for your future husband. It is a gift so precious and valuable that it is not meant to be shared with everyone.
Team I-Know-My-Value – Members of this team understand that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and how they clothe their temple matters. They don’t want to cover up their bodies because they hate them. In fact, it is just the opposite. They don’t show a lot of skin or form because they know how special their bodies are and they respect them. These players would never dream of posting a picture of themselves on social media wearing something that reveals even a hint of cleavage, the style or color of their undergarments, or the shape of their bottoms (front or back!). That’s because they know their value comes from who they are on the inside not from what they look like on the outside. They don’t want to cheapen their bodies by putting them on display like the hot item at a bargain basement sale.
Recently I saw a sister post a picture on Facebook of a little black dress, and she commented that it was “sexy without showing too much.” Why would anyone who belongs to Christ and seeks to glorify Him – not herself – desire to look sexy anywhere but in the privacy of her home for her own husband? Now, I understand that some of you just can’t help looking sexy even when wearing a potato sack! That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a woman whose goal is to look sexy. A woman who buys a dress to wear for others to see and wants to hear, “She looks sexy!” Saying that it is “sexy without showing too much” acknowledges that it does, indeed, push the envelope of overexposure. I just don’t understand it. How does being sexy bring glory and honor to God?
Dear sisters, how you clothe your body matters. It matters because God says that we should be modest. Yes, I know much of that is subjective and hard to clearly define. So what should you do? How do you know what is appropriate and what is not? If you are a follower of Christ, then the Holy Spirit is in you. He guides you and teaches you. You can start by going through your closet and asking, “Lord, what do You think? Does this bring honor or dishonor to Your name? Is this something that a child of the King should wear?” I promise that He will guide you.
Something else you can do is ask a godly woman that you respect and admire for guidance. Ask her how she chooses her clothing and what things she stays away from. Ask her to come over and help you go through your closet. I’ll bet she would be honored that you trust her enough to ask for her help.
So, my precious sisters, what team are you on? Or maybe I should ask, what team does your uniform proclaim that you are on? Are you giving the impression that you think your value comes from your body? If the desire to be sexy and receive attention guides your fashion choices, then you might be advertising for the wrong team. Do you secretly delight in every “Like” or “Whoah, sexy momma!” comment after you post a picture of yourself? Does it feed your ego or your self-esteem? If so, that could be ignorance of biblical teaching or it could be a deeper spiritual issue.
You see, modesty is really a matter of the heart. It is a heart that wants to honor God with every aspect of your life including your appearance. My sisters, none of us has this modesty thing figured out perfectly. But some of us aren’t even trying.
This is my exhortation: let’s seek to do better. Let’s work on this together. Let’s love each other enough to give and receive loving, gentle correction in this area. Let’s love our Savior enough to want to do better.
As I said before, modesty is a matter of the heart, and we have the Holy Spirit to help us. A set of do’s and don’t’s will not make a heart pure. Law never, ever sanctifies. However, sometimes guidelines can be helpful to get us started in the right direction – especially if the idea of modesty is new to you. Below the close of this letter are some personal boundaries that I observe. I share them with you to help you not to enslave you.
I recognize that my “team” analogy is somewhat of an oversimplification of more complex motives and issues. But, precious sisters, I hope you have heard my heart here. I love you and want God’s best for you. Forgive the lengthiness of this letter. Thank you for sticking with me to the end.
Much love from your sister in Christ,
Some of my personal guidelines:
- Never show even a hint of cleavage.
- Don’t wear clothing that shows your bra or underwear.
- Don’t wear tops that show your midriff when you raise your arms. (You should be able to “Raise & Praise!”)
- Wear shorts to at least mid-thigh.
- Wear nothing tight or form-fitting so that it shows every line of your form. (I’ll admit that I don’t follow this exactly when going to the gym. However, if I have to go ANYWHERE other than the gym, I make sure to wear a long tunic or sweatshirt over it. I also tie a jacket around my waist to walk from the car to class.)
- Leggings are NOT pants. When wearing leggings (or jeggings), tops should be long enough to completely cover your bottom (front and back) and ideally should come to at least the upper- to mid-thigh.
- If wearing a thin dress or skirt, wear a slip! (Yes, stores still sell these.) Stand in front of a window to see if you can see through it. If so, it needs a slip.
- Again, these are not meant to be laws but are meant to be helpful guidelines. Make them a starting point to seek God’s wisdom in the area of modesty.