What Does the Bible Say About Modesty?


A week ago, we published a post about modesty and it's certainly sparked a lot of discussion. Maybe it's because for Christians today, modesty is one of those touchy subjects that are better avoided in public - you know, one of those private issues you deal with on your own; the ones that rarely come up in sermons or Bible studies....As in, define it as you will and don't judge others by your owns standards.

As a result, there is a yearning amongst our young women, especially teens, for guidance and standards. By making it a personal decision, we are left trying to blindly find our way in the dark, trying to decide if this or that is modest.

Our mission at Tirzah is to empower a generation of young women to live a set-apart life in today's modern world. We created this space to be a community of girls who above all want to serve the Lord in all areas of our lives - women whose only standard is a God-standard. That's why all of our articles strive to equip, inspire and educate on every aspect of a young woman's life today (including modesty!).

What the Bible really says about modesty!

The biggest stumbling block for a lot of women today about modesty?

I can wear whatever I want. 

So what if my outfit makes a man look at me in a sexual way? That's his problem. 

So what if it's revealing? Don't look if it bothers you. 

I want to look cute and stylish. And I don't want to look like a grandma. 

The problem is that there are a whole lot of "I's" in there and not enough of Him. 

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. -Romans 13:14

Yes, men have their own expectations and responsibilities. But, so do women. And as each gender tries to walk in purity of the heart and mind, we need to respect and support each other in these efforts. If this means wearing a longer skirt so that your guy friends aren't distracted by your legs all through the church service, then do so.

Realistically, if a guy wants to see you a sexual object, he probably will regardless of whether you're wearing a floor-length potato sack or a bikini. And in today's culture, where media and advertising are driven by sex, that's a totally normal way to look at a woman.

But I say to you that whoever looks at woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. -Matthew 5:28

But for Christians? We have higher standards, because it takes one look and a lustful reaction to fall into sin and temptation. 

The truth is, women yield a lot of power over men with our bodies - just look at the history of the world or even the Bible. From Delilah to Jezebel, we as women have a capability to use our feminine wiles to influence men's thoughts and actions.

To keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. -Proverbs 6:24-25

It's a man's job to respect women but it's the women's job to give him something to respect. -Unknown

My pastor recently shared this example with us: a few weeks ago, he attended a large church conference. The choir sat on stage and about two dozen pastors sat in the front row; and from their perspective the mens' only view were naked knees and short skirts as far as the eye can see. It took one glance up for my pastor to spend the rest of the service with his head down. And when he looked to his left and right? The entire row of men had bowed their heads   for the entire service as well. One was even sobbing!

Curious, my pastor asked why the elderly man (who had been a pastor for several decades) had his head bowed during the service: "I couldn't look up without sinning," he said. "But, even after one glance, I feel like I need to go confess to the Lord." 

One glance. No lustful intentions by either gender. Even in church!

Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be seared? -Proverbs 6:27-28

When a man looks at a woman and sees cleavage, his body reacts. It's chemistry. You can't look and not see.

Well, look her in the eyes, then! He's the one who should guard his thoughts. 

I've heard those comments too, but the truth is it's not that simple, is it? What if a guy is walking behind you and all he can see is bare legs and shorts that barely cover anything? Or sitting across from you at a youth service? You're all he can see!

No, it's not your responsibility for what guys think of you. But, it is your responsibility to guard your heart and walk in purity. It will take a lot to change our culture's perception of women, but we can start by dressing as an example of what purity and modesty stands for.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God. -1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

Sanctification. Holiness. Honor. What kind of clothing comes to your mind when you hear these words?

So, no, ladies, it's not your fault guys may demean you because you're wearing a short dress or a bikini. And your worth is not caught up in your appearance. You are more than the clothes you wear and you're not a sexual object for men to enjoy. But, you also have a higher calling...

Closeup portrait of beautiful young girl with painted crown.

You are a daughter of the King of Kings. Does your appearance reflect that? Your body is a temple of the Holy God. Do you dress your body accordingly?

Your guy friends, fathers and pastors are God's children. Will you be the one to lead them astray like the evil woman described in chapters 5 and 6 of Proverbs?

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak...and because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? -1 Corinthians 8:9

Because, dearie, you do have that power - to make a man lust after you whether it's by admiring your curves in that dress or through a flirty glance  - sometimes, without even trying.

It is good neither to eat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. -Romans 14:21

In the words of Apostle Paul, I don't write these words to tell you what to do or lecture you. "I say this for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction." (1 Cor. 7:35). These are the words and Scriptures I share with my little sisters and one day, I hope my daughters will read.

Your body belongs to Christ first and foremost (1 Cor. 6:13). And then, it belongs to your husband (1 Cor. 7:4). Not the cute guy in your math class or for your friends to appreciate your fitness regime. So, don't dress for the desires of men, but dress to please your King. Trust me, the truly Godly men will notice your modesty and thank God for it, because it is like a breath of fresh air in a stale room (do ask a Godly man in your life, if you don't believe me!).

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem. Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases. -Song of Solomon 8:4

I cannot tell you what to wear and I can't give you the specs for modesty, but you have something even better already: the Holy Spirit. Pray about it - ask God what kind of clothing pleases Him and He will guide you. Because the Lord cares about what you wear.