It’s so interesting to watch people! You can be in any public place—an airport, a tourist destination, or at a public function—and you notice all kinds of people in all kinds of dress. I will probably never understand why women wear extremely high heels for grocery shopping and on cobblestoned streets. Why do people wear shorts in the winter? Why do some heavy people wear stretchy fabrics and short skirts? (Whatever people are wearing, people-watching can be highly entertaining.)
Are Christian women aware of the messages they send with their clothing? I’m not sure. I’ve been surprised to see really sweet young women wearing short skirts and shorts, low tops, and open backs. When I was young, there was a clear line drawn when it came to Christian dress. Women who wanted to please God dressed modestly. Some did it very stylishly. They were covered, graceful, and they didn’t attract attention to their bodies. A friend wore beautiful fabrics modestly. A woman I knew was a former beauty queen, but I never saw her in any immodest clothes, not even when wearing evening attire.
I know it’s not easy to find racks of modest formalwear, for example, but you can find it! Just recently, we were at a wedding, and several of the women wore formal gowns. They were beautiful—and modest. Even some of the non-Christian women wore pretty, modest formal outfits. Four teenage friends of mine wore gorgeous, modest dresses to their end-of-school-year formal banquets.
Maybe the concept of modesty is new to you. The Bible doesn’t exactly define modest clothing. (Maybe it didn’t need to in biblical times, since everyone knew what it was. The styles for women were to the floor. Sleeves were from sleeveless—based on the Greek culture and Roman influences—to long sleeves, worn by the Hebrew women. Necklines varied, as did fabrics. I am sure that women at that time knew what the Bible was talking about when it instructed women to dress modestly and please the Lord.)
Some years ago, a young man interned with us here in Spain. We took him over into France one day. While we were eating our lunch in a mall, he pointed out one woman and said, “That’s the first modestly dressed woman I’ve seen in public seen since I arrived.” People recognize modesty when they see it.
Let’s look at some Scriptures about women’s dress:
- She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. . . . Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:22, 25)
- 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 (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
- Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands (1 Peter 3:3-5).
Why is modesty important? Your clothing is your “packaging.”
If you buy a product in the supermarket, you expect it to be what it says it is. If the label says it has no phosphates, you want that to be true. If the label on the can says tomatoes, you don’t want to open it up and find green beans!
When you dress, you “label” yourself.
Does your "label" say:
- she has dignity?
- she takes care of herself?
- she wants me to look at her ___________ (specific body part)?
Check out what you’re wearing right now, in a full-length mirror. Turn around as far as you can, so you can see as much as your outfit as possible. What does your clothing say about you? Does it foster admiration? Are you advertising dignity? Do you look modest? Do you look like a Christian—a follower of Christ? (If you're not sure, pray and ask the Lord if He is happy with what you're wearing. He will help you learn what to look for.)
Summer is upon us, and many Christian women start wearing less clothing, simply because it’s warm outside. But, they might be forgetting what their “label” says.
What does your “packaging” say about you? Is it consistent with who you are as a Christian? Or are you sending mixed messages?
For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit, which are God’s.
(1 Corinthians 6:20)