Too Modest, Girlfriend

7:30 AM

Are you too modest, sister? Do you wear swimsuits to the knees, culottes in place of pants and long denim skirts? We have heard, certainly, the argument of Christians being too much like the world, being too immodest, being too worldly. Now, apparently, we are too modest.

The argument goes like this:

"You can also draw attention to yourself by dressing in such a way that you become a hindrance to the Gospel. Jesus was a relevant guy, as best we can understand, regarding how he dressed. He wasn’t ostentatious, showy, or oddly conservative in his dress. When someone spent time with the Savior they said, 'No one ever spoke like this man.' Not, 'No one ever dressed like this man.'" [1]

I disagree. Here's why.

You can also draw attention to yourself by dressing in such a way that you become a hindrance to the Gospel.

You can also draw attention to yourself by not smoking, not drinking, not dancing provocatively, not reading Twilight, not dressing like a harlot. It all depends on the group you're with. We are peculiar. We are different. It should be a severe discouragement to hear a non-Christian breathlessly say, "Wow! You Christians are just like me!"

Unless, of course, a Mormon says it. And that's a whole different story.

Now those who say that statement do have a point. Difference for difference sake is unbiblical. I won't go to hell for wearing a garment my non-Christian friend does too. I don't think we ought to dress like pioneer women in order to be counter-cultural. I think this issue is primarily one of the heart. Modesty is a biblical virtue. But it is also a personal conviction too, I think. If you feel uncomfortable wearing pants, go ahead and pull on that skirt. If t-shirts cause you to stumble, by all means don't wear them. If you think calico dresses fits your style of modesty, that is between you and the Lord. The lady who has a conviction in dress that may be "odd" to the world and the less convicted Christian populace has the Christian liberty to act on that conviction.

Don't laugh, enlightened Christian. You exercise the same right.

I wear skirts all the time - except for sports, specially biking. People have said in my presence, "We shouldn't wear skirts only because we don't want to look legalistic." I wanted to come up with a nice, intelligent sort of reply, but I could only think, So what? I don't wear skirts because the Bible "says so." I wear them because I feel feminine, womanly and modest in them. I will stand out. I will look different. But my heart is in the right place - striving after God's standard of how His daughter should dress.

Jesus was a relevant guy, as best we can understand, regarding how he dressed. He wasn’t ostentatious, showy, or oddly conservative in his dress.

The question of dress always brings up the topic of culture. In Jesus' day, He did fit in with no issues because the dress back then was conservative. Were he to stand before the Roman assembly, He would not be so relevant. To the soliders who gambled for His tunic, there was a difference in dress, since they wanted it so badly. Relevance is relative, you know.

The question is, "What standard am I going to dress by?" The harlot's? The average Joe's? The Amish? Or God's Word?

In this day and age, the fashions of today are immodest, at best. Do I approach the line in order to "fit in"? To put it another way, "Do I shape the culture or does the culture shape me?" The fashion of today is based on certain presuppositions: namely, flippant sensuality, immaturity, materialism, and, strangely enough, following the culture. Thus the bikinis, the Sesame Street t-shirts, the ugly glam jewelry - "More is better!" - and all the fashion lines modeled after country singers.

A Christian girl ought not to feel pressured to emulate the world's standards. She will, in different ways, end up looking different no matter how one cuts it. I don't mind being stylish as long as I can do so modestly - that's icing on the cake, if one even considers it a virtue. Fashionable, no - for one of my principles in dress is not looking like a slave to the culture. Good style is always classy and timeless; fashion is tacky and short-lived.

My primary interest is not fitting in and looking good. I don't serve the people. I serve Christ, Who calls me to a different standard for a different world.

These are two different things: a girl who sincerely believes she is doing right in dressing "oddly conservative" and a girl who does it under gunpoint or because she's grown up with it. The former is perfectly content in her "over-modesty" and is just where God wants her to be. The second can either be legalistic or is a candidate to the possibility of different convictions of dress. But for heaven's sake, start with, "The Bible didn't come with dress patterns" instead of "Jesus was a relvant guy."

Therein lies the point. You can be "too modest" and "oddly conservative" if you insist on everyone using the same pattern to cut their clothes, if you think it is hellish to wear anything from Wal-Mart, if you're legalistic and conservative just for conservativeness's sake. You are not "too modest" if you truly feel you honor God with your clothes, be they odd or conservative or in any way different than what Somebody says.

Truly, a woman dressed in long sleeves, long skirts and a high collar - if she dedicates it to the Lord - cannot be hindering the Gospel as much as some sort of liberated, all-or-nothing, no standards woman...whether she dedicates it to the Lord or not.

That from a girl who does not dress oddly conservative. At least, I think I don't.

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11 impressions

  1. You are so wise and SO right! Dress your heart first and the body will follow!

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  2. I really enjoyed this post. I love the question you asked:

    "Do I shape the culture or does the culture shape me?"

    Have you read Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild by Mary Kassian? She has a chapter in her book about modesty, and it's probably the most powerful teaching I've ever read/heard on the subject. Really good stuff. Thanks again!

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  3. "Dress your heart..." - love it. Thanks, Mrs. Howard!

    Flop - *bows* ;o)

    Hi, Sara! I love Mary Kassian and followed her video book blog on Girls Gone Wise for awhile (until the computer crashed and stuff like that). Counter-cultural, indeed. :o)

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  4. Well said. Can I print this up and hand it out to people at Walmart??
    (Kidding):-)

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  5. What, to the Amish or the goths? ;o)

    Speaking of Walmart, I've spelled it with a hyphen all my life. It took me till last Monday to realize there is not, and never was, a hyphen at all. I'm devastated.

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  6. Way to go, Bailey! :)



    ~Carilee

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  7. My Dear Bailey,

    Another thought-provoking post...I read a statement in a book on Christian modesty that really cuts to the heart of the matter. It stated, "Though it is true that one may dress modestly from a sinful and prideful motive, one cannot knowingly dress lavishly and sensually from a good one. Thus, the purity and humility of a regenerate heart internally should ultimately express itself by modest clothing externally." Isn't it interesting to note that in past centuries, Christians were often recognized for their modesty, and non- Christians for their immodesty. Today , the line between the professing Christian and the world is becoming increasingly blurred. Just some more points to ponder over. Hope you're enjoying the week with your Marine. By the way, seeing that marine dressed in his uniform surely conveys respect for authority, doesn't it?!

    Love & Hugs,
    Mrs. Reinke

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  8. Goodness, Carilee, did I really appear to be a charging rhinocerous skidding across the finish line?

    That's always when I think of when someone says, "Way to go!" about my writing. Don't tell me - I'm weird. :D ((hugs))

    I'll have to compile all your wisdom someday, Mrs. Reinke, and do a blog series. It might take awhile, though. :o) That quote really does sum up the heart of the matter. You know, our Marine now has a dress code to follow even at home because he belongs to something bigger than himself. He's required to bring honor and respect to the Marines through his behavior and dress. That's sort of how I think of modest, neat dress - we're bringing glory and attention to something else by dressing with principle. It's part of being one of the soldiers of Christ Jesus. ;o) And oh, yes - we're loving on our Marine as much as he let's us!

    Love,
    Bailey

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  9. I found it very interesting to research the history of why women began wearing garments other than the traditional "dress".

    It was downright scary to realize that there were numerous male designers and that their intent was to draw attention to certain parts of the body that had been formerly hidden.

    When we realize that if we dress in a manner that would cause a man to look and lust, he will have to answer for committing adultery with US, it makes one err on the side of caution. (Matt. 5:28)

    Deut. 22:5 states that it is an abomination for a woman to wear a garment that pertaineth to a man. While one can argue that pants are not a "man's" garment, if seen from a distance one can not tell whether the person wearing them is male or female. On the other hand, there is no question that one wearing a dress is definately female. A male would clearly be wearing a woman's garment if he were in a dress.

    God's word is the standard and it is what He will judge the world by. We should not judge other people, but neither should we do what everyone else is doing, when God's word directs us in a direction contrary to our modern culture.
    ~Mrs. Pyatskowit

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  10. We should not judge other people, but neither should we do what everyone else is doing, when God's word directs us in a direction contrary to our modern culture.

    That just about sums up this post. :o)

    I've read a little about fashion throughout the ages...and it is downright scary. One has to wonder how we women fell into such an anti-woman, dishonoring trap as major immodesty. Even the feminists recognize how dehumanizing immodesty is to a woman.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom, Mrs. Pyatskowit!

    Love,
    Bailey

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