Modest is the Hottest
- October 02, 2019
- Lydia McCord
“Modest Is Hottest” were the words I had fabric painted onto a shirt that I had cut and tied up the sides until it hugged my middle school body. A fun phrase we had been taught in youth group that I had not yet chosen to apply.
So… modesty. What is it? Why and how is it taught in our church’s today? Is it important? And can you be a Christian without it?
Let’s begin by defining modesty. Oxford says modesty used as a noun is: the quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities.
Similarly, Oxford gives 2 other definitions,
- the quality of being relatively moderate, limited, or small in amount, rate, or level.
- behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency.
Now, while I know that we are aiming to talk about modesty in dress, I think that modesty in other ways and areas connects.
Immodesty is defined by Oxford simply as: lack of humility or decency.
Humility is the link throughout these definitions. When we are modest, we are showing humility, when we are immodest, in dress, speech, action, we are showing a lack of humility.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Modesty is taught in our church today largely by way of telling women, young teens especially, to cover up and not be a “stumbling block” to males. Which, we should not be stumbling blocks to others, (Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 14), we are not to live for ourselves but for others and do everything unto God with a clear conscience. However, I do believe that it’s drilled into female’s noggins that their body’s are the reason that men are led to sin sexually and lust after women and that the only cure for this is for them to wear as least revealing clothing as possible. To every extreme I think there is some truth and I want to explore that today.
I have seen many times in these situations where women try to fight back and even-out the playing field by trying to equally blame the men by saying they need to dress modestly as well. It’s not fair that they can go without a shirt, it’s not fair they can wear tight pants. Listen sister, the playing field needs to be even and equal, absolutely and we will talk about that, however, this is not the best argument for it.
Can we be real for a second? Men and women’s anatomy is different, it just is. Not unequal by any means, no, but different. Women’s body’s have curves and beauty in structure in a different way than men’s. Men are built for a different type of physical activity, for example, they don’t have birthing hips or milk producing breasts.
Let’s be honest here. Biologically we are different, our chromosomes are different. Can we all accept that and not let it offend us real quick? Because for some reason in the 21st century different has meant unequal and it does not compute.
Neither is better than the other, they are just different reflecting different parts of our incredible God and Creator (The book of Genesis chapter 1, verse 27: So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.). (Bold and underline mine)
So, what is a guys part in modesty? Well, being modest or humble, they can serve women by choosing not to objectify them no matter how they are dressed.
In many Christian circles, youth groups, Christian college campuses and programs there is a dress code for females. Which, good or bad, is not what I want to dig into.
What I want to dig into is that when we are out in the world, you know, that place where we are to go out and make disciples (The gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, verse 19) and minister to the lost and speak up for the oppressed and so on and so forth, THERE IS NO DRESS CODE.
SO, what are we doing when we train boys that women will help them not stumble and if women are not helping in that direction it’s just not male’s fault if they can’t help but lust after them??
ARE. WE. TRACKING.
Shew, okay, I don’t want to rant, I want to discuss this with you. I get emotional because there is no excuse for lusting after one another and then blaming it on each other. It’s just not in the Bible. No one else is responsible for our thought lives except for us. It says do not commit adultery (The book of Exodus, chapter 20, verse 14) and it says if you look at a woman lustfully you have committed adultery in your heart (The gospel of Matthew chapter 5, verse 28). It doesn’t say, but if she’s wearing something low cut or her pants are tight fitting then you get a free pass to do whatever evil your flesh desires! WE ADDED THAT. Huh. Shocker. I thought the Bible was riveted with loop holes. SPOILER ALERT, IT’S NOT… okay, I REALLY don’t mean to rant.
The person that helped me understand all this was none other than my loving husband. We have talked about this all in-depth, as early in our marriage I struggled hard-core with jealousy, coveting, identity and worth. Always convinced he was about to leave me for another prettier girl or that there was a better more put together wife out there for him, I was paranoid and miserable and shut myself off from opportunities to create community and relationships with other women. On top of that I was constantly checking other women out to compare myself to them and their outsides while my insides were eaten alive by my flesh and by the lies I was feeding daily.
As we discussed the issue of lust, my hubby explained to me how he had trained his brain to not check females out. I stared at him wide eyed. I think we all just think guys have to check females out. At least I was pretty convinced of it. Much like when I was in high-school I just believed that guys had to watch porn and masturbate. It just was the way things were and it was fine. Now, I understand that porn is inherently evil and strips humans of their humanity, teaching us to objectify others permanently; so does scoping out their bodies.
So, now I borrow from a lot of the tactics my man has shared with me on how to break the habit so I myself do not objectify other women but empower them with a look straight to the eyeballs and a smile, or glancing at their hair and getting the chance to compliment the color or cut. WHATEVER or HOWEVER but treating each one as the precious, loved, human being, made in the image of God that they are. NOT as an object for my consumption or entertainment. (Holla to all gossiping gurus. Gossiping is also using others for entertainment. We must begin acknowledging that all humans are made in God’s image. They are not objects for our consumption. Let’s say that again. They are NOT objects for our CONSUMPTION.)
We have talked about girlfriends this whole time, what about guy friends? Drooling over their bodies and not acknowledging their imago dei (image of God), is not okay either, obviously, right? Gossiping about them? Nope. Not okay. One more time: They are not objects for our consumption.
Let’s recap real quick. We are called to not be stumbling blocks to each other however, someone’s immodesty is not an excuse to lust and objectify one another. We need to stop teaching that it is and begin teaching discipline in thought and… glances. Human beings are made in God’s image, equal and worthy of respect.
So why is it taught this way is a huge discussion for another day but we can just sum it up by saying, many modern church’s today have gone back to the Old Testament way of a list of “do’s” and “don’t” to try and “protect” it’s followers because that supposedly is more fool proof than teaching people how to read the Bible and discern God’s Word for themselves, talk to God and have an intimate relationship with Him, be in good community and fellowship with other believers and have accountability… I guess when you list it out like that, the former does seem a lot simpler. However, you are left with tons of young adults that have nothing sustainable. Following rules has never bode well for us. KNOWING the One who followed all the rules and then gave us His perfection in place of our crap, IS. THE. POINT. And church’s seem to be missing that today. (Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 21).
Next up, is modesty important?
Yes. Because it shows love to our brothers and sisters. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he says in chapter 13, verse 10 that, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” So when we’re getting dressed are we doing so out of love for God and our neighbors? Is our flesh yelling, “Look at me! Look at me!”? Or is our Spirit crying, “Look at God! Look at God!”? If we are getting dressed in a “serve me and my ego” outfit instead of a “serve God and others” outfit, somethings up. It’s not so much about our clothing than about the motivation behind it and what is in our hearts. Whatever is in them will flow out of them by way of our thoughts and actions (The gospel of Luke, chapter 6, verse 45).
So, we need to be much more concerned with people’s Spiritual wellbeing and allow that and their relationship with God and their growing in knowledge of Him and in The Holy Spirit to change their actions. Not try to change their actions and hope that that changes their hearts. Again, Jesus came and fulfilled the law because we could not. Then He gifted us His righteousness, for free.
Is it okay to call eachother out? Sure thing. That is what most of Paul’s letters to church’s in the New Testament are fiilled with. Tough love is vital to our growth as the church of God. We are meant to judge our Christian brothers and sisters (Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 5, verse 12) but NOT out of hatred, out of LOVE. Not only THAT but we are to remove the crap from our sight before approaching them! (The gospel of Matthew chapter 7, verses 3 through 5). That means that if we go up to a sister and say, “cover up, what is the matter with you?” WE need to check our hearts, not hers. If we are actually truly concerned with a girlfriend’s well-being or those around her, we can lovingly bring that to her attention out of LOVE and not JEALOUSY or ENVY or HATRED or any of the other sinful emotions we can get filled with.
Alright, and the flip side of that, if we go back to the verses in Romans about being a stumbling block, (chapter 14, verses 13 through 20) if a brother or sister approaches us and lets us know that we are causing them to trip up by doing or wearing x, y, or z, we had better put them first and humbly serve them over ourselves. JESUS humbled Himself folks (Paul and Timothy’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verses 5 through 8). THE SON OF GOD. WE can stop wearing _________ or saying__________ or doing __________ around our beloved brother or sis.
We’ve gotta humble ourselves babe, and not make ourselves higher than one another. We have got to do everything unto God, clear conscience out of love for Him and those around us.
We are equally loved and beautiful and redeemed in God’s eyes because what Jesus has done, not because we have dressed a certain way all of our lives. I want to touch on this again- We do not earn God’s favor (Paul’s letter to the Ephesians Chapter 2, verses 8 and 9: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.), Jesus did that for us on the cross when He was killed for our sins. We achieve perfection in God’s sight, for free, but we are not supposed to use that freedom to feed our flesh. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he says in chapter 6, verses 1 and 2, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
So yes, modesty, humility, hearts intention, these things are important, they are beautiful, they are awesome.
Can you be a Christian without these things? Yep. A baby one. Because as we grow as Christians, we grow stronger in the Spirit and its fruit- Love, Joy, Peace, Patients, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. (Paul’s letter to the Galatians chapter 5, verses 22 through 24.)
So… modesty.I believe by what I have studied so far in the scriptures in my young life that it is humbling ourselves out of love for God and our neighbors. It can tend to be taught in church’s today in not the best way for not great reasons. It is important. And one can be a (young) Christian without it.
I pray that this discussion opens up conversations about this subject and deeper study of God’s Word. If you find something in the Word that you think disagrees with anything I have said here, please, converse with me about it. I think that communication produces growth. I have so so much to learn lady, will you learn with me?