Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
There are some topics that are easy to talk about. Modesty is not one of those topics. But without a doubt, it is important. Every day we make choices about how to dress, and with those choices come opportunities to influence for good or for evil.
I think about the world that I am raising my children in, and I know I must take an active role in talking about the importance of modesty with my family. If I don’t, then the movie stars, kids at school, social media, and “fill-in-the-blank” will do all the talking. It doesn’t take too many looks around to notice the lack of modesty - EVERYWHERE! And I would have to be naïve, if I did not recognize the powerful influence this can have.
I hope the following points encourage us to make wise choices and to be prepared in whatever teaching opportunities may come our way, whether that is with a child, grandchild, recent convert, fellow Christian, or even an unbeliever.
Consider a few relevant scriptures: 1 Timothy 2:9-10: “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” (NAS)
In the context women are specifically addressed, but we can understand that the topic applies universally. There is instruction to not draw attention by the braiding of hair or wearing of costly jewelry and garments. Notice the language that is used: “proper clothing”, “modestly”, and “discreetly”. To dress properly means to dress respectfully, to be adorned modestly and discreetly reveals there is to be a sense of shame about what is worn.
Genesis 3:1-21. Genesis 3 describes the first clothes that were ever fashioned. What can we learn from this Old Testament account? Adam and Eve were ashamed and hid themselves even after sowing together fig-leaves as a covering, because they were naked. God then made garments of skin for them to wear, so they could be clothed properly.
Exodus 20:26; Exodus 28:42-43. Though the priests were outwardly clothed, they were to make extra provisions, so that as they walked up the steps they were to remain covered – their undergarments were to reach from the hips to the thighs.
While the bible does not provide us with a clearly defined list of every form of attire that could be considered immodest, there is instruction to be dressed modestly, properly, and discreetly. This means that we should err on the side of caution in our choices and actions and focus on displaying good works that come from a pure heart. There should be discreetness, when it comes to covering up the private areas of our body, whether that be the thighs, chest, hips, or back. We should take caution, if we are leaning, sitting, or climbing, that we don't uncover what should be concealed. Before any Christian takes his shirt off in public, it would be sensible to first consider if that aligns with 1 Timothy 2. Before a person wears shorts that show off the thigh, it would be wise to think about where the attention is being drawn to, along with the influence it can have on another. Regardless of the choices of others, we should remember who sets the standard - we are called to live like Christ (1 John 2:6; Gal. 3:27).
To husbands and fathers, it is our responsibility to lead the effort in teaching our family to dress with dignity and respect. I understand this is not an easy task, and it is one that takes a lot of wisdom. Our daughters specifically need to know that men are wired differently, and that switch does not turn off just because there is involvement in an activity such as swimming, yoga, dance, volleyball, or dare I say even a wedding.
“Modesty is more than a fashion statement; it is a daily decision to dress like the child of God you are” (source unknown). The question is, when we look in the mirror, is there a reflection of discipline and self-control or of the wrong motivations? Modesty starts with the right heart and attitude towards God. It does no good to talk about modesty if our heart is still fleshly and wants to look and live like the rest of the world. May our hearts be aligned with God, and the works that flow from it be pure and leading others to Christ.
- Derek Anderson