One of the most challenging topics within the area of "christian liberty" is the topic of modesty. Included in this, is also the area of who establishes what is considered modest. As the church throughout history has veered away from a strong code of outward modesty so it's display of righteousness has also been left behind. One may not totally see ones heart when ones body is presented in modesty but it is difficult to see anything but carnality when one rejects the outward principle of modesty.
We may not see the areas of pride and other deep rooted sins within us when we adhere to this principle but it is clear that when one is not modest on the outside that individual is surely not humble and modest from within. The true repentant sinner will be empowered by the comforter always finding he or she is directed towards modesty, both in behavior and attire. Therefore the lack of modesty also shows a lack of conviction of a righteous God, which therefore questions how serious one is about loving God. One of the greatest attributes of the serious believer is purity of body and spirit. This attribute of purity is the agent that creates the willful compliance of being modest.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Mat 5:8)
We must make sure that our hearts desire is to present ourselves pure before the Lord, and not to the world. This perspective just mentioned eliminates allot of strife within the Body of Believers. King David understood the importance of a clean and pure heart as we see in the following verses.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. (Ps 51:10-13)
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Ps 24:3-5)
In our over indulgent, sensual world it is typically not difficult to notice those embracing modesty compared to those who are not, yet there have been historical periods when society in general had a modest appearance based on the culture of the day rather than a desire to please God.
Therefore we as leaders, husbands and fathers, and even spiritually mature single men, must not use our area of leadership for any other purpose than to present those in our physical and spiritual care, pure in appearance before the Lord. We must embrace the principle of purity ourselves both in thought and deed and it should never be used as a source of simply an outward example that we are in control. True we are granted this position of leadership but not so we can impose our carnal masculine dominance over others, but rather to be the leader that God desires which encourages purity and righteousness which will include standards of modesty in both appearance and conversation.
We do this to fulfill our responsibility before an Almighty and Righteous God as he has established, being used to nurture the next generation towards the same righteousness and purity that is always evident in the fruit bearing believer.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Tit 1:15-16)
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (Jas 1:27)
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Tim 2:22)
In continuing with the original topic of modesty I would like to add what I believe is clear in scripture in regards to modesty of dress for both men and women. Obviously there are some basic guidelines that most reading this would know but I will include them simply because scripture finds them consistently loathsome.
Men that dress in a feministic or a "metro sexual" manner are an abomination before God just as women who choose sensual, unisex, or masculine styles of clothing are. God has very harsh things to say towards those who engage in whoredom, homosexuality, and promiscuity, yet how many people who profess to be Christian still took the part they supposedly do not act out?
Biblical modesty not only includes refraining from stylish and expensive attire, it also means refraining from clothing that promotes our distinctive sexuality. This includes maintaining a gender specific attire without exposing the specifics of the gender. This applies to both men and woman. Men are just as capable of promoting there masculine bodies as woman are flaunting their femininity. So both genders must be diligent to hide their sexuality while not hiding their gender.
Scripture is very clear in regards to what we should refrain from, yet at the same time it does not direct men or women to have clothing that makes us look like we all went to the same "tailor". Therefore we must be careful not to impose specific clothing styles as if they were commandments all the while we should not look for opportunities to dress "almost" modest as well. Below I will give an overview of what would be considered in all ages as modest in regards to our sexuality including the above mentioned extremes.
I do realize that many will have difficulty with this article but for those sincere about remaining pure the tendency is to be too extreme in order to comply and we must also remember that God calls us to display His purity not his dress code. When we approach it this way we realize that purity will shield the world from our own sensuality, but not from the gift of our gender and roles that accompany them. God created us deeply sensual and gender specific beings but he also knows that man in his fallen state has great urges towards lust and promiscuity leading many down the road to an eternity separated from God.
Let us never present a stumbling block to others unless it is they are offended by righteousness and purity.
The following examples of modest dress is solely based on not promoting the specifics of our gender and is given only as a guideline.
- Men should wear simple long pants that are loose enough not to promote his gender.
- Men should wear shirts that are also loose fitting enough to not promote his upper torso and should have sleeves that come part way down his arms. Shirts should be simple in regards to pattern or design avoiding "loud" colors or printed slogan's etc.
- Men should have short hair that is of neat appearance giving no confusion on whether he is male. They should not perm or dye their hair.
- Men should never wear jewelry or any other decorative accessories whether incorporated within their clothes or separate. This includes wedding bands which are pagan in origin. Obviously tattoos are not conducive to being modest as well.
- Public bathing is also not acceptable, but cleanliness is.
- Women should wear dresses or skirts and blouses that are discreet in all activities. Typically this would require the hem to extend several inches below the knee. If the task requires pants in order to be discreet then that work should be performed by a man. Women should not where pants.
- Blouses or dresses should never come close to exposing even the slightest cleavage with shoulders and upper arms always covered as well.
- Women should wear long hair that is not flaunted in it's presentation. They should never dye, perm or display their hair in an attentive way. Meanwhile it should be always of neat appearance.
- Women should never wear jewelry of any kind, nor should they wear make up. This also includes wedding bands.
- Public bathing is also not acceptable, but cleanliness is.
In Christian Fellowship;