Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

Why is Modesty Such an Issue?

  • Patricia Ennis Author
  • Updated Feb 02, 2016
Why is Modesty Such an Issue?

Fashion choices in retail stores have already shifted to cooler colors and lighter weight fabrics. While lightening the color depth and fabric weight for spring and summer garments, at the same time the fashion industry tends to minimize the amount of fabric that they contain. As a Christian who desires to please your heavenly Father and acknowledge that God is your strength, you have the challenge of selecting clothing that brings glory to Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20). So you are faced with a dilemma—must fashion and faith be in conflict? If you wholeheartedly embrace biblical standards of modesty, must you eliminate from your wardrobe anything fashionable? Let’s take a look at what Scripture teaches.

Fashion Versus Faith—Must They be in Conflict?

Modesty is a word that is not heard very often anymore— and when you do hear it, it is often classified as a practice applicable to the Victorian era. By definition modesty means “having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech and dress.”

Spiritually, modesty is an issue of the heart. If your thoughts are focused on the attributes found in Philippians 4:8-9, then it is likely your external appearance will be modest. Perhaps the following scriptural principles will guide your clothing choices:

Romans 12:1-2—Christians are “in” the world but not “of” the world. A mature Christian woman develops the ability to separate herself from an ungodly society. This includes clothing choices when they are contrary to biblical principles.

1Timothy 2:9-10—clothing is to be modest, with propriety (or what is proper) and with moderation (applicable to both men and women). This can be applied to the style of clothes as well as the quantity of clothes we have; both should reflect the principle of modest.

James 1:13 —neither men nor women should dress in such a provocative way so as to entice the opposite sex into immoral sexual thoughts or behavior. We are children of our heavenly Father. Since He tempts no person with evil, neither should we.

Throughout Scripture there are examples of aesthetically pleasing clothing for both men and women…

  • The garments for the priests were constructed by skilled artisans (Exod. 31:10; 35:19).
  • The children of Israel were instructed to attach blue tassels on their garments to remind them of their need to trust and obey God’s commands (Num. 15:37-38).
  •  The Wise Woman of Proverbs 31 wore garments of fine linen and purple (Prov. 31:22).
  • The people of Zion were challenged to “awake and put on beautiful garments” (Isa. 52:1).
  • One of our Lord’s garments was woven without seams (John 19:23-24).
  •  The attire for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is fine linen (Rev. 19:8).

As you study these Scriptures, I believe that you can say with confidence that for godly men and women fashion and faith are to complement one another rather than be in conflict!

This content was excerpted from God is my Strength: Fifty Biblical Responses to Issues Facing Women Today (Christian Focus Publications, 2015) by Patricia Ennis. 

Patricia Ennis is distinguished professor and director of homemaking programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Publication date: February 2, 2016