5 Measures for Modesty This Summer
“Modest is hottest” was a popular saying around my youth group and I still use it every once in awhile to light-heartedly encourage modesty. It gets a good chuckle out of people but what does it really look like to be modest? Truth be told, it took me a few years to really understand how to dress modestly.
I remember during my senior year of high school—I had been a Christian for a year and a half—I was asked to emcee a large youth event. I showed up to church that day wearing jeans and a white spaghetti strap tank top. I remember I was doing some prep work in the office when a youth leader asked if I had a blouse to go with it. I felt incredibly embarrassed and quickly put a youth t-shirt on over my tank top.
For me, in that top, I thought I was pretty well covered. As a teenage girl on the dance team, short skirts and midriffs were a common outfit, so a tank top seemed more than appropriate. But when I graduated high school, became a youth leader, and began working on staff at the church, my whole perspective changed.
Modesty is a hot topic and one that people have many different opinions on. The truth is, modesty isn’t as clearly defined in the Bible as some might think. References to modesty in Scripture often point to materialism and appropriateness, not necessarily in a sexual connotation. Still, we know as Christians we should be modest.
Fashion changes and with that the standards of what’s modest. Five years ago skinny jeans were inappropriate unless you had a top that went below your behind and now I see girls in leggings and a t-shirt. Or a skirt I would have worn back in the day that was deemed too short at fingertip length is not much longer than the shorts passed for work attire now.
With the culture and standard ever-changing, how can you know what’s modest and what’s not this summer? Here are 5 standards you can use to help measure your modesty by:
1. Not All Things are Beneficial
I need to set the stage with 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT),
“You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’--but not everything is beneficial.”
Some take the grace extended to them and use it to cross out those not-so-great things they want to do. You can wear a top that’s a bit too low, or shorts that might be a bit high, and you will still have the same eternal destination as you would if you dressed differently. BUT—and this is important--it doesn’t mean you should dress that way. Just because you “can” shouldn’t be used as a free pass to do what you’d like.
If you can embrace this motto in your approach to how you dress then maybe you’ll think twice about an outfit.
2. How Do You Feel in It?
Do you feel uncomfortable because your pants are too tight? Do you have to keep pulling your skirt down because you feel a little exposed? If something doesn’t feel right, chances are something isn’t fitting right. I can definitely testify to time's I’ve tried on a dress that on the rack looked decent but then in the dressing room wasn’t right for my body. Take an honest approach to how a piece of clothing feels and listen to what your body is telling you.
3. Would Others Be Tempted?
We can’t be responsible for how every man will react every time we are looked at. You could be wearing long, baggy clothes in the middle of summer and a man could still lust after you. However, if there is a lot of skin and/or body parts being exposed it could be hard for a man not to look. Bottom line—it’s probably not the smartest thing to show up to church in a short summer dress or daisy dukes, if you know what I mean.
In speaking to this topic what I don’t want to do is make anyone feel ashamed for their curves or how their body is built. Getting personal, I have some parts of me that I could feel ashamed of if I embraced an old-world mindset to hide the curves. But instead, I embrace how I’m made and find ways to dress for my body in a way that is both appropriate and beautiful.
4. What is Your Motive?
If you’re going for a look that will attract attention and thus make you feel better about yourself, chances are there is something about your outfit calling to be noticed. What is it, and why that look?
You should wear clothes that make you feel confident and beautiful. It’s completely acceptable to want to be fashionable; I’m a huge fashion nerd! But my hope for you, precious woman—don’t dress in a way to attract the lust of men; you are so much more than that.
It all comes down to a heart issue; why do you dress the way you do? Do you dress to attract the wrong attention, or do you dress to glorify God.
5. Does it Compromise Your Testimony?
There are people watching you and your testimony closely, so set a standard of righteousness that distinguishes you from the world. Modesty doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style; you can still be a beautiful, confident, fashionable gal without compromising modesty. Be an example to all the young girls out there looking to you for guidance. Show the ladies in your college sorority that you can be both beautiful and modest. Be like the woman in Proverbs 31 who was praised by those around her for the quality of her character. If you proclaim Christ then walk in a manner that is worthy of bearing the name “Christian.”
Modesty may be different for you than for a fellow believer. However, follow your own conviction on the matter—to the standard you believe God is calling you to—and serve God with the character and reverence due to Him in every way possible.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:20 (NLT)
Brittany Rust is a writer, speaker, and has the privilege of serving on staff at Red Rocks Church in Denver, CO. She and her husband Ryan make their home in the Rocky Mountains, pursuing outdoor adventures, great food, and memorable stories together. Her website brittanyrust.com aims to supply encouraging resources for the world-wearied believer.
Publication date: June 15, 2016