Why I’m Choosing to Dress More Modestly

There’s division on the topic of modesty, and I’d love to see more open-minded, respectful discussion on it.  Here’s my perspective.

My eyes were opened recently on male sexuality.  Let me tell ya, I was pretty darn clueless. Learning and accepting has been a rough but good process.

I invite women to read this article that really opened my eyes:

http://crupressgreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Adam_Bomb.pdf

These are the kinds of things that families and the church need to openly face and discuss, including with children (especially age 8 + up).  Let’s be clear that ALL men struggle with visual purity, but specifics of what and how can vary. No guy is exempt from this (not your dad, your brother, your friend, your boyfriend, your husband, your pastor, etc.).  If they tell you otherwise, they’re lying, and from experience, you’re better off in the light.

But before us ladies start to feel any superiority, we need to check ourselves.  Now I know some women also struggle with visual purity; pornography and the way men dress/act can and do affect some women as well, but there are major differences in thinking and effect.  Still, both men and women can think about how we present ourselves to others.  I don’t want to be sexist in my writing, and ignore how these roles can to some degree be present in both sexes, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to write emphasizing the general struggle, which is men struggling with lust and women struggling with the desire to be appealing.

This is a great thing to read:

http://crupressgreen.com/my-own-worst-enemy/

“But we should dress how we want! It’s their problem! If I want to show skin, men just need to learn to respect my body!” I see where you’re coming from. We don’t want to be dictated, no one does.  And the sins that men commit are not justified by how women look, from lust to sexual violence.  Everyone is ultimately responsible for their own sin.  I also know that even in cultures where women are dressed head to toe, sexual violence is still present.  So you can try to emphasize the truth that sexual immorality would exist no matter how women dress, so why bother worrying about modesty?

For one, I want to offer my body as a living sacrifice to God every day and in every way.  Let’s remember that we can try to be sexy by more than just how we dress.  It can also be how we walk, how we pose for a picture, how we dance, our attitude, our words, etc.  I try to keep all of these in check.  Let’s be honest, sometimes I’m feeling sassy and I let my hips sway when I walk.  Even something as simple as that, I know in that moment I’m more concerned with getting attention than honoring God.

Here’s some questions I ask myself:

Am I dressing, walking, and behaving in a way that reflects that I’m a living sacrifice or more concerned with being appealing?

Would I be uncomfortable or embarrassed if my pastor, family member, boss, etc saw how I was dressed or what I was doing?

What if Jesus came back today, and saw this outfit or what I was doing? Would he look at me and be proud of his servant?

If we get real honest with ourselves, we’re more concerned with keeping up with society and finding our worth in things like attraction than truly standing apart for Christ and finding our worth in him.

Men are responsible for their lust, but it is a struggle for them.  Sexual thoughts and urges are present in every man, and for men seeking purity it is a battle, not just a simple choice to “respect” women or not.

Guys who don’t care and objectify women are just going to encourage and enjoy when I rebel and wear sexier clothes.  I’m just another sex object to ogle, and this kind of attention holds no emotional draw.  To guys who do care, I’m just contributing to their struggle in a negative way.

The “it’s their problem, not mine” mentality is honestly a selfish one; but likely one based mostly on misunderstanding.  If a friend was on a diet, would you flaunt a brownie in their face? Perhaps jokingly. But you would truly desire for them to succeed and wouldn’t do anything that actually might deter them in their battle for success.  Without understanding, we don’t realize how easily the things we do and wear may be making it difficult for men around us.  I used to wear short shorts, bikinis, short skirts/dresses, exercise shirtless…I was clueless. I was talking to a respected, married Christian man the other week, and he said “I wish women KNEW what things like short shorts and cleavage do to a man.”  I used to get defensive when my family or ex had an issue with my outfit.  Now I realize it’s because they actually KNEW what men were thinking. It’s not just lingerie that entices men’s minds and gives off a sexy vibe.  I think most of us women just don’t know that a lot of the socially acceptable clothing these days can be very sexually enticing. Now I go to my brothers and dad for advice on my outfits.  It sucks that all guys fighting for purity have to deal with this all the time, not to mention the shame associated with the battle of lust. Skin and seduction are everywhere: tv, billboards, internet, magazines by the checkout, women walking down the street, and even in church!  I want to be one less struggle for a guy. 

Some of the things I’ve heard Christian men confess struggling with are short-shorts (especially when cheeks stick out – that is way more major than I realized), tank tops, skin-tight clothes, short dresses and skirts, high heels in some cases, cleavage definitely (I realized most clothes even show cleavage when I bend forward, so I have invested in a variety of camis), cutouts or tears in the clothing, strapless tops, showing a lot of back, showing any tummy, sleeves slipping off the shoulder…

I have worn every one of these! I had no idea! Please share if there are more things you know of or struggle with, because I know I still have plenty to learn.

I want to help my brothers in Christ. As Christians we’re called to live differently than the rest of society,  which requires sacrifice. I want to be appealing, but I’m focusing on saving having those desires met until I’m married. I’m sure it will be extra hard when I’m dating and especially engaged to fight my desire to be appealing to my man!  It’s hard, because you compare yourself to society, and especially when you have a partner you worry about the fact that other women are looking more sexy than you!  But a true man does his best to control his eyes, and does not need his partner to act or look sexy in order to control himself or be committed to her.  I kinda viewed sex appeal as part of the process with getting a guy, but now I’ve been learning that sexual attention is not meaningful or good from any guy outside of marriage. Most importantly, I need to keep in check my flesh desires by keeping my mind on things above!

It is so difficult to be modest today.  I went through a rough break-up from a guy who had pushed modesty onto me without ever explaining any of the facts to me.  Don’t you think I wanted to “show him” afterwards by wearing whatever the heck I wanted?! Heck yes.  And I had plenty of people around me pushing me to do so.  And I had some moments of weakness (and still do).  But thank God for bringing knowledge into my life so that I was able to begin making my own wise decisions about how I present my body.  And it is hard these days to find cute and modest clothes (especially mid-thigh shorts and tankinis)! But it’s so worth it, because I can still enjoy fashion and beauty to a healthy extent, lessen the burden on the wonderful brothers in Christ around me, and please God in my efforts.

It’s a struggle and I don’t have all the answers; no perfect dress code or code of conduct exists, and each person varies on what they struggle with seeing.  I think we need to continually assess our motives for what we do, be in conversation with others of varying viewpoints to grow in our understanding, put others before ourselves, and of course above all, honor God. Much easier said than done, but I know I want to try.  These men deserve it (their wives/future wives, too) and God definitely deserves it.

Here’s some scripture that helps me when I struggle with this issue:

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

1 Timothy 2:9 Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control…

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Matthew 18:7 …“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” 

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us…decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother

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8 thoughts on “Why I’m Choosing to Dress More Modestly

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is probably the best blog I have seen written on modesty. For some reason I have really been dealing with the things I wear. I felt like one day the Holy Spirit just spoke to me about modesty, and I really just took a step back and thought about when I get dressed, do I really do it to please God? I have looked up scripture after scripture and the whole Deuteronomy thing. I know everybody has their different interpretations of the Bible and sometimes it takes a lot of prayer and wisdom to understand something! Although one thing about God is that he isn’t a God of confusion. So I do think people might try to “interpret” or get a “better translation” of a scripture that has been given clearly by God! I understand the Bible wasn’t written in our language and some words don’t mean the same, but the Bible shouldn’t be picked at. And that’s something I have really REALLY struggled with when it comes to the topic of modesty.

    Although i have been a believer since young age, I have been raised in and out of church, and my family has never been concerned about modesty. My mom would always say “God doesn’t care what you wear! He accepts you as you are.” And she is right about acceptance. But does He really not care about our clothing? I’m sure the first image of a Chirstian that would pop up in someone’s head wouldn’t be a girl with short shorts and v neck top. It just isn’t! We should have respect for our body! So I know, yes, He does care! But we shouldn’t take 30 minutes picking out the “perfect” outfit. He wants us to be simple.

    Now how I imagine a modest person would probably be a short sleeve crew neck shirt (at the least) and a loose fitting skirt down to about the knees (at the least). And I think that where most Christians disagree, is at the skirt topic. I can completely understand because you can be modest in a pair of pants! You really can! But where in the world can you find loose fitting, no-demintion showing, flexible, pair of pants at? That’s the real question! So I do think that what’s simpler is a skirt! Am I saying it’s a sin to wear pants? Nope! Because you can still be covered in a pair of pants just as much as a skirt, but it is how you act in what you wear. As a woman, I can completely feel when a man is looking at me. We all do! And if I’m wearing a pair of tight yoga pants it makes me want to throw a blanket on! Honestly! I hate being lusted after, but it’s also my fault because I know it’s happening..

    Now, what I’m really struggling with is “how do I tell mom that I feel like I need to make a change in wardrobe?” My mom is saved and my sibling has been saved but has gone a little bit astray. My dad on the other hand isn’t saved. But I know he will be before to long because I can just feel the curiosity and passion that he has. I’m only a teenager so of course it’s rare that I would make this type of decision, but I know with the help of God that I will make the right decision and I have faith that He’s going to show me the way. If you have any advise, please share! I can use it 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the wonderful thoughts! Praise God that you’re listening to his convictions! We all probably have so much to learn, if we were to devote time to seeking his input on our lifestyles. Modesty definitely is a struggle, especially because there’s no perfect dress code, and because of society today. I love that you added that we should simplify our choices instead of devoting so much time to being stylish, because you’re right – God said not to focus so much on our looks to receive attention! It’s great to see you wrestling through what you think a Christian should be striving toward. I wrestle through these same thoughts continually, and I love knowing I have company in this and reading the perspectives of others. When it comes to family and friends who don’t have the same point of view on modesty, I simply explain how God has convicted me and briefly explain the points I’ve made in this blog post! People can’t argue with a sincere pursuit for purity. Even my non-Christian friends show understanding when I explain my convictions, whether it’s regarding modesty, my entertainment choices, etc. When you keep the language personal, and don’t make others feel attacked for having different lifestyles, they seem to be very understanding, and even encouraging! Maybe you could even show your mom this article!
      I want to encourage you in your journey! It’s amazing that you’re already striving toward God, especially in a culture that is all about doing what you want. God blesses devotion! And purity attracts a pure man 😉 A pure man is rare but worth the wait. That’s what I tell myself at least! But God is our true love and it’s ultimately about impressing and honoring Him! God bless 🙂

    • Charlette says:

      Hey. Coming from a teenager who wants to stand apart within her family, its really refreshing. I praise God for that. Well, like you, I was raised by a believing Mother and my Dad, not at all (although we pray for him). But the one thing I never used to understand growing up was why my Mother always insisted we wear skirts, my sister and I. I could never fit in much in a skirt, and it bothered me. They were never the right cut, right length or anything. I was always just different. I remember rebelling in highs school, I bought a few pairs of jeans. I was in hostel, far from home, so it worked just fine in my eyes. But funny enough, I never was comfortable in them. I just wore them a couple of times and noticed how they drew attention. At first, I didn’t mind the attention from guys, but then stopped wearing them. Took them home one weekend and stashed them away under other clothes. Those jeans vanished, only acknowledged them to my Mom the other day.

      I’ve been reading quite a bit on the subject off late. I was always considered to be modest, for the longest time, always spotted in skirt. But I moved to Sri Lanka last year and living here has helped shape my opinion and made me realise that there were some changes to be made. I am really comforted by the fact that you are younger than me and are willing to make these changes. We have been called to stand apart. And in our youth.

      I don’t know if it is too late to comment now, but I’ll go ahead and comment. I’d say, talk to God about it first. Tell Him how you want to glorify Him in the way you dress as well, and that He should go before you, to soften your Mothers heart. You can also start making changes with what you have now. Avoid the clothes that are immodest and maybe pair up some low tops with vests or round necked tops. Camisoles are also great, those have become my best friends. Also, you can adjust some tops by sewing. I did that with some spaghetti tops so they don’t sweep too low and pair them up with cardigans to cover my back and shoulders. This way, she will notice the change herself. And IF she asks, you’ll be ready to speak. Who knows, you might find that your silent efforts will preach to her and bring about change in the family.

      And I’m so happy your Father is showing some interest. It is always hard to preach to the people we live with. i do hope he makes the decision to follow Christ. His decision might be enough to prompt your other siblings to find their way back to the flock.

      I hope this helps.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi there!!!

      I don’t know if you still need advice or encouragement, but God has revealed a lot to me about modesty. As a teenager myself, I know how hard it is to remain pure, especially in the way of clothing.

      It’s getting harder and harder every year to find clothes that are modest and yet don’t make us girls look 25 sizes bigger than we actually are!!! I happen to be a very tall girl, so it makes it even harder to find appropriate clothes for me. I have found that second-hand clothing stores like Goodwill and Savers have many more modest and pretty clothing options than most stores; I was even able to find a gorgeous (totally modest) dress for my church’s formal dinner.

      Also, with all the bad influences in the world, it’s very easy to get discouraged. I personally don’t read magazines and I don’t watch a lot of TV, so that makes it easier for me, but still, if I happen to catch a glimpse of the air-brushed, very touched-up pictures of immodest women on the magazines, it’s easy to compare myself to them and think, “In order to be considered pretty, I have to look like that.” I know that’s not true, but it’s so easy to get caught up in that.

      Let’s not forget about swim suits. I have heard this from many people, and I agree with them, “Why do people try so hard to cover up their bodies and undergarments, yet they wear flimsy bikinis to the beach??” I have found that the more I cover up–especially swimming– the more respect I get, especially (get this) from boys, both young and older.

      Another thing is that immodesty is everywhere; it’s not just in certain places, but it’s even in churches and other places that should be a safe place–free from all immorality– for all people, both men and women. I have been struggling with the way some of the girls at my church dress; how are we–the church– supposed to be a light in this dark world when we are dressing the way the world does??? I don’t know about anyone else, but I just don’t think that shorts that reveal part of the wearer’s butt should be allowed in a CHURCH, of all places. What happens if someone who’s not a Christian walks into that church and sees that??? They’re going to think, “Well, if these Christians are dressing like this, then it must be okay.” Even though I can’t make the decision for the girls and women who dress inappropriately, I can still do my part and keep my body covered (not because I’m ashamed of it, but because I’m so precious to God, he will only allow ONE person to see it, and that will be my husband, should God provide me with one). My personal convictions for clothing are:

      My skirts and dresses must go to my knees; any shorter than that, I pair the dress with leggings (usually, I end up pairing knee-length skirts and dresses with leggings anyway, just because it makes me feel more comfortable)

      No cleavage revealed, AT ALL

      Nothing can be too tight. My definition of too tight is if I’m not able to pull the fabric and have it stretch a decent amount away from my body. This rule applies for pants, skirts, shirts, & any type of outer clothing.

      My shirts and dresses must have sleeves thicker than spaghetti straps; occasionally, I will wear a tank top, but the straps must be thick. You can also make very cool tank tops by layering a spaghetti strap with a plain, thick strap tank. 🙂

      I do not like wearing shorts; it’s not one of my rules, shorts just make me uncomfortable. I practically live in (non heinie-hugging) jeans, but sometimes I wear capris.

      For bathing suits, I wear four pieces (sometimes three): a bikini bottom covered by BOYS’ swim shorts (boys’ swim shorts tend to be longer than girls’) with an appropriate swim top that covers my entire chest and stomach (usually) followed up by a rash guard swim shirt

      My rules might be a little strict, but no one said following God & doing the right thing are easy. My rules have so far worked very well for me and my sisters, so I’m going to keep following them, and hope I’m pleasing the Lord.

      I hope this has been helpful!! 🙂 As for your dad, if he hasn’t already excepted Christ as his Savior, I will be praying him. If you haven’t already talked to your mom about appropriate clothing choices, make sure you do so in a loving, respectful way; after all, she is your mother. 🙂

      One more thing, one of the Bible verses that has been the most helpful to me is 1st Timothy 4:12, “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in faith, in love, and in purity.” I hope it’s encouraging to you too.

      — A Friend in Christ

      • Hi there,
        I don’t know if there is a cut and dry answer to that! It depends on the specific item. Do you know a Christian guy (dad, brother, friend, pastor) that can give you their honest opinion about the piece of clothing? That’s who I ask when in doubt

  2. Choko says:

    I absolutely adore this article. It hits home. As a young lady, my world is FULL of women and girls my age trying to appeal to the opposite sex. I’m not a fan of girls showing a lot of skin or “flaunting” what they have. Most would say they’re doing this “because men do” and I find that response incredibly juvenile and stupid. I see modesty has been twisted and contorted into meaning that your body is not to be shown to the public because it is shameful which is in no way true. Modesty is the quality of being self-confident and knowing that to be noticed you don’t have to bare all of your gifts. I have no problem with nudity, when it’s used correctly and in a way that doesn’t exploit the beauty that it is. When it is used for things less than honorable I begin to have a serious issue. The body deserves to be adored for more than lust. It should be loved for what it can do; how it cleans us, how it protects us, how to heals, etc.
    When it comes to the topic of how females dress the statement that really gets on my last nerve is ,”It’s their fault, not mine.” That is one of the most selfish things that can be said. It’s so one sided. Women have some responsibility as well as men do. If you want men to control their lust, then control your need to be seen as “sexy” or your desire for attention. The attention thing is not for all women, as I’ve come to understand, but many other women use this response because they’re trying to cover up their true intentions. Some say they do it because that’s truly what they like, and when they get no attention for their less than discreet motives they get mad or discouraged.
    I’m so glad I read this article. I am in no way saying I haven’t done one or two of these things. Now I’ve seen the light. I looked at my motives for dressing immodestly and changed my way of thinking. I feel so free from the notion that I need to impress the world or even the opposite sex, heck, even the same sex with my body. I don’t need to impress anyone. I’ve never felt so liberated.

    • I’m so encouraged by your comment! Thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts! Modesty is definitely an uphill, constant battle in our society, and I love continually exploring the topic with others. I’m a young woman as well, early 20’s, and it’s tough sticking to these convictions. I definitely agree that it is liberating to stop feeling that you have to keep up with trends. It seems like one day most of the world will be running around in their underwear, desperate for any kind of attention, but breaking free from that is a relief.

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