Modesty, A Lost Art

Modesty is one of those opinionated topics that will never have a conclusion.  It is hard to know what is truly modest because we all have different standards, a different conscience, and were brought up very differently. Growing up, as a curious girl trying to please the Lord, honor my brothers and still be stylish, I read many articles on modesty. Many told me that modesty fell on the girls and we just have to dress “more covered up.   Other posts stated that it how we dressed  and it was no problem – for it was men who needed to change. This all left me very confused at “who needed to change” and what modesty really was.  However,  this post is not to tell you what is or is not modest, but was written in a way to help you understand how the other sex thinks and feels towards modesty.

Many questions were asked by girls and men towards the other sex.  Surveys with these questions were made, and the surveys were taken. After a review of thw\e surveys by high school students and college aged students, many alarming comments, views and things were stated. Please take a look at the results….

To Girls. What men Say about Modesty.

Modesty defined by Men

  • - Humble. Not seeking attention. Dressing in a way that does not encourage sexual attraction. (age. 24)
  • - Dressing, behaving, and speaking in a way that does not encourage/ increase sexual/impure relationships(age 21)
  • - Not drawing attention to self through dress or actions. (age 15)

“Modesty goes deeper then just the way you dress. Modesty is also the way you conduct yourself. I believe a girl wearing a full piece bathing suit can conduct herself more immodestly then a girl wearing a skimpy bikini. Sure, the bikini is immodest through “Dress”, but the conducting of oneself is just as equally important. ” -(23 yr old)

Many men were asked their opinion on many different means of dress that girls wear. Things like spaghetti straps, 2 piece bathing suits, v-necks, skinny jeans, leggings, yoga pants and  make-up.  Many different statements and opinions were given under each. Here are some comments that stood out:

  • Spaghetti straps – about 75% of men said this wasn’t a HUGE issue to them.
  • Bikinis – 98% said these were an issue. “Why don’t you just wear your underwear to the beach” (age 19) “Girls say they wear bikinis because its hot, that all they can find, they are comfortable, then they go and blame us men for looking at their body. How can we not!” (age 17)
  • Yoga pants – Absolutely 100% of men had a problem with these. “They are YOGA pants for a reason. Wear them for yoga”(age 15) “EXtremely distracting and immodest. They appear to be like wearing black paint as they are so tight and fit every curve and crack “(age 19,23)
  • Make-up. “I wish girls didn’t care so much about make-up. I mean, why do they feel they have to Make them self up to be pretty?” (age 16)

Men were given this question. “How can a girl help you stay pure?” Here are some of the answers…

  • “Love God more than your appearance or people’s opinions” (age 21)
  • Think, act, and speak in a way that is pure. (age 25)
  • Have integrity and realize people are always watching you. (age 19)
  • Stop trying to get as close to the “line” as you can with your dress.”(age 24)

“Don’t compromise modesty for style . Express yourself elsewhere in a modest way” (age 18)

 “Everything God made valuable in this world is hard to get to.

Where do you find diamonds?  Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. where do you find pearls? Deep down in the ocean, covered and protected by the beautiful shell.

Where do you find gold?   Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock.  You have to work hard to get them. YOUR BODY IS SACRED. You are far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.

Comments from men… “Don’t give yourself away through your dress just for a compliment” (age 17)

To Guys. What girls have to say…

  • “Often, I dress the way I do to not draw attention to myself, but because it is comfortable and makes me feel less self conscious” (age 16)
  • “I feel as if men only recognize me if I dress to impress. Most guys, even in the church, pay most attention to and hang with the girls that are more attractive and fashionable. If Christian guys have a desire for woman to dress modestly, and we help them by doing that, I wish they would help us by getting to know us and our personality, for who we really are.(age 20)
  • “Whats the difference between a girl wearing a bikini (her “underwear”) and a guy wearing a bathing suit (“boxers”)? (age 15)
  • “Why do men work out at the gym constantly and take protein and jazz, not just to be healthy, but to look good and fit. It’s attractive.  That is the same reasoning why some of us girls tan, or wear make-up or dress the way we do. Also, a mans muscles and tight shirts are just as “eye-catching” to girls as immodestly dressed girls are to men.” (age 18)
  • “As woman are responsible for how they dress, in the same way, a man is responsible for how he looks upon a woman” (age 21)

What adults (35+) have to say about modesty

“Many factors go into getting dressed. For some it is something you have to do in order to do something else that is more interesting and valuable. To others it is one of the most important parts of the day and much time and money are spent on this preparation. Neither one is wrong.

The question is how much time is spent in devotions and cultivating a relationship with God. If time is being spent in this area, then getting dressed modestly will be a natural result.  That being said, some have to be more careful than others because of the physical shape they are in or they have more natural curves.

Then of course culture comes into play as was mentioned above, but what are the non-verbal, verbal, and visual signals that are being sent to the opposite sex. Maybe the question should be how can we use the way we dress to draw others to Christ?”

Modesty is something very personal and your standards should be decided between you and God.”

Which lays out the challenge–have we talked to God about this?  Have we learned to hear his voice about little things the world says aren’t a big deal? Anything connected with our hearts is a big deal to God. 

If we’re not sure what He’s saying to us, then I recommend having the input of a man who loves us for reasons other than our body (father, brother, husband) when choosing standards for ourselves.” “I think this goes deeper than a cliché statement. While there are genuine modesty issues much of it can and is influenced by culture. I.E. many years ago it was risqué to show a ladies ankle, then a few years later a calf, then a woman’s thigh etc. Even in a christian circle, what makes it okay to show a calf but not a thigh in a dress – but it is okay to wear a one piece bathing suite that shows the thigh up to the crotch?

As times change the definition of modesty can change. Another example is at one time it was very respectable for a woman to wear stockings with a seam down the back then at some point that changes and now it is considered very risqué. I had a similar discussion with someone not to long ago on this topic and they shared with me they had a college roommate from another country where woman going topless bathing was the norm even for christian woman. While we are shocked by that he tried to explain nobody thought it abnormal in that culture. While we would all struggle with this, we have similar issues.

Why is it ok for a man to go shirtless and not a woman? I do not want to get too graphic here but there are sexually responsive areas for men as well as women – but it is culturally accepted. If men are honest the truth is that a man can be just as stimulated by a beautiful woman even if she is modestly dressed, this can be driven by individual taste or especially in a teenage boy with raging hormones. All this to say this issue is complex and is not entirely a clothing issue. While yes, we most certainly must teach our girls about modesty issues it can be a moving target. We must also teach our guys about self-control as we live in a culture that is ever more immodest and we can’t always avoid seeing what is put in front of us. We must also teach them women are so much more than sexual objects. Fathers need to be open and honest with their sons and help them in the areas of sexuality and self-control. Moms need to be open and honest with their daughters about the same issue. God did create us as sexual beings and that is good but sin has certainly made it difficult to control. There is so much more that can be said as this is not an easily solved one answer issue.”

What God has to say about Modesty

Nowhere in the bible does God clearly state “how” to dress… However, He does state some standards to live by…. As time changes, our cultures definition of modesty may change. However, 1 Peter 1:25 tells us “But the word of the Lord endures forever…” and Isaiah 40:8 says ” The grass wither, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” These verses tell me that the biblical definition of modesty never changes! My view of modesty has changed as I have grown spiritually. The bible teaches that believers are expected to continually grow in their faith.

Galatians 4:3 –  tells us that when we are children (spiritually immature) we are in bondage under the elements of the world.

As a youth leader working with “infants/children” in the faith, I have to feed them with milk, not solid food, as addressed in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” Hebrews 5:12 also addresses this. 
Prior to the fall, everything was perfect, including the nakedness of Adam and Eve. I can imagine the word modesty did not even exist. The fall (our sin) changed EVERYTHING! It was our sin that caused the first death blood was shed (animal) for making a covering (clothes) for Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:21) Sin caused Adam and Eve to realize their nakedness (immodesty). Our sin is the only reason why we need to be modest. Jesus, the second Adam, shed His blood to cover our sins and grant believers an eternal life. Infants in Christ may not yet understand the significance of the gift or why they should dress modestly, but God’s Word will lead them in the path to understanding.

For our spiritually immature youth, “Don’t advertise what is not for sale” is easy to understand and follow as we guide them to a deeper relationship with Christ.