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Modesty usually means that the parts of the body that do not need to be exposed should not be exposed. In most cultural terms, this is usually referring to one’s undergarments showing, too much bare skin, or very personal parts of the body.
In Islamic cultures, many Muslim women wear a hijab (headscarf) to show they are modest women. However, those who are more conservative might cover their entire body except for a little slit for their eyes. In some African cultures, their tattoos are considered as clothing. What you might find as modest in one culture might be considered ridiculous in another culture. As you can see, there are different definitions of modesty for different cultures and groups of people.
From my Christian perspective, I could write a very legalistic blog on the topic, but I’m not going to because I remember the day when I wouldn’t have listened to anyone criticizing my choice of clothing or appearance myself!
I can honestly say, “Been there! Done that!”
I remember that gorgeous skimpy shirt & short outfit I bought from the 579 clothing store when I was a teenager. I loved that outfit. I used to sneak it in my purse and change into it after I left my parent’s house. I really looked good in that outfit if I can say so myself. But, one day it disappeared. I never knew what happened to it, but I have the sneaky suspicious my mother somehow got rid of it even though to this day she denies it.
Then as I grew older and became more mature, I looked at how one dresses with a different perspective. One day as a high school librarian, I looked down the section where students were working on the computers and I was appalled when I saw the entire back of a young female student. She was sitting Indian style on the floor wearing a flat piece of fabric [in the front only] held together only by a little-attached tie around the neck. Do you see the visual? Working in a high school I saw way too many girls wearing shirts that too much cleavage showed and skirts that were way too short. I saw young men with their pants way lower than anyone would care to see; and believe it or not, I saw some teachers that did not seem to be dressed appropriately too.
. . . CHANGE OF TOPIC
I’ve heard many spiritually mature women finally feel ready in their Christian walk to share what they have learned on their Christian journey with others — especially to those younger than them. They may not feel “gifted” in that area, but they are realizing that God has been preparing them to be used in a deeper capacity. They are ready to take the experiences they have had and the knowledge and wisdom that the Lord has bestowed upon them to be used in a deeper, more applicable way. Many of these women are entering a stage in their life where they want to serve God fully, be an encourager and guide to others in their Christian walk. This desire comes when they fervently desire to see everything through God’s eyes and His eyes only. The timing of this desire varies, but many times it comes when a woman finds herself not working or caring for children at home anymore. There is more time at this point to serve God. Through their life, they have developed a deep intimacy with God and they have the experiences to prove it. Many of these women are encouraged to give of themselves to teach younger women after being convicted by the following verse.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Their desire can take many different paths. Maybe they will teach a Bible study class; maybe they will mentor a new believer; maybe they will be available for counseling. Many different outlets are available to fulfill their desire to be used by God, but today I want to discuss just one of them — those who desire to teach younger women to be modest in their dress and appearance.
. . . BACK ON TOPIC
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUNG WOMEN ABOUT THEIR DRESS AND APPEARANCE [Modesty]
- Keep your ears open more than your mouth. Listen more than talk. Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. Proverbs 1:5
- Build credibility with the girl(s) first by be genuinely interested in them before talking specifics. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
- Give young people choices not demands. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 1 Thessalonians 2:6
- Guide them [not pound them] on what to do. For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me. Psalm 31:3
- Appreciate them for where they are right now in their Christian faith and encourage them. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3
- Be respectful of their opinions. You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God’s. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it. Deuteronomy 1:17
- Do not focus on specific pieces of clothing; Focus on them and their beauty as a person. Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24
- Teach them to pray and read their Bible, so the Holy Spirit can convict them on what they should or shouldn’t wear and/or behave. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13
- Remember that you are not their parents. You [parents] shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 11:19
- Remember that you are there to minister and encourage them to be God’s best. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:11-12
- Pray for God’s direction on when and when not to say something. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalms 25:4-5
- Teach by example. Be sure that you are wearing appropriate attire. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:7-8
- Teach that the Bible tells us all we do should be done for the glory of God. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
- Teach them that they are beautiful and that their beauty comes from God. Many young women believe they must be sexy to be attractive. Let them know that their smile, the sparkle in their eye, their personality is beautiful in and of itself. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14
Understand that when we try to teach (mentor) those younger that it does not always work out like we would like it to. They may or may not listen and they may or may not act on your advice.
- Some younger women aren’t teachable yet;
- They may be swayed by the Gloria Steinem feminist movement;
- They may not share the same commitment to follow God’s teachings;
- Or, they may be turned off with our self-righteous [which we should avoid.]
In these cases, pray fervently for their eyes to be opened to the loving care of Jesus in their lives. Pray that whatever the stronghold in their life may be torn down. And, pray for the Holy Spirit to be working in their lives, so they can hear what God wants them to hear to make them the person He wants them to be. When hearts are changed to Christ, modesty will improve with love and instruction.
And, to the younger women, I encourage you to find older godly women (including parents) whom you can learn from. Then, be open to seeking God’s will on how you should live your life in all areas including your dress. God does care about your appearance and he will show you apparel piece by apparel piece if it is appropriate in each situation. Being modest isn’t drab; it can be beautiful, in style, and a testimony of your life in Christ.
I once invited a young lady to church. She had not attended church at all in her life. She was living in an abusive relationship. I met her at church for the evening service – he came too. She arrived wearing a halter top, her tanned stomach was showing, her breasts were overflowing, and her short shorts were quite the scene. I had already positioned my purse and Bible in the 2nd or 3rd row as I wanted to be sure she would pay attention and hear the gospel. When I met her and her friend in the back of the church, I thought, “Oh my, what am I going to do? I was visualizing what the preacher was going to do when he saw her and if he would be able to concentrate on his preaching.” I was a nervous wreck. But, God knew exactly how she arrived at the church and that she even came was the mightiest of miracles. And, out of nowhere, a lovely lady in the church came up to her before the service and placed her sweater around her and said, “I know you must be cold in here, why don’t you use this sweater.” And, she wrapped it around her in the most loving way possible. I was so touched. And relieved!
My Heavenly Father, I love you. I want you to use me. Please take all the lessons you have taught me over the years and allow me to spread your Holy Word and your teachings with others – both the young and the not so young. Lord, allow my heart to become so pure and humble so when you call me into service, I will be ready. As circumstances and opportunities arise, give me a nudge that it is my time to work on your behalf. Give me wise words and prepare the hearts of those who need to hear your precepts through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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