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What do Christian guys think about modesty?

Last Updated: July 27, 2021

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Your Brain on Porn and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Is modesty a lost cause? The Rebelution doesn’t think so. This teen movement (seeking to “rebel” against low expectations) released the results of their “Modesty Survey.” This survey is meant to be a conversation between Christian men and women about the subject of modesty. Over 200 Christian girls submitted their questions. In less than twenty days, over 1,600 Christian guys (12 and up) responded.

The survey results represent men across the spectrum. Christian teenagers (ages 12-19) provide the largest sampling of any age group, with the average age for survey participants amounting to 22.4 years. There was also a marked solidarity of majority opinion across the education spectrum (home schooled, private school, public, etc.).

If you are a girl who is curious about what guys think regarding modesty, I recommend you peruse the survey results. Here are some highlights:

  • 97.4% of guys say that girls can dress attractively without being immodest. The vast majority strongly agreed with this statement.
  • 91.5% of guys say despite rampant immodesty all around us, girls who choose to dress modestly do make a difference.
  • 95.4% of guys say that modesty is an important quality for their future wife to have.
  • 75.6% of guys say that they have less respect for an immodest girl than for a modest one.

In addition, the survey results include thoughts on a variety of clothing options for women: form-fitting clothes, workout clothes, cleavage, swimsuits, bra straps, undergarments, midriffs, camisoles, spaghetti-straps, jeans, skirts, makeup, and a variety of other things. Comments were made about posture and movement. You can also read hundreds of comments from guys answering questions like, “If you could say one thing to your sisters in Christ about modesty, what would it be?” and “What is the primary difference between something that is attractive and something that is immodest?”

I highly encourage any young ladies to take advantage of resources on The Rebelution website. You’ll find a statement from John Piper, “The Purpose of Clothing,” and an article by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, “Free to Be Modest.”

  • Comments on: What do Christian guys think about modesty?
    1. I read through the survey a while ago, and though I agree that modesty is definitely important, I feel as though some men want to put too much responsibility on the ladies for protecting themselves as oppose to taking charge of their own eyes and being responsible for their own actions.

      I take the common sense approach to modesty, although common sense is so rare these days it’s a freaking super power. I think that the amount of cleavage showing, the length of skirts and visible underwear are like the big three with modesty. I think in other areas this thing takes it too far. I was reading one thing that says tank tops are immodest and that seeing a woman lying down (even when she’s fully clothed) is immodest. There has to be a healthy balance.

      I think women need to examine themselves and their motives. Why are they wearing what they’re wearing. If it is to get visual attention, then their hearts aren’t right. But if men feel like they need all the Christian women around them to dress in ankle-length mennonite skirts for modesty’s sake, I think that’s a bit ridiculous.

      My wife is very curvy and one of her best physical features is her butt (in my opinion). It’s large and shapely, and it will be large and shapely regardless of what she’s wearing. I don’t want my wife to have to wear frumpy jeans that are too big in the waist in order to hide her butt just because another man can’t control his own eyes. I’ve spent the last 15 months disciplining myself and my eyes, and like Job I’ve made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at another woman (Job31:1) regardless of what she’s wearing. My response is my responsibility.

      Obviously women can certainly help by how they dress, but ultimately as a man it’s our responsibility. If you’re standing before God and he asks you why you oggled and lusted after every woman who passed you by, I don’t think saying “It’s her fault, she wasn’t dressed modestly enough and she was showing too much cleavage” is going to be an acceptable answer.

      • @Johnny – Common sense is indeed the least common of all the senses. But overall I appreciate the idea of the survey: instead of coming up with a set of iron-clad rules, it showed the level of consistency or inconsistency among men’s thoughts on modesty. Girls can take it for what it is. Its set up more as a conversation piece, which I liked.

        In terms of your wife wearing frumpy jeans, about 59% of guys thought pants that follow a girl’s curves are modest as long as they aren’t skin-tight, and nearly a quarter of them were neutral on that question. So you’re in the vast majority there. Or to use another example of yours, 77% did not agree it is a stumbling block to see a girl lying down (they were neutral or disagreed in some way). Again you are in the majority there too. And by the way, 93% of guys didn’t have a problem with seeing a girls calves. :)

        I agree with you that a girl’s heart is the main point. I also think when you read the Bible you see a rich symbolism applied to the subject of clothing. In various cultures, clothes do more than keep us warm; they make a statement. It is nice to see a survey like this because it gives ladies a chance to see what statement guys think they are making when they wear certain things.

        And yes, you are right, it is our responsibility as men to guard our eyes. In the survey you can read over 100 responses to the question: As a guy, what is your responsibility in this area? Some of them are very interesting.

        Thanks again for stopping by.

    2. Yeah, again I think a lot of it has to do with motives. At my old job there were women who would blatantly wear things to get attention. It’s like, why where bright red underwear with a with pseudo-see-through skirt? Either’s your incredibly stupid, or you want visual attention, or both.

      There are also situation elements to modesty. I personally don’t think a two piece bathing suit is necessarily a problem, but there’s a difference between a two piece and a string bikini, ya know? I don’t think a teenage girl should have to be forbidden to play volleyball in high school because the shorts are too tight, ya know? They serve a functional purpose. Obviously, you probably wouldn’t want to walk around in those kind of shorts absent of playing volleyball, but that’s a prime example of situational modesty. Are guy wrestlers who wear those unitards immodest because it leaves nothing to the imagination? It’s a functional piece of clothing. Again, it’s about motives.

      When we went to the Dominican for our honeymoon, we didn’t know it was a topless beach until we got there. Ordinarily, I would’ve avoided that kind of situation, but what could I do then? I prayed and asked God for strength and managed to make it the entire week without allowing my eyes to wander. I had to take responsibility for myself in that situation because I couldn’t rely on the women around me to care about my purity. It’s all about personal responsibility.

      • Rachel Marie Walden

        I appreciate your self control. But, I disagree with you about the functional clothing stuff. You can completely be modest while doing things that the world would wear immodest clothing while doing. For example, when our family goes to have an extreme sports day with each other, we wear jeans. BUT, we try our very best to cover up so that others would not have a problem. (I do think it is a guys responsibility to guard his heart and eyes, but it is the woman’s to help them do that). Or when we go swimming we do not let the occasion give way how we dress. believe it or not, you can be respectful while swimming!

        I hope this is not offensive to you. I realize every Christian is being sanctified by Crist and have their own convictions. I just felt panicked to hear your view, that’s all.


    3. Ben

      It’s good to have the survey to see what men in North American culture think about modesty. It’s interesting to think though that there is virtually no specific guidance given in scripture as what or what not to wear, except in 1 Timothy 2:9 where it says that women should NOT wear braided hair, gold, pearls, or expensive clothes. I’d be surprised if there was anybody today that thought braided hair or a gold necklace is immodest. So we say that that passage was written to a specific culture and completely discount that as specific guidance today (which I do as well) given in 1 Tim 2:9, and rather try to decipher God’s will based on principals, “common sense” as Johnny mentions, motives of women, etc. There’s also Pr 7:10 “Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.” This still does not boil down to anything specific, but does mention the motive of the woman and her dressing compared to others.

      A prostitute in Thailand dresses much different than a prostitute in Brazil. What’s accepted as modest dressing in one culture is not modest in another culture. In the Amazon jungle, covering the breast at all is not always necessary and this is completely acceptable, even among Christians. But if that jungle woman came to the USA not covering her breasts, most people would think that was inappropriate. And if the North American women w/ their bikini bottoms (or even with a one-piece bathing suit without shorts) came to swim in their rivers, many of the tribals (depending on tribe) would probably think the North American women were immodest.

      I say this to emphasize that what is considered as immodest in one culture is not immodest in another culture, so we should remember that as the US is becoming increasingly intercultural and also as we try to judge ourselves and others. So basically, it’s my opinion that culture defines modesty, just as culture somewhat defines specific curse words (like bloody is not a curse word in the US, but is in England).

      (there are passages like Nahum 3:5, Jer 13:26, Is 47:1-3 that help define nakedness as our body at the midsection, but 1 Cor 12:23 is still vague at what parts are “unpresentable”)

      • @Ben – I agree that modesty is culturally defined. I also agree with John Piper about the purpose of clothing: “God’s answer is not a return to nudity but a return to simplicity (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:4-5). Clothes are not meant to make people think about what is under them.”

    4. Hi,
      Thanks for sharing this nice post. Modern culture not allow to you live in modesty.

    5. Godsgirl

      I’ve just been surfing around web sites ( on modesty) an i so much apreciate when I hear guys opinions on girls dressing modestly, I come from a christian background where I’ve been taught by my parents that modesty is important, but it’s still easy to sometimes second guess myself and wonder if it really is such a big deal.it’s good to be reminded that it is important to do my part in helping out the guys, and that God has a high standard of modesty!!

    6. JordanShepherd

      Thoroughly enjoyed reading the article and following comments. As a Christian teen guy, I am in a season where I am establishing my own personal convictions about important issues like this one. I grew up around the over-the-top conservatives who covered themselves from head to toe with mid-90’s turtlenecks and denim skirts that were about 2 sizes too big and that they probably found at a thrift shop. After I started thinking about this, I came to the conclusion that what they chose to wear is actually more immodest than a girl wearing something a little on the revealing side of things. Think about it; modesty is about making sure that you are not drawing attention that should be directed to God to yourself. However, the dated, frumpy, baggy sweaters and faded floor-length skirts are going to draw more attention than a girl showing a little bit of cleavage. The reason is that it is so different than what is normally seen in our culture, that it will stick out more. I cashier at a high-end grocery store in a fairly affluent part of town, and every day there is opportunity for me to give in go temptation, meaning there are some very attractive women that come to my register. However we as Christians need to define the difference between temptation and sin. Sin is taking temptation and indulging it. If we sin after a temptation of the eyes, it is OUR sinful nature, not the girls clothing that is at fault.

      “But does this mean just wear whatever you freakin feel like?” By no means. In searching for clothes, ask yourself, “would this cause a man to look at me in a suggestive way?” If it would, hold off. It is a case-by-case decision.

      Personally, there are a lot of things that I see around me that I have gotten so used to, that they don’t even bother me anymore. This is a good example of the cultural aspect of modesty.

      Anywho, these are the thoughts of a 17-year old Christian dude who wants to see things done by the standards established in the bible, not by the standards preferred by other men. Please give me your thoughts.

      • It is true that modesty is far more than simply not wearing provocative clothing. It is about having a heart of modesty that uses clothes to demonstrate integrity.

        If you’re really interested in this subject I suggest you listen to these podcasts featuring Rachel Lee Carter. She’s a fashion model who ministers to teens who want to learn the heart of modesty and not be unfashionable.

      • Jackie

        I agree with almost everything you said, but as a woman “Will this cause a man to look at me in a suggestive way?” is an utterly pointless question. Men aren’t looking at my clothes, they are looking at my body, and if they can’t see my body they are imagining it. I used to feel like it was my fault when I got ogled, that I must be doing or wearing something wrong, but after living in an area where I got harassed a lot (only white girl in a small town in Asia) I came to the conclusion that it had nothing to do with what I was wearing. I got harassed in my long puffy winter coat, and my long simple cotton summer dresses just that same as when I was wearing shorts and tank-tops.
        So when I shop for clothes, I am just thinking is this pretty? Is this comfortable? That doesn’t mean I wear super-short skirts or super-low necklines. I would feel conspicuous and uncomfortable in those things. I just no longer consider what men may or may not think of my clothing when I am shopping. Modesty is about honoring God, not trying to avoid the gaze of men.

      • Rose

        So… I’m a little bit late. But while I don’t wear oversized clothes most often, If I do, its for modesty sake. I do it for one as to not lead a bother to stumble. I mean… Yea sure a part of it is we are not supposed to wear flashy things but…. I remember a Muslim explanation on why the females wear those hoods over there head. I’m not sure if its right or not, but it said it was to protect the woman from evil eyes. While the men were supposed to wear coverings over there eyes to not disrespect the woman, that didn’t always happen. Its not always for the man it was for her. So, that’s kinda why I wear long skirts. Can’t say I wear long sleeves all the time but I try not to wear tank tops. there are evil people who just want to eye girls. And I personally don’t like them eyeing me.

      • Kay Bruner

        Of course, your clothing is your choice. The concern I always have in these “modesty” discussions is the underlying idea that women are somehow responsible for men’s behaviors. Victim-blaming is a very common theme throughout abusive systems. Once you introduce the idea that women are to blame for what men do, then you’re off and running with a set of ideas that will never result in true recovery for men.

        Men have to come to the point of self-responsibility: what I do with my eyes is my responsibility. It doesn’t matter what women are wearing, it’s up to me to control my thoughts, my eyes, and my tendency to objectify women and believe that they are simply here for my consumption.

        So, you wear whatever you’re comfortable wearing.

        But it’s never, ever your responsibility to control a man’s choices.


      • Sara

        I’m a Christian girl who would like some feedback. I actually wouldn’t even mind wearing loose turtlenecks, loose maxiskirts, and comfy flat shoes if it would help males who struggle with temptation. Indeed–modest and fairly fashionable varieties of them exist. However, do you think I should? Would it help males who struggle with lust?

    7. Claire

      I haven’t joined the Rebulution.com so i haven’t read the results of the survey. has anyone read it, and could you tell me more about the results?

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