Protect Your Kids A couple in a store, shopping for a modest dress.
Protect Your Kids 9 minute read

6 Marks of Biblical Modesty: How God Brings Sexy Back

Last Updated: May 9, 2023

What does the Bible say about modesty? Modesty is a controversial topic, especially when you throw God into the mix. Does God really care about what we wear?

Modesty is notoriously challenging to define, as is pornography. See What the Bible Says About Pornography (Without Using That Word). But as Christian morality compels us to leave porn behind, it also compels us to embrace a lifestyle of sexual purity that encompasses the way we dress and conduct ourselves.

First and foremost, a biblical definition of modesty must focus on the heart. Biblical modesty is primarily about our motivations. In addition, modest dress is also about discernment and having an awareness of others and our environment.

Related: 5 Big Questions About Christians and Porn

Why is modesty controversial for Christians?

In a recent conversation, a woman I spoke with seemed deeply offended when I suggested a woman’s manner of dress could tempt a man to lust. She wasn’t denying the claim that men lust after women, but she was emphatic that women are not to blame for a man’s lustful thoughts and actions.

She’s right, of course. A woman is never guilty of another person’s sin. That applies to both men and women who dress immodestly.

Modesty and the Problem of Rape Myths

This woman’s protest is, in part, motivated by a desire to fight various rape myths in our culture. When a girl dresses scantily, goes to a college party, gets drunk, makes out with a dozen guys, and then is raped, for some there is a tendency to say, “Well, she was just asking for it.” This kind of victim-blaming, sadly, leads some to temper any compassion for such women when they are abused.

Let’s be clear: Victims of rape are not guilty of their rape. The girl who walks across campus at 2 a.m. and gets assaulted is not to blame for the crime committed against her.

Modesty and the Problem of Lust

Similarly, victims of another’s lust aren’t guilty of lust. No one gives an account for another person’s sin. If a woman dresses immodestly and a man lusts after her, it is still that man’s fault.

But does this mean modesty itself is a non-issue? It does not follow that one individual’s sin of lust nullifies another individual’s sin of immodesty. Each person is responsible for their own sin.

Modesty and Double-standards for Men

Many have noted that modesty conversations tend to focus exclusively on controlling the way women dress. These discussions usually skim over the question of whether a man should dress modestly. This is wrong. We will see that the Bible teaches that both men and women should behave modestly, in the way they dress and how they conduct themselves.

Amidst these controversies, modesty remains an important issue for Christians in a world driven by lust. Indeed, it is all the more important to accurately define it on God’s terms. So how then do we understand biblical modesty?

What is biblical modesty?

“I desire…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.”

1 Timothy 2:8-10

Christian women should concern themselves with modesty because the Bible does. Paul writes here about women, but we should recognize that men are equally obligated to embrace modesty. For example, Hebrews 12:28 instructs men and women alike to serve God with “reverence and awe,” and some manuscripts of this text interchange the Greek word for “modesty” instead of “awe,” suggesting that it makes sense to apply this charge to both men and women. With that in mind, let’s look at six key marks of biblical modesty.

1. Modesty is not anti-fashion.

At the outset, we should take note that Paul is not anti-adornment. The force of his statement is positive: “Women should adorn themselves.” These are not the words of an anti-fashion prude. The same word “adorn” is used to speak of a bride beautifying herself for her husband (Revelation 21:2). It is a term that expresses being ornamented, well-kempt, and put in order.

The question for Paul isn’t about whether someone should ornament their body, but how.

2. Modesty is about who you worship.

In this context, Paul is talking about how women should prepare themselves for gathering at church. Women are commanded to adorn themselves in a way that is fitting for worship. If they “profess godliness”—that is, they desire to show God honor and reverence—how should they dress?

Paul puts his finger on the trigger of the problem. In Ephesus, the original destination of this letter, the cultural elite were known for their gaudy and extravagant wardrobes, their elaborate hairstyles, and their expensive clothing that communicated extraordinary wealth. James also warns against showing preference for men who dress expensively (James 2:1-4).

Here, Paul paints a picture of this for the Ephesians Christians and says, “Don’t mimic that. When you come to church, come dressed in a way that shows you desire for the attention to be on God, not yourself.” A person’s manner of dress, or even their preoccupation with clothing itself (Matthew 6:28-30), is often indicative of a heart that loves self more than God.

3. Modesty is about behavior and attitude, not just clothing.

When Paul says that women should wear “respectable apparel,” the term “apparel” is probably translated too narrowly; it is a term that encompasses not just clothing, but one’s whole demeanor, attitude, and actions.

From the clothing she wears to the way she carries herself, a Christian woman ought to be seemly and well-ordered (as the text here says, “respectable”). Ultimately, what should adorn a person is not just clothing but “good works.” As Christians, we are being remade by God for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Christ died so that we might be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). Christians should seek to dress their lives in works that do good to others, marked with godly love.

This means biblical modesty is not simply about what we wear, but how we act, how we communicate, and how relate to others.

4. Modesty shows sensitivity to sin.

In this text, Paul says a woman’s apparel should be worn with “modesty.” Other translations opt for the word “decency.” The King James Version translates this “shamefacedness,” which gets more to the heart of the word. It means sensitivity to the presence of sin in the world.

It also means a demeanor of reverence–showing respect to oneself and a regard for others. It even carries the connotation of “bashful.” Connected to the term “shame,” the word implies the idea of grief over sin that is in the world—that someone would be so sensitive to sin, knowing that sin is offensive to God, that they would never come close to trying to provoke it in others.

No, a woman is not guilty of a man’s lust if she dresses with the intention to allure him. A man is not guilty of a woman’s lust if he dresses for the same purpose. But they are guilty of treating sin lightly. A heart of modesty is motivated by a love for one’s fellow person.

Related: Is Watching Porn a Sin?

5. Modesty involves cultural discretion.

Paul didn’t just paint broad strokes when talking about modesty; he gave specifics. He said braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire were out of place for a truly modest woman.

Some knowledge of Roman culture is helpful for understanding what Paul is saying. In Paul’s day, Greek hairstyles for women were fairly simple; hair was parted in the middle and pinned in the back. But a culture change was sweeping the region. Women in the imperial household were wearing their hair with elaborate curls and braids, covered in expensive ornaments. The elite throughout the empire copied this style.

Modesty and Culture in Ancient Times

For Paul, the appearance of braids and ornaments was more about what the fashion communicated. They carried connotations of imperial luxury and conjured up images of notoriously immoral empresses like Valeria Messalina and Poppeaea Sabina, ancient equivalents of Cosmopolitan cover girls.

The poet Juvenal, a contemporary of Paul, gives a vivid description of this cultural trend:

“There is nothing that a woman will not permit herself to do. Nothing that she deems shameful. And when she encircles her neck with green emeralds and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears, so important is the business of beautification. So numerous are the tiers and stories piled one another on her head that she pays no attention to her own husband.”

Similarly, the philosopher Philo gives a description of a prostitute in his writing called “The Sacrifices of Cain and Abel”:

“A prostitute is often described as having hair dressed in elaborate braids, her eyes with pencil lines, her eyebrows smothered in paint and her expensive clothes embroidered lavishly with flowers and bracelets and necklaces of gold and jewels hanging all over her.”

Paul’s description of immodest dress conjured a picture of someone preoccupied with appearance, fashion, luxury, and sexual prowess. Similarly, modern modesty standards are not about arbitrary rules of how much skin is shown or how low-cut something is, but about the messages and values our clothing communicates.

6. Modesty is about true freedom, not repression.

More often than not, modesty standards are seen as repressive, arbitrary rules that restrict a woman’s creativity and freedom. And often enough, the biblical concept has been abused for this purpose. But when modesty is motivated from the heart, the exact opposite is true.

(See Purity Culture and Its Unfortunately Intersection With Porn).

Paul says women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel with “self-control.” This might be better understood as “self-mastery”—being of sound mind or sober, being in control of one’s impulses and appetites. In extra-biblical literature, this word has sexual nuances—being able to totally control your romantic and erotic desires.

Habitual immodesty is often, though not always, the fruit of a kind of slavery. A person might be enslaved by their desire to attract the opposite sex. They might define their worth by their fashion sense, sex appeal, image, weight, particular body parts, or the brand names they wear. This kind of slavery is widespread because sin impacts us all, and in today’s sexually charged, media-saturated culture, many men and women alike fall prey to it.

But as Christians, we are free from the slavery of sin because we are united to Christ. Paul exhorts us to live out this freedom: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Romans 6:12). When it comes to modest dress, we can follow Paul’s next statement quite literally: Do not present the members of your body to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present your members to God as instruments for righteousness (verse 13). Paul wants Christian women to have self-mastery in their wardrobe choices and to be totally free from worldly ways of defining worth, beauty, and sexiness.

Ironically, it is not just those who are scantily dressed that are enslaved, but even those who pride themselves on their modesty. “Modest is hottest,” they say, unaware that in their own hearts, they are still enslaved to a preoccupation with their physical image, still defining their worth by their outward adornment.

Defining Biblical Modesty

Taken together, these aspects of biblical modesty help to give us a working definition.

Modesty is a respectable manner of adorning one’s body and carrying oneself, born out of a freedom from a worldly definition of beauty and worth, and motivated by a hatred of sin and a desire to draw attention to God.  

When it comes to the subject of modest clothing, the first question we should ask ourselves is: What am I trying to accomplish by what I wear?

  1. Ed

    Luke, I was very clear in my statements about the word Katastole: it can be tangentially applied to clothing and outward adornement if you want to push the definition really, really hard. However, the primary thrust of the word is not about any type of clothing but inward attitudes of the heart. But is that where most of Christendom is at on this issue? — no, definitely not. If you wear the wrong type of clothing or, in their opinion, show too much cleavage, they won’t care what your inward attitudes are — you will automatically be pre-judged as being loose and provocative. You know, several years ago, I once heard of a radical pro-abortion, lesbian activist at a National Organization for Women rally who was wearing earrings made out of aborted baby parts as a protest statement. Of course, that is incredibly sick but wearing those earrings was definitely a reflection of her inward heart and attitudes! But a girl simply choosing to wear a halter top at the beach is being inappropriate? — please give me a break.

    Luke, you said: “Gender differences don’t mean the presence of a double standard. A double standard exists when there isn’t the same premium on modesty for one gender as there is for another.”

    But your in your previous example, you said: “If a girl doesn’t wear a bra under her shirt so as to show off more of her form, it could be immodest. But if a guy doesn’t wear a bra, this is simply because his anatomy doesn’t require one. A boy might be able to wear something that shows the top of his pectorals, but a girl might not.”

    So, a woman who doesn’t wear a bra might be trying to show off and that is not okay but if she doesn’t wear one for the right reason, then she is okay? Really? Does that fly with evangelical Christian world at large?

    What about men who suffer with the condition gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue in men) — should they wear bras simply because they have enlarged female-like breasts? Or should they too decide whether they should wear a bra on the basis of being inappropriate versus not being inappropriate?

    No Luke, the double standard on this issue is alive and well: Even men who don’t have enlarged breasts, have “something to show”. A man’s pectorals are something that women notice (and sometimes intensely) and if you doubt it, why don’t you conduct interviews with several women on the subject and find out the real answer? It’s just that you don’t acknowledge it because you consider female breasts to be primarily sexual but male breasts not sexual.

    The only reason that you would have more stringent standards for a woman versus a man is because you are culturally perceiving the female body pornographically.

    • I thought I understood you about the term katastole but perhaps I’m not. Before you said the term “can be very well extended to include clothing,” but now you’re saying is can be applied to clothing “if you want to push the definition really, really hard.” As I said before, context guides word meaning. Paul is using the term for clothing the same way Aristophanes (a Greek playwright) did. Is Paul the one “pushing the definition” really hard, or am I?

      To answer your bra question: No. That does not represent mainstream evangelical thought nor my own. What I was talking about were the gender differences, not the heart/motive questions. My point in that statement was to say that men and women might have different modesty standards, and that will be due, in part, to the differences in their anatomy.

      Your last statement is interesting: “The only reason that you would have more stringent standards for a woman versus a man is because you are culturally perceiving the female body pornographically.” I might amend your word choice some. I actually think the male body can be pornographic, too. I would also rather say women should not have “more stringent” standards, just standards that reflect the message sent by certain types of female attire, which may in fact be different than the messages sent by male attire.

      What you seem to be getting at is that cultural conditioning doesn’t determine anything about modesty, and if this is your point, I would wholeheartedly disagree with you. If it is true that the culture of Paul’s day determined why he would prohibit certain hair styles, then the same can be true of any culture at any time. If, for instances, we are raised in a culture where showing off cleavage is a sexual cue, then I would advise women to consider that in their personal modesty standards.

      As I said in the thesis of my article: “First and foremost, a biblical definition of modesty must focus on the heart. Modesty is primarily about our motivations. In addition, modest dress is also about discernment, having an awareness of others and our environment.” If we throw out cultural discernment, we are missing something from modesty, and I believe Paul’s statements in 2 Timothy 2 reflect this.

      I suggest, iIf you’re concerned about double standards, then by all means, promote modesty among men. Find out what cultural cues are reflected in the kinds of clothing men wear, whether certain kinds of clothing communicate decadence or sexual prowess, and then create some guidelines you think are most appropriate for men. I think that would be a very constructive way of going about this.

  2. Rebecca

    Its a great artical! But i still believe as a women that though a women isn’t souly blame for sexual missconduct in the way they dress she still has responsibility. Women these days don’t innocently dress inappropriate they aim to in many cases. They want to turn heads and get a guy into bed with them. They can be as animistic to wards the man as the man is to the girl. Now this is only some cases but though girls are in most cases the victims so in some cases are the men. Men need to take responsibility for their eyes and actions, ABSOLUTELY! When a girl under any circumstance gets abused sexually she needs 110% compassion and love and support and there is no justification for the mans actions. But girls still need to get it out of their heads that they can just dress scanty . The few clubs i have been to its been the women not the men were going out of their way to be inappropriate and it discussed me greatly.

    • No disagreement here. That’s essentially what I was getting at. A girl who attempts to provoke a man’s lust is not thereby guilty of lust, but is guilty of seduction. If someone embraces the very thing the apostle Paul is commending here, then she will do all she can to dress in a modest fashion out of love for God, love for her fellow men, and a hatred of sin.

    • CA

      As a single female, I would like to confirm to you: yes, seeing an attractive man without his shirt can lead a woman to have impure thoughts. I live very close to a university, so I often see students jogging. When I’m driving past, I make it a point to look straight ahead, so that I won’t be tempted to look at them lustfully. So, as far as the swimming trunks, it doesn’t matter about their style. The issue is more about being able to see the man’s bare chest and back. I know the claim that women are not as visually stimulated as men. This does not, however mean that we are visually stimulated on a very low level. I once had to intentionally look down in church, because the young worship leader was wearing a fitted polo shirt, and he was quite muscular. Just like men associate certain female characteristics as feminine and more sexually attractive, women see male chests and arms as strong, masculine and sexually attractive.

      Another example, the other day, I heard someone talking about a man. She said she wasn’t really into him – until she saw his back. Actually, she exclaimed it.

      ****I’ve gone back and read your comment more thoroughly. So, I am glad to see that we are more in agreement than I thought! However, as far as a man not needing to wear a bra: this may be true. But it would still be helpful for him to wear a t-shirt, in order to cover himself up.

    • I agree with you, CA. I just didn’t want to speak for female kind. :)

      The purpose of my comments to Ed are to refute the mistaken notion that just because modesty practically means different things to men and women, it does not mean that these practical differences are evidence of a double standard. Certainly there is a double standard when it comes to modesty in many social circles, but the fact that men and women naturally wear different clothing because their bodies are different is not a manifestation of that double standard. As you pointed out, men need to be aware that what they wear can be titillating to a woman.

  3. Ed

    Luke, the Nudity and the Fall article by Bobby Scott makes a lot of presumptions:

    The first is trying to make a direct causal linkage between the words “arum” for the serpent in the garden and arom for Adam and Eve where none is stated or implied. Bobby’s then proceeds to extrapolate from that linkage that the entire net effect of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God was the perversion of Adam’s original excitement at seeing his new wife Eve through the eating of the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I’m sorry Luke but that is pure eisegesis: reading into the text rather than out of it. The tragedy of the fall was not that they viewed themselves as merely being naked — that was a symptom like the feelings of fear that they now felt was a symptom. The primary effect of the fall is that they didn’t personally trust God any longer and saw Him as an enemy who wasn’t looking out for their best interests. However, Bobby wants to make it the sole focus of how it perverted Adam and Eve’s views of each other’s bodies and their sexual attraction to each other. It really sounds like he developed a novel story line in order justify his presumption about the “perversion” of nudity. He is begging the question: Basing an assumption that is in as much need of proof or demonstration as the conclusion itself.

    One more thing about the “Katastole” issue: I never said that you personally were making out the word to mean that it is some type of clothing. You just need to be aware (and I’m sure that you are) that nearly every evangelical Christian web site with a “modesty agenda” contorts that word directly into clothing rather than an attitude (which you correctly state). I largely agree with your interpretation of the word as an attitude. You know what? — here’s attitude: If a woman (or man) dresses purposely and consciously to sexually or emotionally titillate the opposite sex, then there is a wrong heart issue. They are attempting to covet sexual attraction which does not rightfully belong to them. Coveting is the key for both the seducer and the seduced.

    Luke, you didn’t answer the questions in my last post to you about Christian girls and swimming suits. My questions to you were:

    1) Are Christian girls attracted to and aroused by skimpily dressed Christian guys? Were the Christian boys that I mentioned in my story (including my son) dressed immodestly?

    2) If Christian girls are attracted and aroused by skimpily dressed Christian guys, then why do current American Evangelical Christian “modesty standards” allow for the boys to wear almost nothing and the girls have to wear t-shirts and other types of clothing under their swimsuits?

    3) How would you feel if the Christian girls at camp wore no bathing top or covering over their torsos — just swimsuit bottoms (like the guys)? Would that be immodest?

    Please contrast and compare — I’m very interested in how you intellectually process these questions, especially in the light of the Nudity and the Fall series that you reference.

    • Like I said about Bobby’s post, you should really comment there so he can see the comments and reply back to you.

      In my article I said “the term ‘apparel’ is probably translated too narrowly: it is a term that encompasses not just clothing, but one’s whole demeanor, attitude, and actions.” Originally you said to me, “I think that you need to re-think your premise that 1 Timothy 2: 8-10 is talking about ‘respectable apparel.’” But now you’re saying I don’t need to rethink it? I’m confused.

      As for your questions.

      1. As I don’t know what kind of trunks the boys were wearing, and as I am not a woman, nor have I surveyed what women think about this, I really don’t know the answer to your question. Immodesty as a principle transcends how any one person does or does not lust after you. If a boy was dressed in swim trunks with the intention to seduce a girl, it would be immodest because his attitude would be in the wrong place, regardless of if he actually succeeds in titillating anyone. If you believe swim trunks send a cultural message of looseness or a provocative demeanor, or if you believe it is perceived by girls that way, or if you believe that girls (if they were honest with themselves) find men in trunks to be lust provoking, then I would say yes: they are immodest.

      2. I really don’t know the answer to this question either, but I have some speculations. There most certainly is a double standard present in at least particular Christians’ minds about modesty. There is the presupposition that women don’t become visually aroused by men. But I do believe that many Christians think modesty applies to guys. If a guy’s attitude is seductive, he would be labeled as immodest. If a guy poses for an Abercrombie & Fitch ad, he would probably be labeled as immodest. If a guy dressed opulently, in manner that was obvious he was only trying to show extraordinary wealth, he would be labeled as immodest. Still, you are right to want to raise the standard for men as well as women.

      3. I do think think modesty standards should be different for men and women, in terms of the specific clothing that is worn. If a girl doesn’t wear a bra under her shirt so as to show off more of her form, it could be immodest. But if a guy doesn’t wear a bra, this is simply because his anatomy doesn’t require one. A boy might be able to wear something that shows the top of his pectorals, but a girl might not. Gender differences don’t mean the presence of a double standard. A double standard exists when there isn’t the same premium on modesty for one gender as there is for another.

    • Leo

      Proverbs 3:7-Be not wise in your own eyes : fear the Lord , & depart from evil . Proverbs 7:10-And behold , there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot , & subtil of heart . Isaiah 3:17-Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion , & the Lord will discover their secret parts . Proverbs 3:21-22-My son , let not them depart from your eyes : keep sound wisdom & discretion : So shall they be life unto your soul , & grace to thy neck . Proverbs 1:22-32 . Hosea 11:9-11 . Hosea 11:9-11 . Hosea 2:1-23 . Hosea 4:13-14 . Ecclesiastes 1:9-15 . Daniel 7:23-28. Matthew 24:3-12 . Deuteronomy 11:17-21 . Deut . 28:15-41 . Ever heard of ” The beginning of the farthest of end of the end days ” , ” blinding the naive ppl. ” , ” Don’t rest in these days of times , for your tomorrows are promised to ” no – one .

  4. Julia

    What a great article! Looking at the WYD2013 I couldn’t help thinking how necessary this message is in theCatholic world. Almost every single JMJ hymn video, the mobflash videos had girls singing and dancing in tights or hot pants.

    Having said this, I’m rather surprised that you would say that we’re not responsible/ “guilty” for others’ sins. Participating in someone else’s sin, certainly is a sin. Intentionally inducing people in sin, is a sin. Not admonishing someone’s sin can also become our personal sin.

    In the CCC the virtue of modesty is linked to the virtue of charity precisely because charity has us think of the spiritual and general welfare of others. While a girl should not be blamed for gettin raped, we do need to be aware that dressing provocatively is a sin against charity and against purity and the lust we produce in others, especially if done intentionally or out of negligence (“heck, I’m only going to the corner store, hope no one notices I’m half naked”) does in fact, make us part-takers of the orher’ sin.

    Either way, thank you for this inspiring post, it got me motivated to write (once again) on the subject for our Romanian chastity site!


    • Hi Julia. For clarification, I mean that if someone lusts after you, you are not thereby guilty of lusting. If you did something to intentionally provoke that lust, then you are guilty of seduction, not lust. In this sense, you are most certainly participating in the man’s sin, but you are not guilt of his sin. You are accountable for your own.

      You are correct: Modesty is most certainly linked to charity (love) because we don’t want to cause others to stumble. We should never want to cause someone to stumble, but we also don’t want to make the mistake of downplaying another’s sin because someone else tempted them. A man is responsible to guard his eyes no matter how women around him dress.

      In other words, both the seducer and the seduced are guilty, but guilty for different reasons.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. Ed

    Thanks for the good dialogue Luke — I appreciate opinions like yourst because they are well-thought out.

    I read your friend Bobby Scott’s series on how nudity affected Adam and Eve in the Fall with much interest. While I agree with some of his secondary points about the nature of deception and how it marred the image of God in people, I have to respectfully but unequivocally disagree with his basic premise regarding the Fall and nudity — namely, that through Eve being deceived and Adam going along with it, that Eve used her nakedness and sensualistic whiles to forever corrupt the purity of Adam. Wow! I thought that this type of regressive theology passed away with certain vestiges of old line Catholicism. I still recall my, aunt, who was raised up in the Depression area Catholicism (where the Bible was read to them only in Latin), sitting around the dinner table with my Mom and I during the early 1970’s (when I was a young boy,) explaining to us how the forbidden fruit in Eden was Eve giving Adam a taste of “sex” through nudity and sensualism — thereby corrupting him and forever warping his purity. In all due respect to your friend Luke, again I have to say Wow! — I never thought I would ever hear that kind of reasoning again, particularly in this century. I mean no disrespect to Bobby. He obviously has taken some time to think deeply about this issue. It’s just that his ultimate conclusion is illogical and unfounded: The fall of Adam and Eve in the garden was far more universally damaging than simply perverting Adam’s view of Eve and her body. Their insecure desire to want to clothe themselves when God didn’t want them clothed was a symptom of their illogical feelings of separation anxiety when God wasn’t even separating Himself from them or rejecting them. The issue of their nudity and their hastily acquired fig leafs (which quickly burned away in the noonday sun) was a side issue. God knew that they need better clothes to protect their bodies from the elements once they were out of the protective realm of Eden.

    I agree with you that the Greek word Katastole can be very well extended to include clothing — I’m just telling you that that is not the primary thrust of the word — yet many have made it that. In fact, there are hoardes of so-called Christian modesty proponents who have made it their sole focus. Just google “Christian girls and modest clothing”, for example, and you’ll see how far this passage of Scripture has been stretched out of context. You’ll see articles about the length of dresses for women and even head coverings.

    Luke, you said this in your article:

    “Similarly, modern modesty standards are not about arbitrary rules of how much skin is shown or how low-cut something is, but about the messages and values our clothing communicates.”

    I would submit to you, that in most Christian forum discussions about 1 Timothy 2: 8-10 and modesty, there are no raging debates about braided hair, gold, pearls or costly attire. It is entirely about midriffs, cleavage and skin exposure and what it is perceived to communicate.

    Consider this:

    My seventeen year old Paul, whom I have carefully trained in the ways of inner sexual purity — through the Holy Spirit, not the Law — recently went to his church summer camp and had a great time with the girls and guys there. As usual, we received some “purity guidelines” from our church (which is a great church) in advance of his outing. In particular, most of these well meaning guidelines were geared towards how the girls should cover up. Wear t-shirts under their one piece bathing suits and not wear short shorts which exposed their thighs or blouses which exposed their breasts or belly buttons. The admonitions were also slightly given to the young men as they were counseled to not wear pants that hung down too low — but that was it.

    Anyways, after the trip, I’m looking over camp photos with my son and see some pictures that were taken on “water slide day”. The girls in the picture were all “appropriately dressed” with t-shirts under their bathing suits as they slipped down the slide. The guys? — well that was another story: My son, along with several other boys, were wearing swimming trunks and no shirts — essentially, mostly nude. What happened to the modesty standards? If the roles were reversed and it was the girls dressed like this, they would have been reprimanded by youth leaders. Question: were the girls not potentially aroused by the sight of guys without shirts and skimpy bottoms — essentially wear the modern day equivalent of loin cloths. Was the boys’ dress modest?

    Luke, this is why the unsaved world is all confused about our “Christian modesty standards” — because we are just as confused as they are. Just for the record, I don’t feel that there was anything inappropriate with how my boy or the other boys were dressed. And I would feel the same if the girls were dressed exactly the same as the boys.

    Do you agree or disagree? Please explain.

    • As far as Bobby’s article is concerned, you didn’t point out any actual problems with his exegesis, other than calling it “regressive theology.” If you would like to dialogue with him (and me) about any specifics of why you think his interpretation is incorrect, I highly encourage you to go to any one (or all) of those four articles and state some specifics in the comments. I’d love the feedback and I’m sure he would too.

      I’m glad we’re agreed that katastole includes the concept of outward adornment through clothing with the emphasis on inward attitude. It seems you keep running into arguments elsewhere (not in my article) that say that katastole is an actual item or type of clothing. We both agree: that is not what this word is. That’s why I didn’t state anything like that in my article.

      I agree there are plenty of discussions in Christian communities about the specifics of modesty, as far as clothing or a lack of clothing is concerned. I do not think such discussions are out of place if they are talked about in the light of this text, and other relevant texts, that speak of modesty as an matter of the heart. There is nothing wrong with talking specifics of clothing (after all, the apostle Paul did) when trying to bring some kind of modern application to how heart-modesty is lived out in our interactions and wardrobe choices.

      I agree with you that this should apply to men as well as women. As far as this text is concerned, modesty was something Paul was addressing to Christians women, but there are plenty of principles to be applied here for men as well.

      I do think modesty is going to be a contextual matter. From one culture to another, from one era to another, and from one gender to another, modesty is going to take different shapes based on the cultural cues certain kinds of clothing provoke. For the people in Ephesus, braided hair invoked a certain kind of cultural response. For us, not so much.

      I don’t think Christians need to hide from this fact as if it is an embarrassment. Christianity can pride itself in being trans-cultural. The gospel can go into all the nations of the world and impact those nations from within because Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. If specific kinds of clothing choices differ from culture to culture or from generation to generation, this isn’t a problem. We simply preach on the heart of modesty, watch God change hearts, and try to offer the best discerning guidelines we can to help people make modest clothing choices based on the times in which we live.

  6. Ed

    Luke, I totally agree with your last statement in your article: “What am I trying to accomplish by what I wear?” That puts the focus on our covetous motives rather than a particular style or fashion.

    Any discussion of 1 Timothy 2: 8-10 needs to be closely compared to 1 Peter 3: 3-5, which is very similar in message.

    In regards to Adam and Eve, they felt a sense of shame about their own bodies but the shame did not come from God. At the time of the Fall, the only two human beings on the face of the earth were Adam and Eve and they had seen other naked for possibly a very long time and even been intimate with each other after the Fall. Were they trying to hide their bodies from each other? There were no other people on earth at that time.

    Finally, I think that you need to re-think your premise that 1 Timothy 2: 8-10 is talking about “respectable apparel”. Many Bible translations have read that into the text because they have not exhaustively studied the original Greek. The Greek word “Katastole”, which has been interpreted to mean adornment or apparel is not referring to clothing at all — but rather a quiet, restrained attitude. Furthermore, there was no article of clothing in the ancient Greek or Roman world that was named Katastole or could be identified as Katastole.

    Please tell what you think about this scholarly exegesis of 1 Timothy 2: 8-10:

    • I agree about your statement of 1 Peter 3. Deserves an article all of its own because it is another rich text. And yes, it relates very closely to this text.

      I agree that the shame Adam and Eve felt was something internally motivated. No disagreement there. Still, it was God who clothed them (Genesis 3:21), showing that he didn’t disapprove of their instinct to cover up. As you said, they were married and the only two people in existence, so seeing each other nude was not a problem, but the new presence of sin signaled something in them that there was a danger in being exposed. The shame seems to be something more related to their sin, not just their nudity, per se (Genesis 3:7). Not sure how much is in the Genesis text we can glean.

      My friend Bobby Scott wrote an interesting piece about nudity and the fall. You might like it.

      I never said that katastole was a specific piece of apparel. As far as I have studied, you are right: there is no item of apparel that is called katastole. That wasn’t what I said. I said the term translated apparel is probably translated too narrowly. I said, “it is a term that encompasses not just clothing, but one’s whole demeanor, attitude, and actions.” Since the context is clearly talking about clothing (as Paul mentions several manners of adorning one’s body), the force of the word is about attitude expressed through apparel.

      From what I can tell, the term katastole has a couple nuanced meanings. First it means something put in order or arranged, in the sense of being equipped, clothed, or dressed (the Greek playwright Aristophanes, for instance, used it this way). The term also used of something “let down,” or calm and sedated. The definitions are related because of the way clothing is “let down” over the body.

      Clearly we agree that the heart of this text is about one’s attitude. We also agree that Paul is not prescribing a kind of clothing. (He is denouncing certain styles, but not prescribing anything specific.) But to say this text has nothing to do with clothing at all doesn’t do justice to the text.

    • Nicole

      Actually Deuteronomy is taken out of context today to apply to a standard to fit a standard that many churches have set. I am a woman that wear nothing but skirts and dresses adn I use to use that scripture in Deuteronomy to justify not wearing pants because that is what I was taught. However it is totally taken out of context. This was talking about cross dressing. Homosexuality is not modern and it prevailed in bible times even much more than we know. God is not the author of confusion adn this scripture cannot be used for something that did not apply then. All people of God wore robes and you knew a man from a woman back in the day by the clothing they wore but it wasn’t certain articles of clothing. God was dealing with cross dressing, a woman wearing a mans clothing and vice versa. Both men and woman condoned in homosexuality among the other nations and of course they crossed dressed as they do today, to propose themselves as something they are not, deceiving the other party. I do not wear dresses and skirts based on Deuteronomy but I wear it because i believe it to be appropriate and it is what I consider modest. God is not complicated as many people make him and try to use one scripture to build a doctrine. Most do not know or understand biblical history, its better to make sure we study the scripture to show ourselves approved and with all your getting get understanding so we can RIGHTLY divide the word of truth. He said to dress modestly, just as Sarah and the others woman. study to see how they dressed themselves. Some things were custom and cultural. WHen God saved gentiles, he didn’t save them to be conformed to Jewish standards or cultures but he gave them guidelines to follow so that they know how to be appropriate. it’s all about the heart. Why do we do what we do. Love your neighbor as yourself. don’t be a stumbling block for others and so on. rightly divide scripture. I agree with this article and it is definitely a guide to consider what you wear and why you wear it and how you present yourself. It is not just outward but an inward thing. modesty is of the heart.

  7. Well done! Perfect timing for your article… we are three weeks away from launching an event called “Modesty Matters” ( on Sept. 7 at a waterpark in Mansfield, TX with the purpose of showing how beautiful modesty can be. You’ve hit the nail on the head with your post, and I’m grateful for your boldness and courage. I’m a father of five (7-12 yrs old) and can greatly appreciate what you are doing for our next generation. God bless!

    • Thanks, Steve! Thanks for info about the event!

    • Harold

      Deuteronomy 22:5 talks about ladies wearing pants

    • jennifer

      Men wore robes back then..that resembled a dress..and no man I know wears the kind of pants I do lol
      And many soldiers and men wore nothing to cover their chest..

    • Lisa Eldred

      Absolutely. Like this post points out, modesty is more concerned with the underlying principles of inciting neither lust in men nor envy in women; it’s about keeping your clothing from either detracting or distracting from your good deeds. The actual clothing we wear changes from generation to generation and should be considerably less of a concern.

    • Sharon Knox

      JP….do a few hours research to determine what type of “wine” Jesus drank….did he turn the water at the wedding at Cana to fermented wine? Did he drink fermented wine at the Last Supper? Was there a way to preserve grape juice Jesus day? What type of wine will we drink when we drink it together with him in his kingdom? You may hear they drank a little wine for their stomach’s sake….but just as fermented wine is being touted for health reasons, the medicinal properties are in the grape, not the fermentation. Alcohol kills cells.

    • P.Selvaraj

      Nothing is more beautiful than modesty.

  8. Jocelyn Sophia Poesnecker

    I am glad that you approached the subject of a woman’s modesty. Before I started covering all my body, except my face, hands and feet, in public, I would like to look at the old paintings of women wear veils over their heads and long, loose dresses. Then I thought, “Why only then? There certainly is enough fabric in the world for me to cover more. For thirty years now I have covered myself in long dresses, with a head covering. I have worked, In Philadelphia, been on stage singing in a modest way, and have even had four children in hospitals staying covered mostly. It makes a giant difference. When I put on these clothes of “old”, I think of the virgin Mary and other good women of the past. I just smile at people, speak perfect English and sometimes people ask: “What country are you from?” I say that I am American, and go on with the subject that I want to address, or listen to them. Concerning the matter that you wrote about, a woman going to a party and doing things and then getting raped, I believe that her going to the party not covered well was a sin, drinking alcohol is a sin, “making out” with men who are not her husband is a sin. So although I do believe that a man raping her is a sin on his part, she did a lot of sins also, in the story presented. Help children in need or do another good act, and don’t sin people!

    • annelisefrench

      interesting comment, Jocelyn. to me the point of being modest is not to draw attention to oneself; therefore, covering yourself completely is going to draw attention to YOU. i would rather go unnoticed….you might be a person who desires attention from others, even if you can cloak yourself from head to toe.

    • elsie

      Wait, just to be sure there is nothing wrong with drinking, its a sin when the person gets drunk
      Ephesians 5:18

      And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
      Galatians 5:21

      Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    • Harold

      The Bible does speak about Ladies wearing pants in Deuteronomy well it’s says that women should not wear that which pertaineth unto to a man that being said men wear pants

    • Leo

      1 Timothy 5:4-8- But if any widow have children or nephews , let them learn first to show pity at home , & to requite their parents : for that is good & acceptable before God . Now she that is a widow indeed , & desolate , trust in God , & continue in supplications & prays night & day . But she that live in pleasure is dead while she lives . And these things give in charge , that they may be blameless . But if any provide not for his own , & specially for those of his own house , he has denied the faith , & is worse than an infidel . 1 Timothy 5:11-15-But the younger widows refuse : for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ , they will marry ; Having damnation , because they have cast off their first faith . And withal they learn to be idle , wandering about from house to house ; & not only idle , but tattlers also & busybodies , speaking things which they ought not .I will therefore that the younger women marry , bear children , guide the house , give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully . For some are already turned aside after Satan . I’m only saying that besides clothing meaning modesty , that there is also way of living way titled modesty as well called a woman’s modest life style . James 1:21-22- Wherefore lay apart all filthiness & superfluity of naughtiness , & receive with meekness the engrafted word , which is able to save your souls . But be you doers of the word , & not hears only , deceiving your own selves . What is a good fruit ? Is how someone dress only ? No . Maybe different topic the last 2 , but are example’s that help may give an understand in a full painting maybe , if there is one ?. Matthew 5:15-Beware of false prophets , which come to you in sheep’s clothing , but inwardly they are ravening wolves . 1 Corinthians 11:9-10-Neither was the man created for the woman ; but the woman for the man . For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels .

    • Jay Howard

      I suggest you find a small book “Dress, The Heart of the Matter” which is written by two ladies of particular courage.
      If you don’t have the time and resource for that, just research the original language in Timothy for “modest apparel” The instruction from Paul describes a particular style.
      What has the early church done in this area? What were the standards until a few years ago?
      God created Eve to attract Adam. Guess how that works.
      I don’t like to be unpleasant, but this article is a mile wide and an inch deep.

    • jp

      so Jocelyn, then you must believe that Jesus sinned, he drank wine. The bible does not teach that drinking is a sin, it says being drunk is a sin.

    • P.Selvaraj

      Well put,Joselyn.The points you have made are crystal clear.I appreciate your comment.

  9. Ed

    I hear what you’re saying Luke but I have a question to pose to you before this discussion ends up devolving into subjective admonitions and advice to women as to how they can dress more “modestly”:

    First off, is the fully nude human body by definition immodest? Is your own unclothed body intrinsically immodest?

    If your initial premise about the body is wrong, then your conclusions will be tainted as well.

    • Great question. Modesty is, by definition, a command given to those living in a sinful context. In the beginning, human beings were naked and without shame. Nude Adam and nude Eve were not immodest, because their nakedness was a natural and godly expression of their human beauty and worth. There was no sin to react to. And in a very real sense, their naked form was a display of the image of God in them.

      But since the fall, things have been very different. Nudity still communicates the same kind of openness, beauty, transparency, and vulnerability it did in Eden, but because of the way sinful people exploit that vulnerability (through seduction) and are exploited by it (through lust), clothing is important.

      So, is nudity immodest? Yes and no. No, it is not immodest when it is experienced before others who can appreciate it without exploitation (such as husbands and wives naked before each other, or a child naked before a loving parent, or a number of other contexts). Yes, it is immodest when it is experienced before those who would exploit others by it or be exploited by it.

      Like my article says, modesty is contextual. Modesty doesn’t say, “My naked form is inherently shameful.” Rather, a modest heart says, “My naked form is a thing of divine beauty, and knowing my own sinful heart and the sinful hearts of others, I will not use such beauty as an opportunity for exploitation and indecency.”

    • I hear many of you talk of dressing to please God and yet I hear very few of you use Scriptures to back that up! 1 Timothy 2.9 commands…yes commands (i.e. God ordered) all Christian women/girls to not only dress modestly and unshamedly, but also to wear {proper} clothing. The Greek word for clothing here is katistole where we get our English word STOLE. In the Greek, the word katistole means a long, let done, loose covering. Obviously swimsuits, leg exposing shorts, tight pants and tight short dresses do not meet God’s criteria for PROPER CLOTHING. Ladies, we have to stop comparing our modesty standards with what the world wears. The Word of God should be the standard that ALL Christian women use for determining how to dress and even how long our hair should be. (See 1 Corinthians chapter 11 for God’s hair standard for men and women.)

      Again girls, lets dress, look, talk and behave as God’s Word tells us. Let’s quit comparing our ‘more modest standards’ to the less modest standards of this world; when we use the world as a gauge for what modesty means it convinces our hearts that we are dressing ‘okay’ because after all, we are not dressing like those sinners….at least many of are not. An example of that is when Christian women chooses not to wear a bikini because they believe a bikini is immodest….which is good. However many Christian women will then choose to wear a one piece swimsuit (which is still always form fitting) with a pair of shorts. Now choosing to wear the one piece swimsuit with shorts is much better than wearing a bikini….however, it’s still not biblically modest in God’s eyes. God’s standards are not based on the world’s, or even the churches, concept of what modest is. Oh how far we have fallen from God’s standard for modesty! I can’t even imagine faithful, biblical women like Sarah or Hannah even considering going out in public wearing the type of clothes that many Christian women wear today. For thousands of years godly thinking women wore modest, discreet clothing. A lot of the clothes that Christian women wear these days would have only been seen on harlots or prostitutes in years past.

      And finally, girls/ladies it is NOT legalism when we follow God’s standards for choosing to wear modest clothing to please the Lord. Now the Scriptures do NOT tell us exactly what we can and cannot wear. By that I mean the Bible does not directly command that women cannot wear pants. However, the Scripture do clearly tell us that ANY pants that are worn by girls/women must be modest and discreet. No obviously, nearly skin tight, (i.e. form revealing) pants (of any style) are NOT modest and discreet. Trust me gals, if you’re wearing skin tight, butt or crotch hugging pants, any guy with more testosterone than a French fry is not going to look at what color your eyes are when he sees you coming or going. Ladies, all those ‘goodies’ should be for your husband’s eyes only. Save all those nice looking body parts for your marriage bedroom. Please see for more info on modesty and gender issues.

      Ladies, the Lord never intended for girls/women to be, act, behave or compete with the boys/men in all areas of life. God intended that the men do those things like: climbing the coconut tree or build the pyramids, wrestling the sheep away from the wolf. Now there are many things that women can do modestly and discreetly while wearing modest, discreet clothing. I am afraid that many Christian women have wandered away from that biblical concept because they desire to do everything that the guys do. I believe that’s why we have so Christian women involved in all kinds of head-banging, body-slamming sports activities today. Let’s be honest: you put a dress on a girl/women and she’s going to be limited into what she can do physically. Over the years women in civilized societies (who always choose to dress somewhat modestly) have slowly drifted towards dressing ways that were once considered barbaric. Today we have a whole generation of women that are going back to the plates in the lips, numerous body piercings, and grass skirt type outfits. And ladies, it always amazes me that many Christian, and even secular women, who do attempt to be modest (i.e. working hard to not expose their undergarment things) when wearing dresses, will show up at a beach pretty wearing things that pretty much reveal everything they’ve got!

    • Mirene

      This is a great read for navigating the issue of modesty:
      i think its good to look at modesty at all angles. it should be a womans personal convinction. she should learn why she should be modest, seek God’s direction and guidance from prayer scripture and fellowship, and truly desire to be virtuous for herself. it can be pushed onto her or forced.
      this is a great read:

    • gerhard svrek- seiler

      They had no ebaches, so bikinis andonepieces were no issue. na do you think that a woan, working in the fied could – like the downtown ladies , do around in a Katastiole ?

      Interestng enough therecwere te baths and Chritians also takig tis chance(See Tertulianin, Apolgeticum)

      NAy further comment ?

    • Zaira

      Saint John Chrysostom instructed women of all times about dress when in the fourth century he declared:
      “You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. … When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.”

    • Shelley

      To the person referencing nudity. The Bible makes clear reference & warning about being nude & moreover stumbling others to lust. Flaunting your body to receive sexual attention is asking for lust attention, not love attention. I CERTAINLY learned that the hard way. It really isn’t a difficult difference to notice. One who cares beyond the shallow & superficial will NEVER push “sexy” instead of truly valuing the person. That only comes with respect & obedient Godly behavior.

    • Leo

      KJV Bible Matthew 5:28 – But I say unto you , that whosoever look on a women to lust over after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart .KJV Bible Deut. 22:5-The woman shall not wear that which pertain unto a man , neither shall a man put on women’s garment : for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord your God . KJV Bible Proverbs 12:4-6- A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband : but she that make ashamed is as rottenness in his bones . The thoughts of the righteous are right : but the counsels of the wicked are deceit . The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood : but he mouth of the upright shall deliver them . Proverbs 3:15 – She is more precious than rubies : & all the things you can desire are not to be compared unto her . Length of days is in her right hand ; & in her left hand riches & honour . Her ways are ways of pleasantness , & all her paths are peace . She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her : & happy is every one that retain her .

    • Leirbag28

      Luke…great article…but can only be made majorly greater by making a massive grave error in something perhaps you did not know IS in scripture..I cannot pass on the link to this article because of the error…..
      People ARE responsible for CAUSING someone else to sin. Did Satan ever force anyone to sin? Why is he going to hell? It is because he CAUSED the world to go astray by temptation, deception, misinformation…but let me quote Jesus on how much he despises anyone who causes someone else to sin:
      But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Mathew 18:6 ESV


      And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! Luke 17:1

      These verses alone should motivate any Christian not to tempt others…Christian and Tempter should not be spoken of in the same sentence…..a female tempter is called a Seductress in the old testament….one can read all about that too…and I know plently of Christian seductresses unfortunately.

      Please edit the article to include these…I havent found many articles as accurate as yours.

    • Tim Robison

      I believe that women should wear dresses and to cover themselves up more, Here is a scripture that says women are not to wear a mans garment. Deuteronomy chapter 22 verse 5. The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

      Here is the definition to the word pertaineth: be appropriate, related, or applicable. RELATED? Yes! A womans pants are in relation to a mans pants.
      PANTS were a mans garment no matter how our world has changed, there are no scriptures that say Christians can change with the world. The Bible is the same yesterday, today and forever and it never changes.

      Carefully read the scripture below. When it says, be not conformed to this world, it reminds me of how im not suppose to be similar in form or type with the rest of the world and it gives me an understanding that im not suppose to present myself, act like, or live like the world.

      Romans 12:1-2
      12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
      2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God

      The meaning of conformed:
      Be similar in form or type, go along with, fall in with (of a person) behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards. be similar in form or type, match, fit, suit, answer, agree with, be like, correspond to, be consistent with, measure up to, tally with, square with.

      This is what the Christian life of today have become, looking, acting and presenting themselves just like the rest of this world. Today you cannot distinguish a Christian from a non Christian. The bible says not to be like the world and to be a light to the world, so therefore why should we appear as they do.
      Anyone who is living a Christian life and has the spirit of God in them, it will show by your appearance as well as how you live it. The spirit of God will cause you to change the outer appearance when you submit yourself to Christ and be obedient to him, you will become more Holy the more you follow Christ. “The Inner will change the outer”

    • Lucinda Essin

      As I recall the first instance of covering the body was done because of sin, the second was done by God himself. So covering your body by itself can be because of shame of our nakedness or by protection of our bodies. Scripture then, wants to address not just covering ourselves, but with what? The author well defines modesty. I believe it to be respect for my body and myself in such a way that the focus of my covering is not how beautiful I am (focus of self) or how wealthy I am (focus of money) but that what I wear should not be a distraction for myself as if I only have value if I am a size 4 or where Coach. Some people are naturally a size 4 and some people like the shape and function of a Coach purse but the focus should not be my value is because I have money. An anorrrexic will starve themselves to death to try to be valuable by being thin and they are never thin enough. It becomes self abasement. God always wants us to have balance. Our value as Christians is that God found us worth dying for. He desires to lift us up, bring us freedom from the slavery of fashion. Our beauty is to come from within us, not what’s outside us. Clothing is for protection from the elements, whether it is hot or cold. When we start there and not at I have to have a man or I will die we are freeing ourselves, not straight jacketing ourselves. In my family we have large breasts. I choose not to bare them in public, not because I can’t, but because I don’t want to. I believe that is part of my private self only for my husband to enjoy. I may wear close fitting clothing but I do not show cleavage. That is my personal choice. No one is forcing that on me, I just have no desire to do so. My daughters like the fashions that show cleavage and that is their choice. They are comfortable in those clothes. I am too self conscious to be comfortable dressing like that, so it doesn’t work for me. I think more about my breasts than who I am talking to if I wear something low cut like that, therefore my focus changes from feeling pretty and enjoying life to being preoccupied with myself. I believe that is what Paul and the other writers in scripture are trying to lead us. The focus is the difference, not the item. When we are modest there are certain things we don’t feel comfortable in as women. No one is really condemning a style but a focus. Our focus should be Christ…not our waistline, not our nails, not our bellybutton. My friend’s daughter was dealing with an eating disorder. She lost a lot of weight and looked almost gaunt (size 0) but she had lots of self loathing. She went to counseling for two years. During that time she got pregnant and had a baby. She is now a size 12 and can love her body as it is. She still has those tendencies but she doesn’t have to be a size 0 to have value as a person. As women we can get caught up in this. The fashion industry is always pushing that you have to have their product to have worth. A woman of God should know she has worth whether she carries a purse of $10 value or $300 value. Question is, is this ruling you? If so, then for you it is sin.

    • Kyle

      First off I would like to say I thank God that you wrote an honest article about how women should be. I would just like to make a reproof in the first sentence of the last paragraph in part 4. You are missing “does not”. It should state “No, a woman is not guilty of a man’s lust if she does not dress with the intention to allure him.”

    • Chris McKenna

      Thank you, Kyle. I have made the correction.

    • Jonathan Crumley

      First let me say that you should consider the definition of “sexy” and ask yourself if you think our pristine God is bringing back the following from Webster’s dictionary: sexually suggestive or stimulating : erotic

      Surely we have another possible definition that simply indicates the idea of “appealing”. However, if something appeals to us and it does not possess sexual components, then we should refrain from using the word “sexy”. So, the simple definition of “appealing or attractive” should not even exist in Webster’s. The very root of “sexy”, which is “sex” tells us the underlying understanding, if not the very present thrust, of the word and its intended meaning. For a website and operation that intends to free people of sexually motivated sinful lifestyles, this article’s title is strangely offered. In fact, it undermines the entire article and website intentions.

      Secondly, this article is actually not accurate according to God. HIS word through Brother Paul in his letter to the Romans (14) tells us that we can indeed be an agent to cause someone to stumble. In the article, the author fails to give a complete picture of responsibility in God’s view. It is true that each person must submit to a renewing of their mind and seek pure thoughts. However, it is ludicrous to assume that purveyors and disseminators of visual opportunities have zero responsibility. Would we take recovering alcoholics to a wine tasting? Would we put a sex offender in charge of a daycare? So, should we think that women who dress provocatively and “sexy” are acting in a manner that is HOLY? Does their dress or lack thereof entice others to sin? According to God the answer to that is a resounding YES. Product marketing companies know this full well. This author has ignored and spoken against the very thing marketeers have known for a very long time. Sex-y sells! According to God, women’s sexually oriented (sexy) presentation is a strong enticement and is the spark that has the potential to be what ignites other’s sin.

    • Hi Leirbag28,

      What I mean by you don’t “cause” someone else to sin is this: if you tempt someone, you are not guilty of THEIR sin, but you are guilty of YOUR OWN sin. If I seduce someone, I am guilty of being a tempter. I am not guilty for their lust. Each is guilty of his own sin.

      When the devil tempts us, no one can say, “The devil made me do it.” We did it. The devil if, of course, guilty of his own sin in the matter, but he isn’t guilty of mine.

      Even your quotation of Luke 17:1 shows this. Jesus pronounces woe on those through whom TEMPTATIONS come. The tempter is guilty, to be sure. But he is guilty of tempting. The one tempted is guilty of the sin to which he was tempted.

    • Hi Jonathan,

      I’ll admit I was merely capitalizing on a common phrase (at least common when I wrote the article), so I was not overthinking the definition of “sexy” when I wrote it. That said, I stand by the title. It mocks the culture that tries to define what is “sexy” by its own standards, when in fact real attractiveness is measured by God in different ways. No doubt the thrust of the word in certain contexts is “sexually stimulating,” but as you pointed out, the word has a broader meaning. You might disagree with that meaning, but it does, in fact, exist.

      As far as whether we can “cause” someone to sin, perhaps some clarity is needed. I never used the language of “causation” in the article—though it has come up in a number of comments from others. What I said was, “A person is never guilty of another person’s sin.” While someone might be guilty of tempting another person, they are not guilty of that person’s sin that follows from the temptation. In a specific scenario, a woman can be guilty of seduction and a man can be guilty of lust—but the woman is not guilty of lust, just as the man isn’t guilty of seduction. Both parties—the tempter and the tempted—are guilty, but they are guilty of distinct (yet very related) sins.

      I agree that Paul says we can “cause” someone to stumble (Romans 14:20-21), but that word can also be translated “whereby” and “by which.” The road from point A to point B is the means “by which” someone gets to point B, but it is not necessarily the “cause” of someone getting there. Certainly the road makes it easier to get there, just as temptation makes it easier to sin. But the road is only guilty of being a road. It’s the driver that bears the guilt of taking that road.

    • JS Leonard

      Paul wasn’t saying to not wear any of those things. What he was saying was that we should focus on inner beauty than on outter beauty. Meaning it’s perfectly ok to wear all these thing. The Bible repeatedly tails of people like Esther and Sarah who both are doing themselves and gold bracelets nose rings and earrings and even two treatments to prepare their beauty for the rule over Persia and those treatments included mascara and makeup. So to cherry-pick Bible verses is incorrect as you have to look at the book as a whole.

    • This is a very good awesome passage here : Modest is hottest they say unaware that in their own hearts they are still enslaved to a pre occupation with their physical image ,still defining their worth by their outward adornment. (These 39 words prophetic for the scars of Jesus Christ.) Terrill TC

    • Grace

      I agree that we are not responsible for what the next person does, but can we please have less “Cain syndrome”? Cain told YaHUah, “Am I my brothers keeper?” As women we should care enough about brothers, fathers, friends, and everyday strangers to not put a stumbling block before them. (Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” If we show cleavage then we are openly giving ANYONE an invitation to look down our shirt. Women ARE responsible for the way men are attracted to our bodies if we are wearing tight fitting clothes, showing skin, and adorning ourselves in a way that draws people in. If we do our job and follow what the scriptures say, we will make it easier for men to keep their thoughts and actions pure. We are not able to do whatever we want. We are all responsible for each other. The body of YaHUshua is divided because nobody cares for one another the way that he calls us to. Women should not be walking alone at 2a.m. They shouldn’t be partying and getting drunk. (Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,” All of the examples above are women doing exactly what the scriptures say not to. If we want to be treated as ladies, then we need to act, dress, talk, and treat ourselves as daughters of the king. The modern woman is loud, brash, immodest, a social butterfly, and does not care. Modern women act as harlots and prostitutes, but expect be treated as a princess. If we want to see a change, lets be the change.
      A Follower of YaHUah King of Kings,

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