Is Modesty a Thing of the Past?

Does the Bible have anything to say about how we as Christian women should dress? Should we go without makeup? Should we wear only long dresses? Should we not wear pants? Should we not wear jewelry? Can we, should we try to dress with sex appeal?

At one time, I did stop wearing makeup, pants, and yes, my dresses came down to my knees. Why? Well, I was just about 18 years old and was devoted to Christ. I now know that the women around me most likely influenced my dress because of how they dressed, old and young. But as I grew in my relationship with the Lord, I also grew in recognizing what the Bible was saying and understanding my liberty in Christ.  The Apostle Paul describes my self-restricting activity as a show of will-worship which he warned against in Colossians 2:20-23. I learned that it produced  in me pride and judgmentalism.

However, I do believe the Bible is our guide; and yes, it does have something to say about how we dress.

“In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with |godly fear| and sobriety, not with broided hair, or gold or pearls, or costly array, But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” I Timothy 2:9-10 KJV

“Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. I Peter 3:3-4 ESV

Last week when I was in Oceanside with my husband celebrating our anniversary, we both noticed the clothing of the News Channel Weather Reporters who were women. They wore dresses, but they were all very tight, fitted, short, and above all did not look professional. I was tempted to write to the news station, but I didn’t.

What happened? There used to be a professional decorum. Yes, we may have moved away from business suits, but how did we get here?

Sadly, I have observed that it has not just infiltrated the news shows and the culture by and large, but has infiltrated our churches.

I don’t believe that the scriptures cited means that I have to wear a sack or muumuu, but that I should dress as though I have a godly fear and desire to please him.

Although the Apostles Paul and Peter addressed this in their day, it is still a hot topic for today.

A couple of years ago, gospel artist, Erica Campbell came out with her new album and her cover showed her wearing a fitted white dress which brought with it a lot of chatter. Inside Edition covered it in an article and interview, Gospel Singer Erica Campbell’s Sexy Image Stirs Controversy.

In it, she defends herself saying she was showing no skin, but that she has a lot of curves and sees nothing wrong with her picture on the cover. I personally don’t think our shapes have anything to do with it. I believe it has everything to do with who we represent and serve. As Christians, the Bible says that I am no longer calling the shots, but I submit to him because he has bought me with a price, I am not my own.

There is a quote I found, not certain of the author, but it’s been cited in a sermon I heard on modesty:

“Your clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you’re a lady.”

I believe the scriptures cited above are still relevant today because modesty is a condition of our hearts. We reveal our true heart by what we choose to wear. Proverbs 7 warns against women that will entice with the attire of an harlot, and scheming heart. The attire of an harlot is designed to attract male interest sexually; whereas, the Apostle Peter emphasizes that the Christian woman’s true adornment is the hidden person of the heart that seeks to please God even through her attire.

We are called to not be conformed to this world. The world makes us want to pursue being sexy, being referred to as Divas.  Christ wants us to pursue being holy.

I believe we can look our best and glorify God in our dress at the same time by letting it not be the driving force, but Christ and his work in us.  I believe that our dress should not be a distraction.

What do you think?




26 thoughts on “Is Modesty a Thing of the Past?

  1. There is nothing wrong for a woman to adorn herself. You have to look beautiful. Our God is beautiful.

    The issue is the Bible says we should do everything in moderation. The worldly woman doesn’t understand the word ‘moderation’, it is like being confined and archaic to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great post! I am in my late twenties, and I often feel like there are very few people who wish that modesty was valued in our culture. Even people in the church who seem to dress modestly most days of the week don’t seem to care anymore when they hit the beach. When someone dresses provocatively, it seems that their focus is only on themselves and the attention they hop to receive rather than how their dress may affect the men and women around them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen Courtney! Thanks for reading my post! Instead of influencing our culture, we have allowed ourselves to be influenced by them. It is sad. Modesty has long left many churches. Modesty really is passe’.


  3. I might be the only male to post a reply. I’m grimacing. But you are dead on. It amazes me just to watch an ’80s movie and see how much more clothing was worn by women, and we still thought they were hot. My point is, men will always evaluate the beauty of women, no matter how they are dressed. I’m guessing this is one origin of the burqa, where a group feels compelled to completely cover a woman to protect the male from sinning. But the scripture you quote is not calling for beauty to be hidden. What I think it is calling for is a reorientation from associating beauty with lust to associating it with devotion to God, which I think you are saying too (or similar). Provocatively dressed women actually are doing women a disservice (as opposed to liberation), in that they set man’s expectation of what beauty looks like. That is, men start looking only for the “harlots” as that is what they have grown accustomed to as the standard for beauty. I also think that modesty is consistent with the fruits of the spirit, such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23. Hard to say someone is acting gently and with self-control if they are dressing in a manner that purposely tempts lust. Good, solid post, one all teenagers need to read and have discussed with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for providing your male perspective. Yes, I don’t believe modesty means that we have to clothe ourselves in a mock with no make up, we are supposed to present ourselves as our best, but in fear and submission to God. You wholeheartedly nailed it with your last statement, the proof of our love to God is how we dress. Again, thanks!


  4. “Your clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you’re a lady.” What an awesome statement and I do agree that modesty in dress is gone with the wind in many cases. Even new singers and artists are redressed according to what the world has deemed necessary for success. Of course, this is a controversial topic. Having young adult children (24, 19 and almost 14), I am challenged by what they deem is acceptable to wear. My 13-year old is with her dad. She seems to be doing okay with her dress. My 19-year old’s dressing truly challenges me. This will probably be an ongoing controversy until the return of Christ and I suppose it is necessary for us believers to continue to be an example of what constitutes a true lady inside and outside.


    1. I have a grown daughter too. So I feel your pain. And yes this conversation probably will not end because the Apostles Paul and Peter raised it in the first century of the church, and here we are in the 21st century of the church. Thanks for the feedback!


  5. Thank you so much for writing this! This has been heavy on my heart the past few months. It saddens me how socially acceptable some things are. As women we should respect the bodies God has given to us. Modesty is laughed at and looked at as old fashioned now days. We spend too much time looking at the Khardasians and Beyoncé for advice, when we need our faces planted in the Word. I just wish I could like this post 1000 times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen. It is really sad. Even our women in church are seeking to be sexy. What’s that about? The world’s influence. But I too was once under the power of the prince of the air, but now redeemed. Thank you Jesus. Yes, it is still a struggle. Got to keep checking myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. AMEN! I taught 5 year olds for 15 years and it started that young. Made me so sad that parents were no longer concerned about the way their daughters dress. I am 41 years old and my mama still lets me know if I am not dressed like a lady. Today’s world has not given our young girls too many role models to look up too. I long for the days where we still dressed like Audrey Hepburn, or Lucille Ball. Ladies who were GORGEOUS and full of modesty and style. Now we have Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and J Lo who are all talented beautiful women, but don’t help the modestly cause at all.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Good post, Barbara! And a topic I have strong feelings about. I was in a very trendy kids store a few years ago and they were selling very sexy thong underwear for girls under 10!! And I’ve seen teeny-tiny short-shorts for little girls, too. It just gets worse from there. Our very young girls are being taught that sexy is cool and they don’t even have a full grasp of the situation yet. Very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Karen! But thongs for little girls? We have really gone too far!!!! We are living in a very depraved culture, and sadly, the church is not impacting the culture because so many are influenced by the culture. Thanks for the feedback!


  7. I am saddened by some of the outfits I see in church. For those that don’t know any better, babes in Christ, sinners, OK, keys just win them for Chrust and allow him to make the change. But for those seasoned believers, I don’t understand how they feel done of the things they wear or allow their children to east is OK in the house of worship. I’ve seen adults with pants so tight nothing is left to the imagination. I’ve seen young ladies with dresses and skirts so short you can see the top of their thighs, tube tops, halter tops too. I’m thinking are you going to worship our Holy God or are you going to a club? If you are compelled to bow down you can’t because your dress won’t allow it. Is it because we’re dressing to impress others versus dressing to honor God?


    1. Thanks for commenting, Lora. It is very sad. The mothers of the church used to speak out, but now, we want everyone to come as they are, and they do. Some probably don’t know better, but there are some that have to know what is appropriate. We really do just want to be like the world. Look at some of the gospel artists, there is no distinction. I like what the Clark Sisters said on this subject, if the split is too high, sanctify it by sewing it up.


  8. It’s unfortunate how modesty gets such a bad rap in our culture. TV and other media basically sell to women and young girls that attractiveness means flaunting “what they got.” Some may disagree, but I’d venture to say that flaunting your assets only breads insecurity because you become subject to the standard (and judgement) of others. Modesty doesn’t mean frumpy, although it’s easy to go there. Modesty does, however, mean that there is a standard present. I like Merriam-Webster’s full definition of modesty, which is “freedom from conceit or vanity.” I think that’s where the Lord desires us to be.

    “Immodest and attractive is easy. Modest and repulsive is easy too. But modest and attractive is an art.” – Douglas Wilson


    1. Thanks for reading my post! You are so right, India. Even little girls clothing they are selling is provocative. Modesty does not mean frumpy, although that is probably what most people think. I have heard so many pining to be sexy. Yes we are driven by our culture, rather that us setting the standard for our culture. I also agree that it may be a sign of insecurity to try to measure up to what the culture approves.


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