Modesty, What Does That Mean?

Just a short thought inspired by some of the study I’ve been making of those Bible verses concerning women. It was an interesting thing to note that Paul the Apostle took time to advise women on their appearance. But not so surprising considering it is something we give an awful lot of attention to today, inside and outside the walls of the Church.

When I first converted wholeheartedly to Christ, my wardrobe did go through an appraisal process, but through the years I have always been a little confused about why some females don’t get what modesty is all about. It isn’t like there is not enough written about it… or spoken of ( although some of the problem is that this is done with a covered mouth and disapproving eyes). Yet, in my reading of these verses -especially 1 Timothy 2:9

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,….

the idea of clothes is secondary, moving all of ones wardrobe far down the list. It is the following that gets the emphasis:

10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

So often we get stuck on the wardrobe. Just exchangng one idea of what’s proper for another, without any of the inner change that truly constitutes modesty.

Showing alot of flesh is immodest, I won’t quibble that, but showing off expensive clothes, pride in wearing just the right “modestly”and uniformly-appointed “godliness” of an outward exhibition has its place under Paul’s admonition. Because let’s face it, as women we get all caught up in how we look. That is quite common, and even more common is to encourage others to judge us on that basis. I like to fit in, and I like a certain appropriateness to the occasion, but is God concerned with what I like to the extent I am? Or am I given a revolutionary way of looking at my own sense of worth and the worth I deem in others lives? I think this is getting closer to the truth of what the Bible means when using the term “modesty”.

The Gospel gives an entirely new view of society, of men and women… of God. We keep trying to inflect that message with old worn out truisms instead of fresh truth from its source. Isaiah put it in terms of having living waters that flows from the mountains, but we are busy going to our broken cisterns for the water of life.

I have thought in times past that young women needed teaching to stem their tendency to dress in the low and vulgar way the culture encourages; but I don’t think that anymore. I think that women who have a sense of themselves, a true modesty of character, and the discretion to dress in ways commensurate with their goals are the needed example. A living visual example.

And not just in matters of dress.

I realize this is heresy to my American culture, but “image” isn’t everything no matter how many people promote its message.

3 thoughts on “Modesty, What Does That Mean?”

  1. I just wanted to say a quick hello. Just found your blog. Interesting views you have! 🙂 Feel free to stop by my blog sometime and leave a comment or two.

  2. really interesting thoughts here.

    I am not interested in fashion, make up or “big hair”. My DD dispairs.

    But we do have to be careful not to give the signal that Christian women have to be dowdy. I dress for comfort, and being clean and neat are values I have.

    I’ve been to the beauticians a couple of times to get my eyebrows plucked and twice for a manicure which was lovely but hardly justifiable somehow. I do go to the hairdressers every second month or so (my hair grows fast) but these are my choices and not because I’m a Christian.

    However very immodest clothing IS something we should be careful of, and looking – for want of a better word ‘tartish’ too. Too much make up, cleavage, whatever … I think it’s not needed and is inappropriate – and that viewpoint leads to battles with our teenage daughter of course. Peer pressure. Don’t underrate it.

  3. I know just what you are talking about. In a way, the peer pressure needs to be turned to our advantage. One of the weird things I notice in the fashion world is its isolation from reality. Who would wear those things to an office, oftentimes? They would get no respect;)

    And my view is that we build this idea of respect into young women, through example- the old role model thing. that we accentuate the powerful beauty of the inner person. And anyone who has studied beauty will tell you it that inner je ne sais quoi that sets apart real beauty from just so many pretty faces and clamors for attention.

    Esther illustrated, in a manner of speaking.

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