Modest Clothing

Over the centuries through which the Bible was written, and still to some extent today, a person’s character could be determined by the way he or she dressed. The way the human body is attired is a significant statement that reflects Christian conduct and practice. In fact, a true Christian can often be identified by their outward appearance alone. In this article we will endevour to briefly examine this subject.

First of all, it is important to note that Satan will use any possible means to destroy our faith and testimony. One of his many schemes is to influence Christians to adapt to the ungodly fashions of this world.

Of course, we should not overlook the possibility that a godly outward appearance is no guarantee that the heart has been transformed by the Spirit of God. Many Christians have followed all the rules, so to speak, yet never developed the fruit of the Spirit. However, it is also true that the soul that has been transformed will manifest itself in many ways, including modest appearance. The human body is the temple of God and the Holy Ghost will not lead a person to display it as an immodest showpiece. (1 Cor. 3:17, 6:19).

When a Christian gives preference to public witness and pleasing God in the area of clothing and fashion, modesty will be held in high esteem. It will then be easier to recognize the subtle intentions of ungodly designers and the sensuous stimulations that are intended by their designs. This includes clothes, cosmetics and jewelry.

Members of the Body of Christ should base their practices and their beliefs upon the Word of God, the Holy Ghost and the judgments of a godly Ministry. We should allow the scriptures to be the guiding principle in every aspect of our lives.

Guidelines for Women

The New Testament makes several specific statements pertaining to women’s dress. Both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter addressed this important subject.

Paul wrote, “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Tim. 2:8-10).

The Apostle Peter puts it like this, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, or of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands…” (1 Pet. 3:1-5).

These references admonished women to dress according to certain standards which included modesty, inexpensive and non-gaudy attire, and clothing that reflects godliness. To be modest means to be decent and respectful. A Christian woman should display the virtues of Christian womanhood. She should carefully and prayerfully select her attire in order to not unduly expose her body. She does not have to be excessively old-fashioned, but she should choose clothing that will dignify her womanhood and enhance her appearance. She should consider that she is to be an example of godliness to those around her, without feeling the need to blend with a society that has no regard for modesty.

She is a disciple of Christ. Her dedication means that she does not seek the most expensive and extravagant clothing, and limits the amount of jewellery she displays. By confining herself to moderate and conservative clothing, she draws attention to Christ rather than herself. She will not allow the Devil to use her to introduce any fashion or behaviour to the Body of Christ that is inclined to worldly trends.

The length of the woman’s hair is also predicated on the Bible. Paul asked, “…is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” (1 Cor. 11:13-15). In a society that is strongly influenced by satanic perversions so that the distinction between man and woman is almost totally lost, the hairstyle of a Christian woman should profoundly manifest her femininity.

Modern society ignores these biblical concepts, and women will push the limits of indecency by every possible means. Clothing that is inclined toward nudity and “sex appeal” are the most popular. Women seem to desire to entice men to lust after them in their hearts. (Matt. 5:28). Many authorities believe that this increased exposure of the body has contributed to serious problems of immorality and crime, and threatens the basic foundation of our society.

Distinction between Male and Female

The scriptures also teach that there is a difference between femininity and masculinity as it pertains to dress and that there should be no blurring of the distinction. “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 an abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (Deut. 22:5).

Modern women seem to desire to wear men’s apparel, especially men’s trousers. Tight fitting jeans and other similar clothing items are not only vulgar and immodest but will stimulate the sexual desires of a carnal mind, sometimes resulting in adultery. Jesus said, “…whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28). It is sad to know that the Christian woman — either naively or intentionally — is responsible for acts of adultery by putting on immodest apparel.

Gender must be maintained as the word of God clearly stated, “male and female created he them.” (Gen 1:27). It is necessary for the Christian woman to recognize that certain aspects of clothing can affect body posture and develop masculine tendencies. Nothing is better than seeing the femininity of a woman sustained in the midst of a world that has lost its value for that which is natural. Anything that blurs the distinction between a man and a woman in outward attire may eventually lead to the perversion of God’s divine purpose for mankind.

Perhaps some will say this is an Old Testament standard which no longer applies in the New Testament era, but God’s moral law and His very nature will never change. Godly dress was not a ceremonial ritual that ended at Calvary. When the Apostle Peter instructed Christian women about proper conduct, he used the Old Testament example of Sarah. (1 Pet. 3:5). Christians today should still reflect on good biblical examples. When the customs of society conflict with the principles of scripture, scripture should prevail.

Scriptural Guidelines Summarized

Holy women of old gave priority to the inward workings of godliness. That is the reason why the Apostle Peter made reference to the Old Testament women when he admonished those in the New Testament to adorn themselves with a meek and quiet spirit. True beauty originates from within.

We believe that we are within reasonable and scriptural rights to teach that Christian women today should follow the principles of the Word of God.

These are the biblical guidelines regarding the Christian woman’s appearance:

1. Modesty
2. Moderation in cost
3. Inclination toward godliness and decency
4. Avoidance of excessive outward adornment
5. Shamefacedness and sobriety
6. Distinction of femininity

Guidelines for Men

The Bible does not provide as much instruction for men’s clothing. In fact, the subject is not mentioned in the New Testament at all. Apparently, immodest dress was not as much a problem for Christian men in those days, even though it seems to be an increasing problem today.

However, the same biblical principles applicable to Christian women should also apply to Christian men. We must face the fact that our society, like Sodom and Gomorrah, is on a continuous moral decline. It is evident that God has already given many over to “vile affections” as the Apostle Paul stated in Romans 1:26. In recognizing this, it becomes necessary for Christian men to maintain their masculine integrity and modesty. As Adam was told to “have dominion”, even so must godly men assume the tremendous responsibility of representing this divine office in appearance and action. Clothing should reflect the holiness of God and minimize the “macho” and lewd characteristics of the ungodly man.

For the Christian gentleman stylishness should not be the primary focus, but rather dressing that reflects dignity and godliness. Men should also dress modestly and refrain from using feminine attire.

“And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Col. 3:17).