I brand myself as a “modest” blogger, but it has occurred to me that I have never taken the time to explain what that means. I am a Christian, so I view modesty in terms of my faith. But modesty is not only following a command of God, but also a sign of respect to the body He gave me. I know this can be a controversial subject, but I’m going to do my best to explain what modesty means to me and why I believe it is so important.
It is a command from God to present yourself to others with modesty: “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” (1 Tim 2.9a, NIV). But the New Testament never gives us a standard for modesty. There is never a verse that says ‘skirts must be this long and necklines no more than this deep”. So how do we determine modesty? Where is the line? What does “adorn yourself with modesty” mean?
One thing that is clear from the scriptures (and from linguistics in general) is that modesty does not describe the way someone dresses. It describes an attitude of the heart and consequently the way someone presents himself or herself. I would assert that this applies to both males and females because of what this attitude entails. Someone who is modest is humble. Their goal in the way they present themselves is not to be highly regarded or to draw attention, but to represent the God that they serve. Someone who is modest allows God to be the focal point of their existence and the motivation for how they present themselves.
Modesty as a principle, though not referring solely to dress, should obviously apply to dress. When I get dressed in the morning, my intent should not be to show off my status or to sexualize my body. It should be to glorify God. And if that means I have to do the sit down, spin around, cross legs, bend over, raise arms, do splits, sky dive, run a mile, scuba dive, crouch down test every morning to make sure I’m not showing anything, so be it. I want to be a channel for God and for his work. And to do that, I cannot be trying to get people to look at me and my body.
Every commandment that God gives us is not only beneficial to him and his work, but is also beneficial for us. The same is true for modesty. 1 Corinthians 6.20 says to “glorify God in your body” because you have been bought with a price. He redeemed us with Jesus’s blood and made us temples for his purpose. Therefore, it is beneficial to him that we glorify him in the way that we dress, the way that we adorn our temple.
But it is also beneficial to us to adorn ourselves with modest apparel. Objectification and over-sexualization is such an issue in our society right now. Women are taught by society that sexual attention determines their worth. IT DOES NOT. We are taught by society that the more revealing our clothes, the more attractive we are. This is so damaging. I strive to dress modestly to prove to myself and everyone around me that I am more than my appearance. That I respect myself regardless of my sexual appeal. I know that this is controversial but it is something I firmly believe in. We need to stop basing our self-worth on others opinions and respect ourselves as much as we want others to respect us.
When people see me, I don’t want them to see my body. I want them to see God, my love for him, my respect for myself, my love for others, my personality, etc. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love myself and have body-confidence, it just means that I don’t want to out my body on display. I believe that what I wear should show my respect for God and my respect for myself and encourage others to respect me. I cover my body to focus on my spirit. To wear my heart and my God on my 3/4 length sleeve.