Biblical modesty is very clearly a gray area. God never explicitly says what he considers modest and what he doesn’t; that’s why discussions like these are so important. I am by no means attempting to either condemn someone for their interpretation OR trying to convince someone that they should dress in a way that they are not comfortable with. I am only attempting to use the information and examples we have to deduce how I should present myself.
Early summer is here, and so are the barrage of annual swimsuit pics— at the beach, at the pool, in your room before you leave for the beach, etc. You can’t scroll through your feed without seeing at least one.
When we see people dress like this at the beach, we don’t even react. That’s how we expect people to dress at the beach. But when we see it in our feed among pictures of people in full outfits, it catches us off guard. Or catches our eye.
Today, I am going to attempt to answer a question that everyone should be asking themselves before posting a picture: “Is this modest TO POST?”
The “modesty standard” is kind of ambiguous and is heavily dependent on context. In the early 1900’s, boobs were out and ankles were hidden— now it’s the other way around. Setting is also a relevant factor: the apostle Peter literally got undressed to go fishing (“he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work”, John 21. 7 ESV). He dressed in the appropriate way for the activity, but got dressed as soon as he was finished. Therefore, context is everything and removing an outfit from it’s appropriate context can absolutely make it immodest.
In today’s times as well, what is modest in one situation is not modest in another. A one piece on the beach is conservative by many standards, but around town it’s just not wearing pants. Your pajamas at are modest at home, but on Instagram could be a thirst trap. This is not always true, of course, but it’s definitely something to consider.
Consequently, I want to offer up some considerations for the modern day social media user (male and female) to think about before posting anything.
1. Why am I posting this?
This is the social media equivalent of the question Bible class teachers tell us to ask ourselves before leaving the house: “who am I wearing this for?” When we make a point to ask ourselves “why am I posting this?” it forces us to consider our true motivation. Is it to get someone’s attention? To stunt on someone/everyone? To be praised?
Modesty has never been about what we wear, it has always been about our attitude (which, of course, extends to what we wear). Therefore we ALWAYS need to do an attitude check before we present ourselves in a certain way. I have deleted photos of me fully clothed because I finally admitted to myself that I had posted it to show off my body. This is an inner monologue I should have had BEFORE I posted it.
2. Would this be modest in EVERY context?
We have to realize that posting on social media is taking photos out of its original context. If we decide a swimsuit is modest on the beach, but someone sees the photo on their IG feed among photos of fully dressed people, the swimsuit is no longer on the beach. And I would argue, no longer modest.
Therefore my rule for myself is that I only post photos in which I have on the amount of coverage that I would wear in everyday life. Maybe that’s going overboard, but I decided that it is what I need to do to ensure that my photos are acceptable.
3. How am I posing?
This consideration is important no matter what you’re wearing. It’s one thing to have a beautiful body, but it’s another thing to pop your booty for attention. It’s one thing to take a photo on your bed, but it’s another thing to lay in your disheveled bed gazing longingly into the camera. This is another huge gray area! What is okay and what isn’t? Honestly, I don’t know. But what I DO know is that it once again comes down to motivation.
In 1 Peter 3.3, Paul says “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear…” (ESV). My friends, he isn’t saying not to braid your hair; he is describing the garb of a prostitute in his time and asking women not to present themselves like that for attention. Makes a lot more sense, now, doesn’t it? And it certainly makes us think.
4. Hey friend, is this modest?
If you’re not sure, literally just ask a friend. That’s why God implemented a support system for us, so we can help each other in our walk! Get yourself an honesty buddy and y’all keep each other in check. We have accountability partners for working out or writing in our journals or sticking to a diet— why not for our spiritual journey? Sometimes your buddy will see something you don’t, and sometimes they’ll reassure that the post, pose, outfit, etc. is totally appropriate.
I know that this post will probably ruffle a few feathers, but I am praying that I have spoken in a way that is Biblical, helpful, and thought-provoking. This is a topic that has been on my heart for a while, and I hope that you all have found it encouraging and stimulating.
Please please please leave a comment and add to the discussion! I would love to hear each man or woman’s perspective on and opinion of this topic. This is a very important discourse, and it’s one that I believe we don’t have often enough. Let’s figure out what the word teaches together!
Thank you so much for reading and please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
So much love,