Christian modesty is a holistic, kingdom mindset and heart posture. It is not a look. It is not a capsule wardrobe full of turtlenecks and athletic maxi skirts. I have written about modesty before, and my friend captured my definition of Christian modestly beautifully. He said, “Modesty enables Christians to be the loudest about the things that have eternal value” (Birley, 2021). My heart behind this message is not to meet you with shame, judgement, or condemnation but to share how walking a life with Jesus is full of His abundance and His confidence. His way is better [Isaiah 55:8-9].
God heavily placed it on my heart around two years ago to talk about modesty. I was hearing about how dark the gym felt on my college campus, and the Lord prompted me to go to the gym and pray while I worked out, rather than listen to music. The darkness was tangible. It is vital to our generation to recognize that the world and our God do not share the same definition of authenticity, love, and empowerment. The world will tell you it’s empowering, authentic, and loving to yourself to flaunt yourself in inappropriate dress and to own your body. God literally says the opposite. Our body is not ours [Isaiah 64:8] and what is truly empowering, authentic, and loving to yourself is to remain in Jesus, because Jesus promises He will remain in us in return. The world is self focused. God has taught me self focus fertilizes fear. God is kingdom focused. God is God focused.
Christian modesty is a holistic, kingdom mindset and heart posture; so it’s an outward appearance that should reflect Christ. This won’t happen until there is an inward shift in our minds and hearts. So how will that inward shift occur because 1 Samuel 16:7 says the LORD looks at the heart. Romans 8:5-8 says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
It is by the Spirit of God, not by will power, that your heart will change. You will not begin to care about the things of God [His delight is found in our obedience and an awe inspired worship – Psalm 147:10-11] until you’re in the Word of God.
I recently heard a quote by the man who is responsible for putting bibles in hotel rooms – how sick is that! He said, “The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here too, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents” (The Gideons International, 2011).
Let’s define immodesty with an Elisabeth Elliot quote because who else would I quote: “Modesty means to be free from undue familiarity, from indecency, from lewdness, pure in thought and conduct. Speaking of modest apparel, it means decent, seemly. The opposite of modesty is conceit, boldness, immodesty, brazenness, lewdness” (Elliot, 1984). Okay now let’s define lewdness and brazenness because I sure didn’t know what those meant. Lewdness means involving sexual conduct that is considered indecent or offensive and brazenness is a behavior in which someone does something in an obvious way, without trying to hide it. Y’all, it takes humility to dress modestly!
I want to let you in on my journey with getting this idea of Christian modesty into my head and my heart. My freshman year of college I was coming in with the knowledge that my school had a dress code. My expectation was they would have some ridiculous modesty talk about why we have it and how I would not be able to personally ‘express myself.’ Well, it wasn’t my fault guys were weird! My RA surprised me with an explanation that changed everything for me.
She shared how our brothers in Christ would one day be married to one of our sisters in Christ. Why would we ever want to get in the way of their journey of purity? A life of purity is hard enough in it of itself; adding deliberate immodest dressing is unnecessary.
Immodest dressing is not honoring to them. & guess what? It’s not about us, it’s about building the kingdom and honoring our brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not belong to the world or to ourselves, but we belong to the most beautiful Father Who knows best.
We should not be known by worldly standards. To quote my friend, “When I see a girl who is not dressed appropriately, I believe that this shows that she may not know her value as it pertains to being a daughter of the most high King. I feel like it is their way of receiving attention and in turn affirmation for something other than their personality and who they are as a person” (Birley, 2021).
The comment I continue to get when people know I am passionate about modesty is, “it’s not just for girls, guys have to be modest too!” Nancy DeMoss puts it plainly: “This isn’t to suggest that men aren’t responsible for their thought life or their behavior. They are. And they have to learn how to walk with God and bring those thoughts under the control of Christ, even though they live in a culture where immodesty is rampant. However, as Christian women, our clothing choices can either help men succeed morally or can put temptation in their path that they may find difficult to overcome. That means both men and women are responsible for moral purity!” Then she shares this sick equation: “What we wear + How we look = A picture of what we believe” (DeMoss, 2003).
Our entire demeanor should reflect who He is, who we are in Him. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 in The Passion Translation says, “And that the women would also pray with clean hearts, dressed appropriately, and adorned modestly and sensibly, not flaunting their wealth. But they should be recognized instead by their beautiful deeds of kindness, suitable as one who worships God.” To quote my friend, “As Christians, if we declare that we’re living for Jesus, that declaration should impact the Christian’s life holistically” (Birley, 2021).
So how do we practically go about this? I think it’s stunning how many times the Word of God talks about how we are to clothe ourselves and how we are fashioned and formed by God. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience … Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” I think a root that breathes life into someone wanting to dress immodestly is fear of man. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love cast out fear & Paul just told us to above all else clothe ourselves with love.
I think this is an awesome spot to address 1 Peter 3 where he talks about where our beauty should come from: “not come from outward adornment, such as … fine clothes.” Y’all, I love clothes. I love getting dressed for the day, and I love helping my friends do the same. The Word isn’t telling me I cannot care about getting dressed and investing in timeless, “fine” pieces. What it is telling me is that when I am going about my day am I looking for heads to turn to look at my outfit, or in this topic’s case, every outline of my body? Or am I looking to have my identity in Christ precede me in everything I do? I woke up with breath in my lungs today because God wants me to receive His love and then send it out to a dark world. I once heard immodesty defined as oversexualized persuasion … it sure made me dislike the word persuasion. I would rather “persuade” someone to choose Jesus, choose joy, choose freedom.
Seeing every outline of your body is not the ultimate “dang she looks good.” The ultimate “dang she looks good” should be being known by our fruit. My friend gave me a collage that had Romans 13:14 on it. She was telling me how she thought it was so fun how much I loved picking out my outfit everyday. She said put this up where you get dressed each day so that way you can literally pray, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” So as I get dressed in the morning I am not clothing myself in the mindset of vanity and look at me but in the mind of Jesus!
We are called to be set apart! 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” To quote my friend, “I think modesty shows thought and care for others. It’s not something to think I’m holier or better than somebody but rather I value others” (Birley, 2021). I love this quote so much. It is also loving to assume the best in your brothers and sisters in Christ. Their path of modesty may look different than yours. Sanctification doesn’t happen overnight. It is walking in step daily with the Spirit [Galatians 5:16].
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” We were a terrible and trash investment, but Jesus went all in. It’s not about you. It’s about the kingdom.
It is loving to your past, present, and future self to dress modestly. It is loving to your brothers and sisters too. At the end of the day the question to ask ourselves is, “God, what did you think about that [my outfit, that interaction, that thought, that speech, that comment]?” & girls let’s be honest here! You will attract a guy’s attention at the gym or on a hot girl walk or in class or running to Trader Joe’s in an outfit where you can see every outline of your body. But what kind of guy do you think you’re attracting here? Your body is so temporary! Wouldn’t you rather attract a guy who would be attracted to the Holy Spirit inside of you? Something that is oh so lasting, praise the LORD! What a pure and beautiful way to be pursued. I’ll end with a quote from the Jonas Brothers, “I can’t get your smile out of my mind. I think about your eyes all the time. You’re beautiful but you don’t even try. Modesty is just so hard to find.”
If this blog intrigued you and you want to dive in deeper, learn how to dress in any kind of style but do so modestly, or just love fashion in general please join the LO SISTER APP. Keep an eye out for content to come! I’m really excited about it – think style tips and recreating looks … eep!
Birley, A. G. C. (2021, May 27). Modesty. AG The Look. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.agthelook.com/blog/modesty
DeMoss, Nancy Leigh. The Look – Does God Really Care What I Wear? Buchanan: Revive Our Hearts, 2003.
Elliot, E. (1984) Elisabeth Elliot Quotes about modesty: A-Z quotes. A-Z Quotes. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from https://www.azquotes.com/author/17940-Elisabeth_Elliot/tag/modesty
The Gideons International. (2011, May 18). An inspiring introduction to the holy book. The Gideons International. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from http://blog.gideons.org/2010/12/the-bible-contains-the-mind-of-god/
Anna Grace is a member of Team LO & a recent graduate of Liberty University. She is a massive Atlanta Braves fan [her hometown, ayo!], uses the phrase ‘that’s punk rock’ frequently in the office, & is a stylist where she takes things you already own and creates new outfits.