Modesty – It Is Not About Your Heart!

Don’t throw stones!  I can only imagine most of you are thinking I’m either crazy or dead wrong!  Whenever the modesty discussion comes up, people are always quick to say, “But remember, it’s a heart matter.  It’s not just about our clothing.”

This is said to express that we can fully cover our bodies but if our hearts are not in the right place, we are not being modest.  Essentially: the inward appearance is more important than the outward appearance.  On the surface, this seems like a good mentality to have.  After all, it is important that our hearts are in the right place!

The flip side is that this mindset gives the impression that modesty is a heart condition and that it doesn’t really matter how you cover your body.  And that right there is a problem!

Modesty - It Is Not About Your Heart!

You see, the word “modest” is only used one time in the Bible.  1Timothy 2:9 says, “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,”

I fully believe that our hearts should be in the right place.  There are many Scripture passages that talk about our hearts and what their condition ought to be …

  • Pure (Matthew 5:8),
  • Clean (Psalm 51:10),
  • Dwelling place of His law (Psalm 40:8),
  • Steadfast (Psalm 57:7),
  • Upright (Psalm 94:15),
  • Perfect (Psalm 101:2),
  • Wise (Proverbs 10:8),
  • Merry (Psalm 15:13)

Let’s face it, folks … 1Timothy doesn’t say we should adorn ourselves with a modest heart: it says we should adorn ourselves in modest clothing.  In the Scriptures, modesty is never referred to as a heart matter.  The only time modesty is discussed in Scripture is in reference to clothing.


The physical garments that we wear.

Modesty has been an important issue in our family for many years.  While we try to do our best to follow the convictions that the Heavenly Father has given us, we also try not to put our family standards on other people.  We do not believe that the way people cover their bodies reveals the level of righteousness in their hearts because 1Samuel 16:7 says, “for man looks at the outward appearance, but YHWH looks at the heart.”

And therein lies the problem!  People do look at the outward appearance.  They make judgments based on the outward appearance.

Picture a scenario.  You’re at a social function and you see a young woman who is dressed immodestly.  I am not going to describe how she is dressed … just imagine that she is dressed inappropriately according to your standards.  You have the opportunity to speak with her.  She is a sincere believer who truly desires to please the Heavenly Father, she is a sister in the Messiah, she is thoughtful and compassionate and if you were called upon to give an opinion on the condition of her heart, it would be a positive one.

But what message is she sending to the people, especially the men, in this room who do not have the opportunity to speak with her?  Her appearance is causing others to struggle with temptation and keeping their thoughts in the right place.  Her choice of clothing does not inspire words like “seemly, decent and well-arranged” (the definitions of the word modest) and the inappropriate display of her body is causing distraction.  Perhaps people will give her the benefit of doubt and only think about the good and sincere intentions of her heart.  It’s more likely that most will have the impression she is looking, perhaps unconsciously, for inappropriate attention.

This is where the “modesty is all about the heart” argument falls to pieces.  It just simply is not all about the heart!  It is about our physical apparel and appearance.  A girl can have the most “modest” heart in the world but if her clothing is revealing and suggestive, she is not modest!  And, ironical as this may sound, a prostitute who is dressed in decent clothing that covers her body properly is modest!  She has some heart issues to deal with, for sure, but if she is wearing clothing that is not revealing and suggestive, she is still modest!

Modesty - It Is Not About Your Heart!

I understand that many people have had negative experiences with someone judging or condemning them for their clothing choices.  This is unfortunate and should not happen in the Body of Messiah.  However the tendency is to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, to the point that people aren’t willing to address immodesty.  We should be able to encourage and exhort each other, not forcing our opinions and beliefs on each other but sharing them in love.

Another incorrect perception of modesty that I have heard is this: if we fully cover our bodies, we will stand out in a crowd because everyone else dresses differently, and thus we are not being modest because we are drawing attention to ourselves.  So it is better to dress like the people in the world around us, right?


The word modesty does not mean, “not drawing attention to ourselves”.  Granted, we should not present ourselves in a way that calls attention to us … either through inappropriate display of our body, or through covering up in a self-righteous, better-than-thou attitude.  But modesty is not about whether we are drawing attention to ourselves or not; it is about being decent and not revealing what should not be revealed.

We are surrounded by a culture that glories in immodesty and sensuality.  The more the merrier.  Society is in a downward spiral.  Clothing that was considered immodest and inappropriate 100 years ago is now acceptable and normal.  Can you imagine our great-grandmothers wearing tight jeans and tank tops?  Or bikinis?  Can you imagine the horror they would feel if they saw someone dressed in that way?  As believers and followers of the Messiah, we cannot take our cues from society.  There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “Right is right if nobody is doing it and wrong is wrong if everybody is doing it.”  We must have a higher standard.

I know of a young lady who believed in dressing modestly and believed that she did.  Some of her “modest outfit” blog posts included pictures of her in snug-fitting tops and tight jeans or knee-length skirts.  At the same time, she was complaining about receiving inappropriate attention from young men!  I wanted to say, “Dear young lady, put some more clothes on!” (and I did, in similar terms).

Ladies, it is not modest to wear clothing that reveals your figure.  Have you ever wondered why men’s jeans are usually cut to be looser-fitting than women’s jeans?  Think about the difference between male and female swimwear – why is it acceptable and expected for women to wear less?  I believe these are just some of the ways that the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) tries to cause brethren to stumble and fall.

Modesty - It Is Not About Your Heart!

When a lady dons clothing that draws inappropriate attention to her figure, she is demonstrating, perhaps unconsciously, her lack of respect for the physical body that she has been given.  I recently had the opportunity to speak with a new friend and she was sharing how she had been convicted about her lack of modesty.  It was an incredible blessing to hear not only about the changes she was making in her wardrobe but the reason for making those changes.  She had realized that her body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 6:19-20) and she was not treating it as such.  Profound!

In closing, I want to challenge you to think about the clothing that you put on each day.  Ask yourself questions like:

  • Does this glorify my Heavenly Father?
  • Would I want to come before my Savior dressed like this?
  • Am I clothing my body as befitting the temple of the Holy Spirit?
  • Does my appearance present a message of femininity and beautiful womanhood or worldliness and sensuality?

Dear ladies, it is very important to have your heart in the right place.  I don’t ever want to belittle that concept.  But it is equally important to attire yourself in clothing that portrays decency and femininity, that calls for the respect of others and inspires them with thoughts that glorify our Father in heaven instead of vice versa.  Blessings to you as you seek the Father about what is modest in His eyes!

144 thoughts on “Modesty – It Is Not About Your Heart!

      1. I agree. I love Proverbs 27:19…a man reflects his heart…. The most common, every day way to reflect to others what is in our hearts, is our clothing. Not to mention, it is our first impression to others.

        I was convicted to dress more modestly by the Lord when I was praying for my little girls. He also showed me the war on femininity in our culture. Once I realized it was a war with the enemy on how I dress…I was excited to be a part of God’s team in this war. I dress every day to win each battle and the war with my Lord.

  1. I couldn’t agree more! My daughters are 3 and 8 and I’m already teaching them about modesty. It’s hard when all of my 8 year old’s friends wear spaghetti straps, short skirts, and short shorts, but she’s learning.

    1. It’s such a blessing to hear that you are training your daughters in this way! It can be difficult to find the balance between being firm with family/Biblical standards and instilling in them a proper understanding of the situation, and yet doing it without a judgemental, condemning spirit toward the girls who don’t understand modesty! Challenging, but not impossible with the help of the Holy Spirit 🙂

    2. I learned that I was my girls’ biggest example. It was and is another bond I have with my girls. Keep fighting the Lord’s battles precious mama.

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I have a bad habit of getting very frustrated when people argue that it doesn’t matter how you dress because it’s only a heart issue. This was encouraging!

  3. Great article! I appreciate your very sound and Biblical arguments. This is a great message you are sharing. I think a lot of young ladies are just unaware of how much the way they dress impacts how others think about them. I know when I was younger, I had NO IDEA! It wasn’t until after I was married that I figured out how much men are impacted by a woman’s appearance. I value my husband’s opinion on what is and isn’t modest. Thanks for your balanced and reasonable approach to education young women. I wish I had read this before I went to college!

    1. I agree that so many women don’t have a clue! My mother didn’t … she tells the story about being invited to a (Independent Baptist) church picnic when she was a new believer and of course she wore short shorts because that’s what you wear to picnics! People were so rude to her and she didn’t have a clue why! It was years later that she began to understand the concept of modesty. That’s why I think it’s important to address the issue, instead of just condemn people who really don’t have any idea. There are many women who are thankful that someone lovingly opened their eyes to the importance of modesty, rather than just treating them like trash!

      1. Or maybe Christians shouldn’t JUDGE and be MEAN to people who are different than them, especially to a new Christian.

  4. I agree that women should have the self respect not to see themselves as purely sexual objects. I think we do mean a disservice though by constantly focusing on how weak they are. The idea that they are unable to control their thoughts whenever they are in the presence of a woman is insulting. Men are capable of looking, seeing, even appreciating, and then moving on. To say that they aren’t and then to say that women have a responsibility to cover themselves because of the mental weakness of the men around them, says more about the men than women. I know the verses used to justify this but it seems like they are used as an excuse to justify control of female behavior.

    1. Obviously … you are not a man 😉

      Of course men should control their thoughts but I’m not preaching to men – I’m talking to women. I don’t “say that women have a responsibility to cover themselves because of the mental weakness of the men around them” … I believe that a woman does a greater disservice to herself when she displays her body inappropriately, rather than the men she is around. She is sending the message, perhaps unwittingly, that she doesn’t value her beauty enough to save it for the only one who should see it. And regardless of whether a man can keep his thoughts under control around her, he will most definitely have a hard time respecting her.

      1. Hannah, I could equally say that “Obviously, you are not a man.”

        I am a man, and I agree with Heather here.

        It is not on the woman AT ALL if I look at her with lust… it matters not one whit how she is dressed… it’s still on me.

        Jesus did not implicate the woman when he spoke to men about lust. Bathsheba is never even hinted at being responsible for David’s lust after her, and she was literally bathing within his view.

        1. If you are different than the majority of your sex, good for you. But I have dealt with this issue enough to know that men are affected by the way a woman dresses. If this weren’t the case, then you wouldn’t see scantily-clad women on advertisements and billboards everywhere you turn.

          Like I said, if I were preaching to men, I would tell them they are completely responsible for their thoughts, no matter how a woman is dressed. But it’s not my place to teach men, and this message is for women. Just in the same way that a conscientious person wouldn’t place a glass of wine in front of a recovering alcoholic and say “it’s your responsibility to exercise self control” … so a Godly woman should not dress in a way that calls for inappropriate attention.

          1. By the way, the “obviously you’re not a man” comment was in response to Heather’s statement that the excuse of men’s mental weakness is used to justify control of women’s behavior … an idea that is preposterous!

            1. But is that not precisely what you are doing? Using men’s supposed “mental weakness” as a reason to tell women to “keep covered” by whatever standard of “modesty” they believe in?

              As soon as you invoke the “men are visual” argument, you are doing precisely that… urging women to make clothing choices based on the responses of men.

              1. if a woman knows that men are stimulated by sight why would I not want to do my part in dressing modestly? that is only one part of why I choose modest dress but why not? I appreciate when we are around other ladies that dress modestly just for my husband’s sake…..

              2. Wanda, I know it sounds crazy because it’s all we’ve hears all of our lives, but the idea that men are primarily or automatically “stimulated by sight” sexually is false.

                Multiple generations of men have been conditioned to respond that way–and pornography has both promoted and capitalized on that fact–but it is NOT how “God made men.”

                It is in fact the lie behind pornography addiction… and it is the lie behind “modesty” rules.

                The true path to freedom from sexual bondage such as pornography is to reject that lie and embrace the truth that God made both men and women to be drawn to sexual union through relationship rather than sight.

                After all, isn’t the unity of the Godhead a relational union rather than a visual one? We’re in God’s image. He is relational… not visual.

          2. Hannah, there are two problems with the “glass of wine in front of a recovering alcoholic” argument.

            First, it implies that a woman’s body is to be likened to a commodity that is intended to be consumed. I know you would never declare that directly, but that is the implication of the analogy. A woman’s body is not for consumption, it is the physical expression of her person. Any violation of her body (mentally or physically) is a violation of her whole self, for she is not separate from her body.

            Secondly, it implies that we are obligated to avoid acting in some way that others may have an unrighteous response to. If this were so, then Jesus Himself would fail that criteria, for He very intentionally acted in ways that He knew would incite the murderous wrath of the Pharisees.

          3. I would also agree with Heather and David’s comments. My husband has shed a lot of light on what is generally true for man’s thought life. He points out that sometimes a female covering up more than typical in society can lead him to lust MORE because there’s a higher level of unknown and curiosity. That being he is also frustrated that most conservative Christians blame male lust issues on females instead of men. If we resort to this logic, that you can’t find in Scripture, it will lead to a woman counseling me after a man tried to kidnap me in a foreign country that I must have “brought it upon myself by the way I dress.” I’ve had friends with horrible rape/sexual assault stories trying to make sense of it with older “godly” women and instead of procession the grief of a man taking advantage, they were told how most of it was their fault. It’s a travesty to have the Christian community blaming women for the brokenness of men.

            Lastly, your article speaks of ignorance about the world and culture. In my travels, I know of tribes in Africa and South America where modesty means a loin cloth or beaded rope for both men and women. They have happy marriages, low if any rates of sexual assault, etc. Many men I have talked to say that having bare-chested women everywhere doesn’t cause them to lust because the highly sexualized body part are a females thighs in these cultures, not her chest. The Bible never sets a “one standard of modesty fits all” type of deal. Outside general guidelines, there’s a lot of grey. How else would you explain God in the Old Testament telling the Israelites to take the Egyptian gold and jewelry when it was offered to them but then Timothy saying to not wear jewelry or braided hair in the New Testament? Timothy was speaking to brand new Christians who were converted from sexual idol worship where braids and gold jewelry signified you were part of that lifestyle. So it makes sense for him to tell those new converts to walk away from that lifestyle. The culture affected standards then and to ignore that affects standards now is a bit ignorant.

            1. Just to clarify, Timothy did not tell anyone to not wear jewelry or braided hair 🙂 Even if he did, if you’re going to “culturalize” that one away, you might as well throw out the whole book. And the rest of the epistles while you’re at it.

              I agree the modesty is often a cultural issue, and especially in our culture, a woman’s body is a commodity. But we are still at a point in time where display of certain body parts is seen as sensual and used to allure. For that very reason, it only makes sense to show enough appreciation for oneself by covering up what immoral society tries to exploit. I mean, seriously, I don’t get this mentality!

              And, like I mentioned in another comment, if the Bible doesn’t specify what to wear and it really doesn’t matter, then just don’t wear anything at all.

            2. God told the Israelites to take the gold and jewelry so they would have the materials to melt down to make the tabernacle and its furnishings. If you’ll note, the ones they decorated themselves with (earrings) ended up as a golden calf…

              Great post. I love the thoughtfulness of your website and the example you are setting for others.

        2. David while I agree that what we men do with what we see is up to us, but Gods word says set no evil things before my eyes. Therefore I will not look at porn because Im just going to enjoy the natural beauty God gave women (to make an extreme point). I will turn my eyes away when I’m being served at a restaurant, or at my many places of dealing in my business by a woman with a low cut top that is tight enough to leave nothing to imagination or whether it’s so loose that it falls away when she leans over to pick something up off her desk in front of me and I get an unwanted “peep show”.

          God made us to be attracted by sight. To act as if that is not true is not healthy or wise. And while you & I may be able to bring our thoughts into captivity, there are many who struggle deeply to do that such as young I the faith or someone who has ate at the table of lust for years and are now turning from it. At which point we are admonished to not do or eat anything that would cause our fellow human beings to to stumble and fal which is the point our sister is making.

          So I’d have to say that while I believe the spirit & attitude of true modesty begins in the heart, we are told to cover our bodies in order to be modest just like we expect Christians to live like Christ if they are really Christians and not like the devil.

          I find it offensive to put men in a situation where they are told they are not spiritual, wicked and lustful lowlife beasts just because the sight of a womans naked beauty stirs a God created response that He said was very good. That is wrong to lay that guilt on them in that way.

          As a man helping other men, I say with the scriptures to flee. Take steps not to put yourself in a place to be tempted, and I ask God to not let me to be led into temptation. How is God to work when we then tell the women to ignore those lustful dirtyminded men and dress how they like.

          In the meanwhile, I pray with many men, Lord save me from sin with my eyes, help me to keep my heart. Forgive me when I fall. Help me to love as Christ loved because as I have grown in that it is easier to see a human that God loves and not flesh to guest over.

  5. I must agree with all you’ve said, Hannah, and disagree in love with one comment. I have said it before…men are visual creatures and women are emotional. We can never know which men in a crowd will NOT be able, or even want to control their thoughts when gazing upon an immodestly clad girl or woman. And so as daughters of our heavenly Father, we have an obligation to try and keep an onlooker from sinning with impure thoughts. It all boils down to what we have been instructed to do in His Word. It matters not how we feel personally about it. We live in a fallen world, and must never be a part in causing anyone else to fall on our account. Some men struggle with impure thoughts more than others. I read not too log ago about the deacons of a church going to their pastor imploring him to speak to the ladies about dressing immodestly. When a woman in a low-cut dress or blouse leaned over to put money in the offering plate, they “invited” eyes to look down their dress or blouse. It disturbed those deacons enough to seek their pastor’s help. Why should they have to when we women have a scripture telling us to dress so as not to tempt man?

    1. Yes, thank you for sharing! Another example is that one wouldn’t offer alcohol to a person who was struggling to overcome an addiction to it, or cigarettes to a person who was trying to break a smoking habit. I find it interesting that in situations like those, people wouldn’t dream of being a stumbling block, and yet many do not attach the same importance to the case of modesty!

  6. Hannah, You did a wonderful job on this. Most of the people that try to excuse themselves from dressing modestly with the “it is immodest to stand out from the crowd” would not dream of going topless where that is the custom. I have been trying to dress modestly since I was twelve. I have been whistled at only once. The whistler was in a group of four young men and the other three shushed him up as fast as they could. An argument ensued and from what I could hear it was apparent that the three were telling the fourth that you can’t do that to a lady.
    May the Lord bless you.

  7. I very much agree with this. Thank you for sharing. It is encouraging to know there are others who feel the same way and uphold modesty in their lives.

  8. One day I found a blog and the sister said. We dress modest because God asked us too. So it isn’t the heart. And anyway if you look at magazines or anything about the regular fashion they are always saying in the ad. So you can be sexy. Nothing about being modest etc. The modern woman fashion is to be sexy. Everything on our T.V. magazines etc is about sex and being sexy and God didn’t tell us this is how we ladies are to be like.

  9. It’s refreshing to have a young woman of the king write something so needed for today..and you did it in such a beautiful way. I’m a mother of 3 girls and I teach by my example first and then follow that with verbal lessons. I will ask my 14 year old to read this so we can have an open discussion. Thank you for being obedient to our king. Shalom

  10. I want to add this one thing: Years ago when we went to an AOG church, our pastor was teaching on modesty (to a certain degree, not like I am learning now). He told of how he and his wife had gone to buy her a bathing suit at a very nice department store. The lady who came to offer her help tried to show them two-piece and bikinis, but they insisted on seeing something modest, to which the saleslady replied, “well, all we have are these one-piece suits, but they are for “older women”, and your wife has such a pretty figure”. Today’s society actually tries to push immodesty!

  11. Hello ~ I’ve recently came across your blog and like it so much, I’ve bookmarked it! 🙂 This is a wonderfully encouraging post to all of us women. Thank you.

  12. What a beautiful reminder that there’s more to modesty than just drawing attention away from the superficial. It’s actually drawing attention to the mind, the heart and the soul instead. Thank you for sharing such a poignant piece with us on #shinebloghop this week, Hannah!

  13. Wonderful post. So well-written and I appreciate your humble yet firm attitude about these things. This is such a needed subject to address. I also appreciate all the comments above from your readers! Bless you. Thank you for all the wonderful sharing that you do.

  14. The problem with this argument is that it is unbiblical.

    Allow me to make some observations about the 1 Tim. 2:9 passage which is evidently the foundational scripture to support the stated position.

    1. The article said that every time the bible talks about modesty it talks about clothes… but that is misleading, since the only passage that we can say addresses “modesty” is 1 Tim. 2:9. We cannot formulate a doctrine on the basis of only one passage… and especially one that’s unclear in its meaning (see my article linked below).

    2. The Greek word that is translated “modest” in 1 Tim. 2:9 (KJV, NKJV) doesn’t mean what the English word “Modest” means. The word is “kosmios” which refers to “order” (like the “cosmos”) The very same Greek word is translated “of good behavior” in the very next chapter (1 Tim. 3:2). It has nothing to do with sexuality or sexual allure.

    3. The Greek word translated “apparel” (KJV) is not a word for clothing at all. The only reference to clothing Paul makes is in what NOT to wear.

    4. Whatever Paul meant to communicate about “modesty,” his words make it clear that it can be violated by what it worn, but true “modesty” can be achieved by actions… by “good works.” (1 Tim. 2:10)

    I have done a deep dive into 1 Tim. 2:9 and the meaning of the original Greek text from which it is translated. I invite anyone to read it in order to see how it has been significantly misunderstood and misapplied by the modern church.

    Rightly Dividing 1 Tim. 2:9

    1. When you begin your argument with incorrect statements, it causes me to be skeptical of anything else you have to say. The article does not say “every time the bible talks about modesty it talks about clothes”. The article specifically states that the word “modesty” is only used once in the Bible in reference to women, and at that time, it is used in conjunction with the word apparel. If you want to believe that the word katastolḗ does not mean, I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. But I completely disagree with you.

      Furthermore the article never mentions that the word “modest” has to do with sexual allure. It specifically states that the word means “decent, seemly, appropriate” … even, in order, as you mentioned.

      And again, if you wish to believe that “true ‘modesty’ can be achieved by actions… by ‘good works.'” … that’s your business. I heartily disagree.

      1. I apologize for not quoting your article directly about the word “modesty” and “apparel.

        Let’s look at the word “katastolḗ”

        First of all, it appears only once in this form in all the NT. In this verse.

        It does appear in the verb form in Acts 19:35-36.. twice. There, the verb is translated as “quiet” and “calm”

        How can it be that a word that means quiet or calm as a verb can mean a garment as a noun?

        And let me respond to this statement:

        “And again, if you wish to believe that “true ‘modesty’ can be achieved by actions… by ‘good works.’” … that’s your business. I heartily disagree.”

        I would concur that it is not possible to follow the church modern concept of “modesty” by good works alone… but it is self evident that in Paul’s mind–referring to the “modesty” of which he speaks–it IS possible.

        It is incumbent upon us as Bible-believing Christians to understand and stand by what the Bible says and what the original authors meant… careful to avoid tainting our understanding with modern cultural concepts in our interpretation.

    2. David, how narrow your knowledge of the Bible is. You need read no further than what God instructs through the Old Testament about nakedness and paganism to know what He thinks of it or how immodesty (yes- in dress) is connected with ungodliness. Saying that there is only one verse, because that is the only time the word modest is used is not good scholarship. Please read deeper.

      1. Norman, you have no idea how deeply I have studied this issue.

        For example, have you studied the usage of every word in the OT describing nakedness to discern the subtle differences between the words? Did you know that only one of the many words is ever associated with sin or shame? I have done that study. The results are here:

        Have you done a deep dive into the Greek words behind 1 Timothy 2:9 in an attempt to ensure that we understand Paul’s teaching correctly? Did you know that the Greek word translated “modest” in English means nothing remotely close to what the English word “modest” has come to mean? I have done that deep dive. The results are here:

        Have you surveyed the entire bible in an attempt to determine the biblically valid purposes of clothing… especially in the attempt to discern why God clothed Adam and Eve? Did you know that “modesty” and/or addressing “shame” isn’t even one of the biblically valid purposes of clothing? I have done that survey. The results are here:

        My knowledge of the Bible on this issue is not “narrow,” Norman.

    3. David Martin
      I’m a man too
      People justify anything they want to in one way or another.. I agree with Hannah and the ones that commented .. But even if they were wrong what harm could be done .. To me or you .. Would you get involved if they had some foolish cooking discussion going on .. No if you were a normal man . you would grin and let them carry on .. What do you have to loose.. Here is my email incase you would like to tell me something in private ..

      1. The glory of God is at stake, Emanuel. The purity of the church is at stake.

        God’s image is stamped onto our bodies… male and female. The our culture and the church’s “modesty” teaching tell us to see the glory of God in human form only in terms of its impact on our libido. We have exchanged the glory of God for a lie. Professing to be wise, we have become fools.

        And just like Romans 1 tells us, when that happens, it leads to impurity of all sorts. When we tell men that we *expect* them to be aroused visually, we are giving them permission to view women’s bodies sexually first and foremost. What does that focus produce? Sexual bondage and sexual sin of all sorts. Isn’t that precisely what we see in the church today? And “more modest” churches have no better track record on that score than “less modest” churches… and I suspect thy fare far worse.

        So… what harm is done because they are wrong? Much.

        See also my response to Roger below.

        1. Thank you David for standing up to purity of doctrine and wholistic interpretations of the Bible! It is not purely a woman’s issue! If women are somehow responsible for a man’s thought life, which I disagree with, wouldn’t it be prudent to have men weigh in on whether or not that’s true?

      1. Roger, Here is the truth.

        Whatever parts of a woman you require for her to cover for “modesty’s” sake, that is a body part you are sexually objectifying.

        The group most guilty of sexually objectifying women’s bodies are the fundamentalist Muslims… who require every inch of a woman’s body to be covered to “avoid lust” in men.

        Close behind them are fundamentalist Christians, who have concluded that any visible evidence of natural curves in a woman’s body must be hidden to “avoid lust” in men.

        No, I’m not seeking for women to dress immodestly (whatever that means), I’m seeking for men AND women to see a whole person, worthy of full respect and dignity, no matter what part of the physical manifestation of their personhood is visible to their eyes.

        Do I have the right to sexually objectify a woman in my mind if I see her face? No. How about if I see some cleavage? or some leg? No. What about if I’m a doctor and I examine her fully naked? Or an artist painting a nude workof art? No, and No. What about if I’m at the beach and there’s lots of women in bikinis? Does that give me the right to sexually objectify the women I see? NO!

        You see, one of the unintended consequences of “modesty rules” is that it tacitly gives men permission (it literally *expects* it!) to think sexually objectifying thoughts about every woman they see.

        If I have to ask myself “is that woman dressed modestly enough for me to not lust?” of every woman I see, I am making a sexual assessment of every woman I see. That’s sexually objectifying!

        Modesty rules do not prevent sexual objectification of women, modesty rules codify the sexual objectification of women.

        1. David, thank you for making these arguments. As a woman who already struggles with body image, this article does not feel helpful at all and i do not care for how the burden is put entirely upon women. Thanks for sticking up for the rest of us, I appreciate your very intelligent responses.

          1. One of the most misunderstood ideas about modesty is that it requires women to cover their bodies because they are something to be ashamed of. Nothing could be further from the truth. Modesty simply allows us to value our bodies even more so because they aren’t on display for all to see. I’ve heard of plenty of testimonies of women who struggled with body image and found such freedom once they started dressing modestly, because they were no longer concerned about what others thought about their bodies. Just something to consider 🙂

    4. Hey David, I read your comments and a lot of the other comments on this article, and I just want to say that I completely agree with everything you said, as you have made a strong Biblical case for yourself. I found this article to be very damaging for women, and thought you made some great points.

      1. Thanks, Sean.

        You are right… modesty teaching actually IS damaging to women… it literally teaches them to sexually objectify themselves.

        And it teaches men that they are *supposed* to–expected to–sexually objectify women’s bodies… one hint of cleavage, one inch above the knee… and they are justified in having sexual thoughts about the woman (it’s obviously her fault!).

  15. I have question to raise for the author…

    I think we would all agree that it is wrong to sexually objectify women.

    It is sexual objectification to evaluate a woman based on her sexual appeal to or sexual impact on men. I hope you would agree.

    But is that not what you are doing here in this article? You judge a woman in what you (by your own standards) to be “immodest” because of her sexual impact on men.

    Prudery is not righteousness… prudery is literally the flip side of a coin… the other side of which we call “pornography.”

    Prudery and pornography both determine a woman’s value based upon how she appeals sexually to men. They reach different conclusions, to be sure, but their criteria for assessment is the same.

    1. If this is what you have gathered from the article, you have completely missed the point of it. To state that I “judge a woman in what you (by your own standards) to be “immodest” because of her sexual impact on men.” is absolutely incorrect. A woman who is dressed inappropriately around women and there are no men to see her, is still immodest.

      1. I confess, I’m reacting in large measure to the typical mindset that promotes standards of “modesty” perhaps as much as to what I read in your article. I will not now
        presume that your views match others that I have heard promoting modesty…

        Can you give us what you understand to be a clear and biblically based definition of “modesty”?

  16. While I don’t agree with some of your personal standards for modesty, I think you make an excellent point about how the Bible uses the word “modesty.” It is about the clothing, not the heart. Great observation!

    As a side note, I have been dressed in very loose-fitting clothing – long skirt, long sleeves, high neckline, etc. – and have still had men look me up and down inappropriately in public.

    I do believe that if we’re drawing attention to ourselves by our modesty, we’re probably doing it wrong. We’ve probably added a level of modesty that’s not biblical, or unnecessarily dressed in a distracting, counter-cultural way that does not point to Christ but to ourselves. I have been there, done that.

    Having said that, I do appreciate many of the points you’ve made in this article and hold a very high regard for dressing modestly that most Christian women don’t. If you’d like to hear more specifics regarding my own standards and how I come to those conclusions from Scripture, I’d be happy to explain. I plan to write an article of my own soon addressing some of these things.

    Blessings, friend!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lydia! I would never say that if a woman is dressed modestly, she will not receive inappropriate attention from men. There are some depraved creatures out there that will sin no matter how a woman presents herself. But in most cases, in my experience, a modest woman will inspire far more respect than an immodest one.

  17. I will say, David Martin makes some valid points in his comments about the Greek. Your point still stands, in my opinion, but I would definitely take his thoughts into consideration in seeking to interpret the Scriptures rightly.

    1. Yes, he does make interesting points but they are personal interpretation and can easily be refuted by other “personal interpretation”! If he wishes to believe in this way, he has absolute freedom to do so, but I must disagree with his conclusions 🙂

      1. No, my points are not mere “personal interpretation.”

        That is why I posted the link to my paper. In it, I systematically examine the passage in question, seeking to understand the real meaning of the root words. I very carefully explain the standards of interpretation that I have used and the criteria by which any conclusion about the meaning of the text (yours or mine) must be judged.

        The final result is in alignment with that criteria. If you disagree, please show how that process of discovery is in error or the conclusion flawed. I welcome constructive or critical analysis of the work.

      2. Let me give an example of how my understanding is not a matter of “personal interpretation” but rather a matter of fidelity to the integrity of the text:

        In 1 Tim 2, verse 8 going into verse 9 we read:

        “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel,…”

        I draw you attention to the phrase, “In like manner.” The Greek word here means exactly what this phrase means… that the instructions to come parallel the instructions just given.

        So, I ask you… how is praying with uplifted hands without wrath or doubting “like” reminding women to keep their bodies covered modestly?

        That’s an honest question… one which both of our understandings of the text must consider.

      3. No, they are not “personal interpretation.” The Greek is clear. Anyone else who understands Greek would agree with him. That’s one of the benefits of studying Greek. We miss so much in our English versions!

        But, no, he’s not giving his opinion on the text. He’s simply explaining how the Greek works…which reveals so much about the text! Wow!

        I wholeheartedly agree with his statement: “It is incumbent upon us as Bible-believing Christians to understand and stand by what the Bible says and what the original authors meant… careful to avoid tainting our understanding with modern cultural concepts in our interpretation.”

  18. [ A girl can have the most “modest” heart in the world but if her clothing is revealing and suggestive, she is not modest! ] Here’s my question: how can a girl have the most “modest” heart in the world, and not be dressing modestly? It’s an oxymoron…it won’t happen. I believe it begins in the heart, and what’s in the heart will find itself expressed on the outside.

    1. I used the term “modest heart” in the way that most people choose to use it, to show the inaccuracy of the mindset. There are people who dress in a very revealing way and yet when concern is expressed, the reply is that “they have a modest heart”. I have personally met girls who seemed very Godly and desired to do the right thing, and yet were very inappropriate in the display of their body. I can only hope this is because they are clueless about the importance of modesty, which leads me to the next point, where you stated “what’s in the heart will find itself expressed on the outside.”

      I agree, to an extent, but I also know that many women are unaware of the importance of modesty, or have never been taught what is and what is not modest. They don’t intentionally dress inappropriately, but only because they do not know any better. This is why I believe it is very important that, in dealing with this situation, we must make a clear distinction between heart condition and outward actions.

      It’s similar to a person who eats a very unhealthy diet out of ignorance. He is destroying his body and not treating it as the temple of the Holy Spirit. In his heart, he may have the purest of intentions but his actions are what cause the consequences. I believe modesty is very similar.

  19. God bless you for sharing this, Hannah. I appreciate the spirit in which you are writing this. I didn’t have to read in detail each of the comments to detect a wrong spirit and dangers of when we attempt to “water down” or explain away the word of God. And who of us women wouldn’t rather stand before our holy and righteous God, realizing we didn’t HAVE (however I want to!) to be as conscious of not being a stumbling block RATHER than being judged because of my immodesty. My friends, “If the righteous scarcely be saved….” The Holy Spirit tells me I can not afford to walk too closely to a dangerous cliff, but He warns me to err on the conservative side, less I cause someone to stumble and myself by judged. This is another example of where the Bible is trying to be explained away, but we need to stand for righteousness and truth. And loving our neighbor (our brothers) more than we love ourselves. (Or our choice of stylish, sexy clothes) This is after all, still the second commandment!

      1. Just happened to notice your comment here. And I don’t mean to keep pointing out disagreements. 🙂 But, something I have recently had to remind myself is…if you go overboard, you are guilty. To fail to do something the Bible commands is a sin. To add a command to the Bible or to follow a command in a way the Bible never intended is also a sin.

          1. Correct. If you do more than is required, believing that makes you right with God, that is wrong. If you do more than is required and hold others to the same standard as though it is part of the biblical command, that is wrong. Jesus strongly condemned the Pharisees for “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7).

    1. I feel the same way. I am responsible to those who follow my footsteps. I can only hope I reflect Christ to them. We may be the only example of Christ some people see. I believe the Holy Spirit will gently nudge a heart that desires to do the will of God.

  20. Mr Martin, I do not have the time to respond to all of your comments individually or in great detail, so let me sum it up here.

    I don’t see how either of us is going to convince the other, so I don’t see the use of arguing this issue any further. It would take much time for me to answer all the points that you have made and I don’t have that time right now. I appreciate that you welcome constructive or critical analysis of your work … again, I don’t have the time to address it in detail. Maybe some day I can. I’m not trying to force my opinion on you, but I simply don’t agree with the conclusions you have stated.

    1. Thank you for the summation. And this is not the correct forum for the full debate on this issue.

      Allow me to also sum up my thoughts.

      Your position on modesty is unbiblical. Here are a number of important questions that cannot be answered biblically:

      1. What is biblical modesty?

      2. What parts of a woman’s body must be covered for her to be “modest” (or a man’s for that matter)?

      3. Who may and who may not see a person’s body? In what context?

      4. At what age do the modesty rules become valid for a girl (or a boy)?

      5. Are the modesty rules that you embrace valid in every culture for all time?

      You and I may well disagree on the intended meaning of certain words in the text… that’s fair enough. But even so, there are no biblical answers to any of these questions… and by that I mean answers that are derived directly from the inspired text.

      Yet, unless I’m mistaken, you would indeed have a firm position on each question. By definition, then, your position is unbiblical. Rather, it is “personal interpretation.” It is culturally driven.

      We as Christians dare not be caught promoting the traditions of man (culture) as the precepts of God.

      1. You seem to have chip on your shoulder. Why?
        Isaiah clearly states that when Israel became a harlot she uncovered her thigh.

        1. Elizabeth, I suppose that I do have a “chip on my shoulder” of sorts…

          God made our bodies in His image (it means more than that, but it includes our bodies). That means that the visible human form is meant to proclaim and glorify God.

          Yet in our culture–and in church “modesty” teaching–the most significant thing to be observed about the human form is its sexual impact and its supposedly inescapable allure to sexual sin. This teaching and belief is a disgrace to the Image of God.

          So, yes, I have a chip on my shoulder about the Glory of God being turned into false teachings about God’s image leading to licentiousness.

          For the record, that prophet you mentioned–Isaiah–spent 3 whole years prophesying completely naked (Isa 20)… at God’s direct command. If the exposed and visible human form was sinful or led inexorably to sin, then God commanded Isaiah to sin.

          It is high time for the church to reexamine its understanding of the true biblical meaning of the human form. This is my motivation in challenging the underlying theology of articles such as this one.

      2. As far as I understand your viewpoint expressed here, David, I wholeheartedly agree with you and thank you for this encouragement. A passage that has brought much conviction for me is Mark 7.

        1. You are right, Lydia. Mark 7 is central to this discussion and it should be included.

          There’s nothing outside a man that can defile that man by entering into him.

          That means that it truly doesn’t matter what I see of a woman’s body… if lust comes out, lust was already there.

          The false “modesty” standards promoted to women and depended upon by men are build upon a lie… the lie that what I see CAN defile me.

          Thanks for your comments, Lydia!

          1. I hadn’t really considered the passage you’re referring to…I’m honestly not sure I’d come to the same conclusions.

            But in a previous comment, you said, “We as Christians dare not be caught promoting the traditions of man (culture) as the precepts of God.” I was reminded of the section in Mark 7 where Jesus’ rebuked the Pharisees because they “teach as doctrines the commandments of men.”

            1. That’s funny! I just assumed that you were referring to Mark 7:14-23!

              To be sure, “modesty” teaching does teach as “doctrine, the commandments of men!”

              In the section of Mark 7 I was referring to, Jesus teaches very specifically that the sins of “evil thoughts, fornications, … adulteries, deeds of coveting [i.e. lust],… as well as … sensuality” come from within, never from outside a man.

              Yet “modesty” teaching presumes that what a man sees (outside a man) actually *can* produce these sinful things in a man.

              Jesus applies this truth to the eating of food, but the list of sins obviously includes sexual sins which could never be attribute to food, so the principle must apply to *anything* “outside a man”… including that which he sees.

    1. Thank you, Horace, for the encouragement. One of the great things about those 4 questions is that, with a little adjusting, they can be applied by men as well!

      1. Speaking of the four questions… I did a little mental exercise in the attempt to apply them to a body completely without clothing:

        Does this glorify my Heavenly Father?

        — Absolutely! All of God’s creation glorifies Him! And in the Garden of Eden before the fall, God’s highest creation–made in His image–glorified Him more than all of the rest of creation… fully naked (Gen. 2:24… called by God “very good” in Gen. 1:31).

        Would I want to come before my Savior dressed like this?

        — Without a doubt it would not be a problem. God’s idea from the beginning of creation was to fellowship with humans who were completely naked. Furthermore, Clothing changes nothing when we stand before God, for “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13, KJV)

        Am I clothing my body as befitting the temple of the Holy Spirit?

        — My body is no less the Temple of the Holy Spirit when I am in the shower than when I am in church. My clothing or lack thereof does nothing to commend me to God or to make me more worthy for the Spirit of God to indwell me. So even being naked is “befitting” the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not look on “outward appearance” (1 Sam 16:7).

        Does my appearance present a message of femininity and beautiful womanhood or worldliness and sensuality?

        — There is nothing more expressive of God’s intended femininity and beautiful wormanhood than that which is expressed in her form exactly as God made her. Every possible piece of clothing she might wear to conceal her body also conceals the expression of femininity that God built right into her body. The simple exposure of that beauty is not “sensuality” or “worldliness,” for it is what God made her… nothing more and nothing less… unless she is exposing herself for the express purpose of sensuality or worldliness.

        I’m not promoting the abandonment of all clothing, but by offering biblically-based and logically sound responses to these four questions in reference a woman unclothed, I am showing that to answer these questions as you evidently anticipate is not to apply biblical truth to our lives, but rather to apply cultural perceptions to our lives.

        In other words, these questions do not lead to God’s will, they lead to cultural conformity.

        1. Mr Martin, I am going to have to ask that you refrain from any further discussion on this post. I don’t have a problem with people expressing their opinions, even when they differ from mine, but I also don’t want to provide a platform for people to keep pushing their opinions when I believe them to be incorrect and potentially dangerous or confusing. Seeing as how your comments have taken up 1/4 of the total response, I believe that you have sufficiently expressed your viewpoint and do not need to defend or expound upon it any further. Once all people in this world have been saved and their minds have been renewed, I may then consider the propriety of dressing in a revealing manner. Until then, I will continue to dress modestly, out of respect for myself and those with whom I come in contact, and I will encourage other people to do the same thing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  21. When reading the bible one must take into consideration to whom or of whom is being written. As well as what has taken place before. The women being written about were more concerned with dressing lavishly and ornamentally.

    Women should dress modestly, but what is that? How to dress modestly is not addressed in the bible. I have no intention of going around in short-shorts but what is my limit.

    Answering your questions I determine I dress modestly but someone comes to me and tells me that my knee-length skirt is showing too much skin. Who’s right and who is wrong?

    1. Nikki, I believe that modesty standards must be determined by individuals/families. Regarding a knee length skirt, the Bible makes it clear that revealing the thighs is shameful and displays one’s nakedness. So I believe that it is inappropriate to show above the knees. Some people can wear a knee length skirt and not reveal anything else … other people cannot! Similarly, one woman can wear a type of blouse without revealing cleavage, another woman cannot. I think an important aspect of modesty is to *not* have the perspective of “how little can we get away with?” So much of modesty is about personal standards and this is why I’m not posting a list of what I believe is and isn’t modest! I think it’s safe to say that if one’s clothing leaves very little to the imagination, she should probably reconsider her wardrobe!

      1. This isn’t about having a perspective of how little can I get away with, however before we start judging or instructing knowledge is needed.

        Exodus 28:42 firstly is about priestly attire for Aaron and his sons, says to the thighs, I prefer knee length myself but according this verse thigh length is perfectly acceptable. Verse 43 specifies specific times they should wear this implying it is not necessary at other times. The bible does not make it clear that revealing the thighs are shameful. Any uncovered skin is naked flesh and this verse makes it clear that the waist to the thighs should be covered in this case.

        Modesty is a personal standard making it a heart issue. Wearing clothes leaving nothing to the imagination calls for an evaluation of the heart, what you believe and how you think you present yourself. The questions you asked at the end of your post call for an evaluation of your heart.

        1. I don’t think God’s instructions to the Aaronic priests has anything to teach us about clothing in general or any standards of modesty.

          God very specifically says that these clothing requirements were only for the sons of Aaron… not all of the world, not all of Israel, not all of the Levites, and not even all the time for that particular line of priests… it was only required to be worn when they approached the altar.

          If God had a standard of attire that all the Israel needed to abide by, he would have given it. There’s no shortage of laws that He gave for His people to follow, so it cannot be an oversight (God has given us everything we need for life and godliness).

          And we dare not add to God’s word standards of conduct (or attire) that He has not given us.

      2. For the record, Hannah, it’s also important to understand the OT word “nakedness” (Hebrew *ervah*).

        It is not the only Hebrew word that describes being without clothing, but–notably–it IS the only such word that is ever associated with shame or sin.

        That observation itself indicates that it is a mistake to assume that the word *ervah* in Hebrew means only what we understand the word “nakedness” to mean in English. If we do make that assumption, it will lead us to false conclusions about the Bible’s teaching on nakedness, for it is evident from its usage throughout the OT that it means more than “simple nakedness” (Just look at how it’s used in Lev. 18… it describes sexually active nakedness throughout the passage… and recent translations don’t even translate it as “nakedness” for that reason).

        I did a deep dive word study on *ervah* examining every place it appears in the OT Scriptures in the effort to find a consistent definition that we can use wherever it appears. Here are the results of that study:

        It deals extensively with Lev. 18 and Exo. 28.

  22. I agreed that modesty is not just about the heart but I also don’t believe that it’s just about the clothing. I knew a lady who wore cape dresses and covered her body well. They weren’t tight or loose but she didn’t want to live that life style and it was interesting to see how “worldly” guys who didn’t know her well would flirt with her.

    1. I have seen that as well. A woman can have ‘a Jezebel spirit’ thus rendering everything she wears immodest. And THAT is a matter of the heart.

    2. That is a good point. Considering that modest means decent, I absolutely agree that one can be immodest in her actions, but my point in this article is that when the Bible talks about modesty, it’s in reference to clothing. My mother shared about the time she saw an old order Amish woman, in full garb, with her foot propped up on the buggy and a cigarette between her fingers. Quite the shocker!

      Something I keep in mind in regards to the clothes vs behavior is that you occasionally find a woman who causes you to think – well, she’s dressed appropriately but she’s a hussy in every other way. But I’ve never yet had the experience (or heard of someone else who did) of seeing a woman that was dressed like a hussy and thinking – what a modest woman!

  23. Something that immediately struck me when I started reading is the woman whose image is used in the title graphic for this post, the one in the brown hat. It seems odd to illustrate modesty with that, since it looks like she has sparkly lipstick, at least some eye makeup (possibly both eyeliner and mascara), and tweeted eyebrows, along with a necklace.

    The Timothy passage speaks against jewelry, and I usually think of makeup (outside of, say, a theatrical context) as at least vanity but also about getting the same attention/attraction you decry here. Do you not see that as a contradiction? If not, why not?

    1. You know, one of the first things you learn in blogging is that you can please everybody! I have people fussing at me for even addressing the importance of modesty … and you thinking that the picture isn’t modest enough!

      To answer your question, I don’t believe that the 1Timothy passage is speaking against jewelry, especially when taken in consideration with 1Peter 3:3 which pretty much says the same thing. To be consistent, if we aren’t allowed to adorn ourselves with jewelry, we also aren’t allowed to put on apparel, and will therefore have to go around naked. Anyone would consider that a ridiculous interpretation, so I don’t see how one can support the idea that jewelry is being forbidden.

      Re: makeup, I used to have the mindset that any use of makeup was vanity and because people couldn’t accept themselves for who they were. Some things have happened that caused me to change my mind and, while I still don’t necessarily agree with makeup that gives an unnatural look, I believe it can be worn appropriately.

        1. I don’t think I ever said jewelery is equivalent to clothing.

          1Peter 3:3 says “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel”

          If this Scripture means that we should not wear jewelry, then it also means we should not put on apparel, i.e. clothing.

          1. Undoubtedly, 1 Peter 3:3 is a parallel teaching to 1 Tim. 2:9.

            And since that is so, then here is another passage that mentions clothing in reference to “modesty.”

            But, contrary to what you imply in your article, 1 Peter 3:3 is a clear DE-emphasis on clothing… even implying that they are not required at all. I would certainly agree that 1 Peter 3:3 does not forbid jewelry OR clothing, but it’s equally clear that it does not *require* jewelry… OR clothing.

            One of the points I made in my paper about 1 Tim. 2:9 was that it *must* be harmonized with 1 Peter 3:3… something I don’t believe your position does.

  24. Thank you for sharing this. I am always so blessed to see young women take a bold stand for the word of God. I am a mother of six daughters and it my heart to see them grow up to be godly women who are not ashamed to dress modestly.

  25. As the father of three girls and their pastor, I am teaching this truth. When teaching what God considers modest, there is one list to point to for God’s standard.
    The priests of God in the old testament stood just outside and in the very presence of God’s fire in the Holy place. Moses records how unsaved men were to be dressed in the presence of God.
    Should we expect God to have changed what he wants from us?
    For those who aren’t sure, the details are, a top that covers the chest, with no chance of gapping at the sleeves or neck. And a leg covering that goes to the knee and cannot be seen up inside. The priests wore “bloomers” under the skirt of their robe to fulfill this.

  26. Hello all,
    This is a wonderful article.
    Our sermon today was on modesty. An interesting point the speaker made was that God does care what you wear; Matt. 22:2- the parable of the king’s wedding feast. He saw a man not dressed properly and threw him out. Also we must glorify God in every aspect of our lives. What message are your clothes proclaiming about you?
    The speakers closing statement was “Do you want God to say to you ‘ Are you going out in that?'”

  27. I’m actually a bit with David on this one. As a man, I do struggle at times but after being married for a few years I realize more and more that that’s more my heart problems then my dress problems . In the world, it’s nearly impossible to scroll down a Facebook feed with out seeing something negative. So to think that dressing modestly helps a guy out… Well I’m not entirely sure. In fact, after speaking with my wife over the years I find that women in general are more concerned about what other women think about them then the guys. I’m not saying modesty isn’t important, but to make what guys sees as the standard of how you dress seems very difficult. I know that as a guy I can lust after nearly any women, no matter how they are dressed, again my problem. If the whole world were modest and dressed appropriately, men would still find a way. Anyways, appreciate your point of view, but I think that making this part of the argument with this much emphasis isn’t the best way to convince people. But just my opinion. 🙂 This is especially true when I hear men preacher preachs this stuff. The ones that preach the hardest on it, maybe actually be the ones that struggle the most. 🙂 #irony?

    1. Actually, Brandon, the “irony” is not irony at all… it just seems so.

      The reason it seems ironic is that we have put in place all sorts of “modesty” rules for women and “what you cannot see” rules for men because we believe those rules will help us stay morally pure in our minds.. and those who depend most on those rules are the ones who are most lustful in their hearts (that’s where lust comes from… see Mark 7:14ff)

      But the irony is really in the fact that by *making* those rules, we actually create the focus that makes us impure.

      The common false belief is that “men are visual” meaning that they are sexually enticed and inexorably aroused by the sight of a woman’s body (or a man-made list of body parts). This is a falsehood that has been conditioned into generations of men so that they all *think* that’s how they are aroused.

      So here is the source of the “irony”… those that believe that lie the strongest also *practice* that sort of response the most consistently (they literally don’t ever attempt to have a different response!), And those who practice being “visual” the most are the ones that struggle with lust the most.

      The key to freedom from lust is not ever going to be in controlling what we see (which means that we also don’t need to be telling women what they should not allow to be seen), but by fundamentally changing how we view the female form. God did not make women’s breasts to incite lust in men… he made them to be a beautiful and functional expression of the nurturing nature of God Himself… and expression of God’s image through women.

      When a guy really renews his mind about the meaning of a woman’s form, it will transform his response to the sight of a woman’s form (Rom. 12:2), no matter how much of it he sees.

      Those that proclaim “modesty” are doing nothing to renew how men OR women perceive the female form. Rather, the presume that the sexualized response IS the “normal” response. Without that renewal of mind, there will never be the transformation away from sin.

      I like to say it this way…

      We sinfully view the female form because we have a sinful view of the female form.

      That “sinful view” is at the core of “modesty” teaching.

      I’ve built a website along with several other pastors to expose the lies about how we view the human form in the modern church and explain the biblical perspective that is truth… and it is truth that makes us free (John 8:32). I hope you’ll check it out.

  28. Thank you for writing this post it was a great encouragement. It’s always amazing to me how the issue of modesty sparks so much controversy amongst Christian people which is so disheartening. I had never actually heard that it was immodest to dress modest and thus stand out in a crowd! 😉 I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole with all the comments but please know this article was helpful and as a wife and mom I appreciate this.

  29. I loved this article. I am now raising my grandkids and stress modesty to them ALWAYS. I know that men are wired to be visual and for women to say that the man has a duty to control his thoughts or his eyes is like asking a woman not to talk more than five sentences to her sister or best friend. It goes against nature. Anyway, I am raising my grandson hopefully so that his wife is the only woman he sees that much of. I am fortunate to be marrying a man who prefers women to be dressed modestly. To him, that is beautiful.

  30. David Martin, you said, “Your position on modesty is unbiblical. Here are a number of important questions that cannot be answered biblically….”

    I don’t want to get into a back and forth on the modesty discussion (others here are handling that fine :). Instead, I wanted to perhaps go down a little bit of a rabbit hole, but I think it is an important rabbit hole if one is to discuss this issue correctly.

    The Bible does not contain a written account of everything that Jesus said and did, and the Bible does, in fact, tell us this. When you try to apply Sacred Scripture to a situation and can’t find a complete answer written there in the text, what do you do? It appears that at that point you conclude that coming to and making a decision is either adding something to or detracting something from God’s Word (you said, “And we dare not add to God’s word standards of conduct (or attire) that He has not given us.” This sort of thinking/reasoning, by the way – that everything is in the Bible and if it’s not then God didn’t give us an answer – is called “Sola Scriptura” (you may have already known that…).

    Just because something is not written down in the Bible does not mean it is not part of the Deposit of Faith. Jesus Christ’s entire revelation is preserved and passed to generations in two different forms: Sacred Scripture (the Bible) and Sacred Tradition (Apostolic Succession). For example, the Bible doesn’t (and can’t) answer questions about it’s own Divine inspiration. Where do we turn for answers to those sorts of questions? To Sacred Tradition.

    Anyway, just wanted to point that out, for when you look to apply Scripture to this question but cannot find the answer plainly there in the text.

    1. Thank you for your comments, MaryJane.

      I have some good Catholic friends who assert the same idea, but as an Evangelical Protestant, I do disagree with the authority of church tradition.

      I would challenge you to examine some of the early church writings with reference to baptism as it relates to this issue…

      Did you know that for the first 300-400 years of the church’s history, all baptisms were performed nude? And they had theological reasons for doing so!

      Check out the writing of Hippolytus of Rome in the third century AD?

      Take a look at Chapter 21 of that document.

      In other words, we can see here that some of the early church traditions have been LOST… and it is a mistake to presume that the current attitude towards “modesty” is a correct church tradition at all.

      Assuming that you are Catholic, I’d also encourage you to study the seminal work of Pope John Paul II, “The Theology of the Body.” When the true meaning of the body is understood, there’s no place for lust in response when it is visible, and the supposed need for “modesty rules” evaporates.

      I wish we Protestants had such an important work in our libraries, and it is something of a calling of mine to help the Protestant church see and understand more of the true “Theology of the Body” from the Scriptures. Modesty rules are in direct conflict with the biblical teaching on the meaning of our bodies.

  31. I have been reading all these comments with interest and am amazed at how diverted one can get from the main topic. I agree with most of what Hannah says in regard to modesty and I believe that what she was essentially trying to say is that there is a difference in saying and doing. I believe that if we have a heart attitude of modesty it will bear the fruit of modesty which would include how a young lady dresses herself, carries herself and conversation she engages in etc. The problem comes when people have different standards of modesty. Although I consider myself to be modest in my dress I suspect that it may not be according to those in Hannah’s circles. In that I cover up and don’t show cleavage or thighs etc but do wear loose fitting pants etc. As far as the idea of dressing modestly as a Christian duty and compulsion not being biblical I find ridiculous. Even if you want to argue the texts are not being interpreated accurately or that Christ gives us no reference to dressing modestly I think that we only have to look at how those in the world who are living in open sin dress. Should we dress the same way? I think not. We are called to be different from the world. I feel that we all know inwardly that a certain degree of modesty is a character of a godly woman. We are after all have been transformed into the likeness of Christ and for me that requires an inward and outward change. For those who are arguing that it is the mans responsibility to control his own thoughts and actions, that is true, however it does not release women from their responsibility to not put temptation in front of a man. The 2 go hand in hand. In the gospel Christ teaches that to lust in our heart is the same as committing adultery. This is a stern warning to men on how to control their thought life. However I also find it compelling for women on how to dress so as not to be drawn into this situation. Yes we can not stop what a man may be thinking about us in his mind and some men will lust after a woman even if she is dressed modestly, but I feel that we dress in an obvious inmodest manner then we are playing some role in a man lusting after the flesh and therefore committing adultery. I’m sorry but if we can help avoid that situation why shouldn’t we do all that we can. What ever the scripture may or not say it is only common sense to not to want to invite unwanted advances. Speaking for myself I don’t want to be part of helping a man commit adultery in his heart with me if I can at all avoid it. For example once I was at a music practise at a former church where one of the singers was sitting on a chair directly in front of the sound desk that was being manned by a married man and father who was a elder of the church. When I looked at her I noticed that the low rise jeans she was wearing had slid even lower when she sat down and was exposing the top of her buttocks. She was wearing G string underwear so everything was exposed. Even thought the man who was sitting behind her was a good family man and as far as I could tell had a godly character, could not have helped but notice the image being literally put in front of his face. Also he could not really just walk away as he had to man the sound equipment. I find that such an example is not called for. Why did this man have to endure having to witness a visual that may cause his thoughts to sin when he had not invited it? Anyway I did not mean this to go into such detail I just wanted to say that whatever your own personal standards of modesty are they should be modest by todays standards at least. If we are dressing in provocative ways no different than those who are not children of God, then how will others discern who we are or what we stand for? Yes we show our character in other ways but that is sending mixed messages to an already confused generation. Ladies lets do what we can in this area of modesty not out of law but because we want to live our life congruent with who God made us to be. Thank you Hannah for your insightful, thought provoking and mature views.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Therese. And please know that I do not put my standards on other people! I believe each person should be responsible for praying and seeking the Father on how He wants her to dress, and not determine personal standards just because someone else is doing the same thing. Of course, it can be helpful to learn the “whys” of other people’s modesty standards, but our clothing choices should not be based on peer pressure! I think you made an excellent point in asking “If we are dressing in provocative ways no different than those who are not children of God, then how will others discern who we are or what we stand for?” One of the questions that I feel is important when the modesty topic comes up, and one that I don’t believe was mentioned in the post, is “if a bystander sees your backside and not your face, can he tell that you are a child of God?”

  32. I thought you did a great job tackling a difficult topic. I don’t always dress as modestly as I should (even if my heart is in the right place) but as I grow older am seeing this more and more and definitely covering up. 🙂

  33. Wow, what responses you received from this article! I do agree with you also, modest dressing is important… This verse is clearly talking about apparel. The “heart” is spoken of in many other verses in the Bible. When we follow both, we are balanced in God’s word. Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays.

  34. “Ladies, it is not modest to wear clothing that reveals your figure.” Very well put, actually, right on the mark! If you read the statistics for rape in the United States, I’m sure you would be appalled! But, rape is also a Scriptural point. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man (Woman) reaps what he (She) sows. Gal. 6:7

  35. By the way, Hannah, thanks again for initiating this discussion. I usually avoid “modesty” articles, because they end up in a mess! While I don’t agree with everything you’ve had to say, I think you made some fine points in your article and have responded well to those who differ in their points of view. People won’t be won through debate but through kindness and understanding. Blessings, friend!

    1. And thank you for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate when conflicting opinions can be discussed without it becoming inflammatory 🙂

  36. A comment to Tom,
    Bringing up rape in relation to modesty is suggesting that should a woman get raped while wearing “clothes that reveal her figure” It is in some part her fault. That is blaming the victim. Arab woman are required to cover even their faces and yet rape culture is alive and well in a lot of the Middle East. The amount of clothing a woman is wearing does not factor into her being raped. A rapist acts out of violence and a lot of them consider woman to be beneath them. Making it sound like a woman wearing skinny jeans and a t shirt is in someway asking for it, is excusing the man of his violent behavior and placing blame on an innocent woman who went through something terrible.

    1. Two things,

      First, let’s leave the Muslim contingent out of the argument. Their RELIGION endorses/encourages rape. That’s not what we’re talking about. Tom specifically said “If you read the statistics for rape in the United States,”

      Second, you cannot honestly say “The amount of clothing a woman is wearing does not factor into her being raped” without reading the statistics and doing the research and providing the proof. Tom is [potentially] presenting facts (I haven’t read all the statistics myself), while you’re presenting personal opinion. It would be better to bring the statistics to prove your point, rather than arguing from your feelings.

  37. Hannah, dear, you are very young to be blogging this way. I agree, in part, with what you say. I agree, in part, with Mr. Martin. However, modesty IS a heart issue. If you dress Amish, Mennonite, or Brethren modestly, but have no heart for it, others can pick it up in an instant. I have been told there are no modest clothes that can be purchased. I can tell you, I would be unashamed to stand before the Lord (which we always do) as I am. Not according to your standards, perhaps, but according to the Bible. Interesting to me is your take on jewelry and make up, showing that ALL of us, Mr Martin, you, myself can be swayed by what we want to believe. I too, am weary of the idea that men cannot control their visual sense. If a father saw his daughter by accident, would he lust? No, not unless something is severely wrong. In like manner, a man can train himself that looking on any woman but his wife is shameful and revolting. Won’t work every time, hence our need to look to the Spirit (not you, not me) for truth. The Spirit will never lead a woman to appear wanton. God had BOTH Adam and Eve cover in the garden. Sin entered, and that was one of the first things that happened. Don’t judge others, though. That is just as wrong. Some godly women have not grown up in the environment you were lucky enough to have. God is bigger than any human thought or blog.

    1. Perhaps I might remind you of a certain apostle’s words – “Let no one look down on your youthfulness” 🙂

      If you think for one minute that I am “judging” others who do not hold the same standards as I do, I am sorry you are so mistaken. Or maybe I should clarify it this way: you, I and everyone else make judgements, often unconsciously. Obviously we draw the line in different places but even people who are very liberal minded when it comes to the topic of modest clothing will have a problem with a woman walking topless down the street. So yes, there are plenty of times when I mentally acknowledge a woman’s (or man’s) inappropriate attire. But to judge their motives and assume that they are trying to dress immodestly is very wrong. And to treat them with any less respect because they don’t hold the same standards as I do is equally wrong. In my business I come in contact with very many women who are dressed in an immodest way and I am thankful to know that I have never treated them differently because of it. I have also been very blessed to hear, both from believers and unbelievers, that they appreciate how even though our family holds strong standards, we are non-judgemental and kind to those who aren’t like us. So as far as making judgements go – that’s not an issue.

      I don’t understand why you would reference my views on jewelry and makeup with the statement that all of us can be swayed by what we want to believe. That kind of seems like a judgement to me? Besides, since the Scripture does not prohibit either, isn’t only natural that each of us would come to our own conclusions and standards?

      Furthermore, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I were a man and teaching men, my message would be completely different. As far as a man is concerned, he is fully responsible for his thoughts and cannot blame anyone else for them. But again, I’m talking to women – not men. And as far as a woman is concerned, she should be responsible enough to cover her body decently in a way that tells people she respects herself and isn’t looking for the wrong attention.

      And so I must maintain, as I have all along, that modesty as referred to in the Scriptures is not about a heart condition but about the clothes that we wear. Because if it really doesn’t matter what we wear (as Mr Martin has tried to explain), then y’all might as well start going naked. After all, it will be a lot cooler that way in the summertime!

      1. I think you may be misunderstanding Mr. Martin’s point if you think he’s saying it really doesn’t matter what we wear. That’s not at all what I took from his thoughts on the matter. I’m not here to defend him, and I certainly disagree with some of his statements, but I encourage you to re-read his comments. As I see it, he is seeking to view and understand Scripture without any presuppositions which I think is a highly valuable (and the only biblical) perspective. I don’t know him personally and may be misunderstanding him, but I certainly don’t see him throwing out all decency. And if you question my own modesty standards due to my support of Mr. Martin’s statements, please do ask! 🙂

        1. This was Mr Martin’s exact quote:
          “There is nothing more expressive of God’s intended femininity and beautiful wormanhood than that which is expressed in her form exactly as God made her. Every possible piece of clothing she might wear to conceal her body also conceals the expression of femininity that God built right into her body. The simple exposure of that beauty is not “sensuality” or “worldliness,” for it is what God made her… nothing more and nothing less… unless she is exposing herself for the express purpose of sensuality or worldliness.”

          In other words, a woman can expose her entire body [beauty/femininity], just so long as she isn’t doing it for the express purpose of sensuality or worldliness. The use of the word “express” is actually understood to be synonymous with the word “only”, so one could also take this to mean that it’s fine for a woman to expose herself for the purpose of sensuality as long as there is another purpose (i.e. display of God’s creation) as well.

          I can see it now – a blogging niche for naked Christian women to show off their God-given beauty! Forgive the sarcasm … I know those aren’t his exact words, but that is where this type of mindset could very easily lead.

          1. Interesting. Perhaps you’re reading a certain mindset into what he’s saying? I agree with his statement 100% as I see nothing in it which says women should dress immodestly in public. He’s simply stating facts regarding the beauty of the woman as God designed it. There are reasons to dress modestly, but that’s not his point in the statement you quoted.

            It seems we’re looking at the same statement totally differently!

            1. When the context is a conversation about modest clothing, and someone says “The exposure of [her form exactly as God made her] is not “sensuality” or “worldliness,” … unless she is exposing herself for the express purpose of sensuality or worldliness” … the only reasonable conclusion is that it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to expose any and/or all of her form, as long as it isn’t for the *express* purpose of sensuality or worldliness.

              Now he himself said that he isn’t “promoting the abandonment of all clothing”, but if you follow out his reasoning to a logical conclusion, where else can it lead? Clothes, according to him, “conceal the expression of femininity that God built right into [a woman’s] body”. Why would a woman wear clothing if she can better display her form that is created in the image of God, her femininity and her beautiful womanhood … without them?

              1. Well, I truly believe you are misunderstanding his point, because I hold a high standard of modesty but agree with most all of his statements (as I understand them, of course). But as he is banned from this discussion, I guess I’ll never know if I’m right! 🙂

              2. You’re certainly welcome to contact him directly to find out – I’m sure he’d love to continue the conversation!

                While we do welcome discussion of varying opinions, we must draw the line when it seems that someone is using the platform that we pay for (and invest time into) to propagate their opinions, especially when we believe their opinions to be erroneous and potentially dangerous. Plus the fact that other people (who are not even on the same page as us modesty wise) felt that he was dominating the conversation and causing more harm than good.

    2. “God had both Adam and Eve cover in the garden”. After they sinned, they tried to cover themselves but it was to no avail. God covered them Himself, thus bringing in modest attire because of sin, not to mention pointing to what He would do in the future- the manner in which He would through His only begotten Son accomplish redemption and eternal life to all who would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Being born-again our spirits are made alive unto God, our hearts are made right before Him, and as we grow in sanctification He shines forth through us. Our behavior through our every thought, word and deed is evident in the outside; out of love and thankfulness to Him, to be pleasing to Him. There is no way we can do this on our own. It is the leading of the Holy Spirit within that teaches us and helps us to be faithful and obedient , even in our weakness. Thank You, Lord for Your grace and mercy; for Your glory and our good. Amen

  38. I brought up Islam because rape is a part of their culture and so is extreme modesty. I think that makes it relevant. If a culture that demands the entire female body to be hidden considers rape to be acceptable because a females worth is decided by the men around her, than doesn’t that speak to the idea that women being fully covered to protect themselves from being lusted after and potentially raped is at least in part flawed?

    I am not suggesting that woman shouldn’t cover themselves. Walking around in immodest clothing is a good way to get unwanted attention from men, but to lust after a woman who is scantly clad and to physically rape them are two completely different things. Both are wrong for sure, but one doesn’t involve the woman being scarred for life, potentially getting STI’s, pregnant, or even killed. One does not involve a man violently forcing a woman to have sex with him, even though the woman is saying no. Tom used the scripture about reaping what you sow, suggesting that should a woman reveal her figure and be raped that she is just reaping rape because she sowed immodesty. I’m sorry, but that is a disgusting mind set that excuses the man of his violent sin and places blame on an innocent woman. A man saying he raped someone because she was wearing shorts and a crop top, so she deserved it is ridiculous. Or even saying wearing those things means you are asking for it is ridiculous. Do men try and use those excuses? Yes. But telling woman that the reason they got raped is in part because of their clothing choices is contributing to a world where men can get away with heinous crimes because “woman aren’t dressing modestly enough.” The longer we say it’s the woman’s fault she was raped, the longer we live in a world where men think they can rape a woman based on her attire.

    I suppose I retract my prior statement; woman’s clothing choices may factor into their being raped. Not always and not exclusively. I do however stand on the fact that it shouldn’t, and the answer is not telling woman that in order to lessen their chances of being raped they must don clothing that hides their figures, no, the answer is placing the blame on the men who committed the crime. Because even in a world with only modestly dressed woman, we would still see rape. Because rapist doesn’t care about morality or modesty, he cares about satisfying his craving.

    According to research, there are four reasons a man rapes a woman: sexual gratification, which are most date rapes or rapes where the victim knows her attacker. Power rapes, sadistic rapes, and anger rapes. Rape is a psychological issue, just like pedophilia. You would never place blame on a child for being sexually assaulted, so why would you place blame on a woman? Even just a little blame is victim shaming.

    1. “If a culture that demands the entire female body to be hidden considers rape to be acceptable because a females worth is decided by the men around her, than doesn’t that speak to the idea that women being fully covered to protect themselves from being lusted after and potentially raped is at least in part flawed?”

      Not necessarily, because you’re dealing with two completely different cultures. In spite of the rising immorality in the USA, most people still consider it a civilized, Western, Christian nation – and one whose religion does not encourage rape, unlike Islam.

      No man has the right to blame a woman for his sinful actions – from simply lusting or to the extent of rape. But if statistics truly show that an immodestly dressed woman has more chances of experiencing rape than a modestly dressed one, it is something to consider. My understanding of Tom’s usage of Galatians 6:7 is that when a woman inappropriately reveals her body she is, often unintentionally, presenting herself with sexual appeal. For anyone who doesn’t think that is accurate, I challenge you to stop shaving your legs and start wearing short shorts or mini skirts. When she presents herself in a way that says “hey, look at me!” people are going to look, and sometimes do more than look.

      I’m fully aware that there are situations when a woman who is dressed modestly is raped. And I would never, ever say that the blame on the man should be measured by the amount of clothing on the woman. That is ridiculous. But, as I’ve said multiple times in this thread, since we are dealing with a predominately female audience on this website, and that is to whom this article was addressed, it is worthwhile to consider the statistics – in the USA, as Tom mentioned. Not among Muslims where their sick religion promotes lust and its gratification.

        for a list of common myths on the subject of rape.

        “But if statistics truly show that an immodestly dressed woman has more chances of experiencing rape than a modestly dressed one, it is something to consider.”

        They don’t. Rape is about power. Most rapes are premeditated, and will occur regardless of what the victim is wearing. As an example,

        The TL;DR version: starting in 2009, over 30 male Military Training Instructors (MTIs) were accused of sexually victimizing 43 female trainees at the USAF Basic Military Training (BMT).

        To paint you a picture of just how little our attire had to do with this: When I attended BMT, I did not shave my legs the entire time I was there (8 weeks), my uniform was baggy and ill-fitting, the PT gear I wore for working out was a bulbous blue track suit that made me look like a clown, I neither plucked my eyebrows nor had access to any make-up, I smelled subtly of sweat the entire time I was there, and I had a constant look of exhausted despondency on my face. Basically, I was not a picture of beauty in the least. And that is pretty much all females at basic training (minus the shaving. Some girls attempted to shave nearly every day). That means those MTIs assaulted females not because of what they were wearing, but instead IN SPITE of what they were wearing. It was about power. Those MTIs have complete control over us for 8 weeks. They can make or break us. They determine whether we graduate or get rolled back to an earlier week of training. Those MTIs could have intimidated those girls into illicit relations, coerced them, used their position of authority and control to convince them to enter into illicit relations (think Stockholm syndrome). It was a power rush for those male MTIs.

        Studies of convicted sexual offenders have shown that, when asked, the offenders can rarely recall what the woman they assaulted was wearing at the time of the attack. It really is not that big of a factor (if it is a factor at all) in sexual assault. Further, heterosexual men also rape or sexually assault males. If clothing had so much to do with the rape dynamic, then how does one explain heterosexual men assaulting other men? The answer would be that rape is more about power than it is about appearances. Or heterosexual men raping older (60+ years of age) women, or men who are not pedophiles raping children (even as young as the age of infancy, like that relatively recent case of a boyfriend raping and killing his girlfriend’s baby)? Those were not about clothing. They were about power.

        We really need to stop emphasizing appearance when it comes to rape, because it creates a false narrative of the rape dynamic. Rape is about power. It is most usually premeditated, and it is not predominantly sexual. We need to stop telling women that they can prevent rape by dressing and acting modestly, because that won’t protect them from the violent, premeditated crime of rape. Instead it will only make them question if the rape was their fault if rape happens to them. Which it was not. But once the seed is implanted in a woman’s mind that rape can be prevented by dressing and acting modestly, then that seed is planted, and it comes to fruition as a malicious, life-sucking weed, if the woman is ever the victim of a sexual crime, telling the sexual assault victim that “if only you had dressed and acted more modestly, this would not have happened to you.”

        A rather poor personal example: I was raised to dress and act modestly. I did not wear a spaghetti strap shirt without a cover-up over it until I was 16. I wore a once piece until I was 18 (and then the bikini only lasted a year before I reverted to wearing 1-piece swimwear again). My skirts reach my knees, my dresses are not form-fitting. And so on and so forth. And further, in church, I have always consciously gotten dressed thinking “Is this going to cause anyone to stumble at church?” Despite all of that, my upbringing, my efforts to dress EXTRA-modestly on Sundays when I attend church, a friend from tech school told me in a rather lewd manner that an outfit i wore to church caused him to lust after me, and then went into detail about what he felt (honestly, I should have been able to tell right then that this man had an issue with how he views women). Upon hearing this my first thought was “Oh my g-d! I caused a man to stumble in the house of the Lord!! I’m a horrible Christian.” Seriously.

        But the more I thought on it (over the course of a month), the more I realized my reaction was ludicrous. I did my due diligence. I made sure to dress modestly and in a way that even the strictest of modesty-grandmas would approve of. Yet that man still allowed himself to lust after me. He still found a way to objectify my body and undress me in his mind, to imagine “banging” me. It was not my fault at all, but because I was raised in a Christian culture that teaches me it is MY responsibility to keep a man from lusting, because that seed was planted in my mind, it was easy for it to explode into a noxious weed of self-recrimination and guilt and embarrassment. Even though I knew objectively that I did nothing wrong, even thought I knew objectively my outfit was modest, I blamed myself and asked “What could I have done differently to stop this man, my friend, from lusting after me?”

        And that is what Christian women will be led to think in the much more extreme cases of sexual assault. Even when they objectively know it is not their fault at all that they were sexually violated, violently assaulted by a perverse and depraved man (or woman, as the case may be), they will still be filled with shame and self-doubt, they will still say to themselves “What could I have done differently?” Because that is what they have been trained to think. We are raising generations of Christian women who take the weight of other’s perversions on their shoulders, even though it is not their burden to bear. Even if they have dressed more modestly than Mother Theresa, they have still been trained to blame themselves.

        So, if any woman (Christian or otherwise) is reading this who is a victim of sexual assault, battery, rape, etc, I want you to know that you are not to blame. Whether you were dressed more modestly than an Amish woman, or wearing less than a Kardashian at the beach, you were NOT to blame. Your attire did not cause the violent criminal to assault you. Their corrupt mind caused them to assault you, and even if they said something like “You made me do this because of what you are wearing/because of how you act,” know that is a LIE straight from the pits of hell. That is a classic abusive technique used by assaulters to make their victim contrite and more submissive. It is a way for them to deflect blame to try to excuse their heinous, and inexcusable actions. It is their way to try to deal with what they are doing, because deep down they know they are wrong, so they want to shift blame to feel better about themselves. So know, you are NOT to blame. You were the victim. They were the criminal. You are the survivor, and they are still the criminal.

  39. Of course it’s about the heart! But where is your heart at? Is it IN Christ? If it is in Christ, Then yes you are ever conscience about pleasing the Lord in all your ways. When the Lord becomes Lord of your heart, the Holy Spirit always reminds us to do and remain in God’s will! When you say “She is a sincere believer who truly desires to please the Heavenly Father,” and though Scripture is the Word of God, the Holy Spirit always reminds us of the truth in order to keep our walk pure before the Lord. The Holy Spirit is our constant comforter and guide, as the Lord knows we may not always have access to His Word concerning His love.

  40. Wow – this post has lots of comments – and I haven’t read them all…so perhaps someone else already said this – sorry if so! I agree wholeheartedly w this article – except one thing. I truly believe that they way we wear our clothing DOES reflect our heart. (I’m referring to this statement…’We do not believe that the way people cover their bodies reveals the level of righteousness in their hearts because 1Samuel 16:7 says, “for man looks at the outward appearance, but YHWH looks at the heart.”) I believe everything we do reflects what is going on in our heart. (‘by their fruit you shall know them’…) A lady concerned about modesty in her heart will be modest on the outside. I guess its possible for a godly woman to not have a clue about what modest on the outside looks like… but in this day and age of all the Godly reading material online and elsewhere – it seems a remote idea to me. A heart seeking to honor Jesus will – ‘seek’. And if someone comes along that suggests a higher standard to help them along… a godly woman would not scoff at that for sure. Enough on that… Now thank you for this article ‘from the other side’. Good stuff!

  41. Before I comment, let me say I’m an older women, so I think that Biblically, I have something to say to a young woman on this subject. And I’m married to a normal man. 🙂

    I agree with much of what you said. But, Scripture does deal with modesty as a heart issue. I don’t know what version of the Bible you used, but the one I grew up with says, in this passage, to dress in modest apparel with “shamefacedness” — that’s a modest spirit. Modest clothing without a modest heart is still lacking modesty.

    And, a woman does not always have control of what she wears. Slavery still happens. When a Christian woman is a slave or is raped, she can’t control the outward modesty part, but she can control the inside part. During the time the NT was written, many believers were so poor that they did not have sufficient clothing. Scripture tells other believers to clothe them, not to judge them. We do need to be careful with how we deal with this issue and that we consider the whole Counsel of God and not just one phrase.

  42. Very good article Hannah

    I could not agree more!

    One thing I would like to add is that that your heart does matter in the manner of how you present yourself regardless of how you dress.

    Let me explain (and confess)

    I worked in a place where I wore very modest business attire. I was interested in a man there so I did something.

    I would wear a push-up bra that did not cover my breasts with a business blazer that made it impossible to tell. However, before I would put something on this man desk I would first open the top two buttons on my blouse to enable him to see my bosom when I bent over. After leaving his desk I would quickly button up. After two days he was staring at me at every chance and seemingly looking for every excuse to sit next to and talk to me.. I rationalized my sin in my mind by saying that I was dressed modestly so he probably just liked me and not that I caused him to lust after me. (Really)

    So here’s the grain of truth to the “modesty -is-in-the-heart” slogan: You must act modestly and not merely dress modestly.

    I’m sure I’m not the only Christian lady who acted immodestly but told herself it was okay because she was dressed modestly.

  43. This man, David, his whole argument was that modesty is about sexually objectifying women.
    What a subtle hypocrite.
    In other words, by covering up modestly, he explicitly suggested that a woman is inciting her environment to fantasize about those contours of her body that she is keeping away from their eyes.
    Only a demented perv would have those intentionally pushed intentions.

    A man who fantasizes a woman’s body needs it not to be covered, in order to do so. I grant him that, and all the people who supported his dementia.

    Only a perv would defend such a stance as something provoked by modesty.

  44. Thank you for addressing this issue. I think this was written for us females. My questions to myself are, is my appearance glorifying to God and do I leave any question in others minds do I love the world more than God.
    Blessings to you Hannah

  45. (Once again, a late comment. I’ve only recently discovered this site)
    Beautifully written, and I couldn’t agree more! I’ve bookmarked this to show to my daughters at some point.

  46. “Timothy doesn’t say we should adorn ourselves with a modest heart: it says we should adorn ourselves in modest clothing.  In the Scriptures, modesty is never referred to as a heart matter.”

    What he says in 1st Timothy is “…not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds…” Pretty obvious he’s countering materialism, which is a heart matter. The whole point is to not be obsessed with clothing, whereas your article is all about being obsessed with clothing. You’re trying to fight fire with reverse-fire and it won’t work, because legalism doesn’t address the heart which is what God looks at.

  47. You ate the “man” here, Hannah who is looking at the outward appearance rather than the heart in the verse “Man looks at the appearance but God looks at the heart” (paraphrasing). First of all, what defines modest? In some cultures, hair and ankles are immodest. In some cultures, African women go top less. In Papua New Guinea, a woman will whip out her breast to nurse in mixed company and no one bats an eye. So who defines modesty? In this post, you are the one defining it. In some cultures, India comes to mind, your standards would be immodest. So if MAN is defining modesty, God is out of the picture. And THIS is why it is an issue of the heart. God speaks through the Bible and uses personal convictions for a reason. If I only follow a list of rules, does God enter the picture at all? No. But if I seek God’s opinoon on the matter, He gives me personal convictions that draw me close to him. I know a young girl with no mother in her life and she goes to a public school. The girls there dress very immodestly and dress to purposely be immodest. She started to be convicted about this and came to church, beaming from ear to ear because she had bought a skirt to wear. The skirt came to about mid-thigh and in my standard, wasn’t particularly modest. But in that room, her modesty shone from her face. She was so happy to be what she deemed modest to the room because compared to the culture of her school environment, she was more modest. Every Christian is at a different growth curve with God and things like environment make a world of difference. You mention that modesty shows you to be a Christian but the Bible says for our deeds to shine before men to prove our love of Christ. Modesty is absolutely about the heart. I couldn’t disagree more with your viewpoint here. I’ve seen ladies in pants that emulate a godly attituDE and appearance. I’ve also seen girls in pilgrim dresses that had an ungodly spirit of vying for every man’s eye in the room. The only diffference between the two???–Their heart. Their attitude. Their actions. One was modest and the other was not. I pray that God will give you a more gracious understanding of Christ.

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