Beyond Spaghetti Straps And Shorts

Note: This is a touchy subject which Christians have different views on. While I do not wish or mean to stir up a disagreement or hard feelings, I believe that it is important to get to the bottom of this one, given the time of year and how popular the subject of modesty is within the church today. Please do not be offended by what I say here, and feel free to contact me if you have a problem with anything that I have written. Although I definitely value your comments and hope that you leave a reply with your thoughts, please refrain from anything rude or judgemental. Of course, we are all entitled to our own opinion but make sure, as always, that what you write is something that you would want God to hear you say. Thank you! 

Dress codes, and layers, long skirts, and knee shorts, swim dresses, and  a site that rates female apparel…all for the sake of Biblical modesty. If you look it up online, you’re sure to find sites about “what guys really think,” and “why I dress modestly now,” and “what a Christian girl should wear to be modest.” Read any book on Christian purity, and you’ll find a section written specifically to girls (often by a man) on the evils of immodest dress, and what she should do to cover-up. Wherever you look,  you find the same old thing with the same old reason: “dress modestly because God wants you to.”

However, what if we actually looked at the Bible for once? Yes, the Bible. You know that book that God has given us with the  instruction to meditate on it? I did that the other day, and the results were very interesting…

Did you know that the Bible speaks very little on modesty? And actually, the majority of it speaks about inward modesty. Nowhere could I find a specific dress code for what I should wear. In fact, I didn’t even find a verse pertaining to how we should treat those Christian guys who have no control over their lustful minds.

Here are some things that God says about modesty, or rather, says through his servants, Paul and Peter.

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who  profess to worship God.

1 Timothy 2:9-10

What does that tell you? While we could deduce that God doesn’t like braided hair or jewelry, I think that not only is that a debate for another time, but that God cares more about your heart than anything else. Although He instructs women to dress modestly and not to wear specific items, what He tells them to replace them with is nothing like what Christians today are saying. This makes it obvious to me that God doesn’t care whether you’re in a bikini or a burqa, He wants your heart to be focused on Him and loving others. He wants your modesty to come from within.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

1 Peter 2:8

Again, God only addresses the heart. He commands women to have a gentle and quiet spirit, not to wear the biggest potato sack you can find. He wants your modesty to come from within.

From these verses as well as the skimpy amount of passages on the subject, I see modesty and God in a new light. I believe that God doesn’t care as much about what we wear on the outside as Christians have thought. If He did, then the Bible would be all about that and the verses on modesty would give us a dress code, right? However, the Bible actually talks about love, and its few verses on modesty speak about the heart.

Does this mean that we should give up all our previous standards or clothe ourselves in next to nothing? No, not at all. I won’t do that and I am not asking you to either. The point is that I am not telling you to dress in any specific way because I have found that to be unbiblical.  I just want you to look at it in a new light, the light that I believe God looks through when He sees us and our clothing. He doesn’t care whether we wear a mini-skirt or a trailing gown to a formal banquet, a bikini or a swim dress to the beach. On the other hand, He desires and asks for us to know Him, and to work on clothing our hearts with modesty, purity, and most of all, love. God looks beyond spaghetti straps and shorts and into the heart, as we should too.

A special thank you to Eric at Quivering Daughters for his post, Garments of Salvation. Please check out this very insightful read here.

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12 thoughts on “Beyond Spaghetti Straps And Shorts

  1. Hey girl! I agree with what you’re saying-to a point. I totally agree that God is more concerned with our hearts and if we are truly trying to please and honor him. On the flipside, I think that because our hearts have been changed by the gospel, it should lead to a changed wardrobe. In her book “Girls Gone Wise” , Mary Kassian talks about how we wear clothes as an outward symbol of what Christ has done to our hearts. So my question to young ladies is, do your clothes say that Jesus has transformed your heart or do they say that you care more about what the world thinks? Not only do they symbolize a renewed heart that is being sanctified, clothes say a lot about how we care for our brothers in Christ…. if we where skimpy outfits and justify our actions by saying that God cares more about the heart, we are distorting God’s words. I hope that does not come across as rude or trying to undermine what you have said, because like I said, I agree… to a point. 🙂

    • Hey Ruth-Anne,

      Thanks for the comment! I really appreciate your thoughts. 🙂 And you were not rude at all! In fact, I thought you explained your view very well and thoughtfully. I just put that note in at the beginning because this is a slightly controversial subject, and I know that people can get impassioned about it (myself, included!) However, I am definitely not asking everyone to agree or pretend to agree with me!

      I see and like what you are saying. God’s transformation in our hearts should definitely be evident on the outside! In my own life, I have experienced this. Although I have always been a Christian, there was a time in my life (last summer, in fact) when I wore very skimpy clothing. I wore them because even though I had just become closer to God recently (professed my faith in church and everything), I was not fully solidified in my faith as I was rebellious and indignant towards false teachings which had hurt me. By trying to run from legalism and proclaim the “true gospel,” I only showed people that I was ignorant and like the rest of the world. Through conversations with friends, books that influenced me, and God himself I was slowly changed and I realized that there was clothing that I just didn’t feel right wearing anymore.

      However, because I find very little about modesty in the Bible, and no specific dress code I feel that some Christians have taken it too far. I don’t believe in telling people what they should and shouldn’t wear if they want to be Christians. I just don’t think that is Biblical. Basically, I think that outward modesty should not only be a reflection of the heart but also a personal thing. I think that God has convicted each of us of different things. This may not seem very Biblical and perhaps in the end it isn’t, but it is what I believe now based on the fact that I can’t find a dress code in the Bible and God has convicted me personally of what He wants me to wear though I see other Christians with the same desire to serve God who dress more conservatively or liberally.

      I hope that makes sense! And thanks again for your comment. I really enjoy hearing others insights, and I hope that others will comment. I’d love to have a good discussion about this!

      Blessings,
      Elizabeth

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. When I saw the title of this post, I inwardly groaned. I’ve read so many other posts on the evils of not wearing skirts, of the horribleness of tank tops, and of the effect that your clothes had on your behavior and other peoples behavior around you. While I am 100% for modesty, I’ve always thought that maybe there was something more. Just putting on an ankle length skirt doesn’t make you modest or pure. It comes from your heart.

    So, anyways, thank you. It is so refreshing to hear another point of view on this subject!

    • You’re welcome, Julia! I am glad that you found this refreshing! And I love how you put that there is something more. I am 100 % for modesty, too…I just believe God intended something greater for it. Thank you for your lovely comment!

      Blessings,
      Elizabeth

  3. Just what inspired you to write this post, Elizabeth? It’s certainly interesting, even though I don’t necessarily agree with it all… Anyways, it was definitely written well! Have fun packing and finding what clothes you find “modest” for your trip!

    Have fun!

    Yours in kindred-spiritedness,

    Gilbert

    (just had to call myself that one more time…)

    • Whoa, that kind of creeped me out at first, Gilbert! (I just woke up so I’m kind of out of it.) I thought it was a joke or something and then I realized. Haha 🙂

      I was inspired by my own hurt from dressing “immodestly,” and the mindsets that I felt were wrong among people who write books, who I know etc. It seems to me that people just look at what you’re wearing and judge you for it…its not really fair. They don’t care about anything else if you aren’t wearing the “right” clothes.This idea had been on my heart for a while and then I saw the post that I linked to which gave me the confidence (since I’ve rarely seen anyone ever agree with me on this before.) And not that you have to answer this if you don’t want to…but what part exactly did you disagree on? I don’t mean to be inquisitive, I’m just interested to know what people who’ve read this agreed with and didn’t. 🙂

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Have a fun summer, too Gil!

      Your kindredest of kindred spirits (lol)

      Josie Pye

      • Just to answer your question:

        In my opinion, it’s your culture that really defines what you should wear. For example, it’s perfectly “modest” for women to swim shirtless in Europe, but in North America, a women like that would have guys whistling and would be frowned upon by authorities. A more extreme example is in the Middle East, where women not entirely clothed head-to-toe would be abused by men and authorities and in some countries possibly imprisoned.

        I think God wants us to think for ourselves and use common sense based on our surrounding society. That’s to say, just because we have shorts only a few centimetres long, doesn’t mean we HAVE to wear them, instead it means think about what your putting on. The Bible calls for us to use common sense and our “inner modesty” to determine what our “outward modesty” should be. That’s why we don’t have verses outlining a strict dress code; cultures change, and what is considered “appropriate” changes as well.

        Anyways, don’t think I’m trying to get in a heated argument with you — you asked!

        Your kindredestiest of kindredest spirits,

        Gil Blythe

        • Hey Gil,

          Thanks for your response! I really appreciate it. 🙂

          I actually agree with what you are saying. Culture definitely changes and with that so does our outward modesty. On a personal level, I actually have similar standards. I want my inward modesty to determine my outward modesty. Depending on my culture that might change…of course, I would never swim shirtless even if I were in Europe but I would definitely dress more conseratively than normal if I were traveling in the Middle East. I think that God gave us clothing choice for a reason, and that He wants us to use it to glorify Him. I really like how you put your comment — excellent thought!

          If I agree with you so much, why didn’t I write my post along those lines? Its hard to explain. While I may share more of my personal standards on this in the future, I felt called (at this time) to react to something I like to call “immodest modesty.” Its where “modest” people judge the “immodest” and having faced it myself (being the “immodest”) I wanted to flee from that, and show a different way that I believe to be more important.

          I hope that made sense! I definitely appreciated your thoughts on this — thanks!!! 🙂

          Very kindredly yours,

          Josie

  4. This is such an interesting post. You’re right, though–all my non Christian friends (or, as a matter of fact, my Christian friends do it as well) like to harass me (as well as others) about dressing modestly for my religion. Don’t get me wrong, I usually dress somewhat modestly anyway, simply because I have the power/right to do so. But this post really puts things in perspective. God isn’t vain, anyway, He is just loving, merciful, and wonderful! Amazing post here.

    • Thank you, Kate!

      It’s hard, isn’t it? You put something on that you deem as decent, but it still isn’t good enough? I know the feeling!

      Really, it is such a trivial thing in the grand scheme of things. God cares too much about people to leave them out because they are “underdressed.” I also read an interesting comment somewhere about how people who profess to be Christians (and write extremely aggressive things on modesty) actually need to stop harressing people about what they wear to truly believe what they believe.

      Thank you for your encouragement!

      Blessings,
      Elizabeth

  5. OH WHAT A WONDERFUL TOPIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It’s so funny because I recently heard two people describing what appropriate “Christian clothing” was and I just thought it was so silly and I completely disagreed with everything they were saying but I didn’t have any scriptures to give to them to solidify what I was thinking so I kept my mouth shut. Thank you for putting those scriptures in and fully explaining because a lot of people do have completely different views on what is modest clothing. Also someone else commented about culture changes which I also believe is a huge factor on what would be considered appropriate clothing.

    • I’m glad that you found this helpful! Keep searching the scriptures and praying on this topic and others. You never know what else God has in store for you to learn (and I definitely don’t have all of the answers in this post!)

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