By Paul Smithson
As summer temperatures rise standards of modesty seem to fall. Very few people, including many who claim to be Christians, are concerned about modesty.
We live in an age that glorifies immodesty and immorality. On almost every commercial advertisement, whether it be on a billboard, television, or in a magazine, and regardless if the advertised product, the allurement is not the product itself, but men and women who are dressed immodestly. Thus, immodesty has become so commonly accepted that it doesn’t bother most people. Most people feel no shame if they see someone on television or in public who is dressed immodestly. Many people wouldn’t have any problem dressing the same way.
The Israelites were condemned by God through the prophet Jeremiah because they no longer had any shame. “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? There were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush; therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time of their punishment they shall be brought down, declares the Lord” (Jer. 8:12). What about you? Are you able to blush at that which is sinful? Do you blush at the shame of immodest dress?
Immodest dress is the type of dress that brings attention to one’s body, to expose one’s nakedness either by thin, tight, or revealing clothing. Nakedness has always been shameful in the sight of God. When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to sin and shame they realized their nakedness and made for themselves aprons of fig leaves and covered their loins and hid from God. But those little aprons they made for themselves, which probably covered more than many popular swimsuits of today, were not enough to satisfy God. We are told, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:7-21). What they had on, God did not consider clothing. What they were wearing was shameful and they had reason to hide. Many today could learn a lesson from Adam and Eve and clothe themselves, covering their nakedness and shame.
The Scriptures declare in 1Tim. 2:9, “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly…” (These principles also apply to men as well). The word translated “modest” (NASB, or “shamefacedness” KJV) comes from the Greek word meaning “well arranged, orderly, decent. It has to do with a “sense of shame; reserved, an attitude that restrains from an unworthy act.”
Some may ask, how do we determine what is “well arranged, and decent” Some ask how short it too short? And how tight is too tight? But modesty, as seen in is definition, is not a set of measurements, but rather an inward attitude.
You see, what a person wears reflects their attitude. In Prov. 7:10 it speaks of a woman who was “dressed as a harlot.” Her dress revealed her profession. You can tell a lot about a person, their values, their attitude toward modesty, by the way they dress.
Peter declared, “Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1Pe 3:3-4). Who are we dressing to please anyway— the eyes of men or the eyes of God? We must dress in a way that is pleasing to God.
Some try to excuse their immodesty because of the temperature outside or because of the activity in which they are involved… “But I’m biking…” “I’m working out…” “I’m swimming…” It doesn’t matter what the activity or the temperature outside, if you are in public you must be modest in what you wear. God’s standard of modesty doesn’t change just because you decided to ride a bicycle or that popular attire for biking is tight, revealing spandex. God’s standard doesn’t change when you walk into the gym or that today’s popular attire for exercise is yoga pants. God’s standard doesn’t change just because it’s hot outside. God’s standard for modesty is the same at the lake or the beach, at home or on vacation—and His standard demands modesty.
God’s standard never goes out of style. God in His power and wisdom and knowledge has written the Bible in such a way that is relevant to every age. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Mat 24:35).
Those of the world are not concerned about modesty and dressing in such a way that would set the proper example and be pleasing to God. Those of the world are not concerned about the temptations of lust when being where others are dressed immodestly. Thus, you can expect those of the world to dress immodestly and go to places where others are dressed immodestly such as a crowded beach or a public pool. However, you would expect Christians to be different! “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Ro. 12:2).
Knowing that nakedness is shameful and that immodesty is sinful, those who seek to be pleasing to God will dress in a manner pleasing to God regardless of the activity in which they are involved or what the temperature is.