Modesty and Women
Why Women are Immodest
Previously, we covered the topic of what modesty is and modesty and the family. Now we are going to dig a little deeper and focus on modesty and women.
Why do you think women dress immodest? Many say to get attention. Most women, who purposely dress immodestly to get attention, have one of the following issues: insecurity, vanity or sensuality.
“A woman who is looking for attention has an emotional deficit of some sort. She is insecure and thus needs male attention to feel valued.”
As Mr. and Mrs. Vaughan pointed out, if it is a teenage girl who is desperately seeking out male attention, it comes from lack of attention from her own father. If it is a married woman, she is being neglected by her husband and as a result pursues male attention from men outside of her marriage by dressing in a way to catch their eyes. This, unfortunately, puts the state of her marriage on display for all to see.
“So when a woman dresses immodestly, she may be acting out of an emotional desire to feel loved, valued, or secure. In other words there is a problem at home.”
Moving on to issue number two, vanity. According to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, there were various definitions and the definition that seemed most fitting was this: Ostentation; arrogance, inflation of mind upon slight grounds; empty pride, inspired by an overweening conceit of one’s personal attainments or decorations. The vain woman purposely dresses immodest not out of insecurity, but out of the hunger for praise. She wants men to do a double take as she struts down the pavement. Her mindset is filled with phrases such as this; “I’m pretty and I know it” or “She wish she looked as good as me.”
What the vain woman does not know is that, vanity is the exact opposite of Christ and His humility. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines humility as; freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth. In theology, humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God, self-abasement, penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will.
That is a mouthful, but when you think about this definition and about Christ and how He stepped down from HIS throne to be beaten by His OWN creations, you come to the realization that if I call myself a Christian and I believe that the servant is no greater than his master then I cannot continue to parade around immodestly as if the whole wide world revolves around me.
Lastly but not least sensuality can also be a factor to why women dress immodestly. However, Mr. and Mrs. Vaughan explain this particular problem better than I can.
“Since we live in a pornographic and promiscuous society, many men and women converted as adults enter the church with sexual baggage…And some women who are recent converts are still in need of sanctification in dress, demeanor, and desire. Some people, especially those who were either exposed to pornography or sexually abused at a young age, struggle for many years to gain freedom from sexual bondage, acting out, and lust.”
It all comes down to the condition of the heart. In 1Timothy 2:9, the Greek term “aidos” is used to describe proper female modesty. Aidos is translated to “shamefastness.”
“What ‘shamefastness’ captures is the idea of not doing what is shameful, out of an inner sense of what is reverent, honorable, or respectable… A woman who has aidos has a sense of shame, which is another way of saying that she has self-respect. She has too much respect for herself to act or dress in a shameful way.”
Now that we have focused on why women are immodest let’s take a look at ways women can dress or act immodest.
How Women are Immodest
First let us take a look at the purpose of clothing.
- To cover the body(moral use)
- To protect the body from unfavorable weather. (practical use)
- To adorn the body (the aesthetic use)
Clothing in and of itself is not immodest. However, how you wear your clothes and how you carry yourself in them can be: very indecent or, very attractive but still modest.
Forms of immodest dress:
♦ “Ostentation is the problem of too much. That is elaborate or extravagant display.” Ostentatious dress may apply to clothing, jewelry, hair, cosmetics or any other outrageous accessories. An example would be wearing earrings that are so big they look as if they could possibly lacerate the piercing in your ear. Another would be doing up your hair and putting all kinds of colors and ribbons in it so that it looks like your carrying a circus on your head. The wearing of overly bright colors is ostentation also, the pastor or speaker at church should not stop his message to find out why a glowing figure just walked into the sanctuary. Ostentation is a sin because the purpose of ostentation is to focus all attention on you. If you are in church with makeup on that makes people stop in the middle of their worship to stare at your painted face, you are drawing attention away from CHRIST. That of course is not good!!!
♦ “Another breach of modesty is androgyny, which means clothing having the characteristics or nature of both male and female. By androgyny, traditional male and female roles are obscured and reversed.” This is an abomination to God according to Deuteronomy 22:5: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (ESV) Men and women are different. You are supposed to be able to tell the difference between a man and a woman. Unfortunately in this day and age men want to be women and women want to be men. If you were born a female please embrace it. God created me female and I would want it no other way. So please, don’t be an abomination unto the Lord your God and be who He created you to be. (Boy or girl there is no both.)
♦ “Sensuality consists of gratification of the senses or the indulgence of the physical appetites… Clothing is sensual or provocative when it is either “too little,” “too thin,’ or “too tight.” “Too little” applies to articles of clothing such as skirts, dresses, shorts, and shirts. I am not at all telling you how to dress and neither are the authors of The Beauty of Modesty. But let’s be real. If you call yourself a Christian trying to exhibit modesty you should not be prancing around town in a shirt that exposes any of your chest or your midriff. Many women and teen girls put on shirts that expose just the surface of their breast but even that can tempt a man to lust after you so don’t even go there!!!! Whether you are big or small we should not see your thighs at all for any reason.
“Too thin” implies all clothing that is see-through. Your husband should be the only one who gets to see under the wrappings of the wonderful gift he calls his wife. Besides if everyone can see through your clothes then you have defeated the very purpose of wearing clothes to cover the body!!
“Too tight” clothing is a problem also. Just because you “cover yourself” doesn’t mean you dress modestly if everything you cover yourself in is so tight it looks as if you painted it on. Many styles of clothing are made to draw attention to the erotic zones of the body. “It’s not just exposed flesh that arouses a man’s lust, however. It is the “female form”…So clothing that is ‘too tight’ may cover the body in one sense, but in another sense it makes the body even more visible and alluring, even without showing an inch of flesh.” You could be wearing a turtle neck, but if the area around the breast is tight and form fitting, you have done not an ounce of justice for your brothers in Christ. I did not understand this AT ALL when I was in middle school. I still struggle with it now, but the Lord and my parents are helping me through it. Also for the record, tights are NOT pants!
♦ “One of the more subtle forms of immodesty creeping into the church is the problem of association. Association occurs when something is linked in memory or imagination with a different thing or person. It is the process of forming mental connections or bonds between sensations, ideas, or memories. Perhaps the best example is brand-name clothing.” The example used in the book was a clothing line that sold catalogs displaying nude images of men and women. If a young woman walks into the church with that clothing line emblazoned across her chest what message is she sending to the young men in the church who have gazed upon the “soft porn” displayed in those catalogs? The young woman would be awakening those images from the catalog into the minds of those young men when they should be focusing on Christ and worshipping Him. Is that what the young woman wants men to think of when they see her? What do you want men/boys to think when they see you
I hope this has given you a good or better understanding on why and how women are immodest. Now we can focus on how to be modest biblically.
“Biblical modesty transcends clothing and pertains to our demeanor, that is, our actions and conduct. Our conduct is, of course, ultimately rooted in the state of our hearts. The two are inseparable.”
The authors talk about three ways our demeanor can be pleasing in God’s sight or violate biblical modesty.
The first is decent deportment. Deportment is how you carry yourself. (Literally)This relates to modesty in the way that you walk or present yourself amongst others. For example, a teen girl who is a freshman in high school has to walk down a long hallway to get to her class. This particular hallway is usually occupied by male students. She intentionally pokes out her chest and struts down the long hallway making sure she grabs the attention of almost every boy standing by. This would be considered indecent deportment or immodesty.
“The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts.” (Isaiah 3:16-17 ESV)
Deportment however, is not just walking it is also how you sit and greet others. Women and girls should sit with their legs shut or crossed even while wearing pants. Bend your knees and not your back when you reach down. By bending over you could possibly be putting your behind in a man or boy’s face or expose undergarments that should not be seen no matter how you position yourself whether you are sitting or standing. Watch how you greet the opposite sex. “Being ‘touchy’ with the opposite sex is courting trouble.” The way I hugged boys in school would definitely be considered immodest. Now I don’t even put my self in that kind of situation by just avoiding hugging teen boys all together. So ladies, we should not be hugging men or boys in any way that would arouse them or yourself. Lastly, avoid spending time alone with the opposite sex. This goes for men, women, boys and girls. This is so important! It doesn’t matter that Jessica and Johnny from across the street grew up together. Most likely during that time they developed “feelings” for each other. If Jessica and Johnny are alone together all we’ll get from that situation is either a baby out of wedlock, heartbreak, or a STD.
Second is taming the tongue. We can be immodest in what we say, how we say it and who we say it to.
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:4 ESV)
In association with modesty saying things that are provocative around the opposite sex are sinful and immodest. All that is said should be pleasing to God’s ears. If you don’t think God would be happy with what you are about to say then please, don’t say it.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)
Be careful of your conversations with the opposite sex. Don’t say things that would strike up a thought or image that would cause a man to lust over you. Such as “I think I hooked my bra wrong” or “the bath I took this morning was lovely” these phrases can provoke lustful thinking in a man.
Lastly but certainly not the least, your countenance must also be godly. Countenance is defined as; appearance, especially the look or expression of the face. You can be dressed modestly and still send an immodest message to those around you with your expressions. Winking flirtatiously or smiling provocatively is just as bad as immodest clothing.
If you are a true Christian then you are representative of Jesus Christ. What you wear says something about who you are and what master you serve.
Readers please don’t get the impression that this is a “holier than thou” type of blog. When I was in public school (especially seventh and eighth grade) dressing in a way that aroused your male peers was cool. I am still working on dressing in a way that does not draw attention to my body for the sake of my Christian brothers. If you truly love your brothers in Christ then you will not dress in a way that would entice them to lust after you.
“Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:8-13 ESV) (More on this Scripture will be discussed in Part 3.)
To see what men and boys as young as 12 think about modesty/immodesty check out this modesty survey: http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/browse
All quotes taken from “The Beauty of Modesty,” by David and Diane Vaughan.
You have just read part two of a three part series called “Reflections On: The Beauty of Modesty.”
Series written by: Mekenna Earley 15 yrs old.
Coming soon to a D6 blog near you: Part3- Modesty and the Church