If I'm Honest, Modest Is Not Hottest


Modesty. Yep, I bet even the word makes you cringe. And, let me begin with an apology on behalf of all Christian men for making that such a swear word for you. I hope that the following paragraphs can be an encouragement to you, and an insight into a modern and moderate perspective from a peer and brother in Christ.

Everywhere you turn you are essentially being sent one of two messages about your body. In one case -- you are likely standing in the checkout lane at the grocery store, or maybe you’re scanning the magazines in a bookstore, or even flipping channels on the television -- you know the message, your body is an object, to be made available to men, otherwise you might be considered a prude and be undesirable or unable to please them. The second message almost always comes from the Church; you are familiar with it too, I’m sure. Your body is a problem and needs to be covered. If you dare wear clothes that even remotely show its form your brothers may stumble.

I’m here to offer you a third message. Your body is beautiful, designed by God, in His image. It is neither an idol, nor is your body inferior, as the second message often implies. God created you and your body with specific purposes in mind; believing anything else would be believing a lie.

So what’s a girl to do? I think the first thing you can do is forget everything you’ve been told thus far, by the Church or otherwise. At least begin to rethink it all. Modesty does not need to be about your body at all. In most of the passages in the Bible regarding modesty, specifically Isaiah 3:16-23, 1 Timothy 2:9-12, and 1 Peter 3:3, the authors are not writing concerning sexuality and the appearance of women. In fact, they are discouraging women from wasting their money on jewels and expensive clothes while their neighbors suffer in poverty. In fact, in 1 Timothy, the word Paul uses for modesty is derived from a notion that is concerned primarily with orderliness and self-control. The focus is never on the woman’s body or form.

Unfortunately, I must admit, our society is still predominantly patriarchal. And this remains true in the arena of modesty. Generally speaking, men on both sides of the equation are expecting women to bow to their wishes. On one hand, they desire women to subject themselves to objectification, or on the other hand, they expect women to adhere to strict rules; slapping rulers against their leg to measure their skirt or shorts length, requiring an oversized t-shirt be worn over a two-piece bathing suit, etc.

Let me clear the air. Both parties need to be responsible for themselves. So, as a Christian young woman, what can you do to be responsible? My answer? Engage. Press forward. Challenge your brothers intellectually, encourage your peers (and even those who are not your peers) in their relationships with Christ, care about the people around you, comfort those who are hurting, care for those who are sick, worship with His Creation. Bottom line; engage with the world and the people around you. Demand respect from the men, young and old, in your life. It's time men start giving women credit for their intellect, their strength, and by doing so, giving them their rightful dignity.

So, be a woman of intellect, cultivate your strengths, and cherish your dignity. Let your clothing choices reflect those actions. Start with honoring God, add some dignity for yourself, and end with consideration for all those around you.

Men are created to be stimulated visually; probably more than you will ever understand or comprehend. And let me be the first to say that that’s okay; I can guarantee we will never understand what it is like to be a woman. But, I can attest that we are designed to be attracted to the physical beauty of a woman, and we will also be held responsible for what we do with that attraction. One day, it will prayerfully lead us to a lasting relationship with a beautiful young woman with qualities well beyond her dashing good looks.

So, work on growing to become that woman. Learn how to love all sorts of people, learn what it means to look like Christ a little more each day, learn practical life skills, like how to fix minor problems on common household objects, how to balance a checkbook, how to successfully wash and dry a load of clothes, how to troubleshoot (and even repair) an issue on a computer or phone, or how to make a mean omelet (a skill I’m still acquiring); most importantly, learn how to love yourself, by learning how to see yourself as Christ sees you.

Don’t choose a wardrobe out of fear for causing your brother to stumble. In fact, don’t dress for anyone but yourself. Choose clothes you can be proud of, that you can own, that reflect your personality, gifts, strengths, and desires. But beyond whether you clothe yourself in cotton, nylon, polyester, or some wild combination of the three, make sure you are first clothed in strength, and your God-given dignity.

In regards to the title, it’s true. The Church’s current definition of modest is not “hot.” In fact, my girlfriend and I walked into a Christian clothing store the other day, and I cringed. Most of the clothes were so clearly designed to hide any outline of the female form it was painful. Hardly any of them were remotely attractive, let alone could be considered “cute.” After reading this article, it should be clear that I am not encouraging young women to try to be “hot.” Nor, am I requesting that you replace your entire wardrobe with everything in that store that fits. “Hot” is a standard that is judged by my flesh, “beautiful and dignified” are characteristics judged by my heart. Aim for beauty and dignity.