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What Modesty is {and isn’t}: A Practical Approach

on April 8, 2014 by Jami Balmet 100 comments

In our A Modest Heart series, we have been reviewing what the Bible has to say about modesty and what is really at the HEART of modesty. Now I would like to shift the attention a little bit away from the heart of modesty to the practical application of modesty.

What Modesty is {and isn't}

My Modest Journey

The idea of modesty didn’t really click for me right away. In middle school and high school I didn’t really hear a word about modesty. I wasn’t taught about it in church or youth group, and I wasn’t actively ignoring the Bible’s teaching on it. I just was ignorant to what the Bible had to say about modesty.

I think that a large amount of the women in the modern church are this way too, not blatantly ignoring God’s teaching on this subject, but rather ignorant to what it Scripture really teaches about modesty.

It wasn’t until I started hearing solid teaching from Scripture on modesty that the Lord started to change my heart and mind. But it still didn’t seem like that big a deal to me.

Because really, the term “modesty” seems so ambiguous. I didn’t wear mini skirts or walk around with see-through clothing or anything. It seemed like such a hard concept to nail down.

That is, until I started studying about what modesty means in relation to the men around me. 1 Corinthians 8: 9-13 teaches that we are to not be a stumbling block to those around us. If we have it in our power to help weaker Christians in their walk with the Lord and not to stumble into sin then we need to be doing that. 

“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” 1 Corinthians 8:13

We are also called to serve one another in love. Maybe we don’t feel convicted that our dress is immodest and we can live in Christian liberty, but we should not live in the flesh. We should serve those around us, and that means serving our brothers.

“:For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” ~ Galatians 5:13

I have heard the argument before that it’s the man’s fault that he is lusting. That is his sin to deal with. I completely disagree. Now I’m not saying that if one man can’t look at a woman’s face without lusting then all women should cover their face up, of course not. But rather, within reason, we should help the men in our lives. {And yes – of course the lust is indeed the man’s own sin to deal with, but that doesn’t negate our responsibility to help protect our brothers from sin either}

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” ~ Mark 9:42

When I started to see that a big part of our responsibility with modesty is in our relationship to our brother’s in Christ, things started to click. I could finally see some guidelines forming in my head about modesty.

Open and Honest Talks about Modesty

I heard a college pastor talking openly with the women one Sunday morning. He asked all the men to leave after he had given his sermon on modesty. The next ten minutes were spent discussing what is appropriate dress and what isn’t. This helped open up my eyes to what men really think about clothing and modesty.

They surveyed dozens of men within the church and asked THEM what made them stumble when it came to how the women in the church were dressing. Some of their biggest stumbling blocks were in seeing cleavage of any kind, midriff showing, short shorts, and more. Finally, someone had come along and TOLD me what causes men to stumble (from the men’s own mouths).

Women’s brains work so differently compared to men’s. And for young women especially, who are not married, it is often very hard to know what causes those men in your Bible study and church to stumble.

This is where asking the men in your congregation and household what is modest is an excellent way to help guide those in your church on modesty.

Another excellent resource is The Modesty Survey. In this 148 question survey, over 1600 Christian men (ages 12-50) submitted their answers to what they felt was modest and what was not. The survey covers everything from  swim suits, to dresses, to pants, and more! I would take a few minutes and sit down and look over this survey yourself. Encourage any other women in your life (daughters, sisters, friends) to look it over as well. {Note: This post was originally published in August 2012 – the links to the modesty survey are not working right now but I’m hoping they will be again soon!}

So What is Modesty {and what isn’t it}?

Some of their results were surprising to me, and others were eye opening. Here are a few thought provoking results from the study.

What men think about modesty in general:

Guys notice whether a girl dresses modestly or not ~ 66.9% strongly agree and another 29.4% agree. {96.3% Total}

Despite rampant immodesty all around us, girls who choose to dress modestly do make a difference. ~58.5% strongly agree and another 33% agree. {91.5% Total}

Girls can dress attractively without being immodest. ~ 78.3 strongly agree and another 19.1% agree. {97.4% Total}

A guy can consider a girl attractive without thinking about her in an impure way. ~ 66.4% strongly agree and another 29% agree. {95.4% Total}

A modestly dressed girl can still be a stumbling block because of her attitude and behavior. ~53.5% strongly agree and another 40.3% agree. {93.8% Total}

Practical Tips from Men on Modesty:

Showing any cleavage is immodest. ~36.6% strongly agree and another 33.8% agree. {70.4% Total}

Bikini swimsuits are immodest. ~59.3% strongly agree and another 25% agree. {With 6.8% feeling neutral on this, only 8.8% of men disagree with this, or only 93 men out of over 1600 surveyed. This is eye opening!) {84.3% Total}

A two-piece swimsuit consisting of a long tank top and skort is modest. ~19.1% strongly agree and another 52.5% agree. {71.6% Total}

It is okay to show cleavage when wearing a swimsuit. ~34.6% strongly disagree and another 35.7% disagree. {70.3% Total}

Jeans are generally immodest, even if they aren’t tight. ~41.6% strongly disagree and another 35.9% disagree. {I find this one very interesting in the debates between skirts only vs. pants} {77.5% total}

It is immodest for a girl to expose her legs up to mid-thigh. ~28.6% strongly agree and another 35.9% agree. {64.5% Total}

Miniskirts, long shirts, or short dresses over leggings are a stumbling block. ~26.4% strongly agree and another 38.5% agree. {This one is becoming more and more common} {64.9% Total}

 My Standard of Dress:

Yes, this is a lot to digest and I only covered a couple of the questions they asked the men. Some of the questions are open ended as well, so it’s really eye opening to see how they responded to those questions.

I did want to share what my personal standard of modesty is. And it seems to always be changing as I get older and more convicted by the Lord. But please note, I do not think this should be the standard for everyone! In fact, my sisters and I (who all hold to a really high standard of modesty) can tend to disagree sometimes on what is modest and what isn’t.

But I thought it might be helpful to share my own personal convictions.

1) Cleavage: I don’t show my cleavage. As a general rule, I wear shirts that are high enough to cover my cleavage OR I wear cami’s underneath (they are my best friend!!).

2) Sleeveless: I will wear sleeveless shirts/dresses depending on the style. Some clothing is tight fitted or really open around the arms. But generally I will wear sleeveless that covers my entire shoulders. But I do not wear spaghetti strap shirts by themselves.

3) Midriff: I do not show my midriff. Period.

4) Shorts/skirts length: This has changed over the years a bit. But in general I do not wear anything above the knee. I do have one pair of jean shorts that just barley reach to my knee, but because they are not very tight my husband and I determined that they are just fine. The same goes true for dresses. I generally do not wear them above my knee. Sometimes this rule is flexible because even a skintight dress that goes to your knees may be very immodest whereas a very flowy dress that reaches just above the knees with tights on underneath may be modest.

5) Tightness: This is a hard one for me to judge sometimes. I do not want to wear skin tight clothing but sometimes it’s  a hard line to walk. This is where my husbands valuable opinion matters.

6) Bathing Suit: I like tankinis because in general I don’t think they are as tight as one pieces. My tankinis always reach past my stomach so even if I move around my stomach isn’t exposed. I also wear a skort or shorts with my bathing suit, always.

I hope you found this encouraging and not legalistic. Ultimately, what is important to the Lord is what is in our hearts. But we are also called to humbly serve Him and serve those around us. God commands us to live modest lives and we cannot ignore that command.

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  1. Thanks for sharing what works for you. Some of the modesty posts I’ve seen just give generalized guidelines, but don’t really share what the author’s “real” opinion about dressing is. I agree with all your points and I love that you share quotes from that survey. Hoping many a lady read and heed these thoughts.

    • I think most modesty post I come across call for modesty but then don’t give much more. And yet, modesty can be so allusive sometimes. What is really modest dress? Like I shared in the post, in high school I thought I was fairly modest compared to the world, but “my” standard of modesty was so far off. Thanks for the encouragement Jelli!

  2. I have to say that God has really put this topic on my heart lately. There are so many levels to the subject and we as women tend to see the top “layer” of *rules* and instinctively turn the other way (One of those times you trot out that excuse, “Oh God loves me just the way I am, why change?”). I think my biggest struggle with modesty was when I got married. I didn’t need to be hidden from my husband and so I didn’t realize that blurring the lines I had always set for modesty before might still be a stumbling block to another man. It just never occurred to me for the longest time. But when God really placed that on my heart, I just happened to come across this same survey and it opened my eyes so much!

    • I agree, I think talks about modesty can quickly be shut down because people don’t want to feel legalistic or too many “rules” pushed on them. At the same time, if God commands something then we need to listen! This survey really helped me a lot too to see what men really think!

  3. I found some of the answers from the men so interesting, particularly that 35% of men think wearing jeans AT ALL is modest. That’s way higher than I would have guessed. Also the mid-thigh thing…when I think about shorts that are too short, I always think that mid-thigh is fine and that’s about as high as I would go. I’m also judging that based on the shorts that barely cover a woman’s bottom so the mid-thigh thing seems fine in comparison.

    • I thought so too! And with the jeans, 8.1% said they were neutral. So that leaves 14.4% (or 139 men out of over 1600) who think jeans are immodest. I think shorts are an interesting subject. For my husband personally, he is not a “leg guy” so seeing mid thighs do not bother him. But other men (and obviously from this study) have a problem with shorts that are mid thigh! And yes, mid thigh is WAY better than those bootie shorts lol!

  4. That survey is awesome! It really helped me define for myself what is and isn’t generally modest. And my modesty guidelines are pretty identical to yours! I struggle with the tightness issue to. I read a quote somewhere that said “to dress tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you’re a lady.”. It’s not very specific, but it does help.

    • Thanks for directing me to it Anne! It’s a great survey and can be really eye opening! I love that quote! But yes, it can be hard to know what is too tight and what is okay! Everything can be covered up but that doesn’t mean it’s modest lol!

  5. I read that survey a while ago and it really helped me decide what to wear. Now I have daughters it greatly effects how I let them dress as I want them to grow up knowing the things I have only just discovered.
    One thing that made me laugh was bearing of midriffs. I used to as a teenager but since having 5 children including one C-section I don’t think I will EVER feel that need again! 🙂

    • That survey really helped me out too!! If we have daughters then I want to teach them these things that I learned so much later too! Haha well good, you’ve got that down 😉

  6. This is so interesting to me. I, too, try to dress modestly and it is so hard to do if shopping at the mall. My comment is that I have always found sleeveless tops to be immodest ESPECIALLY at church. I see so many ladies my age(30’s) wearing sleeveless dresses at church and I just don’t think it is appropriate. Some men find shoulders to be a turn on so keeping them covered is the best policy. As for bathing suits…bikinis are practically underwear and I can’t imagine that women wear them for any reason other than to attract men’s attention. My husband agrees. And as he says, while men are attracted to women who are immodest, they are not the kind of women a good man would marry. And what could be more attractive to a man than to know that his wife has only been ‘seen’ by him and no other man. And it always amazes me how women complain of not being able to find a good man when the go around showing off everything that God gave them. Getting off my soapbox now. 🙂

    • JMO but this is suffocating for me. I think it is not the shoulders that they find attractive but the fact that it is BARE shoulders. Everything is not women’s fault since men have responsible too. Bull crap.

      • I agree. . Men have to take some responsibility. .. No sleeveless? That’s ridiculous. Even swimsuits would fall in that category. This can be taken too far you know. I totally agree that what we wear can cause men to stumble. . But I also know after speaking with my husband that it’s really a matter of men’s hearts too. If I can’t even wear a dress with leggings under it or a sleeveless dress without some man having a hard time. ..That seems like a problem they personally need to deal with.

    • I think the only part about the post that I didn’t like was about jeans. I love jeans. I wear like super baggy ones that reaches from about my waist to the floor, and I seriously don’t see anything wrong with them. Everything else is perfectly fine though, and I agree with it. Just, jeans?

  7. Thanks for sharing Jami!
    It is so helpful to discuss this topic and reading people’s opinions of it! =)
    So glad you posted this!
    Much Love,

  8. Great post! The survey was very interesting! I’ve always dressed modestly and I feel sad when I see my sisters dressing immodestly. Dressing modestly is SO important! Maybe seeing the results of that survey may help my sisters change their minds a little! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Did I miss a mention of how men should dress modestly? I have often noticed the focus is always on women’s appearances. Women lust just as much as men, and men should take into account how they dress.

    • I think it is appropriate that this post only addresses women because the blog, as a whole, is primarily addressed to women.

      The initial “well, what about men?” question tends to be a knee-jerk reaction of the “why should I have to if they don’t” feeling.

      I, however, would also be interested in the gender-reversal of a survey.
      Should men have to wear shirts as a piece of their swimsuit?
      What about men in jeans?
      What about men in shorts?
      Is it okay for men to wear tank tops?

  10. I think you approached this very well. 🙂 Thank you for sharing. I agree a lot of women are not purposely ignoring Gods standards of modesty but they are simply not aware. 🙂

  11. This is great. I came accross your website bacause my 11 year old daughter was doing a websearch for modest dresses. I have the same convictions on the subject that you have! i find that interesting because i have been doing research for a book I am writing on beauty and I have come accross a variety of writings on the topic – usually in the long-dresses-are-the-only-way type of category. I will check out that survey you liked to.
    Thanks for writing about this. It is very thoughtful and well expressed.

    • I am so glad that you found my blog! 🙂 I think it is important for people to understand the importance of dressing modestly without making it an idol and the end all of their Christian life. Your book sounds really interesting. You will have to stop by and let me know when it is finished 🙂

  12. I agree with you, As a mother of two boys, it’s hard to see what the girls wear to church. As Christians we need to get a higher vision and grow up. The teens keep coming to church with the shortest dress I have ever seen. Some end right at the end of their bottoms. I was shocked and prayed for them to see that they shouldn’t be wearing these kinds of garments. The 20-49 group of women seem to think cleavage is okay, it’s really hard for our family to not get distracted by all the skin hanging out. It seems women/girls care more about themselves then their brothers. We work really hard on our marriage and I know I would like to not feel jealous with what my husband has to see at church!

  13. Regarding tightness, a godly woman once gave me this guideline which I have found helpful: If it outlines the underside of your breasts or backside, it is too tight.

  14. I know this is a year old, but thank you! I am 17 and it is helpful to read something practical. Many bloggers say modesty is important, but don’t give any personal guidelines! So, thank you. I am trying to fight the temptation to dress immodestly, but it is encouraging that godly guys do notice and appreciate when girls are modest. My mom, 2 older brothers and dad are all honest, which is a blessing. Last summer I had my brother tell me to go right back to my room and change my shorts! It made me feel so good that he wanted to protect me from how guys might look at me. But it is still a struggle-we’re going on vacation this summer with a family that has 4 boys-all older than me. Finding a modest swimsuit is tough! Do you usually keep your shorts on while you swim, too? Thanks again for your honesty and sharing your heart for the Lord.

  15. Okay here’s where my husband and I disagree. He doesn’t think immodesty exists. He says that man created it not God. God made us naked to begin with and only after original sin did we as humans start covering ourselves therefore causing even more sin to occur due to the “you want what you can’t have or see in this case mentality.” He said God never instructed us to clothe ourselves, and if we didn’t, it would no longer cause lust. He says there was even a study done on an African tribe whose women always went naked. Missionaries came in and covered them up….next thing you know the men were lusting after women, wanting to have affairs, etc. until they started going naked again then no big deal.

    I lean more towards your point of view, but at the same time, I’m supposed to honor my husband…not that I’m going around naked anytime soon, but it’s like if he doesn’t care then why should I?

    • In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned and realized they were naked, they made coverings or loincloths made of leaves. God made them new and better coverings made from animal coverings. God cares. He also required a certain dress code of the priests, including the length of their pants under their robes. (Exodus 28:40-43) God does require modesty. These are Old Testament examples, but the principles of modesty are certainly taught in the New Testament as well. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

  16. Thank you so much for addressing this problem or what I like to call “plague”. I totally agree with everything that you said. Fashion now a days is so revealing and immoral. I personally have a hard time finding modest clothing at stores. I believe that true beauty comes from the heart that can only be fashioned by our Lord. It is He who convicts us of the way we dress, but we also have to be willing to allow Him to work in our hearts and change the things He dislikes. I believe that fashion is one of Satan’s deceptions. It causes women to feel unhappiness and begin to have a covetous heart. The Bible explains and clearly states what the Lord expects from us as His daughters.

  17. this is a tough one for me. I have always thought (And this might sound crazy) but a naked woman is less provacative then a scantily clothed one, because our clothes are designed to entice.

    I work at a gym and therefore have a fit toned physique and it can be a temptation to show it off. luckily being flat chested cleavage is never an issue for me, the problem is i love miniskirts and heels.

    my best weapon of modesty is the cardigan. Somehow everything looks more modest when you add a cardigan. Another thing i really like is leggings because they can be worn with a shorter skirt to cover up.

    Swimsuits are tough because I swim in our creek here in the country and i swim alone so it doenst really matter if i wear a swimsuit or not, or what kind. Around friends i do wear a 2 piece but i use a sarong to cover it. Sarongs are realy a great help for modesty too.

    The issue im having and maybe you can help is here in the summers it can get very hot and we have no air conditioning. i live with 4 men (family members) and its awfully hard to cover up when it is this hot i favor short shorts and a camisole or tank but is that bad because its in front of family so it shouldnt matter much right? idk

  18. I stumbled across your blog, and despite this post being an older one, I find your view on modesty interesting. Out of curiosity, what are your views on things like women having tattoos or piercings or wearing make-up, etc.

  19. This post had some very interesting info in it. I really like how you pointed out that modesty is about protecting others, and I would say our children also. The bible does talk about how we are setting an example for them and also, who wants to be a stumbling block to their own son? What kind of example do we want our sons to see in us for the type of person they will look for as a mate someday? The one thing I wondered about though in that survey is when men were asked about the pants and many supposedly answered that tight pants weren’t a stumbling block…hmm, when I used to wear pants that was not my personal experience with how men often reacted (and I was never one to show cleavage or midriff), or to flirt,..like at all. I think that maybe they have become accustomed to seeing pants and that in context of the rest of the survey, pants might be LESS of a stumbling block. I foudn one definition of modest (from dicitonary.com) to say this: “having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one’s merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions”. Although there is another definition that follows which deals specifically with dress, I think the two go together to give a more complete idea of what modesty is. Some of the definition of modesty is to wear the opposite of “form fitting” clothes (and the only way to describe the type of pants in style is form fitting (for the most part). Now I understand that it isn’t the same affect on men as them seeing certain areas of bear skin though. But I don’t understand how it is a kinda of a big problem for men if a woman wears leggings/tights, but not if she wears pants that are showing the silhouette of her hips and behind…it’s just more like not as bad. For me, since I want to do my best and go above and beyond what is considered “okay” or “good enough”, I choose to only wear skirts (not form fitting ones though). I wanted to share my personal convictions as you did and I realize that not everybody thinks the same, just giving my perspective 🙂 I think it was helpful that you focused on how our actions affect others, because I am tired of seeing it spoken this way…”It’s about respecting you.”…I feel like that argument is still making it a self centered (like selfish) issue. And while it has truth to it, seems to be used to make modesty popular, not to draw hearts towards the Lord.
    I really respect you for doing such a post. and this is a good reminder for me to be praying about this all-for myself, my daughter and other ladies in my church also. I am still tempted to dress differently at times and have to give this area back to the Lord (in my heart), I can struggle with hard feelings at times towards ladies who dress with more of a focus of flattering their figure than modesty. Not every lady has an encouraging husband and this goes for Christians as well. My husband really does know the Lord, but for whatever reason/s he doesn’t ever tell me he likes the way I look, he doesn’t encourage me about anything I do either, he doesn’t spend time with me cuddling, etc. or even take me on dates, he works A LOT. So when we are around other ladies that I know he respects and they are dressed less modest than me, it doesn’t just become a possible stumbling block to him, but me also, because I end up dealing with my own flesh worrying about them drawing attention from my husband, he doesn’t spend very much time talking to other ladies, so maybe I shouldn’t worry, but I know the Lord doesn’t want me to anyways. You can see though, although I am responsible for my thoughts towards others, it would be more encouraging and helpful to my whole family if those around me dressed without super tight shirts, tight skirts, cleavage/low shirts, etc…It’s not just men that can be affected. And one more thing, I grew up in the world, and some of my best friends were lesbians, sure, I know men’s brains are wired differently, but in our sex saturated culture it is clear that women have been more and more involved with watching pornography and all kinds of inappropriate relationships…So really, this can be an issue for other women around us too if we aren’t honoring God in our dress.
    I belong to a church (independent) that encourages women to wear dresses and skirts (below the knee). It is surprising to me how many people will wear this to church, but often outside. When I got saved, nobody told me what to wear 🙂 and god made the change (over a couple of months) in my heart). Since everybody came to church dressed that way and the rest of their life was supposed to match the way they were at church, I didn’t realize that some ladies might not wear skirts/dresses the rest of the week. I wonder what people who don’t know the Lord think when they see Christians dressed one way for church and a whole other way the rest of the week.
    I am sharing from my heart here and I do realize these views are not the mos popular now-a-days, so I will say again that I don’t want to offend anyone. Thanks again for the thought provoking post 🙂

  20. Hi, My name is Ashton and I’m a shorty. Everything pair of shorts that I try on that are below, on, or slightly above the knee make me look dumpy ,short, and unbecoming. I try skirts but they just don’t work, I just don’t know what to do about it since I’ve spent so long trying to find shorts that will fit right, and the only ones that do are about an inch longer than my finger tips. They aren’t tight or loose and they don’t have rips or anything on them. Do you think this is allright?

  21. I know i’m late to the conversation, but my sister-in-law introduced me to Hollywood Tape, and I love it! I have a beautiful, modest dress with a lower-than-I-normally-wear-them neckline, and using the tape helps me secure it in place so there’s no chance of any cleavage (or bra straps) showing when I move. I found it at CVS — I think it’s available at most drug stores. Another tip — check button-down shirts to see whether they gap when you move! I was a beautiful lady one time in an otherwise modest outfit, but when she leaned back her shirt gapped between the buttons and her bra was in full view. 🙁 Felt bad for her because I don’t think that was at all her intent (and there was no way for me to say anything to her). Hollywood Tape or safety pins can keep things in place!

  22. I am wondering if you think this applies to married and Unmarried woman? Generally I would say I dress they way you discribe, but on occasion enjoy showing some cleavage, only for my husbands enjoyment though. I also am wondering how you feel about breast feeding in public. I have my own strong options on this, but am curious what you think the bible views are on this.

  23. Hi! I have found your modesty series interesting. It certainly brings attention to an area that Christian women struggle with. I did find it strange that you would wear a tankini showing your bare legs above the knee, but would not show your leg above the knee while wearing shorts.

    • Hi Donna,

      Thanks so much! I guess I should have clarified about the bathing suit! I wear a tankini top AND black shorts to with it 🙂 I would never just wear the tankini and swim bottoms…tooooo much skin for me haha! 🙂

      • Christian women might want to consider the possibility that they are making excuses for themselves in order to wear swimsuits at all. Apparently, their criteria is that swimming is somehow a necessity of life. Otherwise, how does one harmonize the inconsistency that it is not ok to wear shorts that reveal most of the calf, yet somehow it is ok to wear a swimsuit that does, even if that swimsuit is a skirt. It is still a very short skirt. So, which principle rules: the amount of skin revealed, or the necessity of going swimming? In the “olden” days there were swimsuits that covered most of the body. I think modern Christian women have a problem inwardly with not wanting to appear old fashioned in their dress.

        • “And he will spread out his hands in the middle of it As a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim…”Isa 25:11 There’s no problem with wanting to swim.
          “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…” 1 Tim 2:9 Propriety means to “appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances”
          “Propriety is following what is socially acceptable”
          a href=”http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2014/may-week-4/real-meaning-of-modesty.html” title=”The Real Meaning of Modesty”
          Keep your balance with this linked article. However, it really shows that many societies have a different norm of what is good and acceptable, and it makes some very good points.

          • “And he will spread out his hands in the middle of it As a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim…”Isa 25:11 There’s no problem with wanting to swim.
            “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…” 1 Tim 2:9 Propriety means to “appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances”
            “Propriety is following what is socially acceptable”
            a href=”http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2014/may-week-4/real-meaning-of-modesty.html” title=”The Real Meaning of Modesty”
            Keep your balance with this linked article. However, it really shows that many societies have a different norm of what is good and acceptable, and it makes some very good points.

            Hi. Thanks for your response. Will try to answer your points.
            (1) No, of course there isn’t anything wrong with swimming. I was addressing how Christian women dress in order to swim in public. It is my observation that Christian women will be meticulous about not wearing certain things in public; but then when it comes to swimming, they will suddenly throw those rules out. They think they are being modest by opting for a one piece suit with a skirt, when in reality that suit is shorter and more revealing than other things they say they will not wear in public due to concerns about modesty. So my point was why do they think that the activity of swimming makes it ok to compromise and wear that in public? Is swimming in public such a necessity of life that they are forced to wear a “modest” swimsuit when they would not otherwise wear that same outfit while walking down a public street? Just something to ponder.
            (2) I don’t think that is the definition of “propriety” that the apostle had in mind. I too have heard Christians say that it is ok for Christian women to dress according the prevailing trends of the times. That might have worked even as recently as 50 years ago when women were still mostly dressing in a fairly modest manner. But it does not work today, because the prevailing trends of the time are now very risque and immodest and are getting worse all the time. So that cannot be our standard.
            (3) I was unable to read the entire article to which you linked, as I am not a subscriber to that website. But it is not a debatable issue that a Christian woman should not dress in a way that is overtly and undeniably enticing to men who are not her husband. People will disagree as to when that line is crossed, and that is understandable. But one of my main points has been that the reason it is even debatable is because of the influence of the secular society on Christian females. At what point is the line crossed? Can a Christian woman go out in public in thong shorts and wearing only pasties? Because a large part of the society is ok with that. If you say that is ridiculous, you are right. But I promise you that if the Lord does not return in the next 100 years, that is how society will go. And Christian women at that time will think they are being modest if they at least wear a halter top and short shorts in public. That is the very same mentality that is at work today among Christian women. They compare what they wear to what society wears and conclude they are dressed less enticingly than that. But is that the correct standard? Should we push the envelope as far as we can, or should we actually make sure we are not dressing in a way that is unnecessarily enticing to men, especially our Christian brothers?

            Disclaimer: I don’t think we need to wear burkas. I am not legalistic. This is not a list of rules. It is simply concepts to ponder. 🙂

        • Marie you seem more like a Muslim man than a Christian woman. :/ I’m not a feminist but thinking women shouldn’t swim? Come on. Live however you want, but don’t dictate that ALL women shouldn’t swim. There’s a difference between going to the beach in a one piece and dancing half naked on stage like Beyoncé.

          • Kit, I never said women should not swim. I think that women on this forum are having a kneejerk reaction to my comments rather than actually giving them some thought first. Also, most younger women today have grown up in a society that accepts bikinis, short shorts, mini-skirts and exposed cleavage (though oddly enough, exposed cleavage was actually acceptable in past centuries, though they would then wear their dresses to their ankles). I am encouraging Christian women to ponder whether or not what they have accepted as ok for Christian women is really ok.

        • So you’re saying that women should not enjoy beach vacations or go swimming or enjoy the sun like their male friends (who btw run around in ONLY shorts- but that’s fine, right?) because they may “tempt their brothers?” Sorry, but that is absolute bull. Closed minded, holier than though opinions like this are what permiates this nation’s rape culture. It’s the same philosophy that women shouldn’t walk down the street wearing anything that shows that they are a woman because they might get raped. It’s disgusting. God made women different than men for a reason. We have curves and they are BEAUTIFUL! I personally consider myself modest in comparison to what the majority of women wear today, because I believe that a woman’s body is for herself and her husband and that is it. However, I will be darned if I ban myself from participating in life because my “brothers” cannot control themselves. That is the disturbing kind of opinion that makes men think that they can control women and that the world revolves around them. Guess what? It doesn’t. Women are EQUALS. Do you see campaigns against men to stop putting out underwear ads? To stop going shirtless at the gym? No, you don’t. And you won’t. Because narrow minded, sheep like women continue to screw up all of the advances that women have made in the past several decades. My husband and I have a marriage where we are equal. I don’t cook for him because I don’t like to cook and he enjoys it- so he cooks for me. We divide the cleaning in our house evenly because that’s fair. I have a career that I love and IF we decide to ever have children (which I’m able to decide because it’s not “my job” as a woman), he will stay home with them while I make the money for our family. And let me guess, you probably find fault with that too. It is not 1920 anymore. And opinions like this are degrading toward women and dispicable.

          • I am so interested in all of these comments. I am from New Zealand and we are surrounded by water and I love your comments and pondering Marie. I totally get where you are coming from. It is completely mature thinking. Times have changed but we as Christian need to hold ourselves to ancient standards. Obviously fashion changes and to wear a robe and cloak might be a bit zealous and weird. so what do we wear then? I do know to view a white sheep in a green field, it looks clean and bright but you put that same sheep in a field of snow and it appears filthy. We are judged by God standards not to comparative worldly standards. Is the guideline of what is modest individual, or open for interpretation ? I don’t know…. is there one set of rules? there is one God how can He have different rules for different people and different situations? I don’t know. but I like the stimulating thought provoking post by Marie that makes us think and challenges our interpretation of what is easy, fashionable and what really is modest….. and for the record I wear a bathing suit and shorts and live in a country and culture where it is not considered provocative at all! Still I am stirred to consider and challenge with an open mind the subjects Marie has enlightened us with.

  24. Question. Why do you consider sleeveless to be modest? I personally do not. However, it is interesting to compare modesty rules across the three Abrahamic faiths. Orthodox Jewish women cover to elbows and knees. Muslimahs of course cover much more. I do cover my elbows and knees in public. That’s my personal line that I won’t cross. Just curious.

  25. Love this! Thanks a lot for sharing. I just have one question please. For your tankini’s for swimming, does your top cover your shoulders also, since you said you don’t wear spaghetti tops and like to cover your shoulders.
    Thanks in advance 🙂

  26. I just found your wonderful site and am enjoying catching up! My question seems late but I hope you can offer your advice.
    In our church there are just small number of young girls/young women. As they are maturing it seems parents have given in or given up and the slippery slope event is happening where one by one the clothes get more immodest! We started out where our ladies were always dressed modestly (and certainly not worldly in any way!) but nowadays even the Pastor’s wife and daughters are pushing the envelope with very form fitting and shorter dress. I feel my girls will use the age old “if they do it…” on me soon and idk what to say really. I’m getting absolutely no response when I’ve tried to broach this subject!!! Other than start a home church or find another one (that’s another problem around our area; very few fundamental Baptist churches!), I guess PRAYER and more PRAYER is my alternative. I guess I’ve answered my own question! ♡

    • Dee, I would just say to you with teen girls (coming from a Baptist background myself) is to not base your modesty standards on those around you, no matter what they’re wearing or who they are. I know it’s difficult, but honestly, what I try to teach our children when other people in our church are demonstrating lower standards is that the reason why we do not do that is because we love the Lord (not that they don’t) and we’ve learned ________________ (explain the principle) from the Bible. When you guide them toward right and your children see that you are honest in your answers I believe they will be more likely to understand your point of view and respect the standards. I would also encourage you to find modest boards on Pinterest to help your girls find nice outfit ideas that are modest and in some ways up with some of the trends. I believe you can lead your girls to be an example without being high-minded and do a beautiful job doing so!

  27. why does one needs a man’s opinion here? I mean you need to be modest because your Lord commanded it thus. You do it for you! not to “save” your “brother”. We are all responsible for our gaze here. It is not and will never be a women’s job to control anyone but herself!!

    • You need a man’s opinion in order to find out what is provocative to men. I don’t think most females today have a clue about that. You need to ask yourself why the Lord commands you to dress modestly. Answer: in order to not be unduly provocative to men who are not your husband.

      • So what about rape victims? If they were dressed provocatively, does it become their fault? My answer is of course not! We are all responsible for our gaze and our actions. The definition of “modesty ” is fluid and changes over time as well as depends entirely on which culture you speak of. As an example Indian iwomen often show their midriff area but won’t show their ankles the things that seem modest to you are completely inappropriate in many other cultures..

  28. I once had a camp counselor who I was talking with about modest and why we (women) have to cover up when it is men who are having the sexual urges. He told me that women dressing immodestly is like put a open beer bottle in front of a alcoholic. Now it’s not that extreme but that really opened my eyes and makes me want to dress more modestly. I just thought I’d share this experience with you so maybe you could share it with others. Your article was every help full, thank you for the tips.

  29. Am going to say some things that people may immediately disagree with, but will say it anyway because I believe it to be true. Feminism has totally influenced the way Christian women dress and also how they think and live their lives. And I don’t think very many Christian women are aware of that.
    Before modern feminism, just about every Christian female understood that scripture is clear that her primary responsibilities were her husband, children, and home. Nowadays, though, they will argue as to whether or not Scripture is clear about that. Odd how that was clear to everyone for the first 1900 years of the church, then suddenly in the last 100 years or so it became not so clear. What changed? Answer: feminism’s influence and Christian women’s desire to be like everyone else. It was easy when all other women, Christian or not, basically followed the Scriptural model for womanhood. But when that changed, Christian women changed along with it. So now we have the acceptability of Christian women putting their children in daycare while they go to a daily job away from their home. We now have Christian girls thinking about a career while in high school and going to college to receive training for that career. And they find all kinds of excuses to justify it, even the fact that the Proverbs 31 woman appeared to earn income for her family. Well, yes, she did, but was that at a job that kept her far away from her home for 9-10 hours a day and not seeing her children during that time? I don’t think so. Her children were no doubt right there with her or else at home with grandma, and the mother no doubt was mostly at home during the day. Big difference. Regarding women’s dress, will point out again that for 1900 years Christian women believed it appropriate to cover their bodies, but suddenly 100 years ago that was no longer important or necessary. Did their bodies become any less inviting to men in the last 100 years? Is that what changed? You know it’s not. At this point, women are saying to me, “Are you a legalist who wants us to wear burkas?” That is always where this discussion ends up, and that is because of the deep-seated inward resistance to the idea of dressing in a way that is very different from one’s secular peers. My personal point of view is that showing the outline of your crotch and your rear end is inviting to men; thus, wear shirts that are longer than that. Skin tight pants are inviting to men. Clothes that hug the body are inviting to men. Cleavage is inviting to men. Today’s men have no idea what it was like to live in a society where women routinely covered their bodies, so they are unable to make the comparison. They grow up just accepting a certain level of provocativeness in female dress and thinking that is normal. Their own evaluation of what is or is not modest is affected by today’s standards. But whose standards are those? Something to meditate upon.

    • Before knocking this idea of “feminism,” which I prefer to call equality, why don’t you think about what you are saying. You mention in your comment the degree to which things have changed so drastically from the 1900s. Unfortunately, for your argument, the bible was not written then. When the bible was written, it promoted such things as enslaved women being sold to the highest bidder, polygamy, execution for virgins and all other things that are, thankfully, at least in most parts of our country now- growing obsolete. But you see, you are trying to make an argument for biblical womanhood, as you referenced Proverbs 31 (the most twisted and misused verse against the “feminist” movement). However, what you fail to realize in your argument is that if things in our modern day society were as they were in bible times, you could have been sold to your husband, or husbands because a man wanted to do so. You couldn’t own property or have any rights, are you okay with that? I would assume that any intelligent woman would not be. Therefore, your argument comparing modern day women to the women of the 1900s has no merit whatsoever. You cannot pick and choose what things you wish to honor from the bible, right? If legalistic, religious guidelines did not evolve with society, we would still be sacrificing children. Which, I would also assume, you think of as wrong.
      I personally, have a career that I absolutely love. I am recently married and I will not be giving up that career to have children. Why? Because I don’t feel called to be a mom. I believe that some women are and some women aren’t. But guess what, I am able to do greater things through my career than I ever would be able to by being a mother because not all women were created to be mothers. Some were created to have careers that work to change the world. You can follow Christ and serve him through your daily life without baring children! And it would be selfish of me, with my passion for my career and my general dislike of children, to bring a child into this world just because I was “supposed to.” Thats where you’re comments are wrong. For women who feel called to be a mother, I admire them, they have the hardest job in the world- staying home and caring for another life. But that doesn’t mean that women who chose not to bear children are eveil or wrong in anyway. And philosophies like yours are the ones that make some women have children just because they feel the pressure to (from family, from the church, from misguided bible interpretations) and then not be good mothers, and sometimes even resent their children. So which is worse? The woman who acknowledges that she was NOT created to be a mother and chooses to not have children but serve God in other ways? Or the woman who has children when she doesn’t really feel called to, just because “the church says so” and is maybe not the mother her children deserve. Which is worse? You may call me selfish or think what you want of my choices, that’s entirely up to you. But I think your comment refuses to see a side of it that many who believe your philosophy don’t…maybe you lived your whole life only ever wanting to be a mother, that’s great, I admire you- but don’t put women in a box with you- because not everyone has the same call on their life. I would encourage you to read this and educate yourself more on this issue, more especially on the “Proverbs woman.”


      • Everything I have been saying is based on my own experience during the past 65 years of living. Also, I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don’t get the impression that you see it that way. So, honestly, without an understanding regarding the Bible as God’s word, we really do not have anything to discuss. That’s because everything you are saying is based on thinking that the Bible is for an older time, not really for us. But I will respond to a few things you said anyway.

        I have mostly been talking about how Christian girls dress. But I also made some comments regarding being a Christian wife and mother. If a woman chooses not to marry, that is another discussion. She does not have to marry. So right there, you and I are through talking.

        But if she does choose to marry and have children, that is where I have something to say. And I have already said it in my comments on this thread. Again, I don’t think you believe in accepting what the Bible has to say about being a wife and mother, so what is there for us to talk about?

        You suggested that I think about what I am saying. Well, again, I am age 65 and have already thought very long and hard about a lot of things for a lot of years. I have seen things come and go. You described horrible things happening to women in the days of the patriarchs. That is not what I am talking about. I am addressing Christian women who believe the Bible is God’s word and who want to follow the teachings of Christ and his apostles as given in the New Testament. All that stuff about the times of the patriarchs is irrelevant to my point. There are very clear teachings about the role of wives and mothers in the New Testament. And the clear teaching is that if a Christian woman is married, she is to voluntarily submit to (actually, defer to) her husband’s leadership of the family.

        I referred to Proverbs 31 because unfortunately people point to certain activities of the Proverbs 31 woman and say that it supports their being a working wife and mother. No it doesn’t.

        My thoughts have been directed at women who marry and have children and then put their children in daycare to pursue a career. You are reading a lot of stuff into my comments that I simply did not say. I don’t feel obligated to address that, since I didn’t say it nor do I think it. When I referred to 100 years ago, I was primarily talking about how women dressed and how it drastically changed in a moment of time in the 1900s. Please pay attention to what a person says, and don’t read things into it that are not there; since it is really time-consuming to read long-winded comments that do not address what was actually said.

        As to pure activist feminism itself, I despise it. It goes far beyond any ideas of “equality. ” And here I will speak in strictly secular terms. Activist feminism has destroyed the family in America. It told women that being mothers wasn’t enough. They needed to have careers too. So they put their kids in daycare and got jobs. Of course, not really careers… just jobs. Most people in America are in ordinary boring jobs, not really careers. It also told women that they didn’t have to be married to their husbands, that they should get a divorce so that they could be all that they could be. Don’t tell me that isn’t true. That is precisely the message of the 1960s and 1970s. Were you an adult in those days? I was, and I saw it happening with my own eyes. Those were also the days of the so-called “sexual revolution.” Sleeping around, marriage not necessary, shacking up, whatever makes you feel good, man. All of that happened at once. Another message of activist feminism was to hate men. Yes, it was. So, to sum up, you can pursue a career all you want, as long as you don’t put your kids in daycare.

        Why are you so hostile? If you really believe what you are saying, what do you care what I think? But again, most of what you said had nothing to do with my comments.

  30. I just want to give my own views on modesty. I love the laws of God because they are good. I tried to find where in the old testament law is says anything one time about modesty, and the law is very detailed, and I only found Deut 22:5 making the principle that men and women should not be cross dressed and should be distinct in distinguishing their sex through their clothes. Why does the bible say take no thought for what you should eat, drink, and wear if it matters so much? I think people miss interpret what Timothy meant when he says : “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes”
    For example, Jesus is invited to a house and He didn’t get a kiss, His feet aren’t washed, His head wasn’t anointed with oil (must a been at a rich to house all those people), and I believe Jesus wasn’t given a change of raiment either. Expensive clothes is a very relative term. There’s a pauper, a tradesman, a merchant, a priest, a prince, a lord, a king of lords, and to each, the word expensive is different. If that man gave Jesus the appropriate clothes of his wealth so He fit in, it would have be good and proper. Jesus says that He’ll cloth His bride with white fine linen that I’m sure will make everyone equal looking. No rich jeweled men and women with a pauper standing by. No poor disciples with one rich man asking the way of salvation. God is the great equalizer.

    “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
    People say that this means you can’t dress in modern clothes, but you have to dress old fashioned; when at one point old fashioned was modern. I believe that verse means to not just take anything the world says is ok, but to use the transformed mind to prove what is good, acceptable, and perfect.
    When I go swimming I have a good testimony by wearing a tankini swimsuit because it’s decent and appropriate. To wear more others would hear me saying I’m better than you because I’m more modest, and if I wore less they’d think I want every guy to look at me, and that decency doesn’t matter. My testimony of being very modest doesn’t work when they imply my testimony and interpret that I’m stuck in legalism. Now if I swim with some that’d will judge me for a tankini, I will within reason, submit to their more covered standard, not as a hypocrite but to not offend the least of these.

    Pink and purple to me are girls colors, but African culture guys often wear them. Form fitted clothing on a guy says he’s a freak, but from a girl it says she’s meek. Guys are supposed to be the burly ones. The only other old testament thing about clothes is to “gird up your loins” When running or fighting, or anything active people would gird up their loins. That’s the equivalent to wearing a skort. I don’t see why some regard it as sinful when I see it in the Bible. So wherever I am, I want to humble myself having a good testimony for others to see the love and salvation that’s in Jesus Christ.

    • The point is to not dress enticingly by showing your body parts to men who are not your husband. If almost nothing of your body is covered up, that’s a problem. There was a time when Christian women understood that. It has nothing to do with legalism. It has to do with not going around half naked in front of men who are not your husband. The definition of “naked” keeps slipping even with Christian women in keeping with the trends of the secular society. If we have to go to the Bible looking for admonitions about this kind of thing to make sure such admonitions even exist, if we don’t understand this intuitively, that shows the church has done a really lousy job in the past 30 or so years of teaching women properly. And I do think the church has done a lousy job because they are afraid to say anything about it from the pulpit.

      As to swimming, my point was that perhaps a Christian woman should consider foregoing swimming rather than wear something inappropriate. Those tankinis barely cover the crotch area. Perhaps women for the first 1900 years of Christian history had it correct in the way they dressed. We don’t necessarily have to wear skirts to our ankles, etc. But maybe our skirts should at least cover our knees. And maybe we should give up shorts in public. Again, modern Christian women seem incapable of even grasping the concept, because they are so caught up in the secular society. And the pulpit is silent on the issue because it is afraid of it.

      • Women should not forego swimming! It’s that kind of backwards thinking that drives people away from the church. If you’re wearing a tankini that covers the important parts and the midriff, or a one-piece, nobody’s going to be looking at you.

        • Kit, I promise you men are going to be looking at you. It is a construct of modern secular society that tankinis are ok because the fabric covers the most sensitive parts of a woman’s body. It may cover them in that the flesh is not exposed, but the outline of those body parts is most definitely exposed. I do not really hope to make any headway with modern Christian women on this issue, because they really are not listening. They are brainwashed by modern culture and have transferred that into their Christian walk rather than the other way around. As for backward thinking that drives people away from the church, that is a very telling statement. If it takes wearing tankinis, short shorts, showing cleavage, skin tight jeans, and mini skirts to get people into the church, then the church is grossly compromising with the world.

  31. It is not a woman’s job to keep men from sinning. Certain precautions should always be taken for a woman’s own sake, but men have to take responsibility for their own actions and until we hold them accountable, nothing will change. There are men who are going to do and say cruel things regardless of modesty. Thankfully, most men are decent. My point is, we can only be responsible for our own actions.

    That being said, in my opinion it is so much classier and prettier to dress modestly. It says a lot about who you are as a person. It shows that you respect yourself, and therefore, others typically will respect you as well. Not to mention, modest fashion is absolutely gorgeous. 🙂 Do it because you like it and it glorifies God, not because you have to “protect” men.

    • Kit, you can dress modestly both to please God and to consciously not be an unnecessary stumbling block to men. It is not either – or. No one said it is a woman’s job to keep men from sinning. But it is incumbent upon Christian women to think seriously about how they dress rather than just going along with the modern culture in order to be in style. Women usually dress for the approval and acceptance of other women, i.e., to be in style, and are generally clueless regarding how enticing they are to men. Any man who tells you it is not enticing to him to see the outline of your crotch and your behind is not a truthful man. Men are visual creatures, and I think most women are truly clueless regarding how little it takes to send them into a “frenzy” inwardly. The reality is we are living in Sodom and Gomorrah. I assume Lot’s daughters in Sodom dressed to be in style with those females and tried to justify their outfits to their father who was a follower of God. My entire point is that the styles of modern culture have become so decadent, yet Christian females are very hesitant to not be in style. We are at a tipping point in the culture at which we need to call upon ourselves to be willing to “come ye out and be ye separate.” But no one wants to be out of style, so therein lies the problem.

      Paul said, “..but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” II Corinthians 10:12. In other words, comparing ourselves to the world and to our peers is not the proper standard for evaluating ourselves. Paul’s words fly in the face of that old but false idea of going along with the prevailing trends of the times.

        • I appreciate that you feel Christ-like love for your sisters in Christ. You said: “As a Christian man, I’d rather suffer a girl’s temptation than to see the girls having to wear frumpy clothes to “help” me. Makes me feel like a criminal. …and Jesus wants His girls to feel pretty, cute, and happy to serve Him.”

          Are you saying you prefer Christian girls to have the liberty to dress like the secular society in order to not be out of style, and that Jesus prefers for them to be in style in order to be happy? The problem is that Christians are in denial about the decadence of modern society and how much like Sodom and Gomorrah it has become. If nice, modest clothes are considered frumpy, that is a measure of how far the society has descended into decadence. I don’t believe for one minute that Jesus wants Christian girls cavorting about in swimsuits that really are just one step away from nudity. You seem to be saying that it is more important for the girls to have fun and not feel different from the secular world around them. In other words, following Christ has no cost, since we should be free to do whatever the secular society is doing in order to not feel left out. Also, it is boys that girls are knowingly or unknowingly enticing, not men much older than themselves.

          Yes, Jesus wants all of us to be happy to serve Him. That’s a separate issue from dress. Scripture establishes that God wants women to feel “pretty and cute” for their husbands, not other men. Girls do not have husbands and are usually years away from having one. It is good for a girl to feel a healthy amount of self-worth as a person, but I promise you that the young female psyche descends into narcissism pretty quickly regarding her physical appearance. They usually spend an excessive amount of time concentrating on it. Why? To be in style in order to be accepted by other girls; but also, it is to look attractive to boys. And that gets us into the whole modern secular practice of dating, which also ought not apply to Christian girls. Why is she going out on a date with a boy, when she is years and years away from marrying anyone? Again, today’s church goes along with the world on this issue. And to even point out the problems with something gets one labeled a legalist.

          A lot of Christians are not looking at things in a very analytical way. That’s an issue of discernment. At some point we have to be willing to be different from the society if the society has become corrupt. Our liberty in Christ does not include the liberty to be as corrupt as the society around us in order to be in style.

      • Me to. I agree. I am 30ish, I consider myself a Christian IN this modern world, not OF this modern world. I have three daughters and 2 sons and I look at this world we are in and fear for the worldly Christians. I want my children to hold themselves (and their potential spouses) to Gods high standards. Its important to speak the truth and to share the wisdom you have collected over your years Marie. I appreciate your wisdom and challenging thought provoking stand. Women young and old need to be strong and not compromise in their standards.

  32. You are sick. Yeah, I get it, girls shouldn’t be walking around in their undies, but guys shouldn’t be let off the hook just because the girl’s skirt was an inch shorter than idiots like you think it should be. Guys still have some of the blame. Teaching girls that “modest is hottest” makes it seem as though it’s entirely their fault, that they need to dress differently in order to be treated with respect, that the boys have done nothing wrong in being so mean. Women at the receiving end of verbal, physical, or sexual assault are often asked “Well, what did you do to provoke him,” “Were you asking for it,” or, one of the most common, “What were you wearing?” Last I checked, when given the commandment not to commit adultery there was no addendum that said “Unless she was dressed like a slut, then it’s totally her fault, and you’re off the hook.” Someone once told me that when you are teaching women to change what they do to prevent being assaulted or raped, what you are actually doing is saying “Make sure he assaults someone else.” You are not fixing the real problem, which is the man’s problem. Men have to exist in the world where women will have a variety of dressing habits. All of these women all are deserving of respect, and if his thoughts or actions cannot be controlled, that is his problem.

  33. We should be modest because we want to be respectful to the gift Heavenly Father gave us. NOT because men can’t keep it in their pants. This is why people justify rape. It shouldn’t matter what women wear, (of course I believe in being modest) but men should look women in the eyes when she speaks; not at her body. We need to get rid of the “boys will be boys” mentality. Boys need to be responsible for their actions just like the rest of spirit children living here on this Earth. We should be modest for Heavenly Father, not for the guy who never learned to respect women.

  34. First of all i have to apologize for my bad english, it’s not my mother tongue. Caused by me being from a different country (european), i’m not used to such ridicoulous behaviour. In my country, religion has nothing to do with how you
    dress. I mean sure, if it makes you
    happy then do whatever you want, but you have to admit that this is ridicoulous. You really think
    that those who wrote the bible
    wanted you to wear certain
    clothes? And you think that you, living in the 21 century, are meant to live according to rules set in ancient times? I’m a christian too (catholic) but i don’t think that i have to give up my brain because of that. Come on, what is your reason for those clothes? What man think about it? I can dress how i want, thank you very much. None of my male friends or any male i know would think less of me just based on my clothes. And why? Because i am a truly free human, and i can think for myself. Moreover, christianity is about a certain lifestyle, not a certain way to dress. This lifestyle does not, however, consist of you dressing a certain way or you being restricted to only be a homemaker. I mean, it’s just funny how you yourself set up these stereotypes about women having to dress modest. They have nkt. They can dress himself in every way they want, without being less christian. In fact, it us you who is less christian for judging other people based on their look.
    again, i apologize for my bad english, but im sure you all understand, communicating in a second language is never as easy as talking in your mother tongue, especially when you only learn this second language in school.

  35. Thank you Jamie for this wonderful post! I’m sixteen but I have always spent time with girls who weren’t modest. The kind that wear tight clothes, short shorts, and low cut tops. Since those are the only girls I regularly spend time with, sometimes I have a hard time seeing what is modest and what is not. This post really cleared up some things for me–especially why my mom makes me where shorts that are just above my knee! Anyhow, most articles that I have read about modesty only encourage girls to dress that way, but do not say what is modest and what is not. Thanks again and God bless!

  36. Hello,
    I just wanted to pipe in with a book recommendation…or at least google the article. It is called girls gone wise and there is a section on modesty in there that describes why we should be modest in a way I’ve never heard it before.

    I am a huge believer in modesty, and like you my main concern was men and not causing them to stumble. That certainly is a noble cause and a very loving thing to consider when dressing. This book however talked about why we even have clothes in the first place, why did God give us clothing? God covered us when sin came into the world. He covered our shame with clothing made by a sacrificed animal. Clothing is a picture of how the blood of Jesus covers our sin. When we dress modestly we are agreeing with God that we need His covering, that we are sinners in need of His provision. There’s more to it than that. Just get the book, I am not th doing well explaining it, lol!

    I just wanted to share because it really opened my eyes to the main reason we cover. Sorry for typos…I am using a new tablet and it’s tricky. I I just wantto encourage the women feeling stubborn about supposedly having to cover JUST because of men. Again, that is appreciated from both men who struggle AND their wives, but it isnt the main reason.

    Read the book…girls gone wise…it is really eye opening. Especially if you already think you’re mostly okay…like I did! 😉

  37. Forgive me if someone in the comments already mentioned it but I believe that the Bible teaches that part of being modest and having a humble heart is watching out for materialism and excess; Things such as only wearing name brands and too much/ only expensive jewelry. See Isaiah 3:16-23.

  38. How do you deal with modesty when nursing? I am finding it very difficult during this season. I usually wear a tank top underneath that I pull down and then a shirt on top that I pull up. I cover when nursing unless I am at home. I just feel like its hard to control the cleavage and its unreasonable (for me personally) to wear a high cami underneath. Any tips would be appreciated!

  39. Women should be aware that wearing cami’s that are not the same color as the clothes you are wearing and if a totally different material are shouting here look at me! No one should be able to notice that you are wearing a cami and if they easy notice that you are its because it is shouting hey look at me.

    • Bill, do you even know what a cami is? Because from your comment, it looks like you think its some sort of undergarment. I think it would be best if you were educated on a subject before you voice your opinion. And besides, even if a girls clothing said, “look at me!” why are we telling her how to live her life? Let her be her.

  40. How can a tankini be modest but then shorts that are mid-thigh or shorter not be modest? Any clothes that I buy can be worn to church if I necessarily had to wear them. If I were out doing errands and didn’t make it back to the house in time to change for church service, my clothing would be fine. If I were out swimming and didn’t make it home in time to change, my clothing would be fine to wear to church. Whatever you choose to wear at any point in your life, you should not be ashamed to wear in front of Jesus himself. The ONLY time would be to shower or for the intimate times that you have with your spouse. But even during those times, you are not out in front of others. You are by yourself or with your spouse who has permission by God to see you that way. I wear shorts that come to my knee and a shirt to swim in. They are the same shorts and shirts I wear around my house. I see so many people saying they dress modestly, but then they wear bikinis or tankinis or one piece swimsuits to swim in or go to the beach in. How are those modest? You should be modest at all times. Not just modest for certain times or for certain activities. Just because you are going swimming, doesn’t mean you need to dress immodestly. That doesn’t make sense to me. Why change your level of modesty when engaging in certain activities? I have heard someone ask a person if they would allow their daughter to answer the door in their bra and underwear? The person gasped and said, NO! Of course not! Well, then why do you allow them to wear a bikini? Isn’t that kind of contradicting your standards? The person replied, well because you don’t answer the door in your bra and underwear, but it is ok to wear a bikini while swimming. Well why? They are both revealing the same amount of skin? You are either one or the other. You can’t be both.

    • Hi Shawna,

      I completely agree! When I wear a tankini, I always wear swim shorts (that go to my knee) to go swimming. Which is the same that I would wear in summer. And I’m very picky about the tankini that I wear. I don’t wear ones that show cleavage and I prefer ones with thicker straps. You can see some of my bathing suits in this post: http://youngwifesguide.com/where-to-buy-modest-clothing/

      Ultimately though, we do have freedom in Christ to make different choices. Scripture doesn’t give us short length, or swim suit instructions, so we must pray about it, read Scripture, talk to our family and/or husbands and try to make a wise decision in the Lord. Some of us may arrive at different conclusions, the same thing happens with theology. And while we all need to strive daily to live like Jesus, we are all sisters and brothers in Christ and should treat each other that way. Even if we don’t agree on hem length.

      For my own convictions, it would inappropriate to wear a bikini to the pool. However, I have sisters in Christ who do wear bikinis and it doesn’t make them any less a Christian 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion!

  41. Deut. 22:5The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

    I realize this is in the old testament, but since God never changes..and His Word never changes..it could be relevant.
    Then again, we women like to wear ‘the pants’ in the household. My mom told me women really didn’t start wearing pants until their husbands all started going off to war and the ladies had to get jobs outside the home. Not sure how accurate that is. I’m fairly young..

  42. I’m amazed and amused at the comments. I agree with Jamie I think it’s something that is needed in today’s society. I have a conservative background. I also found it very interesting what men think is immodest. Expecially about the jeans I always wondered about them

  43. I can’t believe how much modesty controls people in everything like a law when there’s just one verse about it, with a whole debate about what modesty even means. Taking no thought for what you wear the Bible says…meaning God provides….Be clothed in humility another verse says… Without love we’re nothing it says… However, if your heart is right first, here’s some advice from your brother on expressing the beauty of your heart.
    I wish people would dress the way they want to shape the world. Like what time period of dress do you like? If you were in heaven, want picture would you paint? How would you and your friends be dressed in heaven? What would heaven’s culture look like?
    I’d image it’d be a little like how they dress in Dinotopia books and lore.
    In the law it talks about having a distinction of men and woman’s garments (deut 22:5), and although I don’t mind girls wearing pants, I think it’s wonderful to see a tunic, or some skirt or drapery enhancing a girls feminine lovely spirit. Pants are rough, and overall I don’t think they are pretty. As a guy, I think pants enhance my own manly rugged spirit. I’m talking of jeans in particular. And maybe some loose pants look good on both genders; we’re not under the law but under the law of faith, so just make sure your focus is on Christ, and not on yourself. God sees our heart.
    Another thing I suggest thinking about is the association of how you look. I don’t play cards, not because it’s bad, but because it’s associated with gambling. Some clothes are associated with smoking or other bad life styles. Why not try to dress in a way that associates your life style with Christ. The top might look pretty being sleeveless or formfitted, but let it be praise worthy, let those around you feel Christ’s love. Show them what you think heaven will look like in the way you dress and conduct your life. It’s not all about dress. Rich or poor, your spirit matters so much more.

  44. This is an interesting article, and I do believe in dressing modestly, but I think the logic here is dangerously flawed. Men ARE responsible for their own sins, but more than that, I deeply, passionately believe that men are not the ones to whom we should go to define modesty. What you choose to wear and how you present yourself is a decision between you and God, period. Anybody else’s opinion should be irrelevant, really. Anytime we rely on the word of flawed mortals like ourselves to define what is and isn’t godly, we’ll run into a lot of trouble. Ladies, take this question straight to God. He cares so much more about what is in your heart than he does about *exactly* how many inches long your skirt is.