Article: Modern or Modest? | Jacob Varghese
What do you do when a “Christian” man or woman come to the church with indecent or provocative clothes or inappropriate hair style? In multiple occasions I have been offended by such people. I shared this matter with some of my Christian friends. They answered me as it is the modern way and so just ignore, they are answerable to God for their attitude. But it kept bothering me and I come about to be increasingly concerned about the topic of modesty in this modern days, because I see the lack and decline of modesty in our culture, especially in our churches! It is sad to see when Christians begin to dress like the world and no longer hold onto high standards of modesty, dress, and appearance. Our clothing says a lot about us. It’s important that we reflect Jesus Christ in everything we say, do and wear!
Modesty is an attitude of humility and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behaviour. If you are modest, you do not draw undue attention to yourself. Instead, you seek to “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19&20). At the same time “Modesty” is one of the most abused words in the Christian dialect. The idea of modesty has been almost exclusively attached to women. But let me say clearly, modesty is not just a woman’s issue. Modesty applies as much to men as to women. Modesty is the offspring of humility. Modesty is a behaviour that flows out of remembering our true place of service, and does not arrogantly boast about the self, but boasts in God.
The lack of modesty, reveals where we have placed our identity. Christians are called to make much of Christ and to make Him our identity. Our manner and appearance should be so empty of self that others don’t have to make an effort to forget what we wore, or our particular hairstyle, or what stuff we possess. Real Christians love to diminish into the background serving the needs of others, asking Jesus to take centre stage of their life. Living modestly is to proclaim what is proper. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1).
Modesty is a heart attitude, and it will reflect in our outward behaviour. Being modest stretches beyond our clothing choices or the way we wear our hair. Modesty involves the way we behave at work, how we drive or the way we act around others. Modesty is a very important trait for Christians to cultivate and develop in his or her own life. All people, whether male or female, need to have the character trait of being modest. We need to be neat, clean and modest in our clothing. If a man wears long hair, it is a disgrace for him so it is good to have the hair neatly cut and combed. Our personal appearance may influence how others view our Christian beliefs and the way of life that we represent.
In 1 Timothy 2:9-10, Paul tells us, “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, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” Paul is not telling women that they must never wear braids, nice clothes, or pearls. Rather, Paul is telling all people to dress “modestly, with decency and propriety.” When a woman wears braids, nice clothes, or pearls, it does not mean she is being immodest in her heart. But if a person is wearing shorts, a tank top, a tight T-shirt without sleeves a swimsuit, a half-shirt, or another type of clothing with the intention of trying to get attention of others, then they are being immodest. The way a person dresses stems back to their heart motive. God created women to be very attractive and beautiful more than anything else in this world. Hence, such beauty comes with a condition that she must cover her body properly and secure her dignity; her beauty and outward appearance is only meant to be adored by her husband.
As Christians, we are called to a higher moral standard because we know God. Jesus tells us we are lights to the dark world (Matthew 5:14-16). If we behave, act, and look the same way as the world, how would anybody be able to see us apart? It is fine to wear the clothes you like, but you must exercise discretion and you must examine your attitude. It is not talking only about women but men should also pursue modesty. It also applies to the way men dress and the message their wardrobe portrays. Whether you are a man or woman, modesty should play a key role in anyone who calls themselves a Christian. When it comes to being modest in the way you dress, I believe the less skin will gain us more respect.
Modesty shows others we have respect for ourselves. It shows we value a desire for purity. It will only attract people who are interested in us for the right reasons. It shows we hold ourselves to a higher standard. But unfortunately, many young people see only how the world dresses, and they feel pretty good about it. I think we cannot base our decisions about modesty based on what the world believes or says is modest. Many men started coming to church wearing shorts and T-shirts. Many young women think that as long as they are wearing a skirt or dress on Sunday morning, they are good to go. What we all fail to realize is that many dresses and skirts available in the stores today are far from modest!
God wants His people to be separate from the world – to act, talk, walk, and dress like a child of God! In God’s Word we see that revealing the thigh (or too much leg) is associated with shame and nakedness and yet, modern day modesty fashions just keep getting shorter! (Isaiah 47:2-3) If we aren’t careful, we will allow the world to define our standards of modesty. Modern modesty pushes the boundaries and it seems happy for us. We see many young Christians pushing the boundaries of modesty. I think, if they only knew that their actions are revealing a heart of rebellion. What we need to do, is stop pushing the boundaries and limits of modesty. Instead of trying to figure out how far we can go, we should choose to be as unquestionable modest as possible! It is hard to find modest clothing, but God is pleased when we dress in modest apparel to please Him above all!