What (not) to Wear

During a time in the Word this morning, I found myself pausing over the familiar passage in 2 Peter 1:5-8 which says:

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Since I definitely want to be fruitful and productive in my knowledge of Jesus, I went to Strong’s concordance to see what these words meant.  I didn’t even make it past the first verse.

To my surprise, I discovered that the word “goodness” in verse 5 is aretē, which translates “a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; virtue, moral goodness; any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity” (my emphasis added).

I have been troubled over the years at the growing trend toward sexual promiscuity that has infiltrated the church–not just in action, but in loose conversation, in choice of television/movies to watch, in risqué joking, and (especially) in inappropriate clothing.  I have also made poor choices of my own many times in each of these four categories, all the while condemning others around me.  For this, I must repent.

However, if one of the keys to bearing good fruit is modesty then it is worth taking the time to find God’s heart on the subject.  Finding His heart is ultimately abiding in Him, and Jesus said that it is by abiding in Him that we bear fruit and the Father is glorified.

Therefore, the time has come to do a study on Biblical modesty.  Unfortunately, as in all things, it is hard to walk the road between legalism and grace.   One of my primary struggles in life (along with the condemnation/judgment issue) is the deep-rooted conviction that I can earn God’s favor.  As I push into knowing the true love of God, I find I must constantly confess my futile efforts to be worth His love.  So the essential thing to keep in mind here is that what I wear will not affect God’s love for me.  Period.

Furthermore, I have to realign my heart to remember that it’s not about what I can get away with–it’s about how much I can honor God in my clothing choices.  Purity is more than what I wear.  My clothing is merely the expression of what is in my heart; and this is God’s primary concern.

We all have different standards, and I want to know yours; so I’m throwing these questions out to my friends–how do you define Biblical modesty?  What Scripture do you use to help decide what is appropriate to wear?

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9 Responses to What (not) to Wear

  1. je lillie says:

    I love that modesty is not just about what we wear. It is an issue of heart. A person can be dressed entirely appropriately and still be immodest in thought word or deed. Modesty to me is a mindset that is set to guard the hearts of others. Modesty is that in me which leads other people to think more wholesomely because of what thoughts my behavior inspires.

    • Chrystal says:

      “A person can be dressed entirely appropriately and still be immodest in thought word or deed.” — that is the crux of the problem, unfortunately. I fervently believe we need a good dose of reality in what holiness is supposed to be.

  2. cherish says:

    romans 14 [esp v13-23] – replace eating with dressing/wearing and food with clothes

    just as the food itself is not unclean – the sin [uncleanliness/impurity] is to do what causes your brother to stumble [v20] so the clothes/fabrics themselves are not inappropriate, but any way in which it causes your brother to stumble [guess that means we really need to be aware of the things that turn guys on, and from the guy’s point, what turns the girls on]

    i know that’s not specific, but it’s the way we should frame/approach it (:

    • Chrystal says:

      I like that substitution =) We can’t turn our relationship with God into a formula. “Loving my neighbor” includes educating myself on what I do that could be offensive to him/her; and not compromising his/her relationship with my freedom.

  3. Vega says:

    Hello Chrystal, I don’t come by your blog often but I happened to be here today, so I apologize for the lateness of this comment. =)

    The other commenters have already pointed out great Scriptures! I think a good position to evaluate ourselves from is this: We’re ultimately called to serve each other in the body of Christ (and also serve those not in the body). Therefore, How am I serving my brothers in Christ (and those not in Christ too) through the way I dress? Practically, examine yourself of course: what is your intent for dressing in a certain way? In other words, when a man looks at you, what do YOU want him to think? Furthermore, it may be worth asking a trusted brother in Christ, or your biological brother and/or father, what goes through his mind when you wear a certain kind of clothing. Because he may have a different answer to you, and what you think is modest enough may not be for him! Of course, he’s responsible before God for his own heart and actions, but by your conduct you can be a great help or hindrance to him. This article, written by a male pastor, may be a little blunt, but it frames the situation very well.

    I think the way to walk the line of holiness and not fall into mere legalism is to study Scripture, then examine one’s own intent and heart, and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the true intents of your heart, quicken the Scriptures in you so that they become Living Word, and give you grace to live them out and explain your intentions to others. I believe that if the Word is Living in you, it will never become the dead letter of the law, which is what legalism is after all.

    Blessings to you.

    • Chrystal says:

      A wonderful synopsis! The modesty/purity issue seems to be polarizing when it should be simple–as you said, “How am I serving my brothers in Christ (and those not in Christ too) through the way I dress?” and again “what is my intent for dressing in a certain way?”

      Thank you so much for posting your thoughts.

  4. Daniel Michael says:

    Chrystal, my great desire is to draw your precious readers back to the words of Jesus. Jesus said in Mathew 6: 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
    Chrystal, everything pertaining to our life – our words, our deeds and the way we dress – must be weighed against these holy words of Jesus, Our precious.
    pure LORD. Truly God longs for us to show Him honour by dressing prudently at all times.

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