(This is written for women who are Christ followers and believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God that is the standard by which we are to live.)
This topic keeps coming up lately…probably because it’s one that God has been working on me with over the past few years. Instead of “ignoring” articles that talk about modesty to avoid conviction, I’ve been taking notice and reading them. Lately, I’ve read a few different articles written by godly women with different view points, and I’ve seen comments and reactions that are all over the place. Women who are offended by women saying we shouldn’t wear tight workout pants, women who are offended by other women wearing too-short skirts to church, etc. Here’s the thing. If you are a woman who is in Christ, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. The SAME Spirit that is in me, and in all of our other sisters in Christ. Philippians 2:1-3 says, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
We have the same Spirit, therefore we are to be of the same mind…united…intent on one purpose. We should all be living to please our Father in heaven. This includes how we dress. We are “…ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us”, according to 2 Corinthians 5:20. If I am an ambassador for Christ I need to dress like one! I have recently gone from a bikini wearing girl to a more modest swimsuit girl. I’m talking, it’s only been weeks here. I have always felt that I was “free” to wear a bikini, and if people didn’t like it or approve of it…too bad. Well…that leads to the next point.
The next part of this verse says “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…”. Guilty!! There are times when I’ve felt really good about the shape my body was in and dressed in a way that showed it off. Skirts too short…tight workout pants…teeny bikinis…all the while knowing I would get some looks from the opposite sex and maybe some scowls and envious thoughts from the same sex. That is pure selfishness and empty conceit. It may seem silly to think that we shouldn’t wear tight workout pants out and about, but if we’re getting real here and digging down deep, somewhere, deep down, we’re hoping we might turn a head or two. And one of those heads might be a friend’s husband, or a man struggling with lust issues. Because of my selfishness and empty conceit I could be “causing a brother to stumble.” 1 Corinthians 8:13 says “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” We can exchange the words food and meat with “bikini” or “skin-tight pants” or “shirt that’s too low”. If we’re only thinking about what we want (to wear, in this case), and not about how it affects others, that is selfishness. If we feel that we have the right to wear a bikini because we’ve worked really hard on our abs, that is empty conceit. The last line in this verse says “…with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” (Emphasis mine.)
The other big issue here is, are we dressing in a way that is an example for our kids? If we have girls, are we teaching them to dress in a way that draws attention to our bodies? If so, they will be attracting the WRONG kinda guy a few years down the road. We should be teaching them that “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30), and “…let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:4). If we have boys, we need to be dressing in the way we hope the woman that will be his future wife will dress. We need to teach them to search for and wait for a woman that is, above all, beautiful on the inside. If we wear bikinis and short skirts, he will feel that if his girlfriend dresses that way, well, “it’s ok, my mom dresses that way.” Our daughters will think it’s ok to dress that way because…”mom wears it!!”
Sisters in Christ, instead of defending or judging what other women are wearing, we need to start with ourselves and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If we all were to start praying from Psalm 139:24 and asking the Holy Spirit to “see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”, He will guide us. The sanctification process is NOT always easy!!! I just heard a Chris Tomlin song, and there’s a line that says “You wrestle with the sinner’s heart.” If God is wrestling with our heart, that’s saying that we’re not always submitting to Him the way we ought to. Wrestling means “to combat an opposing tendency or force”, or “to engage in or as if in a violent or determined struggle”. When God is working in our hearts it will be a struggle! Galatians 5:17 says “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Our flesh wants things that are not what God wants! And…on top of the battle of flesh vs. Spirit…the enemy will make us feel like we are acting ridiculous.
The other thing we need to remember is, we are all at different parts on our journey of being sanctified. As we are daily being conformed to the image of Christ, (2 Corinthians 3:18), we will daily look more like the woman that God sees! That is the woman I want to be!! A month ago I was wearing a bikini, ignoring the still small voice of my Father telling me that I was not dressing like the daughter and ambassador of the King of Kings. I was not being a good example of a godly woman. As we daily spend time in the presence of our Father, He will do a constant work in our hearts, and our outward actions and appearance will change to look more like His Son, Jesus!!
Matthew 23:26 says to “…first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” As we spend time in God’s word and humbly take advice from wise and godly people we will become cleansed “by the washing of water with the Word” (Ephesians 5:26). We must also have grace with sisters who are at a different part of their journey than we are and pray that God will do a work in their hearts. God has given us plenty of grace and we must do the same. We also can’t be afraid to share truth in love, but we must do it graciously, knowing that we ourselves are not perfect, and the only reason we are where we are is because God reached His hand down and pulled us out of the pit of destruction. Psalm 40:2 says “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
“May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord!”
2 Peter 1:2