Perhaps it is because I am attempting to raise five godly young women in an age of ungodliness. Perhaps it is because we struggle to appropriately dress our children modestly in a world of immodesty. Perhaps it is because my children see more skin in church than during the rest of the week. Whatever the reason, I have long been driven to write on the subject of modesty, or, rather the lack thereof, among Christian women (and men!).
Many have written on the subject of how Christians should dress. It has become a hot and legalistic topic. Blessed or cursed with quick guilt, I often find myself falling prey to the legalistic side of the issue, thus discounting the power Christ’s grace has over my life. At one point I began dressing according to how I felt other Christians expected me to dress, rather than how I was moved in my heart to dress out of gratefulness to God, obedience to my husband, and appreciation of the body the Creator gave me.
I am generally not long in the deadly talons of legalism before my husband frees me with the simple message of the power of grace.
He’s the source of my hope and rest,
Fount of all my relief;
Though I live with this thorn in my flesh,
He has given Grace beyond my need.
Grace beyond my need. As Christians we live under the grace of Christ. We have freedom under that grace to live out our love for Him. How do we then live? The Christian grace and love in our hearts should overflow not only into our words and actions, but also into our appearance.
We should seek first to please our Lord in our appearance, and then to please our husbands (or wives). We must also be aware of the effect our choice of clothing may have on those around us. A Christian must be sure her (or his!) appearance is not a stumbling block to others, either as a source of lust or distraction, or as a negative roll model to those whose faith is young. While it is not possible to entirely influence the thoughts of others, a careful analysis of our appearance and the motivation behind what we wear should guide us to appropriate dress and others to a proper thought response.
I have often said we must spend more time looking in the Bible than we do looking in the mirror. Over-adornment in clothing, hair, make-up or accessories often indicates too much time focused on the outside and not enough on what truly matters.
On the other hand, we must not neglect the mirror! Dressing just to be comfortable with no regard for how we come across to others is not a suitable option either. For the mother at home, spending more time dressing for others outside our home than for our spouses and children shows our family members that they are not worth our best efforts. Also, in the area of ministry, our clothing can be a deterrent to others. If others see my dress as drastically different from those around me, they instinctively put up a wall, considering me a religious freak, and I have lost an opportunity to witness. True, I am a Jesus freak, but I would rather they realize that in a positive manner, not simply through predetermined prejudice based on clothing.
As Christians we should be different, but different for the sake of Christ, not for the sake of being different. We must analyze our choices. Are we dressing in flour sacks because we think it will please Christ and earn us heaven (where’s the grace in that?) or are we dressing in gang grunge and black skin-tight jeans because everyone else is doing the same? We are different, so we should appear different, but not so different that we close the doors to the hearts of others.
As with everything, there is a balance. It is not always easy knowing how to dress modestly without becoming bound by legalism or turning judgmental. As you seek to live a modest path, I invite you to join a wonderful servant of Christ as she studies godly modesty. Joy of The Stay-at-Home Missionary is hosting Modest Fashion Week from March 9-13. I encourage all of my visitors to get out of here and be blessed by Joy’s blog! Yes, I am kicking you out! Do come back sometime, however! Before you leave, take a moment to listen to Stephen Bautista’s Grace Beyond My Need. May God’s loving grace shelter and guide you as you commit yourselves to modesty for Christ.