I was a teenage girl once, and let me tell you, I thought I understood modesty. I thought I knew what was kosher and what wasn’t when it came to my clothes, but honestly, I never really knew. You see, my view of modesty changed drastically when I got married, and I hope that as a fairly newlywed person, I can let you in on a few secrets.
First, let me address worship attire. Maybe it’s an unfair vantage point, having men in elevated positions looking down on your mostly-covered bodies. But from a preacher’s wife perspective, let me tell you, those men can see you when they walk past the pew to assist during the Lord’s Supper or while they’re leading from behind the pulpit. And from that position – they can see everything. If your shirt is low cut, they have to look away. If your skirt/dress is scooting up your leg because you’re sitting down and crossing your legs, they have to look away. If you bend down, the men from the pulpit can see how loose your top fits around the neck.
Obviously the goal of modesty is to be pleasing to God, because that is our aim in everything we do. But secondarily, we are seeking to keep our brothers in Christ pure. Every male member of the Lord’s body is your brother in Christ – regardless of age – and we must do all we can to help them remain pure. I know that the men must do their part in keeping themselves from temptation, but you wouldn’t dangle a doughnut in front of someone who was fasting, so don’t flaunt your body in front of men who are trying to remain pure. Jesus said that it would be better to die before you had the opportunity to cause someone to stumble (Mark 9:42), so take that to heart as you pull on those tight jeans or low cut top. You aren’t invisible. You may feel like the older men don’t look at you, but they can’t help it. They’re men, and you’re showing off the fact that you’re a woman. Instead, pursue looking like Christ (Gal. 2:20) first and foremost.
But after thinking about how pleasing you are to God, would you consider that these men are women’s husbands? This was a thought I never had until I got married, but then it clicked. This man is mine. We are one. And how aware I became, as a young wife, how many women show off far too much skin and curves around my husband. It’s like my senses are heightened when he’s around, because my body is the only one he should be seeing. So please, cover up your body. At the beach, during worship, at youth activities, or anytime you’re in public and around someone’s husband. Especially if it’s someone you plan to be hugging or being close to. As a preacher, my husband gets hugged quite a bit. And if you’re wearing something low, tight, short, see-through, I really don’t want you near him. At all. And I get it, you don’t think about it, because until you get married and learn all of the ins and outs of your man you won’t. You can’t. You aren’t wired like a man. So just trust me, that men do look and they do see and we, as their wives, so desperately want to keep them from seeing anything that might cause them to stumble or even be tempted.
I know being popular is mind-consuming. I know it dictates what you buy and where you buy it from. But would you please consider changing that perspective, and buy clothes with Christ in mind? Would he want you to show off your body to someone who wasn’t your husband? Would he want you to show off your body to someone else’s husband? Would he want you to cause someone He died for to stumble? It takes some training of the mind to start considering these things, but now is the time to do it. And honestly, if you want to be separate and sanctified from the generation you’re a part of, dressing modestly is probably the way to go!
As your sister in Christ, let me praise you for having a heart that is willing to learn and live like Jesus. There are so many ways you could fall away, but I am thankful that you don’t. And because you are strong, I know that you can be pure and modest; it just might take some work– but all of Christianity does. Just know that when you’re modest, you’re helping yourself, you’re helping your brothers in Christ, you’re helping your sisters in Christ because you’re being an example and you’re not tempting their husbands, and above all you’re pleasing God. So yeah, modesty is worth it. And I know you can do it!