Christian Women’s Attitude in Dressing
Women want to look good. And Christian women are no exceptions. God gave us eyes to appreciate beauty. So if we want to dress up to look good, we are merely exercising that gift. Being concern with the clothes we wear is not wrong in itself if done in moderation and propriety.
Yet, dressing is also an area that can lead to immodesty and indiscretion. Many young women and teens who are wearing “short-shorts” for instance, may not be aware that this is immodest simply because it is the fashion trend. Wearing blouses and shirt with scoop neckline, bareback and spaghetti straps were frowned at by conservative women years ago, but now it has become too common that even some Christian women have become comfortable wearing them.
But God is concerned with the way we dress and provided a clear guideline for dressing. I Tim 2:9 states “That women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire”.
I Tim 2:8, Paul was rebuking the men who were quarreling and arguing because they were distracting worship, prayer and teaching. Apostle Paul said that they need to stop fighting and start praying. He also addressed women who in their own ways were also distracting the conduct of worship by the way they dress. Here, Apostle Paul was not rebuking the braided hair and costly attire but the women’s imitation of the dresses of ladies in the Roman court (whose motive is to flaunt their excesses), and also the temple prostitutes (whose motive is to seduce men). When these women arrived in church dressed like these, they distract others from worshipping God. When they dress in rich clothes, they associate themselves with the worldly and thus separating themselves with the poor. When they dress like temple prostitutes, they associate themselves with the lustful and worldly. That is why Paul urges them to dress “in respectable apparel and not in braided hair or gold or costly attire”. The issue was not the braided hair, but the manner of dressing that associates with the world and ungodly values. Clothes that say “look at me” and “I’m with the world”.
God does not oppose women who make themselves beautiful. God delights in beauty. He wants us to look beautiful. The Bible has examples of women who made themselves beautiful: Esther had 12 months of beauty treatments, the bride in the Songs of Solomon was adorned in jewelry, the woman in Prov. 31 was dressed in high-quality clothing.
What Timothy was addressing was the heart, not the clothes themselves. He admonished the women that modesty and self-control should characterize their manner of dressing. Respectable dressing is the result of a godly heart where modesty and self-control reign. But what is modesty, and what is self-control?
Modesty – means to be proper. It means avoiding clothes that are extravagant or sexually enticing. “Modesty is humility expressed in dress. It’s desire is to serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or provoking sensuality”. Immodesty is more than wearing a flesh-revealing outfit. It’s the act of drawing undue attention to oneself. “It is pride, on display by what you wear”.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss said that to be modest is not to expose intimate parts of the body, or emphasize private or attractive parts of the body. The same applies to the wedding dress as well.
Self-control – is restraint for the purpose of purity and to honor God instead of ourselves. Self control and modesty should characterize a godly woman’s dress.
But how can a woman exhibit these two hallmarks of godly dressing? The answer starts from the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals in dressing. Is her intention to show the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to God in worship? Or is it to call attention to oneself, flaunt her beauty or even call the attention of men. A woman who is focused on worshiping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart dictates her wardrobe and appearance. Our manner of dressing is link to our hearts. Our dresses says something about our attitude. Again, modesty is humility expressed in dress.
We are serving others even in the way we dress.
We are serving our brothers when we dress appropriately. They need help to avoid temptation. When women are dress modestly, men will not feel uneasy hanging around with them as compared when women are dressed with more of their flesh exposed. Modest dressing for women makes easier for friendship to be God-centered and for fellowship to be unhindered. Godly men find modest women attractive. They appreciate women who dress with self-control and restraint. For parents with daughters, fathers must also share in the responsibility of teaching modesty. They should be approving what their daughters will be wearing and this should begin early to make training a lot easier.
What are the “real” adornments of women?
Good works are to be the most noticeable adornment in woman who professes godliness. We can ask this question: Are we preoccupied with shopping for clothes or with good works. The gospel message is the motivation for modest dressing. The woman who loves her Savior will avoid being immodest lest her clothes be contrary to the Gospel she is sharing to others. The way we dress is a testimony in itself. If people will look at us, can they see something godly in us? May the clothes we wear be a humble witness to the One who gave Himself as a ransom for us all.
Taken from: Mahaney C.J. “God, My Heart, and Clothes. “ Wordliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. C.J. Mahaney. Ed. Philippines. Lighthouse Books,2006. 117-138.