By Dennis C. Abernathy
Today it is quite common for people to dress immodestly. People of the world think little of it. But the Christian is not to be “conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). Modesty is to characterize the Christian. “In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Tim. 2:9-10). From this passage you will notice that a Christian woman has a godly profession. It is evident that one cannot profess godliness while at the same time dressing ungodly.
A close study of this verse will show the censure of wearing gaudy or sensually appealing clothing. One may be guilty of this by “overdressing” which is motivated by pride and vanity. But primarily (especially at this time of the year) we are concerned with a lack of dress. As one good brother put it: “At this season when little boys are thinking of going barefooted their older brothers and sisters frequently ‘out-strip’ them by baring considerably more than a foot.”
It is a shame the way many dress today. But I think an even greater shame is the fact that many Christians join right in with such ungodliness. The woman who would be seen in public with shorts, halters, mini-clothes, see-through blouses, slacks which are so tight the under garments can be seen, etc., has not learned the principles of modesty! Clothing that is bold, daring and down-right risque should not be a part of the wardrobe of the Christian. Excuses, situations, and circumstances will not justify such.
Young people (young ladies especially) need to be taught modesty at home. If mothers and fathers do not teach their children modesty, the world will teach them immodesty. An integral part of teaching is setting the right kind of example before them. A mother cannot teach her daughter to be modest if she is constantly seen with little on in public. She cannot teach and emphasize the importance of the “hidden man of the heart” (1 Pet. 3:1-6), while exposing and emphasizing her physical body to the gaze of the world.
Pure thinking is to be encouraged (Phil. 4:8). How can Christians encourage such and at the same time dress in such a way as to discourage the same? How can one “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18), while dressing in such a way that encourages that very sin? If a man “looketh on a woman to lust after her,” he commits a sin (Matt. 5:27-28). But at the same time, how can the woman be guiltless if she dresses in such a way that invites that kind of look?
After all is said, and all of the excuses are offered (“We can’t define modesty … .. Everybody dresses this way, so no one thinks anything about it,” “I just want to keep cool,” etc.) the Bible will still teach that Christians are to dress modestly, and all immodesty will still be sin and ought to be repented of. My fellow preachers, dust off the sermons on this subject and, my fellow Christian, let us set the example for others to follow.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 11, p. 321
June 4, 1987