“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1Corinthians 13:1
Modesty. Always such a hot topic in the church, because, sadly, there is always a lot of room to grow. Though we women know the mandate from 1st Peter 3:1-6 , we can easily fall into the age old temptation to dress in clothing that hugs our curves or clothing that does little to cover certain curves at all.
In his frank and honest manner, pastor/author Douglas Wilson addresses the issues surrounding women in the church who do not cover up appropriately:
“Suppose there is some kind of Christian gathering, and a woman comes to it dressed like she really shouldn’t be. She arrives in a tight top, and proceeds to headlight everyone. What would happen if, after the pastor greeted her, he commented on the size of her breasts? She would be horrified, the people standing nearby would all turn white, someone would bring charges against the pastor before the elders, and so forth. And all because he commented on the two most obvious objets d’art in the room. In this scenario, the one guilty of a breach of decorum would be the one who said something about them, and not the person intent upon displaying them to a bemused public. We are afflicted with a real problem of schizophrenia. We are playing show and tell, but aren’t allowed to tell.”
I agree with Wilson. I agree that women, even Christian women, are often guilty of inappropriately displaying their bodies but I think we often need to go further in exploring why this occurs. You see, I think many women within the church who dress immodestly are caught in a mire deeper than simply wanting to intentionally flaunt themselves. They are not whores who need to be chastised next Sunday. I think many woman grow up without a sense of their value before God. They have not been adequately protected by their earthly fathers so they do not understand the protection God wants to have over their bodies. Perhaps their parents have not shown them their awesome, innate dignity as creatures created in God’s image so they search long and hard for their worth and often end up searching, like the world does, in all the wrong places: men. sex. risqué clothing in order to get male attention.
In this sense, have compassion on many a Christian girl who dresses immodestly. Flee from casting judgment on the woman who might walk into church with a short skirt on and low cut shirt but wonder what self-worth or confidence she may be attempting to gain from her dress. Keep yourself from whispering with others about her clothing or getting caught up in pharisaical concerns about what a stumbling block she may be. Pray for her and love her. Be an example to her of modesty and perhaps she may begin seeking to follow suit. Most importantly, take note of the beauty you see in her character and praise that. Build in her a sense that she is more than her looks. This alone could do wonders to bring about change.
Jasmine Baucham, daughter of pastor/author Voddie Baucham, has some great advice on how to approach a Christian woman dressing immodestly in a way that takes note of her character while also addressing the issue of her dress. She suggests saying, “So and so, you are such a beautiful young woman, and I have loved to see how much you’re growing in grace! Here are some things that I appreciate about you… But I’ve been thinking–when you wear____, it distracts attention from what a beautiful person you really are. God’s Word tells us in 1 Peter 3:1-6 that outward adornment isn’t pleasing in God’s sight unless it reflects the imperishable beauty within…”.
Let me finish with this arresting thought from Jasmine on approaching an immodest dresser with grace and humility, “Are you walking in love, as the Lord has commanded you? Does that beautiful modest dress you’re wearing match an equally beautiful, humble heart? I surely hope it does!”