Salt & Light: Apply to Clothing

Salt and Light: Apply to Clothing (Modesty)

This post was originally for a guest post on Jesus Couture’s Web site, but it seems like they’re probably going to take an ungodly amount of time to fix their blog, so I decided to put this up here. It was still nice of them to ask me to write for them, though. I really appreciate the thought. Here goes…

I thought I’d talk about clothing within the church today. Since I assume that a good number of you are Christians reading this, I feel the need to address this very issue—sadly, it has been an issue. I’m sure that you recall that we are called to be the “salt and light” of the earth, which means we are to be set apart from sin and from the world. From what I have been seeing, it seems like a lot of us do not look at all different from the rest of the world.

What I really mean by this is that we dress like everyone else does, we see the same kinds of movies and TV shows without filter, talk the same gossipy talk, walk the same catwalk, etc. I don’t really see any harm in indulging in a lot of secular things—don’t get me wrong! I love my rock music, art films, and French coutouriers as long, as they don’t incite lustful thoughts for my husband or me. However, we should know our boundaries. We can still be part of this world but not of it, according to John 17 and Romans 12:2.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. -John 17:16

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will. -Romans 12:2

I think the problem with a lot of churches now is that we tend to want to adapt to our surroundings to be more inviting to others—this to a fault. To an extent, this is okay. We do need to be inviting. When a church becomes too gimmicky and hip while watering down the message, presumably to “dumb it down” for people they assume would not get the Bible, it is an example of giving in to the world. God’s Word should be straightforward enough for people to understand. This is something that we need to trust Him to take care of.

As far as clothing goes in church, I believe that we women should not be wearing the blouse with the plunging neckline, the mini skirt, or the tight jeans that most every other woman we come across is wearing. Christian men, including pastors and husbands, have confessed about lusting after women, both single and married, in their church. It is true that lust can be triggered by anything regardless of clothing, but there are some types of clothing that invoke this much stronger than others and as a direct cause right then and there. We can assume that men are trying their best to not lust after us, but we have the other half of the equation to think about, which is to try to help them (and ourselves, really) to not think of us (ourselves) as objects of lust. Lust isn’t admiration. It’s far more dangerous than that. It ruins lives and marriages, and it can start for a man from just seeing an inappropriately dressed woman in church and perhaps lead up to his seeking out and viewing pornography. Again, it’s a 2-way street. The man can call upon God and the power of Christ to renew his mind after seeing something that entices him, but the initial thought was presented by a care-free (careless?) christian woman.

If lust were admiration, then lust would care about or respect the person it is admiring. Lust, however, isn’t like that at all. It selfishly partakes of whatever is available then moves on to another (usually more desirable or intense) object of lust. What kind of relationship would it be if lust were the basis of attraction? Temporary and fake.

Most of the things that I write about here are related to personal experience. I was not always a believer in modesty’s importance to the Christian faith. In fact, I walked the catwalk and even talked the gossipy talk just like every other woman in the world, and the main difference was that I believed in Jesus Christ. I was off to a good start. Jesus is the central message behind Christianity. However, I didn’t realize how much my clothing was a stumbling block to people who wanted to believe in Jesus or who already believed in Him. I came to realize that my clothes and some of the other girls’ clothes were distracting men from being pure in thought and serving God with a clean mind and spirit. The other girls in church and I were not helping these men with purity and doing our part of concealing our cleavage and thighs. I had to put God first and go against my natural inclination to dress to attract without any real boundaries.

I know it’s not fun to talk about reality sometimes, but not one good thing ever really happens when we wear clothing that doesn’t conceal sexually enticing areas. Clothing like that makes us feel good, but so does sin. However, modest clothing doesn’t have to be boring and awkward. I really hated and still hate unflattering clothing, but modest clothing can be attractive (though not necessarily designed to attract/distract) without being sexual. Some of the stuff I have on my blog includes photos of what some other girls and I look up to wear that might hopefully give you some inspiration.

If our God is the God of all beauty and creation, then why do you think you have to be frumpy to be modest?

9 thoughts on “Salt & Light: Apply to Clothing

  1. I’m actually having trouble with my Church on this very issue. They are trying too hard to attract outsiders and become way too much “of this world”. I am thinking of checking out my friend’s church which is fully based on the Bible because I’m not feeling inspired. I don’t go to church to hear about world politics; I go to worship God.
    I can also fully relate to what you say about lust having nothing to do with love. Lust is de-humanizing and it’s not only men who feel it. I have recently been intensively asking God to help me with my feelings in this area because they are so bad for me and disrespectful to the object of “desire.” Lust is not something that should be given in to or taken for granted; it should be seen for what it is–a sin.

  2. Great Post! Thank you for addressing this particular issue. The trend nowadays is to follow what is “in” without regard to modesty. Everything seems to be superficial. This post is a reminder to us women especially. Good job! I am now following you! :)

  3. Great post, Rachel! God’s been working on my heart the last few years, that He’s the source of conviction. About two years ago, I would’ve spouted a list of ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ of modesty. I even upset some girls with my oppostition. Since then (and my convictions haven’t changed) God has kind of told me “hey, you know what? I can handle this! You don’t need to tell people what and what not wear. I’m here for a reason!” (maybe not in those words, but pretty close *GRIN*) I do still believe in telling people that are close to me (very close friends, family) that their clothes are appropriate. And if I do tell someone I think there shirt is too tight, or whatever, I try to do it a spirit of love. I think maybe before I was doing it out of pure judgement. I don’t know if I inteded it that way originally, but that’s how it came out.

    You also made a great point with the church part. I remeber reading a book one time that talked about modesty. And in it the girl had worn some too tight pants, and caused a guy in her youth group too fall. He’d been having troubles, and had been asking God to help him. She was raising her arms in worship (and her shirt was too short) and she felt like she should sit down. Turned out he was praying that she’d sit down, so that he could get over the temptatation. Such a great reminder that what we wear DOES affect others!
    A Modest Fashion Blog:

  4. THANK YOU Rachel for this amazing post! I love your honesty and you raise many many valid points- there are so many beautiful clothes out there that don’t require you to show off so much stuff that should be kept private. I am all for being more modest- I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the topic and I’m rethinking even my own wardrobe, as tame as it seems when compared to those of others my age. It mostly irks me when I see this inappropriateness in the church- especially since I grew up not even allowed to wear pants to service (in fact to this day I never have- it’s always been skirts and nice tops or dresses all that reach at least within an inch of the knee- we truly were taught to dress our best for the sanctuary- I came to respect that ideal and even as my church became more informal – I still refuse to wear pants or tight clothing or revealing things- or makeup and jewelry besides lip balm and a watch. I don’t talk much of my religion on my blog but it is really one of the biggest parts of my life. Thanks for being the inspiration you are when it comes to modest clothing.

  5. Thank you! I’ve been trying to find a way to bring this up with my pastor. My eye balls sometimes feel like they’re burning as I’m horrified to see what walks into the church and then I get upset which spoils my experience. Is it ok if I share this entry with my pastor? You said it so brilliantly. The next question begs, how does a pastor set a dress code at church? Maybe put it in the monthly newsletter? I believe that’s his dilemma – he’s such a great man. Can he? Is it legal? Silly questions perhaps, but that will be the first thing he’ll want to know.

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