When I was writing my book Answering the Guy Questions, I interviewed many godly young men to get their perspective on young women today. One of my questions was, “How can girls help guys become the men God created them to be?” Without hesitation, each of the young men responded, “By dressing more modestly!”
Christ-focused young men are praying for young women who will dress in a way that assists a man’s mental purity rather than tempts him to compromise. But as fashion trends become more and more sensual, many Christian girls feel they have no choice but to comply with the culture. It’s all too easy to justify dressing provocatively, simply because “it’s not as bad as what some girls are wearing!” But what is God’s standard for modesty?
I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly (1 Tim. 2:9).
What It Means to Be Modest
The word “modestly” in this verse means “with shame and bashfulness”—not shamelessly flaunting our bodies, but exuding a sense of guardedness even in the way we dress. The word “discreetly” means “to keep hidden.” Our body is not our own—it has been bought with the precious blood of Christ (1 Cor. 6:19–20). Our body is to be spent for the glory of our King, not for the selfish pleasure of lustful men or to gratify a desire to be noticed by the opposite sex.
It’s easy to assume that dressing modestly means wearing drab, shapeless, unfeminine clothes that make us extremely unattractive. But God’s pattern doesn’t bring oppression and ugliness; rather it brings liberty and beauty.
A young woman who exudes true feminine beauty dresses in a way that reflects the joy and radiance that Christ has placed within her soul. Her goal is to point people’s eyes to Jesus and not to herself. She is modest and beautiful at the same time—not with a selfish, sensual beauty, but with a heavenly loveliness that flows from her relationship with Christ.
Let’s Get Practical
So how do we make this practical? Here is one principle that I’ve found helpful: areas of the body that are associated with sensuality should be saved for your husband’s eyes only. With modern clothing trends, this can be easier said than done! But if you are willing to put a little thought, effort, and creativity into your wardrobe, it is possible to dress modestly and stylishly at the same time.
I have found that with some careful searching, it’s quite possible to find stylish, looser fitting pants and skirts that are feminine and flattering without being revealing or sensual. These may be hard to find in the teen section where every pair of jeans is labeled “ultra-low-cut-stretch,” but some of the young professional stores often have good options. Or try local resale shops if you are on a tight budget. I’ve learned that it’s better to have one or two pairs of classy, feminine jeans or pants than a whole closet full of super-tight ones that only get tighter every time you wash them!
Another great option is to dress with layers—layering longer T-shirts under short or loose-fitting tops or sewing an extra layer of cute fabric on the bottom hem of a slightly-too-short dress.
Whatever your personal style or clothing choices, make it your goal that when a guy looks at you, he will notice the light of Christ in your eyes and the radiance of your smile rather than being distracted by the outline of your body. Dressing with selfless dignity honors your God-given femininity, honors the men around you, and most importantly, honors Jesus Christ.