Conversation Peace

What Not to Wear

| April 7, 2014


Is it time to update your wardrobe? I’ve updated this popular article and included a new pin-able “3 Wardrobe Guidelines” info-graphic at the end. Make sure to post the Pin-bit of Wisdom on your Pinterest “my-style” or “fashion-looks” board . . . to remind you what the Bible says about what and what not to wear.

In 1 Timothy 2:9, the Lord provides three guidelines that help Christian women figure out what and what not to wear: “She adorns herself with respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” Let’s examine these three guidelines to help us ensure that our looks are in good order, properly arranged, and ready to display Christ.

Kosmio:  Is It Becoming or Unbecoming?

Kosmio is the descriptive form of the Greek noun kosmos (to put in order, trim, adorn, or decorate), which is related to our English word cosmos—the universe. The Greeks regarded the universe to be an ordered, integrated, harmonious whole. Kosmos is the opposite of chaos. So when Paul told women that their adornment should be kosmio, he meant that like the universe, all the parts should be harmoniously arranged with the other parts. It should be “becoming”—that is, appropriate or fitting.

Given the context, I believe Paul was implying that our adornment ought to be becoming on a number of different levels. First and foremost, your clothing ought to be becoming, fitting to, and consistent with your character as a child of God. But it also ought to be becoming to your body type, becoming to your femininity, becoming to your husband, becoming to the other clothes you are wearing, and becoming to the occasion and place you intend to wear it.

There’s a tremendous amount of guidance in that small word, becoming. It challenges you to evaluate your clothes, shoes, purses, makeup, and hair from multiple angles as part of the harmonious, integrated whole of your life—to line up the seen with the unseen and the temporal with the eternal. It challenges you to bring a cosmic perspective to bear on your everyday decisions.

I like the word Paul chose. It has enormous implications. Kosmio means that a Christian woman’s “look” ought to be consistently put together, inside and out. This challenges those who put an undue emphasis on external appearance as well as those who neglect their personal appearance. It’s a corrective to women who dress extravagantly. It’s a corrective to those who dress seductively. But it’s also a corrective to those who think that “holy” means frumpy, ugly, unfeminine, and out of style. Becoming indicates that running around in baggy jeans and T-shirts all the time is just as inappropriate as being obsessed with stylish clothing. It means that a woman’s appearance ought to be put together nicely. It ought to be pleasant and attractive—on the inside and the outside.

Aidous:  Is It Decent or Indecent?

The second word, aidous, is based on the Greek term for shame and disgrace. The word is a blend of modesty and humility. When I think about a word picture that personifies this concept, I think of approaching God with eyes that are downcast. It involves a sense of deficiency, inferiority, or unworthiness. It suggests shame, but also a corresponding sense of reverence and honor toward rightful authority. It’s the opposite of insolence, imprudence, disrespect, or audacity. Downcast eyes are the opposite of defiant eyes.

So does dressing with your eyes downcast mean that you are self-conscious? No. It means that your clothing tells the truth about the gospel. Your clothing shows the world that Jesus covers your shame and makes you decent. Your clothes cover your nakedness as the clothing of Christ covers your sin. Dressing “with eyes downcast” means that you choose clothes that are decent in His eyes . . . not clothes that are provocative, seductive, and that honor nakedness.

When you dress decently, you recognize that God ordained clothes to cover, and not draw attention to, your naked skin. You cover up out of respect for Him, the gospel, your Christian brothers—and out of respect for who He made you to be. Decency means you agree with the Lord about the true purpose of clothing and set aside your self-interest to dress in a way that exalts Christ. So in that dressing room trying on that skirt, take time to sit, bend, and stretch in front of that mirror, and ask yourself, Is this skirt decent? Does it do what it should do? Does it properly cover me up? Does it showcase my underlying nakedness—or exalt the gospel of Christ?

Sophron: Is It Moderate or Excessive?

The final thing to ask yourself about clothing is whether it is moderate or excessive. Paul uses the Greek word sophrosunes (sophron). It means “of a sound mind; curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate.”

Sophron is a word that has a lot of meaning that’s hard to capture in just one English word. It’s derived from two Greek words. The first part of the word, “so-,” comes from sozo, which means “safe” or from soas, which means “sound.” The second part, phren, means “mind.” It’s sometimes written as “fren” and is found in the English language in words like schizophrenia, phrenitis (inflammation of the brain), frenzy, and frenetic. Phren likely comes from the ancient Greek word phrao, which means “to rein in or curb.”  Essentially, sophron means having a safe (saved), reigned-in mind, or a sound mind. It’s a person who acts like they’re in their right mind, spiritually speaking.

Sophron contains the idea of restraint. The last syllable, “phren or fren,” likely comes from the ancient Greek word phrao, which means “to rein in or curb.” Interestingly, Modern Greek uses the word “phrena/frena” for car brakes. What’s more, “handbrake” in Spanish is “freno de mano.” In each instance, the word for “brake” stems from the same ancient Greek root as the second syllable of sopron.  It’s a powerful word-picture:  dressing sophron involves putting on the brakes.

The word indicates that our adornment should be reigned-in and sound; reasonable and not crazy. We ought to rein in our impulses and avoid extremes in fashion, hairstyles, and makeup. We also ought to avoid spending crazy amounts of money or stuffing our closets full of crazy quantities of clothing. We ought to govern our wardrobe choices with a sense of moderation, simplicity, and self-control.

If the outfit is crazy extreme, crazy expensive, or if it’s crazy for you to be buying another one, then you ought to pass it up. Understanding the purpose of clothing and asking yourself the three questions, Is it becoming? Is it decent? and Is it moderate? will help you figure out how to dress. And don’t forget to include your “Helper” in the process. The Holy Spirit is an invaluable source of assistance when it comes to figuring out whether or not your appearance glorifies God. If your heart is right and you seek His guidance, He will be your personal wardrobe consultant and teach you what and what not to wear.

© Mary A. Kassian. Adapted from Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, pp. 103-108.


Three great biblical wardrobe guidelines to help you decide what and what not to wear


Comments (83)

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  1. Anne says:

    Great message to keep me concious not to go to extreems of any side. This is a very serious issue which is not being checked out in most churches today. Thankyou for reaching out to many of us women of today. Its true that we ought to involve the Holy Spirit in all we do. I have attended a lunch hour fellowship today and the teaching was on letting the counselor do His work in our lives. Where there is no counsel, purposes are frustrated. This directly means that with counsel they are accomplished. All round even in our dressing. Thankyou very much.

  2. Brenda says:

    How this message is needed even in Christian circles.
    I see how some Christian women dress to come to church, in jeans that are too tight, and tops that display breasts that should be covered, and what a distraction it is while I’m singing praises to God. And I can only imagine the distraction it is to the “brothers in Christ”!

  3. Julie Burkett says:

    Always love that each spring as the weather gets warmer, it is a good time to remind ourselves and our daughters about modesty. Thank you for this wonderful reminder!

  4. Denise E says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog. THis is very important to know and to apply and to teach our younger even when they are still little.
    thank you for sharing.

  5. Amanda says:

    Thanks for posting this! Over the past couple months the Lord has convicted me on the way I dressed (generally unkept) and I’ve since filled my closet with clothes that take all of the guess work out of getting ready in the morning, there’s nothing too short, to low or too baggy anymore it wasn’t easy parting with some of my favorite baggy clothes, but I’ve found it easier to feel like up too being a woman when I adorn myself as one.

  6. Lynn says:

    In the day that we live when some men are wanting to be women and women are glorified when they act, look and behave like men, I know that God has always, throughout the Bible, shown His desire for His people to be separate and set apart for HIm. God doesn’t change! If you study the word abomination in the Old Testament and how God always had a separation for men and women in dress, you will be surprised what you will find. An abomination to God doesn’t change. If it was abominable for women to dress like men in the Old Testament, it is just as abominable to look dress like a man in our dispensation of Grace.

    I know society has accepted so many things and if we are honest, they are now trying to get us to accept horrid things that are definitely an abomination to God, then why can’t we just as easy see that God likes a distinct difference in men and women. We have different roles and when we are out of sync, things don’t go as well as they could and there is a ripple effect in our children.

    We, as His church, should take all scripture and seek His truth no matter how unpopular.

    I agree with what someone wrote here in the comments, how can you go to church or the grocery store, for that matter, after getting dressed in the morning and every crevice is exposed and when you bend over, everything is hanging out and have no conscience about it. Teenagers see it, young men and mature men see it and it is wrong on the part of ladies to know how men are effected by sight and flaunt ourselves in front of them as if we are innocent. We are not innocent when we don’t take our modesty or lack thereof seriously. It is serious. Yes, people can just pass it off as “going to extremes” but if you shake yourself and look at the pornography in our society and what it has done to pollute the good sense of men and boys everywhere, we might think differently and be much more prudent in the way we dress.

    Great article today and one that can be delved into even deeper if one desires. Thank you for addressing this ongoing issue.

  7. grammy4him says:

    My daugher and son-in-law started setting “boundries” when my granddaughter was tiny. She has never dressed her in ‘spagetti’ straps on her tops and dresses, and they have rules for how low the tops can be. She is twelve now and knows how to dress modestly. Thanks for sharing this great reminder for all ages!

  8. Jackie Walker says:

    Thanks for the article. I’ve been a little grieved at what I’ve seen in church lately. Dresses that may not be too bad when standing straight in front of a mirror are not quite as modest when the hard winds are blowing outside. And, please, moms, shorts would be a good idea under these short skirts. The church I attend has balconies that have open rails around them. I have seen more than I care to, and I desperately don’t want my husband and son faced with that every Sunday.

  9. K says:

    I often wondered if there would ever be a way to address this to women in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s in our church. It is fairly affluent, and the clothing is fairly expensive, and yet, can be revealing all the same. Not all women mind you, but a good portion. Very high heels, snug dresses, bare arms, cleavage, shorter skirts, lots of expensive jewelry, exposed skin, and so on.

    And then we have the complete opposite….women who dress twice their age, unflattering, baggy, turtle necks tops with to-the-ankles denim, out of style jumpers, no style with hair, and no make-up at all. These are the type of women that non-christian women are “afraid of becoming” when considering a Christian lifestyle when they become a Christian.

    Such extremes, and it seems everyone is turning a blind eye to it. I will be honest and admit that I was afraid of being “one of those” (the dowdy women) when I became a Christian not too long ago and yet, I don’t fit in with the wealthy ones, “let it all hang out” either.

    Does anyone else see these two extremes, or is it just me?

    • Hanneke says:

      K, I’m so with you! I too struggle with the two extremes! I’m sure that is one reason God has given me four girls, so that they will help me with some modest fashion sense in years to come! I need some help to dress feminine but yet practical.

    • ash says:

      bear arms?

    • Denise says:

      My church is the same way except for nobody even dresses in baggy clothes. All the women from ages 12-50’s dress very immodesty. I have felt the same way that you have.

    • Jodi says:

      K its not just you I have seen the both extremes and I just dont get it…..somtimes I see some women I just want to give them a makeover lol…but at the end of the day I prefer the frumpy look than the tight revealing outfits.

  10. Teresa Forrester says:

    As mothers, we are not teaching our children these things. Modest clothing applies to our boys and girls. Boys run around shirtless regularly. Girls were shorty shorts. Partial nudity is now accepted in our homes, and churches. This must stink in the nostrils of a righteous God! Oh that women and men, boys and girls, would seek God’s Word for direction in everything, including dressing.

  11. Lynn says:

    Dowdy christians who go to an extreme to hide their sex is repelling. God made man and He made woman. They are different. The balance we need to observe in the church is going to be a fine line. A woman needs to be modest and yet at the same time she doesn’t need to ‘hide’ her femininity by wearing baggy, out of style jumpers and looking like she is on a hayride. A woman can be modest, feminine and clothed. It takes an honest heart, a desire to be a daughter of the King and a willingness to know His word on this issue. I personally love to see women who are well kept, modest, but not dowdy and uncaring, prudent women who love their Maker. Sometimes women in the church can have an attitude that hey, “I am married, got my husband and now he has to live with who I am,” and then do nothing to make herself appealing. I don’t think that is what God means when He wants His ‘bride’ to be modest. That is a point too, a bride would not slop herself together. I don’t think she would go around in jogging pants and a wrinkled t-shirt either, maybe if you are painting your basement or something, that would be appropriate. Consider what a daughter of the King would be like, also His bride…that may help in the modesty area and the upkeep of oneself. These are just things to consider.
    Remember, one can dress like a lady, be a lady, be modest and still becoming. One just has to find that balance and look to His Word for clarification.

  12. Teneshya A. Miller says:

    I remember when I was young I would sit next to my mother as she put on her makeup and coiffed her hair in the bedroom mirror. I always thought that she was beautiful. My mom taught me how to be modest. She taught me the importance of taking care of my appearance without being vain or overly obsessed. She did not condone wild hair styles, loud and excessive makeup, and overly strappy, extremely high heels. Yes, even shoes can be sexy and present an image that is less than wholesome, especially now. I am 30, and the young women my age are wearing ridiculously high heels that they cannot walk in and that makes them look quite frankly like they should be dancing in a gentleman’s establishment. It grieves me to see so many women, young and old, not dressing modestly but also behaving immodestly as well. I am thankful that someone is still preaching the truth of God’s word even in our “modern” society.

  13. Frank Ferguson says:

    Good discussion, but please don’t make “rules” … Godly people can wear this but not that … Refrain judging other people’s decisions. Consider Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 7:3-5, Romans 14 etc., and quietly lead by your own example and choices.

  14. Cheryl B says:

    My struggle is, although my husband respects my desire to dress modestly and wants our 11 and 12 year girls to, he likes my tops to be tighter than appropriate. Nothing low cut, but tight tops are very shapely.
    I don’t want to trip my brothers in Christ with lustful thoughts.

  15. Karla says:

    What a great post. It really summed up why I sew more clothes for my girls then purchase. We are on a very tight budget and it is important to me that they look like little girls (they are 3 & 5). I strive to watch how I dress because they notice and comment. It is important to me that I am reflecting Christ and not the world. This is a struggle for me because I am so naturally vain and part of me would love to buy the fancy expensive shoes, yet I know that is why the Lord has never equipped me financially to do it because it would truly be a temptation.

    Thank you again for the post it was so encouraging!

  16. Kevin says:

    “When you dress decently, you recognize that God ordained clothes to cover, and not draw attention to, your naked skin.”

    I would suggest when it comes to “decent or indecent,” from a man’s point of view, that modesty deals not just with “naked skin” but it also deals with shape. You can cover your skin but still be extremely provocative or sensual. Modesty will likely not accompany tight clothing or clothing that follows one’s curves closely, as a general rule.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe this is the ‘religion’ I adhere to. Once again, I find myself ashamed of Christians, though I am a Christian minister. God is not my personal shopper. Nor does he care a jot what I wear. The people who write judgemental rubbish like this either have one heck of a warped idea of who God is, and what his priorities are, or they have one heck of an inflated sense of self importance if they think that what they wear on a day-to-day basis figures anywhere in God’s consciousness. Can’t you just see God sitting around thinking “Hmm, what shall I do today… comfort the sick, and war torn, or decide what a group of rich, western women should wear, and judge them for wearing mini skirts…” I somehow don’t think so. Christ’s death and resurrection for the sins of humanity has nothing to do with how we dress. Femininity has nothing to do with how we dress. My walk with Christ has nothing to do with how I dress. I defy anyone to tell me otherwise. You people need to grow up, and re-evaluate your relationships with God.

    If you want to honour God, do it the way Jesus commanded: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Lk 10:27)

    The words written in this article aren’t words of love, they’re words of judgement. More words from Jesus: Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Lk 6:37)

    • Ken says:

      anonymous – you write about not judging, but you yourself are judging the article and those who have responded to it! I thought it well-written and avoiding legalism and rules. I also think it clear that God does mind what we wear, or there wouldn’t be the passages in the NT being discussed here or the prohibition of wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. You surely don’t want to ‘defy God to tell you otherwise’!

      Loving your neighbour as yourself will include taking into account the effect of clothing, especially the effect of what women wear on men. This is where your ‘relationship with God’ is expressed in more practical terms – in how you deal with fellow believers on earth. Causing men to stumble isn’t loving them, there is far more to loving than having nice feelings.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Causing men to stumble” – men are going to “stumble” regardless of what we wear. I agree that we shouldn’t dress like a hooker when we go to church but neither should we obsess over our outfits either. Men need to learn how to control their own thoughts and urges. If a spaghetti strap tank top is causing a man’s mind to wander, it’s going to wander if that woman or girl is wearing a t-shirt, a modest dress, or a burka. Women shouldn’t be shamed into their wardrobes. Men need to start taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions.

        • jared says:

          I like the way you think “Anonymous” and I have a few thoughts myself.

          Why is it that we can talk about sexuality with our piers outside of the church building and not inside? I thought we were created Naked and Unashamed. At least I was. Putting cloths on was something that I was taught to do. Clothing is a human construct. I guess I understand why these articles are written. Since humans made clothing I guess that gives them/us the right to talk and make rules about it. Don’t put God’s signature on it though. Is it the clothing that makes the person or is the systems of belief? If your desire is to shut down your neighbor based off the material that hugs their body I think you’re wasting all of our time.

          My issue from this belief system stems from the following:
          Saul who use to kill Christians for their faith and beliefs changed his name to Paul and maintained his hardnosed efforts to change people to believe in his belief system. Scare tactics! Paul’s linage continues through Timothy. This article continues the legalism.

          I walked away from the “religion” that these kinds of people find so “compelling.” It’s these kinds of discussions that have nothing to do with Jesus’ words. Saying that the Lord made these standards and dress codes is rubbish. These are not Jesus’ words. These are Timothy’s words. There is a difference and I wish the Christian followers could see that. I’ve heard the idea that the bible is filled with words that are God breathed. I think God continues to breathe. I’m still breathing. Didn’t God give me breath?

          Keep speaking your thoughts. They are a breath of freshness.

        • Beth says:

          I could not agree with you more, anonymous. Your words are a breath of fresh air indeed!

          Women need to stop being blamed for the thoughts and actions of men. It comes dangerously close to the “she was asking for it” mentality that rape victims have to deal with. Why is it always a woman’s fault if a man “stumbles” or sins? Is he a 5 year old child or is he an adult? I think it’s insulting to both sexes to suggest that women must keep themselves pure and modest at all times or else the men won’t be able to control themselves. And I honestly don’t understand why this entire topic is such a big deal within so much of conservative Chrisitian subculture. It’s so superficial, judgemental and a complete waste of time, as far as I’m concerned.

        • Barbara J. Godding says:

          so what is your point are you telling women that they can’t even wear pants you are a bunch of busybodies Mind your own business

    • Tanya says:

      The whole point of the article was about loving others through how you dress. Women who selfishly flaunt everything they have because they deem it their “right” are not loving others; they aren’t taking into account that men are men and that many of them have wives they strive to be faithful to in action and thought.

      And Christians are indeed called to judge each other, but not the world. This is called discernment for one. 1 Corinthians 5:9 – 13 talks about this concept.

    • Wendy says:

      Anonymous, you are a *true* Christian. Thank you so much for bringing a voice of reason to this otherwise laughable conversation!

      • Jamie says:

        Anonymous, I DO get where you are coming from. But I also do not think we should totally disregard what God has to say about clothing. And wendy, by saying that Anonymous is a “true” christian is absolutely ridiculous. You guys talk about how you hate when people judge. And here you are, claiming that everyone else on here except anonymous isn’t a true christian. Sounds extremely hypoctritical to me, If I’m being honest.
        Ithinkit’s all about your heart. It’s not about a set of rules about the exact pieces of clothing that are right and wrong. But when you ARE buying clothing, you should be examining your heart to see what is your true intention. I’m guilty of this. There are times I’m tempted to wear spaghetti straps or shorty shorts but if I REALLY dig into my heart, it’s because I want attention from guys.
        Im NOT saying that everyone who does this are terrible people and are going to hell. So please, anonymous and everyone else who agrees with him/or her, stop making it seem like the rest of the people on here are being judgemental. We all can agree that all of us love Jesus (hopefully) and have our hearts in the right place. Nobody is the “bad” one or the “good” one.
        “For ALL have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” One of my favorite verses becasue it talks about all of us sinning. Nobody is perfect, and as long as we are here on this earth, we will never be. So for people to look down on others for things is like the man in the Bible who sees the speck in someone elses eye but doesn’t consider the plank in his own. This is wrong. But when christians get together and try to, to the best of thier ability, decipher God’s word and what he has to say about clothing, they are not trying to impose anything on anybody or say that anyone who doesn’t follow what they say is stupid. They are just explaining what the Bible has to say about the issue.
        It is not entirley guys faults, and it is not entirley girls faults. Women should dress modestly for thier christain brothers, and christian brothers should learn to control thier thoughts for thier christian sisters. Plain and simple. No one is to blame. Sin is to blame, and all we can do as women and men is work together to accomplish God’s perfect and holy will to the best of our ability.

  18. Rhiannon says:

    So, does that mean it’s bad to have a lot of clothes, even if you don’t buy them all?

    • Camille says:

      Hey, Rhiannon! I have a friend with the same name as you! She has lots of clothes (tons!!!) and lots of shoes (I think upwards of 30 pairs). Even though I rarely see her wear the same outfit twice, I’m not attracted to her and don’t seek her friendship because she wears lots of amazing clothes, but because she loves Jesus. I think that’s what is most important. :)

    • Denise says:

      No the point that she is trying to make s that you shouldn’t spend so much money on clothing that it becomes excessive.

  19. Aimee Byrd says:

    I really enjoyed this chapter in your book. It is also a reminder that if our clothing points to our lack of righteousness and Christ’s sufficient righteousness, then we have to be careful with how we judge others. It is just as hard, or maybe harder, not to be self-righteous about so-called modesty. I understand the need to be specific in raising daughters, but not everyone thinks spaghetti straps are immodest. These matters require inner reflection and redemptive engagement.

    • Kathleen says:

      I agree Aimee! There are many teachings in Scripture about how clothing and appearance relates to our hearts, and it’s very important to consider how the way we dress both reflects our faith and affects others. There are some obvious examples that most Christians would agree are inappropriate, not because of legalism but because they clearly indicate a desire to show off or be seductive. However, you’re right that it does become tricky when we get down to very specific issues. I carefully choose clothing that is not too tight, goes down to my knees, and is not very low-cut: my own choices about what I consider modest. But I think tank tops and spaghetti straps are perfectly fine. Someone else will consider it fine to wear tasteful shorts halfway to their knees. I’m not arguing for moral relativism, but we certainly do have to *think*, and use discernment. I think in general, we adults know the motives we have for wearing something, and we can keep ourselves from wearing clothing that we are using for a purpose other than honoring our Lord, our fellow people, and our bodies. We have to teach our children to do the same.

  20. Mark H. says:

    Anonymous @ 11:15:

    Quite clear from your note is that you care not a bit about the effect of your clothing on the other people you worship or hang around with.

    Do you believe the Bible is God’s word? Because it, not me, tells you otherwise. The passage that Mary references at the beginning of the post makes it clear that Paul (you do accept Paul’s words, don’t you?) says that we MUST care about such things.

    It is easy to become legalistic about things like how we dress, and we can interpret differently. But the scripture is saying SOMETHING here – and this is the poster’s attempt to understand Paul’s concerns, and put Paul’s instructions into a contemporary context.

    Above all, though, it’s a call to judge yourself by the Biblical standards, not others. Look at what you wear, how you dress, and what you know about those around you. Modesty matters to your brothers and sisters in Christ; therefore it does matter to God.

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      I’m not exactly sure if anonymous was responding to my comment, but if so, I certainly did not mean to communicate that the what the Bible says about modesty is unimportant. This is a very important topic, and I appreciated the article very much. My comment was that we women sometimes forget the whole point and become self-righteous and judgemental. This is a prideful sin that we also need to be evaluating when discussing other women’s “lack” of modesty.

      I believe C.S. Lewis addresses modesty well in Mere Christianity. A Victorian lady and an island girl live in two different standards of respective society and can both be modest according to how they are careful not to excite lust by their own society’s rule of propriety. But most of all, sins of the flesh reflect much more serious sins of the heart. If we just address skirt lengths w/out relating to the heart issues w/the gospel message we are getting no where. That is why I like what Mary said in her book about the whole reason why we wear clothes in the first place: to point to Christ’s righteousness, and our own lack there of.

  21. Mooch says:

    I think this may clear things up for everyone, because, whatever you are dressed in, make sure your heart is dressed in Christ. Understand?

    1 Samuel 16:7
    But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

  22. Sarah says:

    This is a tough issue for me. As a convert to Christianity from Islam, the way Christian women dress is a huge stumbling block for me and for other converts as well. In Islam, there are CLEAR cut guidelines for how men and women should dress. There are some cultures who take these guidelines to an extreme(ie: black burkas only exposing the eyes) but in actuality, Islam simply states that you need to wear long, loose clothing (no shorts or tank tops) and your hair needs to be covered- not neccesarily the entire face. When I was first exploring Christianity and even as a new convert, I remember thinking to myself “these people call themselves people of God and yet they have no problem wearing shorts, spagetti straps, and even bikinis.” I knew I wasn’t supposed to judge, but how was I supposed to think that Christianity is truth if its followers are confused about (or refuse to follow) basic rules of propriety?

    I remember walking into a bible study once and the girl who answered the door was wearing shorts that were so short I could see the rim of her underwear across the top and the whole time she was holding hands with and leaning into her boyfriend. If I did either of those two things, my parents would shoot me (even at 22 years old).

    In addition, I was once listening to the testimony of a so called ex Christian woman who became a Muslim and she said “In Christianity people think they can do whatever they want and God will forgive them at the end of the day.” She also stated that the way Islamic women dress and interact with the opposite sex was a huge factor in her conversion. Studies show that the HIV/AIDS rate is waaaay higher in African Christian countries than in muslim ones. In Muslim countries, the AIDS rate is less than 1 % ; basically, non-existent.

    Clearly, as Christians, we need to take the issues of modesty and sexual purity ALOT more seriously. I guarantee that if we do- we’ll begin to see more people coming to faith in Christ (particularly muslims and mormons)- not less.

    • Stacie says:

      Thank you Sarah! You are absolutely right!!! We as Christians have taken our freedom (when it comes to modesty) in Christ for granted. No, we are not suppose to be legalistic, but at the same time, grace doesn’t give us a free pass.

    • Praveen Titus says:

      The key here is Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”


      Matthew 18:6 – But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

      How much, therefore, should women be careful in the way they dress. It is for the sake of their fellow brothers and growing boys who could easily end up with sexual feelings (in the mind without anyone knowing) to girls and even women much older than them and thus sinning. I know, because as a young man I’ve come through that stage not in America, but here in India.

  23. carlene says:

    From the flip side, I liked what a young Muslim clerk had to say when a customer at a dry cleaner I use told her that if she wanted to be covered — as she was, with headscarf, long sleeves, and long skirt — she belonged at home, because men expected to be able to look at pretty girls when they entered a business.

    “That’s not the perspective of a man; that’s the perspective of an animal,” she told him. “Leave my store now. Do not come back. Or I will call the police.”

    It is our responsibility as women to dress modestly. And Jesus also told men that they were committing adultery if they lusted after a woman. Clearly, without having the guidance of the Holy Spirit, my young Muslim friend understood that men, too, have their responsibilities.

  24. ash says:

    I agree with the part of the article that says we should dress modestly, and honour Christ in that way. But I do struggle with the part that says “It means that a woman’s appearance ought to be put together nicely. It ought to be pleasant and attractive—on the inside and the outside.”

    I don’t dress frumpily, and I love looking nice. But its a dangerous step to say that it is Godly to dress well, and you have to look nice on the outside. The bible says that God does not look at the outward appearance, but at the heart. Some very Godly women I know dress in very “frumpy” clothes, and it doesn’t detract from who they are in any way, and they shine more brightly for Jesus than many other women I know.

    K made the comment “These are the type of women that non-christian women are ‘afraid of becoming’ when considering a Christian lifestyle when they become a Christian.” There are many more people put off Christianity by legalism and judgmental attitudes that would be put of by a few dowdy women.

    We need to love Jesus more than we love looking good, and remember that internal beauty and an attitude of modesty is more important than looking good and looking modest.

    • Denise says:

      I believe what the author is taking about relates to our testimony to others and the way that others can perceive us. That is why God wants us to dress modestly, because it gives Him a good testimony on our behalf.

  25. Lee says:


    As a male I probably have a different perspective… If women dress frumpy people look at them (and often Christians because of it) as being frumpy, unkempt, not put together, and not understanding of culture. A young, hip, culture fed teen girl is much more likely to
    A) like
    B) listen to
    someone they think is cool, or has at least some sort of a handle on them. Part of this is dressing well.
    Not that dressing frumpy means these wonderful women you speak of don’t have a handle on culture and people, but a non-frumpy dresser just provides a better avenue and projects a better image.

    Is a woman more likely to take advice from someone who is put together and dresses sharply, or a woman who is unkempt and looks like she would rather be hidden in her basement waiting for the rapture?

    • Sundown says:


      Where did you get the idea that Christians are supposed to be hip and current?

      • Tanya says:

        I think his point was that we be culturally relevant. Like when Paul said be would become all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel.

  26. Liz says:

    Some if your postings are downright hilarious! And for a well written article to show such innarriculate and in some cases totally uneducated readership, (“bear”? Perhaps you meant “bare arms”,dear)
    I’m torn between being ashamed of being a Christian by association, (wanting what a 3&5 year old wears “not to reflect the world”,) is laughable, but also due to it’s author’s serious tone, very very sad, and reflects the mother’s troubled mental state, not Christ or anything that could even be mis- interpreted from the Bible, and gives Christians at large a bad image and therefor also Christ.
    But again, it’s really quite funny, to have men join the debate, to “help” Christian sisters to stop them from sinning. If women are the weaker vessel then surely men need to go to Jesus for help with their lusting, as Jesus said, as it is a problem of the heart first. If a man has a lust problem, he surely needs to deal with his heart first. Perhaps before tacking his sin on to his Christian sister’s back.
    But thanks almost all of you for reminding me how we Christians got such a bad reputation! Instead of worrying about decade old fashion trends like “spagetti straps”, perhaps giving a thought to how many Palestinian children were bombed today, or Libiyans? Or how many folk can’t afford to eat in your neighborhood? Perhaps in so doing you could show that you are actually “Followers of Christ”? As opposed to Pharasees with nothing better to do than shoot down the wounded I’m your midst? A woman in “too tight” jeans might have walked off in the street into the church to meet Jesus. If you are going to use His holy Name, why not try to do what He did?

    • bekah says:

      I could not agree more Liz. It makes me ashamed and embarrassed to read this. Why are Christians SO wrapped up their own moral code. I have to match, i can’t look frumpy, can’t have “bear” arms, nothing too tight now, now bend over, so some jumping jacks, sit down, stand up. Showcasing my underlying nakedness?!?! Good heavens, go feed the hungry. I wont teach my daughter that every mans impurity and sexual deviancy is her responsibility. I’m not gonna teach her to be a hoochie, but i am gonna teach her not to judge others by their appearance.

    • Tanya says:

      The point is that Christians should believe in the Gospel in such a way that it affects every aspect of their lives. This includes clothing and how we look. We are to give glory to God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:30-32, this verse even includes food) so how can we do that without even evaluating our lives and how we live them? And for the record it would do you more credit it you didn’t leave insulting sounding comments because you disagree. It’s not exactly very loving, is it?

  27. Monica says:

    I will say this, and possibly might have some folks disagree with me, but here it goes.

    Men are going to stare and lust, no matter how sanctified they say they are, they are going to do it. They are responsible for how they respond to how you are dressed. If the man says you caused him to lust and you are wearing a top that barely skims your body and jeans that actually allow you to move, that is HIS problem. Not yours.

    And if you see a guy who has no shirt and is wearing tight jeans, it isn’t his fault you’re attracted. But its YOUR problem if you continue to stare and hit someone with your car. But that rarely gets talked about because no one says one peep about how the other side dresses and how it could cause trouble. Because no one wants to admit women really lust. But that’s another comment for another day.

    I’ll tell a little story:

    When I was 19 years old, I took it upon myself to totally revamp my wardrobe. Well actually, me and a few of the girls in my cell group helped. The idea came up after a sermon I heard while on encounter retreat. If what you’re guessing is I took it a bit too far, you’re right. I was taught(and told) that I was responsible for my brothers(in christ) response to how I dress. That was to mean that if the guy responds in the manner of “Dear God she’s hot”, I’m doing it wrong. I had to make sure that in every area of my “being” that I didn’t stir up lust. And yes, I went overboard.

    By the time it was all said and done, I wore clothes that made me look like my mom. I thought I was doing everything “on point”. But it still didn’t stop my first rape attempt. Long story short(too late!) he was a cell leader who assured me that he was in no way shape or form desiring a relationship with me. I didn’t ask, he just offered the info. One night, when I was at my mom’s apt he came to visit. I foolishly thought that since there was no attraction between either of us, that he could sit for a small moment and chat.

    That was possibly the stupidest choice I’ve made in my life. I remember what I was wearing, because it was goofy: A tweety bird pj onesie getup. Long sleeves and long legs. Shapeless as a ghost outfit. Hair was in braided pigtails. While he tried to rape me, he kept telling me how it was “my” exact fault this happened.

    That was the last straw. I’m not a very strong woman, but I was able to punch him hard enough to get him off me. Sent him packing after it was said and done(i.e buttkicking). I told my cell leader & my mom.

    They told me it was my fault because I obviously did something wrong. I stated I was fully clothed. The blamed the fact that I was alone at the time. Honestly, I thought I had my bases “covered” in every area of my life..including reputation. But that got caught in the cross-hairs also.

    That being said, modesty is more than what you wear. It is how you are on the inside. That goes for women as well as men. If a guy is wearing a polo shirt and khakis yet is telling dirty jokes…

    or if a woman is wearing a button up shirt and a long jean skirt yet she is doing something unmentionable in one of the pews…

    Their clothing is the least of their concerns.

    • Jennifer says:

      Monica, I am so sorry that happened to you and that multiple people told you it was your fault. If you have not already, I would encourage you to see a counselor or support group for women who have been sexually assaulted. It breaks my heart that you suffered emotional abuse on top of your assault.

    • Ryssa says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are absolutely right, men are the only ones responsible for their thoughts and their actions. No matter what women do, men are going to lust and rape. The only way to stop it, is to tell men to stop lusting and raping, rather than to tell women not to be lusted after and not to be raped. Women in Saudi Arabia are covered from head to foot and they are STILL seen as second class citizens. Clearly, covering up isn’t the answer. The answer is in changing the hearts and minds of men–and women with internalized misogyny–to respect women and take responsibility for their OWN actions, and stop policing the actions of others. I can’t believe that we are still having this discussion in the 21st century. How depressing….

  28. kate says:

    I’m pretty sure that Man looks at the outside, while God looks at the heart. I think, even if I’m wearing ugly clothes, God loves me just as much as when I’m perfectly adorned. And, it also says, in yonder Bible, that we shall be like him, and see him as He is. I sure as hell hope I won’t be eyes downcast when I go to meet him, as if I was ashamed. Because he has called me worthy,and called me his friend.

  29. Meg says:

    Go Monica! I’m glad people with your experiences comment. It’s very sad that no one acknowledged the wrongdoings of the man involved.

    That is something I would carry around for the rest of my life. It would very difficult to forgive the people who preferred to let it slip or refused to believe your innocence.

    Sadly, this article merely contributes to the likelihood of such a travesty occurring again. An emphasis on ‘modesty’ helps no one if it’s allowing rapists to use it as an excuse for their crime or attempts thereof.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I think the easy solution to this problem for us guys who want our wives and girlfriends to be hot and sexy is to simply instruct them to tart up. After all wives are supposed to be subject to their husbands.

    If we do that then it’s no longer their problem it’s our problem…

    …oh wait, my response to the way women dress was already my problem.

    My bad.

  31. Married says:

    I think the author has a great point. But we must also be careful not to judge others or become exclusive or legalistic. My wife and I are on our ninth anniversary trip and tonight we will go out for a nice dinner a movie and a bottle of wine. She brought my favorite little blue dress( similar to a little black dress). God forbid she looks sexy for me. Remember first the culture Paul was writing to. Keep in mind Paul doesnt like women in leadership(again culture).

    Now I railed on that side, Paul consistently tells us to consider our actions to avoid making others stumble.

  32. Andrew says:

    My advice on this is really simple. Dress (and move and act) to draw attention to the part of your body that you want others to focus on / interact with. In public, this should usually be your face. In the bedroom, it might be quite different.

    Uniforms are an interesting case. Sporting or military uniforms, for example, draw attention away from the person and focus on the role. The idea is the same, though. Your clothing says “this is how I want [you] to relate to me; this is who I am now”. Make sure the message your clothing is sending is the one you want to send, and the one you should be sending. This goes for everyone; male or female, young or old.

    You can’t be responsible for people who ignore the message, but you can try to send the right message in the first place.

  33. Anita Kehn says:

    Very interesting article! The Bible clearly states women should dress modestly. If we are infilled with The Holy Spirit we will know what modesty is. Along with modesty it is very important to be neat and clean. Taking a shower every day and smelling nice. The older we get the more we realize that inner beauty must be cultivated because outer beauty does fade. There is no woman more beautiful than a modestly dressed one, smelling nicely, and wearing a lovely smile with twinkling eyes. The men will think she is beautiful without thinking of her in a lustful way.

  34. Carla says:

    Thank you for this article.

    Clothing is something that has been heavy on my heart lately – I lean towards the always in jeans and tshirts outfits and have more and more recently felt “nudged” to make a change to this – especially since I’ll be getting married soon.

    My excuse tends to be that I want to lose weight first – it is a legitimate concern – from a point of view of my body honouring God, I feel that I do need to lose the extra weight – I think that being overweight can be just as much of an issue as dressing wrong – but I also need to get to a point where I draw a line – because I seem to not be losing weight and I can’t forever use this as an excuse not to improve.

    Both the wedding and bonus month is in October – I think I should commit to not waiting longer than that for my new wardrobe.

    The main reason why it is difficult now is because I don’t really have the money to buy new clothes either.

    Sorry for the long disjointed comment – just thinking through things at the same time :)

  35. KS (Male) says:

    I think this issue is more to do with how males manage their response and who they are. However, is dressing in overly revealing or short clothing relative to what you typically see helping either side?

  36. Ruth says:

    Amen sista! Thank you for this post! It resonates with His sweet truth and encourages me to pursue righteousness in all I do, say and wear! You really broke this down in such a way that I can easily pass on to my fellow sisters in Christ!

  37. vicky says:

    We are to live our lives under one person eyes and that is God. When we get dressed ask ourself would God be pleased with what I am wearing or how I look. Don’t worry what others think. It all about God not us. Anything you do should be as one person is looking
    if that is how we are dressed or working we are to please God.

  38. Marcus says:

    I think it is very interesting that we all are forgetting something very important. We should never take ANYTHING the Word of God tells us for granted. Each one of us us responsible for our own actions as well as understanding that what we do just doesn’t affect us but those around us as well. How I dress may seem appropriate to me but how is it effecting my someone else. We represent the Kingdom AND one another. Consistency is a must from all of us if we are to make an impact in this world. We cannot argue about what is modest for me may not be modest for you because in the end it is God who will make that ruling. Yes, Paul makes mention of our dress only because how we look on the outside is a direct reflection of what we look like INSIDE. If Christ is in me, then He should be seen on the outside as well. Let us show love in all that we do because their are many people who need to see Jesus in us and in all that we do which includes our appearance. God Bless!

  39. Jenny says:

    This post was very dissatisfying. Not only did the author not bother to quote the whole verse, but the entire context of the passage was left out of the discussion.

    It seems that a lot of attention is being paid to “modesty” as in not sensual. What about “modesty” as a character trait, like self-control? What about “modesty” as in not showy, which connects with the rest of the verse?

    Christian women are spending too much time looking for fashion advice in the Bible. Focus on developing moral character. And call out on the hypocritical men and women who wish to use the Bible to restrict your freedoms while giving lustful and immodestly-dressed men a pass.

  40. Thomas says:

    Sisters in Christ,
    Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Roman’s 1:7).
    I am writing in response of the article “What Not to Wear” because I believe that women still can’t grasp the physical and mental effect (result, power of influence, impression)you have on men. I am not a spokesman for all men just myself, with that being said I would like to thank the Author of “Girl’s Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild”. I am a happily married man of 23yrs to my beautiful and Christ loving wife who has recently started reading this book for a bible study book group. Of course this group is made up of Christian women but I enjoy the conversations we have concerning this book and I plan on reading it just as soon as she finishes it so that I can better understand and help her with her walk with God.
    Mark 9:42-50 talks about (causing one of these little ones who believes in me to sin) and what we should do if any part of our body causes us to sin. In this scripture it talks about our hands, feet and eyes and Jesus tells us that we should cut and pluck out if any one of these parts causes us to sin, as for me it is the eyes that cause me to sin. I’ve read that a man thinks about sex 23hr 59min and 59sec of the day, maybe that is a bit over exaggerated because we need time to eat and sleep. Now that you know how often we think about sex you still need to see how we are bombarded constantly by media, magazines, commercials, radio, bill boards, internet and yet the women we see in our daily schedule. I can stop watching television; throw the magazines in the trash, stop listening to the radio, put a parent block on the internet but I still have to leave the house which leaves women as my only tie to sin. I can go to the store and see women dressed in clothes that barely cover their top and bottoms. I do understand that not all women are Christians and I am not placing Christian women and women of the world in the same category because I believe that Christian women have enough love to help a Christian brother from falling into sin. I am also not putting the blame on women for my sin and I hold myself accountable but as I said before “women still can’t grasp the mental and physical EFFECT you have on men.
    PS to all that are attacking this blog please read (Romans 15)

    • Sofia says:

      First of all, contrary to some of the comments posted above, I think Miss Kassian did an excellent job with this article. She gave simple guidelines as to how a woman should dress Biblically, without being legalistic in her approach.
      To those of you who who don’t think that Paul’s writing matters in the Bible, I would like to point out something that everyone has probably heard thousands of times: The Bible is God’s word. God was guiding the hands of all the men who contributed to the writing of the Bible. Therefore, no scripture should be written off as “Less important” because its all inscribed by God.
      So what about how women should dress? The answer to that question is a lot more simple than some may think: We should dress to the honor and glory of Christ our King. That’s it. No more, no less, we shouldn’t be dressing as the world tells us to, because we’re not dressing for the world! The Bible says “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7) So if you’re dressing for the world, than you shouldn’t have an issue with wearing immodest clothes everywhere, because you want to be attractive and you want other people to think that you look good all the time. But if you’re dressing for God, than your clothes initially needs to come from your heart, what you think the Bible says about how we as women of God should dress. That brings me to the next verse, Romans 14:13b states “…but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” So, does wearing immodest clothes that cause our brothers in Christ to stumble and sin fit into that category? Yes, it does. I don’t think its right for women to go around in skimpy, immodest clothing and then go blame it on the guys and say “Its their problem for lusting. I can’t help it” when indeed, they can. Or at least, they can try. However, if a woman’s heart is pure for Christ, and she seeks to dress modestly, but a guy STILL lusts over her,then that is where the guys are responsible. So what now? Basically, both men and women need to find responsibility in this area. There needs to be a fine line. Women need to keep their hearts pure, and their clothing modest, and men need to guard their eyes. Christians should work together in the love of Christ, they should care about one another, and should try and help them through their weaknesses. This means that men should guard their eyes from the sin of lust, and women should help them by seeking to be modest. It should be that simple.

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