Have you ever wondered what Biblical modesty is? Have you questioned what you have heard preached and what the Bible says about how to be a modest woman?
Modesty is equal to simplicity and humility in life. However, modesty is more than just the length of your hem or whether your shoulders are showing. Modesty is a mindset and a lifestyle that applies to men and women.
The world, and even the church, has brought up generations of women to believe that man is too weak to control his urges, and therefore, modesty falls on the shoulders of women (literally and figuratively).
We are taught that we “invite” certain behaviors or reactions from men by how we dress. Men have been found “guiltless” for centuries because women have presented themselves in certain ways.
In short, we are told to cover up to prevent lust or arousal.
Does this sound familiar to you? Is there some doctrine that you have been taught that rings true with this?
Should women not be held responsible for what they wear? Should we not care about modesty? What does the Bible say about modesty, and whose responsibility is it?
Let’s look at some practical answers to Biblical modesty and how to be a modest woman.
We’ll go deeper into what the Word of God says on modesty and how to apply it to our lives.
Do not conform any longer 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 (NIV)
What Does the Bible Say About Modesty?
The world has a lot to say on the topic of how we get dressed each day, pushing boundaries, and throwing caution to the wind.
The topic of modesty, especially regarding women, causes much debate, controversy, and fear of victim-blaming. The Bible says a lot about modesty and even more about how it pertains to our lifestyle and not just our clothing.
What is modesty? The real truth in modesty is not about what is too revealing or too short; it is an opportunity for discipleship in our identity. It is about who we are in Christ.
The study of modesty can be used in your daily bible studies or a Bible study group!
#1. Modesty Reflects Our Walk with God
The Bible is quite clear that our actions, words, and dress reflect who we are in Christ.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. – 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)
Our clothing should not be the pinnacle of focus. Our clothing should always bring into question the motives of our hearts.
How we appear to others should represent our Christian identity. This is crucial to our purpose in the kingdom of God. Galatians 4:7 reminds us that we are heirs to the kingdom. We are no longer slaves to this world.
When you get dressed in the morning, your purpose should not scream, “look at me!” Instead, it should reflect the person God created and the new person you are in Christ.
Does a fast car, fancy jewelry, revealing clothing, or expensive foods reflect Jesus’ impact on our lives? Do these things, as well as our finances, relationships, manner of speaking, and hobbies, bring people to God or interfere with our spiritual goals?
#2. Modesty is a Matter of the Heart
Modesty is not just about what you wear. It is also about the intentions of your heart as you go about your day.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31-32 (NIV)
When you dress yourself each day, you must question the motives of your apparel. Are you seeking attention? Are you considering the thoughts of others? Does your clothing present a daughter of God?
While you are not responsible for the sins of another, you are responsible for your lack of consideration for sin. If you are looking in the mirror to consider if your backside or cleavage looks “good” in a particular outfit, you might want to reflect on the intentions of your heart.
#3. Modesty is Equal to Respect
The world claims that you should be judged for what is on the inside, not the outside. This concept is spoken as you are being judged for how you appear.
As women, we are also given many misconceptions about what should be considered respectable, confident, and reliable. The worldview of modesty is perceived as lacking in confidence and, therefore, in ability.
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. – 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NIV)
In this context, modesty is equivalent to being respectable. A woman who considers her appearance with caution is considered a respectable woman in God’s eyes.
In a world that is telling us not to care what others think, God asks us to consider what they see when they look at us. If our purpose is to bring people closer to God, we should reflect that image.
“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” – Elisabeth Elliot.
God created our bodies beautifully and without shame. 1 Corinthians 12:23 explains that certain parts of our bodies are unpresentable and treated with “special modesty.” By covering up, we do not make ourselves less beautiful but honor and respect the very creation of God.
#4. Modesty Came at a Cost
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation and freedom. The cost of our life was His death.
Each day we have an opportunity to honor God in how we dress. We have the chance to show the world that the limitless options available are not for us. We have the privilege to say no because Christ said yes.
We should never dress to draw attention to ourselves!
#5. Modesty is a Matter of Discipline
We are called to live under the authority of God. Just as a workplace or a school may have a dress code, so does our Father.
Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. – 1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)
The Word of God is clear in the expectations of our lives. 1 Peter 2:13 further says to “submit yourselves.” We are to live by God’s rules.
God clearly states that modesty is self-control, humility, purity, and generosity. It is about the overall manner in which we conduct ourselves.
Our modesty is the ultimate expression of our discipline and devotion to the Word of God. If we so easily throw off the discipline of modesty in favor of self, how much easier is it to ignore other doctrines?
Why Should Christians Care About Modesty?
Romans 12:2 states that we are no longer of this world. We do not need to conform to the ways of the world. We are told that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel.
Modesty is a behavior that results from humility. God calls us to serve. Modesty then removes a boastful pride of self and allows God to shine through.
We need to be acutely aware of our own hypocrisy. Luke 22:42 is a beautiful prayer of Christ that says that in the end, it is God’s will and not His own. Ephesians 2:10 further reminds us that God created us to do “good works.”
Modesty allows our walk and our works to be God-focused and not self-focused.
Modesty tells the world where we place our values. Either our value is in things, money, and people, or our value is found in God. When the rest of the world is chasing newer, better, bigger, and bolder, it can impact non-believers to see Christians satisfied and rewarded with less.
Our modesty shines as a testament to true fulfillment in God.
We are called to live like Christ. Our overall demeanor and dress should be so empty of self; it is impossible to miss Christ within us.
It is our purpose to glorify God. In doing this, we remove ourselves and replace it with Christ. We should care about modesty as an act of discipline and service to our Father.
How Can You Be a Modest Woman?
What defines a modest woman? Is it simply how long our skirts are or how high our necklines are? Who determines what is proper for women in modest dress?
Proverbs 31 has come into light in previous years as many have set about discovering the attributes of a proper wife. Can these factors be applied to the idea of modesty?
God holds great worth in modesty and considers the lack thereof to be a vice. How do we define and apply modesty to our lives?
There are three key questions that one can consider in each area of their life. Is it becoming? Is it decent? Is it moderate?
Modesty In the Home
As women, we are looked at to provide a home. The appearance of our homes often judges us. The Greek word kosmios used in 1 Timothy 2 to describe modesty can also be translated as orderliness and propriety.
In our homes, a visitor should find order. Modesty is seen in the home of the woman who is calm with her family. A modest wife or mother who knows the hectic schedules, where the lost purple shirt is, and whose turn it is to take out the trash.
These are traits that the world can begrudge or belittle to make women feel we need to be louder, more authoritative, or harsher. However, modesty is equal to order. Order creates a sense of calm.
In fact, Proverbs 31:27 states that a wife of noble character watches over the affairs of the home. It states that she is not idle. Proverbs encourages and praises this type of attitude in the home.
Modesty out of orderliness creates comfort, peace, and love.
Tip: Create order in your home through schedules, calendars, or journals. If your calendar looks too hectic, ask yourself if your planned activities are becoming of a Christian lifestyle? Are you engaging in activities that bring you and your family closer to God? Is your schedule moderate, or could you say no more often?
Related: Proverbs 31 Woman FREE Printable
Modesty In Our Words
Modesty is an outward expression of inner purity. Modesty says that there is less of self and more of Christ to the world.
Our words can come across as harsh or even unnecessary. We often speak when it would be more effective to remain silent.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. – Proverbs 31:26 (NIV)
Tip: Next time you engage in conversation, ask yourself if your words are becoming. Are your words decent? Are your words moderate?
Related: How to Listen Better
Modesty In Our Works
As Christian women, we should profess godliness with good works. Proverbs 31:20 states, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
A passion for volunteering is a wonderful attribute to cultivate. However, you must ask yourself, in doing “good works,” what are your motives?
Are you seeking to glorify yourself? Do you desire a round of applause or handshake for what you have done? Are your actions for the glory of the world?
We shouldn’t exactly desire to fade into the background. Instead, our aim should be for the results to get the attention and for the Lord to receive the acclamation.
Tip: Ask yourself if your “good works” are moderate or if you are excessive in your approach. Consider leaving any volunteering commitments that are not for the glory of God.
Modesty In Our Wardrobe
While modesty does apply to our lifestyle, that does not mean that our wardrobe is excused from this topic.
Modesty frees us from worldly expectations. Modesty in our wardrobe will demand respect for our ideas, attitude, and works, rather than our looks.
Proverbs 31 tells us that she is clothed with dignity. It also states that beauty is fleeting, and a healthy fear of the Lord is worthy of praise. 1 Peter says we should not adorn ourselves with pearls or costly attire.
When you get dressed, ask yourself if your outfit is becoming. This will open your eyes to areas of dress that the world doesn’t classify with modesty. Question whether your outfit is decent. Ask yourself if it is excessive.
Tip: Consider dressing in a way that is appropriate for the environment you will be in, the activity you will engage in, and the company you will be keeping!
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. – Proverbs 31:28 (NIV)
Bible Verses About Modesty
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. – Proverbs 11:22 (NIV)
A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this. – Deuteronomy 22:5 (NIV)
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28 (NIV)
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
And the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty. – 1 Corinthians 12:23 (NIV)
For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. – 1 John 2:16-17 (NIV)
Young men, in the same way, be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. – 1 Peter 5:5-6 (NIV)
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. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! – Matthew 18:6-7 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. – Romans 12:1 (NIV)
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God. – Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. – 1 Peter 3:4 (NIV)
A Prayer for Modesty
Father, today I come before you to pray over modesty. Lord, You gave us Your Word as truth and guidance. Let us apply this to our daily lives. Let Your Word nourish our souls.
Please allow the good works that we do bring glory to You and Your Kingdom and not be for the fulfillment of our pride. Let our actions, words, and appearance represent Your presence in our lives.
Help us act with humility toward others, withhold judgment, and not push our agendas or opinions. Cultivate meekness within us, Lord. Guide us to be rich in spirit, Father. Teach us to speak with wisdom and gentleness.
Lord, we pray all of this in Your Name.
More Biblical Modesty Resources
While studying how to be a modest woman, reading how others have done can be refreshing. It is also encouraging to know how it has impacted their lives! Check out a few of these amazing resources to learn more about Biblical modesty.
- Restoring Christian Modesty: God’s Perfect Will for Your Outward Appearance – In this book, hundreds of Bible references come together to provide insight on God’s perfect will regarding clothing, hair, jewelry, tattoos, and so much more.
- The Naked Truth: Revealing Things We Hide Behind – Throughout the years, the world has changed. By piecing together history and God’s Word, the truth is revealed that is more than skin deep.
- Modesty: More than a Change of Clothes – This book speaks to teen girls about why modesty should matter to them. They speak about more than just clothing and how girls can live out modesty in today’s culture.
- Covered in His Robe – A Study Guide of Modesty – This study guide walks you through God’s word regarding outward adornment as well as the importance of inward adornment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Must I always wear skirts to be a modest woman?
You must pray to the Lord and seek His guidance when determining what should or should not be included in your wardrobe. Modestly, while aware of worldly views, is also individually based. Whether or not you wear pants or skirts is between you and the Lord. It is also important to consider the environment you will be in. For example, skirts are highly inconvenient when fishing with your husband and kids!
How can my attitude be modest?
The world encourages us to be loud, forceful in nature, and outgoing. However, a modest attitude would be the opposite of these characteristics. Our attitude can be modest by being slow to anger. We can listen more than we speak, and we can be calm. We should act in self-control when developing a modest attitude.
How will being modest improve my life?
When we walk in obedience to God’s Word, we open ourselves to receiving the blessings He has planned for our lives. By being modest, you apply another principle of discipleship to your life. You will grow closer to God as you become more obedient. You will also find that your marital roles will become simplified and easier as you both fulfill the ideals God declared for your lives.
Won’t I get looked at or ridiculed for being modest?
God’s Word does not promise us a life that will be easy. Even Christ Himself was ridiculed. Our position in the Spirit asks that we look to God for acceptance and worth, not the world. It would be delightful to say that no one will ever be negative towards you through this journey; however, it would be untrue. God will reward your obedience, of that you can be sure! You can always read more on how to handle a situation where someone is judgemental or hateful toward you.
You should by now have a good understanding of what is modesty. Modesty is the fruit of our discipline. It comes from studying God’s Word and applying it to our lives.
Biblical modesty in our behavior questions how we interact with others and present ourselves in words and actions.
The idea of how to be a modest woman questions our appearance and whether we are dressed decently. We must consider how our appearance affects those around us.
Biblical modesty places Jesus Christ and God’s will before our fleshly desires. If we learn to understand the sacrifice made for our bodies and the depth of what it means for our bodies to be a temple of God, we will be honored to dress and act modestly.
The Bible encourages us to skip judgment and consider modesty a valuable virtue. We should joyfully embrace modesty in the modern world.
Have you experienced the life-changing effects of a modest mindset? Share with us your thoughts and convictions on how modesty can be relevant in today’s world.
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