Book Review - Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel

Image of Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel
by R W Glenn, Tim Challies
Cruciform Press 2012
Paperback 106

The idea of modesty for Christians has been predominately cast within the framework of a set of rules about what kind of clothing (mainly for girls) is considered to be appropriate. Whether its skirts below the knees, dresses to the floor or necklines for shirts no lower than the collar bone, the list of do’s and don’ts can be long—really long. But is this kind of list what God intends for us to have and hold others accountable to when it comes to modesty? Where do we get such a list from anyways? Who gets to make it and by what criteria? Is there possibly another way both to define modesty and to live modestly?

Tim Challies and RW Glenn think there is. In their new book, Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel, Challies and Glenn pave a new road for understanding modesty that centers on the gospel and lacks a set of do’s and don’ts—no matter how bad they know you want one!

Gospel-centered modesty

Feeling that the gospel has been largely silent in most discussions of modesty the authors set forth their plea:

We want to see your heart so gripped by the gospel of grace that modesty becomes beautiful and desirable to you, not just in your wardrobe but in all of life. We want you to understand that modesty isn’t just motivated by the gospel, it’s an entailment of the gospel—it flows naturally from a solid grasp of the good news of the gospel. (p. 6)

This plea for gospel-centered modesty is a response to the legalism that has dominated the topic for far too long in far too many Christian circles. The consequences of a gospelless modesty are devastating. “When we build theology without clear reference to the gospel, we begin to take refuge in rules….the regulations become our gospel—a gospel of bondage rather than freedom” (p. 11-12). A view of modesty that is void of the gospel will have nothing more than the appearance of godliness. In this way, a rules based modesty for dress can produce a kind of spiritual immodesty. “Pursue modesty outside of the gospel and not only will you fail to be genuinely modest, but everything you do in the name of that supposed modesty will undermine the very gospel you profess to believe” (p. 38).

Defining modesty

So if modesty should not be defined by a set of rules then how is it to be defined? This is where it can begin to get sticky. For Challies and Glenn there are two aspects that play into defining modesty. First, there is the situational aspect. Here the idea is that what may be viewed as appropriate or modest in one context (like a one piece bathing suit for women at the beach) is not in another (a women wearing that one piece bathing suit to church on Sunday or to work at her fortune 500 job on Monday). Even the most diehard rules based proponents of modesty could agree with this.

The second criteria for defining modesty is where some are going to cheer and other will no doubt squirm. This aspect draws on the cultural context. That’s right, the authors believe that cultural norms regarding modesty are a big factor in defining modesty. For those who are flipping through their Bibles right now for verses to counter this claim, wait one minute. The authors are already ahead of you. In 1 Timothy 2:9-10 Paul tells Timothy “that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness— with good works.” There are two things that can be seen here. First, Paul does not define modesty. Second, whatever Paul does define as modest he is clearly using the contemporary culture as a reference point. The authors point out that no one is going to claim Paul’s words here as a claim upon every Christian for all ages. The reference to “braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” is a clear reference to something within the culture. So wearing these items in Paul’s day would have been viewed as immodest and they were not to wear them at church. Notice also how Paul grounds his example of external immodesty first in internal modesty.

These two aspects of defining modesty boil down to three parts:

  1. Virtue. Modesty is first and foremost a virtue— an inner attitude that may be internalized and largely unconscious, or very intentional.
  2. Respect. This virtue is grounded in respect for an appropriate cultural standard (the broader, general context) and appropriate situational standards (the narrower, specific contexts).
  3. Result. This respect is ultimately made evident in dress, speech, and behavior that willingly conforms to these standards. (p. 22-23)

These three parts then boil down into one defining statement—“Modesty is that virtue which is respectful of a culture’s rules for appropriate and inappropriate dress, speech and behavior in a given situation” (p. 23). From here the authors make the following statement:

When the gospel controls your modesty, everything changes. You want to be modest because God sent his son, Jesus, to die for your immodesty and especially because Jesus willingly died for it. When the gospel controls your modesty, you won’t see it as a way of putting God in your debt because you don’t need to twist God’s arm to accept you— he already accepts you freely and fully in Jesus Christ. This gives you both the ability and the desire to respond to him by joyfully being modest in appearance and character. (p. 35)

In the end, Challies and Glenn want the gospel to be the root from which modesty grows from. “Don’t see your immodesty as the root of the problem; see it as the fruit and go after the plant where you can do the most damage— the tangled roots of your idolatrous desires” (p. 68).

Evaluation

If I were to write a book on modesty, I would hope it would be like this book. Challies and Glenn have rightly taken the list of rules out of modesty and replaced it with the gospel. This is a book for both men and women because men struggle with modesty as much as women albeit in different ways. My only contention with the book is I think the authors have misunderstood Mark Driscoll and the discussion he tried to have regarding sex in his book Real Marriage (p. 47ff.). Having read and reviewed Driscoll’s book myself, I don’t think he commits the error they think he does.

That difference aside, I would recommend Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel to anyone, especially teens and their parents. The position offered by Challies and Glenn would help a lot of people be freed of the legalism and rules that have dominated the discussion on Christian modesty.

About the authors

R.W. Glenn is Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Redeember Bible Churcn in Minnetonka, MN, and author of Crucifying Morality: How the Teaching of Jesus Destorys Religion (Shepherd Press, 2012). He blogs at solidfoodmedia.com.

Tim Challies is a pastor, blogger, author, and book reviewer. He has written Sexual Detox, The Disicipline of Spiritual Discernment, and The Next Story. Visit him at Challies.com and DiscerningReader.com.

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Wayne Wilson's picture

So, let's take this definition: —“Modesty is that virtue which is respectful of a culture’s rules for appropriate and inappropriate dress, speech and behavior in a given situation” --- and apply it to Lot's daughters in Sodom, or let's say a nightclub on Hollywood Blvd on a Saturday night.  There is no standard of modesty that God would like to see that stands above cultural norms, even if a culture is depraved? 

Barry L.'s picture

God does not want you to live in Sodom and he does not want you to be in a nightclub on Hollywood Blvd on a Saturday night to begin with. I think the author's main point is that your inner modesty defines your outward dress rather than your outward dress defining your inward modesty.

Wayne Wilson's picture

Barry, are you making RULES about nightclubs, now?  On what basis?  But if that's too much for you, the authors suggest appropriate beach attire, so what about a completely culturally acceptable nude beach in Europe or Australia?  Should Christian girls match the culture's rules for appropriate dress?  On what basis would you counsel a sister against following the culture?

And are you really suggesting there are some cultures Christians shouldn't live in?   No Gospel to Sodom? 

I am simply responding to the definition, which is very poor.  If you write a whole book based on an almost worthless definition, you've got a problem. 

 

 

 

Easton's picture

Is this debate going to spiral down to this level again?

Don't we all know modest when we see it?  (Or don't see it?)

Wayne Wilson's picture

Don't we all know modest when we see it?  (Or don't see it?)

Apparently not.  But it is a more than worthwhile topic.  Why try to derail it?

I just want to know what taking "taken the list of rules out of modesty and replaced it with the gospel" means.  I think, though, Easton, that when you say "Don't we all know modest when we see it?" you are suggesting there is a norm that transcends culture.   My point is that when you are dealing with a decadent culture, using societal acceptance is not a sufficient standard.  The only reason I can think of to publish a book on modesty in America is to give some guidance to Christians on dress in our decadent culture.  The definition of modesty cited in the review doesn't help with that. That's all I'm saying.

Of course modesty is in limited ways culturally diverse for believers (when in central Africa, women don't show their legs at all, Christians traveling there should respect that), but the church has always recognized a norm that stands above culture.  That suggests some sort of rules.  Maybe the author's recognize this, but I'm not picking it up from Craig's review.

CPHurst's picture

What the authors are saying is that modesty as a rule finds its reference point in culture but this is to be balanced and ran through Scripture. 

 

Wayne, your example of the night club would not fit as I suspect the authors wold say that based on other grounds you should not be there in the first place so the modesty issue is a mute point. As far as the nude beach is concerned the authors are clear that while culture may be a majority reference point for modesty it is not ultimately determinative. Clearly Scripture has things to say about nudity specifically that it does not say about other types of modesty related issues.

 

As far as the gospel goes, the authors believe that if we cloth our hearts with the changes the gospel makes in an individual and seek what is best for the other person that will take care of needing some kind of agreed upon list for everyone to check themselves and others against. This is where people get uncomfortable. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Perhaps the book approaches this somewhat differently than a very brief review was forced to do, but it seems to me the cart is before the horse here. We are dealing with context and application before determining principles to guide those decisions. First, define the universal, timeless biblical principles that apply, then, in a much narrower way than the authors seem to accept, talk about applying those principles contextually. I was asked once about a tribe in South America that went topless. Using the author's directions here, as much as I understand them, they would seem to argue this is acceptable contextually. I don't agree.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Wayne Wilson's picture

What the authors are saying is that modesty as a rule finds its reference point in culture but this is to be balanced and ran through Scripture..... 

As far as the nude beach is concerned the authors are clear that while culture may be a majority reference point for modesty it is not ultimately determinative. Clearly Scripture has things to say about nudity specifically that it does not say about other types of modesty related issues.

As far as the gospel goes, the authors believe that if we cloth our hearts with the changes the gospel makes in an individual and seek what is best for the other person that will take care of needing some kind of agreed upon list for everyone to check themselves and others against. This is where people get uncomfortable.
 

I'm good with this, and glad to hear it.

 

Chip, I agree with your thinking. You said it better than I did.

Andrew K.'s picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:

So, let's take this definition: —“Modesty is that virtue which is respectful of a culture’s rules for appropriate and inappropriate dress, speech and behavior in a given situation” --- and apply it to Lot's daughters in Sodom, or let's say a nightclub on Hollywood Blvd on a Saturday night.  There is no standard of modesty that God would like to see that stands above cultural norms, even if a culture is depraved? 

But those aren't really "cultures" though. Or they would be only in a very loosely defined sense. Perhaps subcultures, if anything.

In the ancient middle eastern culture of Lot's time, hospitality was a cultural imperative, so Sodom and G. would have been considered reprehensible for their behavior (to say nothing of the immorality) by all around who shared their culture in the larger sense, not just Abraham and family.

If you classify a nightclub as a culture, why not a street gang? Why not an individual? The term begins to lose meaning.

The authors here are making an important point that needs more emphasis: some aspects of morality are culturally determined.

Take swearing, for example. It's wrong, but why is it wrong? Why are those words wrong? It's obviously (with some exceptions, regarding irreverence) nothing more than social convention. Yet our culture has largely determined that those words are taboo. Now we hear them all the time, it's true. But that doesn't weaken the point. For the whole purpose behind using these words is the power that they carry due to their being declared taboo by our shared culture. There is a currency in them that communicates an edginess that people find attractive.

神是爱

Wayne Wilson's picture

If you classify a nightclub as a culture, why not a street gang? Why not an individual? The term begins to lose meaning.

Well,  a nightclub is certainly a significant social part of our culture.  Urban culture is built around that kind of entertainment, especially among young adults.  Niebuhr points to language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organizations, inherited artifacts, technical processes and values as being "culture."  

Actually I think my examples use "culture" in a broad sense.  Sodom was a whole city.  Shouldn't that count as a culture?  I cite a nightclub as an example, because the broader culture has an accepted attire for going to one in every major city.  Most young people have been to a club, not some tiny isolated group in the population.  Christian kids go, too, as a local Christian college discovered recently.  (Guess what? They had to make a "rule.")  That is a real life modesty situation in every city in America which has a certain allure for some Christians.  My question was about the author's stated definition —“Modesty is that virtue which is respectful of a culture’s rules for appropriate and inappropriate dress, speech and behavior in a given situation.”  I assume "given situation" is a specific situation ---beach, wedding, dance, concert, church, picnic, etc.  How in any sense are the examples I chose losing the meaning of culture?  These are all part of culture. I chose nightclub to get away from the standard "beach" discussions.

Doesn't Europe count as a culture?  Nudity is widely accepted as normative (and not immodest) in many western nations. Public nudity is permissible in some major American cities as well on the street and in the park.  I understand some Scandinavian countries even include nudity in travel brochures to discourage Muslim immigration.  So, if the article is correct that "the authors believe that cultural norms regarding modesty are a big factor in defining modesty," accommodation to the norm seems like a logical conclusion of that statement, just as among Evangelicals, nudity in film and television has become acceptable.  The definition seems to suggest taking our modesty cues from the surrounding culture. I find that idea disturbing.  I took "big factor" as something of a descriptive term about the author's persepective.  I would prefer Chip's idea of the big factor being "timeless biblical principles."  We have already seen where letting cultural norms be the big factor has taken the church. 

So, I was trying to apply their definition to a common real life situation confronted by many people in our culture.  I found the definition wanting. 

It's one thing to talk about modesty in primitive societies without benefit of the Gospel, it is another to talk about whole societies that have abandoned the Gospel and their once cherished cultural norms (what I would label decadent cultures).  Craig assures us that the book covers these topics well.  I take his word for it that this is true, and am happy to hear it.  I was responding to the quotes and ideas in the review.  I think my concerns are fair based on what has happened to the American church in so many areas related to culture.

Andrew K.'s picture

Well,  a nightclub is certainly a significant social part of our culture. 

So is swearing, but it's still considered taboo according to our cultural "rules." Regardless of the surface, there is an edifice, underlying cultural structures, that what we see about us builds upon. We need to be mindful of that, wherever we are.

Regarding a nightclub, it is a specific place with a specific function. I don't think we need to apply rules of morality to a situation that should never arise.

Doesn't Europe count as a culture?  Nudity is widely accepted as normative (and not immodest) in many western nations.

I don't think anyone is saying that cultures never contain anything wrong. They most certainly do. But neither can we neglect the fact that cultures, in order to keep from imploding, must have rules, unwritten or otherwise, that regulate behavior.

I took "big factor" as something of a descriptive term about the author's persepective.  I would prefer Chip's idea of the big factor being "timeless biblical principles."

Agree, fully. But just saying that doesn't necessarily help. We have to identify the biblical principles. What would they be? Well clearly nudity goes against them. So does dressing in a way to attract the wrong kind of attention--to assert status or to provoke lust, for example.

What would that look like? Well, it would depend largely on one's culture. Is it right, for example, for a Christian girl to wear a pink tank top and modest shorts in a Muslim country (provided it were safe, of course)? Is it wrong in an America mall?

This is a complex issue, but my point is, culture does and must play a role in our understanding of the specifics of modesty--given a Biblical framework.

神是爱

Wayne Wilson's picture

Andrew, I think I agree with everything you said.  I'm just pointing out the inadequacy of the definition.  I acknowledge and did early on here that there are culturally relative issues of modesty.  I mentioned Africa and displaying legs.  In Colonial America, women weren't to show elbows.  Odd to us, but believers in 1760 should not have flaunted that convention and been seen as brazen.  This is all pretty obvious, isn't it?  That point needs a paragraph, not a book.  I am assuming that a book on modesty would go well beyond these points and offer some practical advice for parents and young people.   

That thought leads  me to start another little fire.  Do we really need Gospel-centered modesty?  Is it wise to attach the Gospel to everything as the Reformed folks do these days ( I speak as one of them)?  Who started that?  Quite a few messes have been created with Gospel-centered parenting, and Gospel-centered courtship, etc., which often seems to use the word Gospel as an unanswerable support for someone's opinion.  I have been trying grasp the significance of Gospel-centered spanking in a recent book.

I understand getting away from imposing specific lists and measuring inches, etc., which can indeed be legalistic, especially if I am making a list for you.   I don't really have much experience in very legalistic Fundamentalism, but I think I understand the issues there.  As I read Paul, the Gospel relates to these grey areas of specifics mainly in the sense that the Gospel makes Christ the Lord of another brother's conscience, not me.  But does the Gospel make people modest?  The new birth might bring about a quick sense of shame in someone regarding dress, but then again, it might not.    

A person can love Christ and the Gospel and still be clueless about modesty, and what inspires lust, etc.  I have met a fair number of folks like that.  The Gospel doesn't eliminate immodesty...at least not automatically.  And shouldn't believers have been modest before the Gospel?  Is there some place different than being modest to gain God's approval (true legalism) and attaching the Gospel to how we dress?  Even under the OT law, people were to love God and and one another, and that was the motive to obey Him.  Some virtues are virtues whether Christ died for us or not.

 

 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Challies is attempting to re-package an old truth for his core group and anyone else close to his oxymoronic peripheral mix of Libertine/Neo-Puritan/Neo-Calvinism-Reformed/Charismatic believers by using a catch-phrase errant theology known as "Gospel-centeredism".

Secondly, he does the disservice of submitting a binary treatment where you have either:

1. Those bad rule making legalists

2. The enlightened and properly Jesus loving motivated "Gospel-centeredists"

How can you lose with those two choices?

Forgive my skepticism but I recall many of those before him and even now teaching modesty to be "God-centered" and not the more narrow band of "Gospel-centeredism".

He does have some points but claiming that the gospel is not at the center of most of its treatment is to me a revelation that Challies is simply not that well read or he has selectively chosen to create a straw man he can knock down to promote his Gospel-centeredism in which he has invested heavily, both philosophically and allegedly theologically.

As to culture, culture is subordinate to any Biblical conscience which can mean both inadequate modesty or self-aggrandizing modesty which is not modesty in either case but selfish interests.

"Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind", this will solve the dilemma. Such a transformation assumes love of Christ and appreciation of one's salvation, it does not need a forced pronouncement upon the process as if to require the question, "I know you are being transformed by the renewing of your mind but is it Gospel-centered"? Of course I would respond, "No, it is God-centered". Heh.

 

Andrew K.'s picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:

Andrew, I think I agree with everything you said.  I'm just pointing out the inadequacy of the definition.  I acknowledge and did early on here that there are culturally relative issues of modesty.  I mentioned Africa and displaying legs.  In Colonial America, women weren't to show elbows.  Odd to us, but believers in 1760 should not have flaunted that convention and been seen as brazen.  This is all pretty obvious, isn't it?  That point needs a paragraph, not a book.  I am assuming that a book on modesty would go well beyond these points and offer some practical advice for parents and young people.   

That thought leads  me to start another little fire.  Do we really need Gospel-centered modesty?  Is it wise to attach the Gospel to everything as the Reformed folks do these days ( I speak as one of them)?  Who started that?  Quite a few messes have been created with Gospel-centered parenting, and Gospel-centered courtship, etc., which often seems to use the word Gospel as an unanswerable support for someone's opinion.  I have been trying grasp the significance of Gospel-centered spanking in a recent book.

I understand getting away from imposing specific lists and measuring inches, etc., which can indeed be legalistic, especially if I am making a list for you.   I don't really have much experience in very legalistic Fundamentalism, but I think I understand the issues there.  As I read Paul, the Gospel relates to these grey areas of specifics mainly in the sense that the Gospel makes Christ the Lord of another brother's conscience, not me.  But does the Gospel make people modest?  The new birth might bring about a quick sense of shame in someone regarding dress, but then again, it might not.    

A person can love Christ and the Gospel and still be clueless about modesty, and what inspires lust, etc.  I have met a fair number of folks like that.  The Gospel doesn't eliminate immodesty...at least not automatically.  And shouldn't believers have been modest before the Gospel?  Is there some place different than being modest to gain God's approval (true legalism) and attaching the Gospel to how we dress?  Even under the OT law, people were to love God and and one another, and that was the motive to obey Him.  Some virtues are virtues whether Christ died for us or not.

 

 

Yeah, I need to read more carefully sometimes before posting. Smile

I happen to agree with you here as well. About the Gospel-centered thing, that is. I struggle to see how tagging the term "gospel" to everything is helpful. In fact, it seems it could be quite harmful at times, rooting faulty applications (even differing styles of approach) in the foundation of our truth, thereby giving them a very serious kind of derivative authority. Plus it really has become a buzzword, and I dislike those intensely.

On a further note, as a young Reformed-type (though not restless), I dislike how we are frequently stereotyped. I appreciate the work of John Piper, Sproul, etc., but was actually far more influenced by the Old Princeton authors I read in college. It needn't be presented as though we were homogenous.

I don't know that I'm responding to anyone in particular with the last comment. Just feel that's how we are perceived sometime.

神是爱

Kevin Subra's picture

I'm no expert. I am a male, and a concerned father who happens to be the father of 9 daughters (and 6 sons). This is an issue, in my opinion, that the Church has thrown away, and books like this (only from the review, I have not read the book) assist the Church in doing so.

I get that modesty has to first be a heart issue. I say that it cannot ever just be a heart issue. It has to translate into a clothes issue (as 1 Timothy 2 suggests).

I would suggest that Paul does define modesty, to some degree, and he does so before he brings up the "braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing" (v. 9). I believe this leaves the matter somewhat more objective than a moving target that is culturally determined.

Paul tells women (this is a woman-specific issue, as indicated in the passage), to adorn themselves (which would imply dressing, as opposed to not dressing) in a certain type of apparel - modest apparel. The text is the use of two roots of kosmos - literally "to order themselves with orderly apparel." The concept of kosmos is of an ordained order, not a self-determined order. It is according to what God has set in place, not what we choose to define. (It sounds legalistic, but God did impose clothing on mankind, and He seems to differentiate men from women.)

The word for "apparel" is not inert. Though rare in Scripture, katastole carries with it the idea of the "inner robe." It seems to indicate a long flowing garment. (stole by itself means a long robe.) It seems, at the very least, to suggest loose fitting clothing (which most warm blooded males understand right away). I don't know if the singular nature of the noun is significant, but it might be ("gown" instead of generic "articles of clothing").

Prior to the list of "add-ons" that this book apparently gravitates to, the adorning of oneself with "modest apparel" is modified by two terms which further explain the apparel to be worn: 

  • propriety [aidous]- The idea of shame (KJV says "shamefacedness;" propriety is good because it brings with it the idea of what is proper). The adorning needs to be done with a proper sense of what is shameful and what is not. That means, in the least, that there does exist "rules" or lines which should not be crossed. Whether hard lines, such as length of skirt, etc. (which I cannot embrace) or concepts, such as revealing one's nakedness, skin, or shape (which I am inclined to accept), there are reasons why God did cloth Adam and Eve (to cover nakedness, to avoid revealing that which shouldn't be revealed).
  • moderation [sophronsunes] - The idea of using sensibility or reason should govern the way godly women dress as women. As a woman, does this bring glory to God or does it draw attention to me? Does this encourage impure thoughts? The desire to be casual or comfortable or classy is not the only dictate. Both a sense of shame and a thoughtful, purposefulness need to be part of a woman's process when adorning herself.

There is much more to the discussion of modesty than 1 Timothy 2 (the purpose of clothing in Genesis 3, the clothing of a harlot, etc.). However, I would just encourage everyone (again, without having read this book, and only taking the review for what it does say) not to discard what 1 Timothy 2 does say beyond what the authors seem to lay as the foundational culturally determined considerations of the passage.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Sometimes I wish modesty wasn't discussed as if it was primarily a 'Christian' issue. So much of how we present ourselves, in appearance and demeanor, communicates to the world a message about how we view ourselves, and how we want others to see us. 

I've taught my sons and daughter that they should consider what they wear and how they act in this light. If they are regenerate, the Holy Spirit can act on their hearts to lead and guide them to an understanding of Biblical principles, such as those that Bro. Subra addressed. But I don't approach this with them as a teaching that is only for Christians, KWIM? Whether they ever accept Christ or not, I still want them to act like they got a lick o' sense. 

I would agree with the idea that in someone who is regenerate, their new heart should not feel that honoring God with their body is a loathsome burden. To deflect glory from oneself to one's Savior should be a joy and privilege.

As far as lists go- I think a list of do's and don'ts is fine as long as it isn't attached to the idea of 'proof' of spirituality. I was part of a FB group promoting modesty for a short time. For quite a few of those women, modesty meant not wearing a watch, wedding ring, any kind of scent, not shaving your legs, or wearing supportive undergarments or hose, as these were indulging one's vanity. I left before I was labeled as a Jezebel for coloring my hair. 

My dd and I walk around the mall and talk about how to judge appearance and clothing as modest and appropriate. We stand in front of a mirror and pay attention to where the pattern and fit call one's attention (I think I've told the story before about why I don't wear clothing with printing on the front). We also check ourselves frontways and sideways, lift our arms, bend and stretch and stoop and reach and step. We sit down and cross our legs. What looks fine just standing in place doesn't look fine when bending to pick up a child or reaching for something on a shelf. 

It isn't just plumbers that sometimes leave too little to the imagination.

Kevin Subra's picture

Susan, I had no idea I was fellowshipping on SI with someone who colored her hair. (Just kidding.)

My one point would be that this is a distinctly Christian issue, as unbelievers will act according to the world, the flesh, and the devil. Though it is appropriate to encourage people to live rightly whether saved or not, 1 Timothy 2 does go on to say that such should be the practice because it is "proper for women professing godliness, with good works." Modesty is something that should distinguish Christian women from non-Christian women. (An editorial comment from this one man: I would suggest that it is often extremely hard to differentiate between non-believing women and believing women, even in many church gatherings.)

Thanks for your encouraging testimony. May your modest, hair-coloring tribe increase. ;>D

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Kevin Subra wrote:

Susan, I had no idea I was fellowshipping on SI with someone who colored her hair. (Just kidding.)

My one point would be that this is a distinctly Christian issue, as unbelievers will act according to the world, the flesh, and the devil. Though it is appropriate to encourage people to live rightly whether saved or not, 1 Timothy 2 does go on to say that such should be the practice because it is "proper for women professing godliness, with good works." Modesty is something that should distinguish Christian women from non-Christian women. (An editorial comment from this one man: I would suggest that it is often extremely hard to differentiate between non-believing women and believing women, even in many church gatherings.)

Thanks for your encouraging testimony. May your modest, hair-coloring tribe increase. ;>D

How to say this- I'm not sure that I agree that modesty is a distinctly Christian issue, because God did give us a conscience, and unbelievers often instinctively obey the "law written on their hearts".  The lost will even give their lives for their fellow man, and that kind of love is described in Scripture as a distinctly Christian virtue... 

I'm also not sure about dressing to 'distinguish' oneself from non-Christian women. I wouldn't know how to go about doing that, since we shop at the same stores. I think modesty is a package deal, one that combines the inner fruits of the Spirit with outward manifestations, such as a desire to be modest. 

What worries me is when I don't see any interest in modesty in women proclaiming Christ. 

Perhaps the idea of connecting modesty to the Gospel is a good one, in the sense that receiving the Gospel should result in the beginning of the sanctification process, and that a lack of concern for Godly virtues is simply a sign of the Gospel not having been received inwardly, only outwardly.

I also think that modesty shouldn't be predominantly viewed as a "anti-lust" maneuver, but as a way to bring honor and glory to God. If I only think about how I dress as a way to keep guys from lusting, I'm never going to leave the house. But if I think of myself as a child of God wanting to please and honor her Father, then I'm focused on the right motives. 

Now I feel like I'm going to start rambling all over the place due to a severe lack of lunch, but I will end this post by saying that I teach my kids to do right whether they are saved or not. They just have to know that what they do that is 'right' does not reap an eternal reward or score points with God. Mostly it keeps them from getting grounded... :D 

Kevin Subra's picture

Susan R wrote:

How to say this- I'm not sure that I agree that modesty is a distinctly Christian issue, because God did give us a conscience, and unbelievers often instinctively obey the "law written on their hearts".  The lost will even give their lives for their fellow man, and that kind of love is described in Scripture as a distinctly Christian virtue...

To be clear, I'm not saying modesty is or should be limited to Christians. It certainly should be displayed and obeyed by Christians, as indicated by the 1 Timothy 2 passage. Without the influence of Christians, a proper view of modesty is probably not to be had, with or without a conscience.

Susan R wrote:
I'm also not sure about dressing to 'distinguish' oneself from non-Christian women. I wouldn't know how to go about doing that, since we shop at the same stores. I think modesty is a package deal, one that combines the inner fruits of the Spirit with outward manifestations, such as a desire to be modest.
I don't think I've indicated that Christian women should dress as described for the purpose of distinguishing themselves. However, if Christian women do dress modestly, they most certainly will be differentiated from the world, and worldly Christians. They passage does appeal to Christian women and the modest dress and godly works that are to accompany them uniquely as godly women.

Susan R wrote:
Perhaps the idea of connecting modesty to the Gospel is a good one, in the sense that receiving the Gospel should result in the beginning of the sanctification process, and that a lack of concern for Godly virtues is simply a sign of the Gospel not having been received inwardly, only outwardly.
If I understand what you are saying, I would disagree. I would not connect modesty with salvation. I would connect it with sanctification. Poor (wrong or inaccurate) teaching will not result in proper thinking or proper living.

Susan R wrote:
I also think that modesty shouldn't be predominantly viewed as a "anti-lust" maneuver, but as a way to bring honor and glory to God. If I only think about how I dress as a way to keep guys from lusting, I'm never going to leave the house. But if I think of myself as a child of God wanting to please and honor her Father, then I'm focused on the right motives.
I don't think you have to choose one over the other. I understand that lust requires no specifics, and that the one living by lust is ultimately responsible for his/her own sin. I would see that seeking to avoid defrauding one another is not a wrong motive. That is glorifying to God, as I would see it.

Kevin

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

your comments and my comments, Bro. Subra, I don't think we disagree. We seem to be  expressing the same things with a slightly different emphasis.

 

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