Let's Talk About Modesty...

by Brittany Matute

Image by Heidi Mast

Image by Heidi Mast

Modesty. It’s a concept that invokes many different reactions and at times, confusion. Just what exactly is modesty? Is it making sure every square of inch of skin is covered? Does it mean buying baggy, ugly clothes so that, heaven forbid, all curves are hidden? 

While at times these particular aspects may factor into our lives, they are not the complete story. As women of God, we should desire to cover ourselves outwardly for several reasons. First and foremost, our bodies are the temple of God. Putting our bodies on display for the world to see cheapens the holiness of how God designed us. He created us to be the dwelling place of His Spirit and our hearts to be His throne room. Dressing in a chaste manner brings beauty to that temple.

Secondly, choosing to dress modestly protects our brothers in Christ. There are plenty of examples of blatant immodesty in the world. Our men should not have to struggle because a sister in Christ chose to clothe herself in a sensual manner.

Thirdly, choosing a modest wardrobe is just plain lady-like! There is something special about a woman who dresses in a genteel fashion. People appreciate feminine modesty much more then we may realize. One time I met someone at the grocery store who commented on my skirt and expressed how he appreciated the way I dressed.

Now, I can already hear some of you say, “But wait a minute! Men just need to pull their minds out of the gutter and get over it. I want to dress the way I want to.” Trust me, I understand where you’re coming from. Once upon a time I felt somewhat resentful that the subject of modesty landed solely on the women’s shoulders and that it was our fault if a man stumbled. After all, we can’t please everyone. We might as well wear a box so that everything is hidden.

"I have learned that modesty is not just an issue of covering our bodies, but also protecting our actions and words."

My outlook on modesty has changed as I have gotten older and hopefully have gained some wisdom. Yes, we as women should do what we can to present our outward parts as modestly as possible for the reasons already listed. However, I have learned that modesty is not just an issue of covering our bodies, but also protecting our actions and words.  A woman may be covered on the outside, but attention- seeking actions and cynical words do not convey modesty to the people around her. We should guard our actions and protect our speech.

I realize that God has blessed some of you with personalities that tend to lean towards a more boisterous, fun-loving perspective. There is nothing wrong with that. God created you that way for a reason. You don’t have to force yourself to be a mild, quiet woman because doing that simply will not work. It was not how you were designed. Rather than trying to be someone you are not, try instead to temper your actions. If you know that you can be somewhat noisy in a group of people, simply be aware of that fact and do what you can to control it. Loud, rambunctious conversation, while having its place in some situations, should not be the norm for a modest woman.

I have a strong personality that loves sarcastic humor and I’m not afraid to dish it out to people.  However, I realize that while having that particular characteristic is not a bad thing, it can be immodest if I am not careful. There is a time and place for that type of joking, and I am learning to temper it to the right situation. 

Because modesty is a heart issue, we need to be aware of how our words sound to others. Negative emotions we feel inside very often manifest themselves outwardly in ugly words.  A modest woman is careful with how she expresses herself. Harsh criticisms and gossip are not attractive and lady-like to anyone. 

In case I haven’t made myself clear, modesty is not only about our outward appearance, but also in the way we conduct ourselves. Some of us have personalities that are hard to tame. Just because we may live life a little bit more loudly then the more sedate ladies does not mean that we can’t be modest. God created us with our special characteristics for a reason. Don’t squash your natural ability to make everybody laugh just because it may not be lady-like. Learn to temper it, to be aware of how it may affect those around you. 

Let’s take joy in being women and dress for the honor and glory of the King, not for the people around us. Let’s strive to present our unique personalities in ways that point back to the One who sits in our throne room.

Brittany Matute is a long-time staffer at Daughters of Promise, sharing her talents in cooking, writing, and most recently, blog management. Give her some love!