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Way of Life Bible College
Tight Clothing and Modesty
July 28, 2021 (first published February 28, 2017)
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
Dressing for the Lord
Recently I commented on an advertisement for the Getty’s Sing 2019 worship conference that showed a woman dancing in super tight pants that look like they were painted on. I described this woman’s clothing as “incredibly immodest” (“The Getty’s Big Tent Christianity,” Friday Church News Notes, June 28, 2019). A reader commented, “I would definitely agree that her outfit was immodest, but I would not say that it was ‘incredibly immodest.” He also said that his 18-year-old daughter, who is a Getty fan, “will probably say that the outfit is not immodest.”

These two comments are intimately related. It has been said that what the parents allow in moderation, the children will take to the extreme. I replied to this man as follows: “Anyone who thinks that is not incredibly immodest is more influenced by the world than the Word of God. Independent Baptist churches are filled with such people, but that is because they are unscriptural mixed multitudes instead of true New Testament churches that maintain regenerate church membership by caution and wisdom in baptism and in receiving members (Acts 2:41-42) and by serious discipleship (Mt. 28:20; 2 Co. 7:1; Eph. 4:11-32; 5:1-15; Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Pe. 2:1-2) and through the purging of discipline (1 Co. 5:6-8).

Tight, clinging attire is as immodest as skimpy attire because the woman’s figure is emphasized and accented, and the man’s attention is directed to that which is forbidden outside of marriage. Men are strongly influenced sexually by the eye-gate and are attracted to the woman’s curves. The immodest clothing industry understands these things and strives to dress women seductively rather than modestly.

It is important to understand that tight, form-fitting clothes can be just as sexually disturbing to a man as skimpy clothes.

In the book
For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men, Shaunti Feldhahn describes the following situation:

“Another husband with a happy twenty-year marriage described another typical scenario: ‘My wife and I recently went out to dinner at a nice restaurant with some friends. The hostess was extremely attractive and was WEARING FORM-FITTING CLOTHES THAT SHOWED OFF A GREAT FIGURE. For the rest of the night, it was impossible not to be aware that she was across the restaurant, walking around. Our group had a great time with our lovely wives, but I guarantee you that our wives didn’t know that every man at that table was acutely aware of that woman’s presence and was doing his utmost not to look in that direction” (p. 114).

In our survey of Christian men on the issue of women’s dress we found that tight clothing is at least as much of a potential problem for men as skimpy clothing. Most of the men indicated that tight skirts and tight blouses and form-fitting jeans hold a “VERY great potential” for lust.

Consider the following statements from men who responded to a questionnaire about clothing:

“I would say the number one problem is any garment that is form fitting, be it jeans, pants, skirt, dress, shirt, whatever. Anything that is tight, no matter how long it is, leaves nothing to the imagination, and that defeats the whole purpose of covering the skin in the first place!”

“You don’t even need to see skin; they provide all the curves.”

“One thing I see in my church is tight clothing. Oh, it may very well be covering but it is revealing the shape in a woman. This can be even more tantalizing to a man.”

“The point is that it is not merely the type of clothing that can trip a man up; rather it is the amount and the level of cling to the body.”

Tight pants were created by Calvin Klein, a bisexual fashion designer. When his super tight pants appeared in 1978, they sold 200,000 pairs in the first week.

Tights worn as pants (leggings) were designed by Gianni Versace, a homosexual fashion designer who was murdered by a homosexual in 1997.

Godly pilgrim women who have set their affection on things above refuse to be conformed to this world and do not follow its filthy, rebellious fashions.

The fundamental of biblical modesty is the heart attitude and the moral character. This is what is emphasized in 1 Timothy 2:9-10. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

The Christian woman’s modesty must come from the inside out. It comes from a sober and shamefaced spirit. The heart condition, the spiritual character is the fundamental thing. The dress issue begins, therefore, with salvation, because without salvation it is impossible to be shamefaced, sober, godly. Without salvation there can be no good works that please God. The dress issue, secondly, requires surrender seeking God’s perfect will, which requires non-conformity to the world and transformation by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1-2). Without salvation and surrender and the pursuit of holiness, the dress issue is only a matter of eternals, which is true Phariseeism. The churches must focus on the heart.

Observe that these guidelines are for women professing godliness. No other kind of woman will care about these things. To profess godliness is a description of a true Christian. She is saved by God’s free grace by the blood of Christ, and she is saved
unto godliness. The true grace of God teaches us to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:11-12). So to profess Christ and salvation in truth is to profess godliness. It is to profess that I have repented and turned from ungodliness to godliness. It is to make godliness my standard of life because I have been born from darkness to life. To profess godliness is the opposite of the apostate Christianity described in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, which aims to live according to its own lusts. Women who are moving according to the spirit of apostasy do not profess godliness and will not submit to the rules of godliness. If a church is full of women who refuse to heed the instruction of 1 Timothy 2:9-11, women who have the attitude of “no preacher is going to tell me how to dress; I refuse to be a weirdo,” it is a church moving with the spirit of apostasy, no matter what it might call itself or boast itself to be. It might have a name that it lives, but in reality, it is dead. Proper attire is no small issue.

This teaches us that it is not enough to set forth dress standards. Every effort must be made to educate the women, beginning with the children in the homes, so that they understand the biblical principles of modesty and know the reason for the church’s standards. Every effort must be made to reach their hearts, to make sure that that they are born again, to challenge them to surrender themselves wholly to Christ and to live for His glory. This is where the battle has been lost in so many churches. They have focused only on external rules. They haven’t been careful about salvation, accepting flimsy professions of faith instead of looking for regeneration. They haven’t sought to maintain a regenerate church membership. They haven’t seriously educated and discipled the people. They haven’t produced mature saints who are skilled in the Word of God and who walk in a testing mindset to discern good from evil according to Hebrews 5:12-14. They have taught the children only how to play games and sing silly songs and be entertained with shallow Bible stories taught, all too frequently, by unqualified teachers. The youth have been pampered and extensively more than discipled. No wonder so many of the churches are one-generation churches that become the habitats for old people in the second generation, and the power of God, if there ever was any power of God, is a distant memory.

Two terms are used in 1 Timothy 2:9 to describe the character of the modesty-attired woman.

She has “shamefacedness.”

“Shamefacedness” is from the Greek
aidos, which meaning godly humility. It “has the idea of downcast eyes” and means “bashfulness, i.e. (towards men), modesty or (towards God) awe” (Strong). It implies “a shrinking from trespassing the boundaries of propriety” (William Hendrickson, New Testament Commentary). Shamefacedness is shyness in the sense of humility, submission to God, submission to God’s will, submission to God’s order of creation. Shamefacedness is that “meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Pe. 3:3-4). The shamefaced woman loves God and is committed to obeying His Word, and this is reflected on her face and in every aspect of her life, including her clothing. It is a renunciation of “the pride of life” which is a major characteristic of this fallen world (1 Jo. 2:16). A shamefaced Christian woman will not have the attitude that says, “Don’t tell me how to dress; I will dress as I please!” She will not be stubborn and sassy. She will not say, “I don’t care what some old-fashioned men say about how I dress; that is their problem; I’m not going to be a weirdo!” That is exactly the spirit of this lost world, and the fact that so many women in “Bible-believing” churches reflect that spirit is clear evidence of apostasy. Paul described apostasy as a Christianity that lives according to its own lusts (2 Ti. 4:3-4). Shamefacedness is exactly the opposite of the cheeky, saucy, proud, impertinent, brash, flippant, sensual, show yourself off, insubordinate attitude that the world seeks to develop in women today and that is modeled by Hollywood starlets and rock & roll queens.

She has “sobriety.”

“Sobriety” is from the Greek
sophrosune, which is translated “soberness” in Acts 26:25. It means “soundness of mind, self-control” (Strong), “habitual inner self-government” (Trench), “the well-balanced state of mind arising from habitual self-restraint” (Ellicott), “moderation of the desires and passions, opposed to all that is frivolous and to all undue excitement of the passions” (Barnes). A sober mind is a mind controlled by God’s Spirit and God’s Word. Sobriety means not to be drunk, neither with alcoholic beverages, nor drugs, nor any other thing. Many professing Christian teenage girls and young women are drunk with the fashions and fads and ways of the world. They are drunk with television, and Hollywood movies and sensual magazines and pop music and YouTube and social media. The Bible and the things of Christ do not excite them, but they are giddy over what some worldly movie star or pop singer is wearing and doing, and over the latest vain fashion or hair style or cosmetic, and over what their friends are doing and saying. Sobriety is the opposite of foolish, silly, flippant, careless, intoxicated, shallow, worldly, and vain. It is the opposite of the spirit of the modern pop culture.

A modest, shamefaced, sober woman will not dress indecently. She will not dress in a sensual way to attract men’s lust. Jesus warned, “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mt. 5:26). That warning is addressed to men, but the modest woman will not want to dress in such a way that men are enticed.

A modest, shamefaced, sober woman will not wear clothing that exposes those parts of the body that have particular sex appeal. God replaced Adam and Eve’s aprons with coats (Ge. 3:21). This Hebrew word (
kethôneth) is translated “robe” in Isaiah 22:21. In 2 Samuel 13:18 it describes Tamar’s robe of many colors. Because man’s heart was now fallen and corrupt and because the man, in particular, is enticed sexually by the eye (Pr. 6:25; Mt. 5:28), proper clothing consisted of covering. Since men find women’s breasts very desirable (Pr. 5:19), the woman needs to take special care to cover that part of herself properly. And the robes God made for Eve doubtless also covered her legs and thighs. In Isaiah 47:2-3 we find that uncovering the leg and thigh is nakedness by God’s standard. Types of clothing that improperly expose the body include short skirts and short dresses, shorts, slit skirts (this is a teasing fashion), low blouses, short blouses that bare the midriff, deep V-necked dresses, backless dresses, halter tops, sleeveless blouses, and any modern swimsuit.

A modest, shamefaced, sober woman will avoid clothing whereby her body is sensually accentuated. Tight, clinging attire is as immodest as skimpy attire because the woman’s figure is emphasized and accented, and man’s attention is directed to that which is forbidden outside of marriage. The immodest clothing industry understands these things and strives to dress women seductively rather than modestly.

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