Modesty Helps Foster Friendship in Women

Posted By on August 8, 2011

The article Jennie posted a few days ago, “Modesty Helps Women Be Friends”, makes some very good points, and inspired the following post:

WARNING: Before I begin, I’d like to make it clear that when I use the word “modesty”, I am neither referring to “pants vs. dresses” nor some sort of Christianized burka. The issue isn’t personal opinions regarding styles of dress. The issue is when, if, and how to confront those who are displaying sexually explicit areas of their bodies (either by uncovering them completely or clearly showcasing them). Please do not misunderstand this post as an invitation to become a “man-made rule maker,” policing other Christians based simply on their style of dress.

The premise of this article is love and it is directed only to Christians. It is not in reference to visitors to your church, people you don’t know, or unbelievers.

So, here is a question inspired by the topic in the article above:

When a young Christian in your life dresses immodestly, do you love her enough to say something to her or do you keep silent, fearing her reaction?

Here is what happened to me years ago…

I was 22 years old and a brand new Christian when something happened to me that forever impacted my opinion of how to approach immodesty in new Christians. An older woman, the precious lady who led me to the Lord, became very frustrated with me after she and her family invited me to visit their beach cabin.

I had been walking around in front of my friend’s husband and teen sons all weekend long in a bikini, with just a light, button down shirt thrown over the top of it. Finally, in obvious frustration, she told me I needed to “go put some clothes on!”

I was horrified and so embarrassed! I still remember standing there on the beach wondering if I should run to the cabin or bury myself in the sand. Maybe a wave would swallow me. I felt like the “emperor who had no clothes!” All of a sudden I realized I was practically naked – and had been, all weekend!

I recall wishing that she would have been frank with me about modesty at the beginning of the weekend (privately and gently). Her hesitancy caused her own unnecessary frustration, and it cost me immense humiliation. While I had noticed her coolness toward me that weekend, I hadn’t realized what was causing it.

Confrontation, especially in an area that is so personal, can be very, very difficult. It’s no fun. In fact, it’s downright painful! And, it’s important to remember that immodesty isn’t always purposeful – at least not on a conscious level. So, sometimes we just need to gently say something early on and the issue is easily resolved. In fact, the “loving thing” to do is to say something – hopefully before the person has humiliated themselves completely.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35)

What about the Wife?

And, on the other side of the coin, if you are the one who is confronted, remember that the “loving thing” to do is to dress modestly – especially around the husbands and sons of others.

Years ago, I was sitting with a friend at church when a young women (with solid Christian parents) walked by who was showcasing her assets in skin tight jeans and a low cut blouse. My friend glanced over at her husband and sons who were standing nearby and said, “I realize she is very proud of her breasts and all; but, it would be nice if she kept them to herself.”

I was a bit taken aback by her bluntness, but it struck me that day that she was onto something. Although, I think a more accurate observation would be that this young woman should have been glorifying God by “keeping them” (as well as other things) for her own husband, instead of “sharing them” with everyone else’s…because, well, because that would be the loving thing to do.

You see, the thing I find so interesting is that those who freak out when this subject comes up – those who are scared to death of offending the potentially weaker sisters who dress immodestly (even when those “weaker sisters” have been Christians for years) – don’t seem to be worried about the “weaker sister” who is hurt when she has to sit beside her husband in church with a mini skirt in her face all service. Why isn’t anyone concerned about her? How about the poor visiting family who has to sit behind the pastor’s daughter who seems to have forgotten her underclothes?

“Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own.” – John Calvin

I remember one friend whose husband struggled with pornography. In tears one day, she shared with me how she didn’t even want to go to church anymore (at least not with her husband) unless they were able to sit on the front row. She said she was tired of catching her husband staring at the backsides of the girls in skin tight jeans in front of them (this particular mega church had a huge problem with immodesty – almost as big as her husband’s lust problem).

Sadly, even when they sat on the front row, they had to look up the skirts of the choir members on stage when they sat down. For a woman struggling in this type of marriage it was torture. But, nobody seemed concerned about her. If she complained to leadership she would have likely been called judgmental or legalistic.

Of course, this husband was totally responsible for his own sin. In fact, my friend wound up divorced; but, that isn’t the point. In fact, the point isn’t my friend’s husband at all. The point is that my friend was hurt, not only by the wandering eye of her own husband, but by her many sisters in Christ who gave him such ample opportunity, and who should have known better.

Love One Another

If you are a man:

1. Love your wife (or future wife) enough to guard your eyes and keep them “just for her.” (Proverbs 5:19)

2. Love other women enough to respectfully look away when they display themselves, remembering that many don’t know any better.

3. Love your wife and daughters enough to protect them from the wandering eyes of others.

4. Most of all, love your God enough to glorify Him with your eyes and your thoughts (Job 31:1).

If you are a woman who already understands modesty:

1. Love your sisters in Christ by loving the women in your midst. See beyond their sin, to who they are in Christ (or the potential of who they could be in Christ). Remember to be merciful and long suffering with them, as Jesus is with us.

2. Love your sisters in Christ enough to let them know when they are dressed immodestly, hopefully before they humiliate themselves, but after you have built a relationship with them. Also, make certain you are indeed addressing real issues of indiscretion – not simply your opinion of a certain style.

Consider how you would want someone to confront you of sin. Be gentle and take things slowly, but be honest (Matthew 7:12). Be prepared to love your sisters enough to be misunderstood, mocked, or even hated.

3. Love your brothers in Christ enough to endeavor to be that Titus 2 woman who is called to teach the younger women, among other things, to be discreet and chaste (Titus 2:4). (See also The Beauty of Chastity)

4. Do not assume false motives of your sister. Remember that we are all in different places on the path of sanctification. Always think the best of others.

5. Most of all, love your God enough to trust Him with your husband, your sons, and your marriage. Love Him by fearlessly and humbly loving His people.

If you are a woman who has not seriously considered the Christian’s call to modesty:

1. Read your Bible and earnestly pray that God would show you how He would have you dress. Consider the fact that our bodies are to be used to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:20) and that we are called to love others sacrificially.

2. Love your brothers in Christ (and other men) enough to want to help them not to sin, rather than risk being a likely stumbling block. Yes, some guys will lust regardless, just make sure you aren’t an actual participant in the problem. Love your husband (or future husband) enough to save yourself for him.

3. Love your sisters in Christ (and other women) enough not to hurt them by flaunting yourself in front of their husbands, and not riling up the “mama hen” in them in relation to their brothers and sons.

4. If you are confronted about modesty, do not assume false motives of your sister (or brother). Know that it is likely that she has your best interest in mind. Try to be teachable and always think the best of others.

5. Most of all, love your God enough to be willing to lay down your “favorite outfit” if you know that it causes someone else to stumble. Remember that your body belongs to God: For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…” (Hebrews 10:24)

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

“But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)

About The Author

Stacy is the wife of Pastor James McDonald of Providence Church and Family Reformation Ministries. She is the mother of ten precious blessings, and the grandma of 3 1/2 treasured cuddle bugs, so far! Surely, she is and does other things, but these are the most significant to her. Stacy is also a conference speaker, the author of Raising Maidens of Virtue, and co-author of the popular book, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God.


5 Responses to “Modesty Helps Foster Friendship in Women”

  1. dawnbeard says:

    You have stated this so well. I have sons and one who has a problem with lust. There are so many places we have to stay away from because it causes him to stumble. Thankfully we are no longer in a church where this is a worry.

  2. Hallie says:

    Thank you! Finding a gentle, loving way of breaching this subject with my younger sisters in Christ is something I’ve been struggling with for some time now. Lately, I’ve been so hurt when I see my teenage brother struggle to avert his gaze when a girl shows up to youth group or Sunday services wearing so little. I applaud him for continuing to fight against temptation at school, or out around town, but my heart aches when I see that he has to fight equally hard (sometimes harder) even around his Christian sisters. It’s a reminder for me to dress modestly as a way to bless my brothers in Christ. This post is wonderful, and worth sharing. God Bless!

  3. abba12 says:

    I finally went through and made an account on here for this post (please make your commenting system more accessable!!! people would love to comment if they didn’t have to make a whole new account to do so!)

    I knew a woman who had grown up as a child, and then adult, prostitute. She was freed from her situation and began to attend church, and she went to church in the same clothes she went everywhere else in because she honestly knew no better, and even if she did, I doubt she owned anything more modest. Most of the women shunned her, would have nothing to do with her, while she just wanted to learn and make friends. Eventually someone took the time to talk with her, and took her shopping! She understood modesty well once it was explained, it follows on completely from the immodesty she knew worked to get mens attention as a prostitute. She just needed someone to take the time to explain what was a foreign concept to her.

    I think modesty is a fairly foreign concept to most young women today.

  4. Thanks for the post, Abba12. We have to have the subscription system to keep out the drive-by flamers/spammers. On the “old” LAF, they became such a problem that we shut down comments entirely rather than have to spend time wading through all the muck. So the “hurdles” are there for a reason to help us out. 😉 Thanks for understanding!

  5. SusanneT says:

    Aside from it’s many wider meanings to me dressing modestly is about saving my sexuality exclusively for my husband and I’ve no doubt that friendship between women is far easier when we show by the way we dress that this is our intent.

    I’m very old fashioned about this I believe that men are lead by physical attraction and that although they are responsible for their own thoughts women have a duty to dress modestly and appropiately so as not to do anything to provoke temptation.

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