Modesty: Still Missing from the Church
"Why does she have on those hooker shoes?" That's how one of my godmothers began our phone conversation Monday morning. She was disheartened by a woman's church attire, and that was just one of her examples. I shared my observations concerning the responsibility of modesty and its challenges for both men and women.
My cultural background advises me to put on my "Sunday Best" when I enter God's sanctuary, where my physical presentation to God speaks volumes about how I reverence him. If I don't say anything about my spiritual condition, few people can confidently speak about what's going on in my heart. Yet they can observe my emotional and physical condition, either through my smile, physique, or radiant skin (which can reveal proper hydration, rest, and minimal stress).
Whether I like it or not, people draw assumptions about me based on my physical presentation. As a Christian woman, I do not want people drawing the wrong conclusions about my focus. I believe that modesty is a major issue in our churches. While I cannot take ownership of someone else's sin, I do accept the responsibility for being my brother's keeper.
Do Christian women know when they are not being modest?
Some suggest that most Christian women know that modesty is a problem in the church, that we need to be more conscientious of our clothing choices, and that our physical presentation has the ability to negatively influence men. Yet if we are aware of these issues, why don't we do something about it?
When discussing modesty, the major concern is the sin of lust in its various forms that has infiltrated our churches. Lust is often a sin that is poorly addressed among Christian men and women, and rarely is modesty addressed as a gateway to our declining moral standards concerning lust. To be clear, I am not letting men off the hook. Pornography is an ongoing problem with many Christian men (and a rising problem among women as well). If that is an unconfessed sin of a brother or sister, anything can "trigger" them spiraling down the wrong road.
On the other hand, spiritual maturity requires that I evaluate my heart. A godly heart is revealed through self-sacrificing actions that esteem others above myself. A sin-sick heart is centered on what is important to me—where my rights will always determine my actions. Let's face it: We all want to look attractive. If the motivation is to look attractive at any cost with no consideration for others, however, there is a heart issue to confront.
Here is how I personally practice modesty in church. During the fall and winter months, I frequently wear pants, and made a conscience decision to take a shawl or cardigan whenever I wear a shorter dress or skirt during the warmer months. While sitting in a circle during Sunday school class, I drape the shawl across my knees so that I am not exposed when I sit down. I don't have to cover my knees, but I do it because I don't want to be a stumbling block for a brother or sister.
To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.