Real Modesty (a redux episode) – MBFLP 236

Hello, Friends!

Melanie’s come down with laryngitis this week so we’d like to offer this return to a frequent issue for Christians in conservative churches – Modesty! And we think you’ll find there’s more to it, and less of what you may expect, when you look back to the whole Bible. We hope you enjoy it!

In Christ
Hal and Melanie

One of the long-running controversies in conservative churches is the question of “modesty.” What does it mean, Biblically? How should we practice it? Is it just about “necklines and hemlines” or is there something more?

Sometimes the subject has bad associations in people’s memory. Maybe they’ve encountered a legalistic application of the concept, and it left a bad taste in their mouth. And yet, we know that modesty is important for a Christian. We want the way we dress to reflect that we’re God’s people. We don’t want to tempt people to sin. But how can we consider the question without bogging down in legalistic stuff?

Of course – go back and look at the biblical standard. Let’s see what the Word actually says and not just what someone interpreted.

To The Word!

Providentially, we were looking at one of these passages in our family devotions. In 1 Timothy 2:8-9, Paul is instructing Timothy on the organization of the church he’s planting. He wrote,

“I desire therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety in moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good work.”

Some people interpret that to mean women should not wear nice clothes. They shouldn’t try to be attractive. They shouldn’t wear jewelry or braid their hair. And on the surface the passage sounds like that, but other passages give it more context.

For example, 1 Peter 3 is talking about relations of wives and husbands. In his word to the wives, Peter says (verse 3), “Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather, let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” And in verse five, he continues, “For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

Here’s a significant point – Sarah was known for something. In Genesis 12, when she and Abraham were in Egypt, the Egyptians noticed Sarah. They noticed her beauty. They were staring at her. They were saying in their own language, “Wow. Check out that woman over there.” She attracted so much attention Abraham actually feared for his own life.

Guess what? Sarah was at least 65 years old at the time.

Changing Perspective

This is worth considering for a moment. Obviously Sarah was a woman who knew how to take care of herself, who knew how to dress well, who knew how to groom herself. This woman was like a supermodel, and 65 years old. And what does Peter say? Peter says, ladies be like Sarah–she was a godly woman.

We’ve had friends who seemed to believe that “Dumpiness is next to holiness.” That “dowdy” is “godly.” And yet we have the example of Sarah to balance some of our interpretation.

(There’s much more in the rest of the episode – it’s not just an issue for women!)

Speak Your Mind

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