2 Sept 2013 by Lim Poh Ann –
Is modesty merely a question of how much skin is exposed? How do we reconcile a desire to be attractive with being modest?
‘Less is more’ is something advocated by some interior designers, especially those who prefer the minimalist look. However, when it comes to a lady’s dress, this rule does not necessarily apply.
Plunging necklines, mini skirts, skin-tight or see through clothing which leaves little to the imagination. In general, most of us have a fairly good idea of what modesty is not—when a lady flaunts herself by dressing or behaving in a sexually provocative way.
A lady’s modesty means so many different things to people of various cultures and religions. From a biblical standpoint, a lady who attempts to draw undue attention to herself and places greater emphasis on ‘outward adornments’ rather than ‘inner beauty’ has already crossed the line as far as modesty is concerned.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
Paul, while exhorting young Timothy concerning the place of women in church, taught: “I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do” (1Timothy 2:9-10).
Moderation is the key. Being modest doesn’t mean a lady cannot use makeup or wear expensive clothes or jewelry. Her clothing, too, needn’t be drab or frumpy. In my humble opinion, she just needs to dress in something comfortable and feminine—that which befits the occasion. How she dresses herself for an ordinary day at work, interview, date, formal dinner function or picnic will, of course, vastly differ. In my humble opinion, an ao dai is an example of a dress which sums up elegance, femininity and modesty.
A gentle and loving lady radiates a glow that cosmetics and dress cannot duplicate. Her modesty draws greater respect from mature men than a lady who chooses to expose skin indiscriminately. I am sure Christian single ladies who are wise would not want to attract the “wrong crowd”.
Every lady wants to look good. A desire to be beautiful is almost instinctive in a lady. It is not unscriptural for a lady to want to be attractive. This is a positive quality though there are differences in opinion as to how far she should go in the pursuit of beauty.* Do you think Esther would have caught the eye of the king had it not been for her beauty and willingness to be subjected to many rounds of elaborate beauty treatment?
A lady pastor shared how she once loved to wear mini skirt and skimpy tank top—but that was before her conversion. As she began renewing her mind with scripture, the Holy Spirit convicted her to wear more modest apparel.
The ‘inner man’ (pardon, I mean woman) needs to be changed first before we can see positive transformation of the external. Modesty is not merely a question of how much skin is exposed. And setting rules is probably not the best way to go when it comes to modesty.
Even so, some “house rules” need to be set in a local church when it comes to modesty. We certainly do not want a situation where the men get unnecessarily distracted and sidetracked as they worship God. Young believers need to be told gently and tactfully where they have crossed the line by other more mature women in church.
* Checklist: Are you obsessed with beauty?
1. Do you spend a large proportion of your waking hours thinking about or attending to your own external beauty?
2. Do you spend large sums of money to look beautiful and attractive?
3. Do you compare yourself unfavourably with others whom you think are more beautiful than you?
4. Do you judge—accept or reject—a person based primarily on looks?
5. Do you often lament that you are lacking in something which will make you more attractive?
6. Do you make it a point to expose yourself constantly to books, magazines, internet sites and friends so as to make yourself more beautiful?
7. Are you willing to part with huge sums of money and take undue risks to make yourself more beautiful and desirable?
For more, please check out: http://bit.ly/17crD8N
The above post has been inspired by the two recent articles in CHARISMA:
Why Do So Many 'Born-Again, Spirit-Filled' Women Show Off Cleavage in Church?
Churchgoing Men Would Appreciate Less Cleavage in Church Too
Any man who says he isn’t at least slightly affected by a scantily dressed woman—as described by Jennifer in her article—is either a eunuch, gay or someone who isn’t telling the truth.
Porridge For The Soul By Dr Lim Poh Ann
Disclaimer: The views or opinions expressed by the columnists are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Christianity Malaysia.com
References for pictures: