What is modesty really about?
It is an important question that needs answering. I believe that the main purpose of modesty is being pushed to the back burner. Nearly every lesson I have heard uses this as the main argument for modest dress: “Women, if you don't dress modestly, you will make men lust!”
First, let me emphasize that I believe in modesty. I believe it is important. However, we have made lust the forefront of the issue. Which, it actually isn't.
I do not claim to fully understand how my brothers struggle. I am also not denying that modesty helps them out some with this sin.
Which leads me to this: the main reasons for modesty are not because of lust.
So, the big question is this: What does the bible say about it?
“…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” (1st Timothy 2:9-10.) (emp. added.)
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1st Peter 3:4-5.) (emp. added)
In 1st Timothy it says for clothing to be “respectable”. It is to have “modesty” and “self-control”. The Greek word for “respectable” in this verse is the word Kosmios. This word means “Orderly and virtuous”.
I looked up definitions for “modesty” and “self-control” as well. These words are saying that our clothing doesn't need to be super flashy. Clothing can be immodest by either wearing too little, or even too much.
God expects us to dress in a tasteful way. A way that makes sense with how you are trying to live. Modesty allows our works and hearts to speak louder than our dress and appearance. That is the biggest reason behind modesty based on scripture.
Here is why lust is only a small part of the equation. Even if pants aren’t tight, you can still see the shape of a woman’s legs or behind. Skirts can reveal the outline of a woman’s hips. Some skirts reveal calves. Lots of men find legs sexy, even if women are covered to the knee. Some women are so blessed up top, that no amount of coverage can make their breasts non-existent. Often times, the female form itself is just enough, no matter how well-covered. Some women have very curvy figures that are difficult to hide. Hey, some men even find modest dress sexy.
It is impossible for women to figure out every little thing that could make a man lust. It varies greatly from man to man. I don't think God intended for women to bear that heavy of a burden.
Modest dress is only an aid-not the answer-to lust. That is a whole other topic in itself. We need to remember the MAIN reasons for dressing modestly:
1. Allowing our focus to be on developing our virtue and relationship with God over appearance.
2. To allow our works and our hearts to speak louder than our outfit.
We must be careful how we tread with this issue. Too many girls have been given the idea that their bodies are bad.When we make this issue mostly about lust, many girls begin to see their bodies as something to be ashamed of. If we aren't careful, can give them the false impression of why God wants us to be modest in the first place.
To conclude, if you can keep those standards in mind, it should make it easier to know what God has in mind for dress.