Modesty: The deeper heart issues
MODESTY: THE DEEPER HEART ISSUES
By Jennings Napper | MAMFC, ALC
Modesty?! Does anyone even care about modesty these days? Many people in our society would consider the idea of modesty as a thing of the past when the ladies wore skirts down to their ankles and Victorian high necks, long-sleeve blouses to cover their entire bodies. Sadly, modesty often times falls in the “old school” category, and today many women and men in the media are respected and praised for being anything but modest.
Society has drastically changed since we now live in a culture that praises sexuality and sexual self-expression. Living in a sexualized society, many women feel the pressure to wear trendy clothes and certain styles that may be tighter, shorter, or lower-cut, to show more skin. This can even make shopping for modest, stylish clothes difficult at times. Likewise, others may have a difficult time choosing modesty because of the attention or approval that can come from wearing fashionable, racy outfits.
Behind the attention, pressure, or other reasons as to why it may be difficult for someone to choose modesty, there is a deeper underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
Some may wonder, Why does it matter if I dress modestly? Why would I choose to dress modestly when it takes extra effort and knowing I will not get as much attention as the next girl? What’s wrong with getting a little attention? Plus, it makes me feel good about myself. Most people want to feel attractive, liked, and approved by others, and clothing is many times, an outlet used to achieve those feelings.
Digging even deeper, why do we desperately seek this kind of attention? Why do we have the need to be accepted, cherished, and loved? What do we really need?
We desperately need a Savior who sees us for who we are and unconditionally loves and accepts us. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ satisfies the deepest needs of our hearts. The longing to be accepted and approved by others is a distortion of the desire God has placed in each of our hearts to be accepted and affirmed by Him.
When we have a relationship with our Heavenly Father, everything changes. Not only are we forgiven and loved, but we are made new and given a new identity in Christ that can never be taken away from us. In Christ, we as Christians are fully validated, valued, and loved beyond measure. Our worth and value does not come from people, our bodies, our looks, our talents, or our accomplishments. Being fully accepted by Christ, we no longer work to earn His approval and love; we already have it. When we know this truth, we start to see ourselves as children of God with a transformed heart along with different desires and an eternal outlook on life.
Dannah Gresh, a Christian author and a national expert in abstinence and modesty, discussed four myths of modesty on her website at Purefreedom.org. In her discussion, Gresh tackles the myth that modesty is just about clothes. Gresh uses 1 Timothy 2:9–10, to explain that women should be more concerned with godliness and good deeds instead of being wrapped up in their outward appearance. Christians should make themselves attractive by the good deeds they do, which overflow from their transformed hearts. She states, “The greatest sin of immodesty is that we’re saying ‘look at me’ instead of ‘look at God’.”
Modesty does matter because how we present ourselves should reflect what’s in our heart. God commands that we live a lifestyle of purity — not just towards modesty, but in our speech, actions, and thoughts. Modesty is so much more than the clothes we wear. Purity starts in our hearts and in our thought life. God tells us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) because this is where sin takes root. Hiding God’s truth in our hearts is vital to helping us combat the lies of self-doubt and inadequacies.
As Christians, it’s our job to set a Christ-like example to those who are lost around us, and this includes how we dress and present ourselves. We can do this by choosing flattering, fashionable clothing styles that are not revealing, and yes, it is still possible for women to celebrate their beauty while being modest at the same time.
When it comes to relating to others in love, in setting a Christ-like example, remember it is not our place to judge others by what they wear; judging or staring at someone will not win them to Christ. We are called to embrace lost people, point them to Christ, and show them His love. Our prayer for the lost should be Romans 12:2, that they would no longer be conformed to this world but would be transformed with Christ’s truth and love. When people’s hearts are inwardly changed by Christ, the inner change will also work to transform their outward attitude and appearance.
Without knowing Christ as Savior, people will always have feelings of inadequacy and will continue to try to fill their emptiness with worldly pleasures, accomplishments, and man’s approval. As Christians, we have the full deity of Christ living inside of us, so we lack nothing; this is because we know the truth of who we are in Christ and know our identity is found in Him alone.
This post was originally published in The Alabama Baptist newspaper as a part of their Faith and Family series.