I want to examine modesty from a different angle than Donal Graeme.
Donal makes the point that there are two types of immodesty:
- Lust and sexuality — through the showing of skin or more.
- Envy and jealousy — through show of status, wealth, money.
Chad has made the point before that immodesty concerns two other mortal sins instead:
- Pride — the notion that “I can do what I want.”
- Avarice — greed in terms of wanting excess attention or validation.
Obviously, I think that all of these views are correct in some way. The 7 deadly sins do apply to immodesty in a variety of ways because it puts what a person thinks is more important over what God thinks is important.
Specifically, the Scriptures talk about modesty on multiple occasions including peripherally:
1 Timothy 2:9-10 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.
1 Peter 3:3-4 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 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.
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Leviticus 19:28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.
If you notice from the Scriptures, modesty and immodesty is almost always contrasted against a woman’s behavior. This is the flipside of physical appearances versus the internal condition of the heart and its influence on behavior.
Contrast this against the ideology of feminism. Most of the 2nd and 3rd wave feminists push for immodesty, but subsequently complain about women becoming sex objects. Logically, modesty is about women being valued for their behavior rather than being sex objects. Yet, feminists are angered when they dress immodest because then they are treated as sex objects.
If feminists really wanted “equality” or “equal opportunity” they would encourage modesty because that would allow women to compete on equal footing and not be valued for their physical appearance. Of course, we know that isn’t the case with feminists. They want to have their cake and eat it too.
Thus, we can see that modesty manifests itself in a dual nature:
- It shows the inward state of the heart of the woman and whether she takes what God commands seriously.
- It manifests itself outwardly to those around her — as part of her behavior — to see if she cares about others and relationships. If her desires are inward focused she gives into pride, envy, jealousy, greed, and the like rather than be focused on the Fundamental Nature of Christianity — unity in relationships with others and God.
Christians play the wrong game if we are inwardly focused as opposed to outwardly focused. Modesty is just but one indicator of selfishness versus selflessness. Also, this affects men too because women are definitely capable of lust.
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his [i]neighbor.
Christians are supposed to be know for their actions — not for what they look like. However, taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit is indeed a good witness.