Gospel Relevance

Gospel-Centered Resources For The Gospel-Driven Life

A Call to Modesty Among Christian Women

Note: The following is a guest post by Melissa Holmquist.


The word “modesty” has almost become a politically incorrect word. If the word even passes your lips, immediate visions of ankle-length dresses with no shape or color appear in a thought bubble above your head repulsing everyone around you. Why is modesty given such a bad reputation?

a call to modesty among christian women

As Christians, we should not be repulsed by the idea of modesty. It is in the Bible (1 Tim. 2:9) right along with God’s thoughts on premarital sex, obeying your parents, murder, and so on. Perhaps it is because there is no verse that explicitly says, “you shall not wear spandex or sheer clothing!” So instead, we adopt the verses about our liberty in Christ to cover the indecent clothing we wear.

There is a crisis among Christian women and girls today concerning modesty, or rather, the lack of it. The culture, our culture, has deceived and blinded women into thinking that they have to wear what the majority of the clothing stores sell. I have often wondered who in the world is this fashion guru that is so powerful he tells the world what will be in fashion this season. I have also wondered why so many women go along with it. The Bible never mentions obeying the fashion guru and only wearing what is hot and fashionable. Instead, we see a different approach.

In Romans 12:2 we learn, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The world in this verse refers not to the universe, but to people and actions opposed to God. To conform, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to make or become similar in form or character; to act or be in compliance; to act in accordance with prevailing modes or customs.” To transform, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to alter markedly the appearance or form of.” If we are conforming to our culture then we will look just like them, act like them, etc. If we are transformed we will be markedly different.

The definitions themselves tell us this. These are facts, but somehow we allow our emotions to get tied up in the facts and it distorts everything. Suddenly we feel judged, suffocated, and stifled like our rights have been violated.

Why does the thought of dressing modestly raise the hair on the back of our neck? Sadly, this aspect of the Christian life has been distorted by sinful people. By God’s grace, he can help a woman overcome the damage that has been done through the constant renewing of her mind through prayer and Scripture. Biblical counseling is also available to help those who are hurting from past experiences.

The bottom line to dressing modestly is the heart. This becomes obvious when the subject is broached and the immediate answer is something like, “I have the right to wear whatever I want to wear!” 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. In other words, dress for the glory of God. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 10:24, Paul says, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” Not only should we be dressing for the glory of God but also in a way that looks out for the well-being of your neighbor.

This is where loving fathers and husbands come on the scene. Do not be like Adam in the garden and stand by watching us be deceived by our culture in the area of clothing. Instead, speak up. Very few husbands will risk the wrath of their wife to tell her, “you are my beautiful wife and I don’t want other men seeing you in what you are wearing”.

As a father, let your daughter know how special she is and how important it is that she save her body as a gift to her husband, should God ordain that in her future. If singleness will be her gift, then she needs to save her body as a sacrificial gift to God.

Wives and daughters, ask that hard question to your husbands and fathers, “is there something in my wardrobe you prefer I don’t wear and why?” and then be prepared to graciously receive the answer.

And mom’s, don’t give in to your daughter’s tearful pleas to wear indecent clothing just because everyone else at school is doing the same.

Recently, I heard an interview on NPR of a young Christian couple who chose to follow the Bible and save sex for marriage. On public radio, the wife stated emphatically how special it was that only she knows that side of him and only he knows that side of her. This is God’s plan. And it is beautiful, special, and fulfilling.

Consider this. If your choice of clothing outlines every shape of your body or causes a person to do a double-take, isn’t that giving away part of your beautiful special gift God designed for your husband only? Would you carelessly drag around your expensive diamond jewelry for anyone to touch, grab or even take? Look at your body in the same way. I have heard all the arguments, “That is his problem! He should get his mind out of the gutter!” I point you back to I Corinthians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being”.

The blame game, it started in the garden, moments after the first sin occurred and it has been happening ever since. It didn’t get Adam and Eve anywhere and the same is true today.

There is such a push today to be yourself, to be your own beautiful. Let’s take that one step farther: be your own beautiful according to the Bible. Modest clothes do not mean ugly, behind the times, or colorless clothing. It does mean dressing with intent and purpose. Ask yourself, “would I feel comfortable coming into the presence of a Holy God with the clothes I have on?” Be a Christian woman who wants to show that in part by what she wears.

Prayerfully lay before God your wardrobe and clothing choices and ask him to take control and give you wisdom. He delights to answer these prayers and to free us from the bondage of conforming to our culture.


Note: This post is by Melissa Holmquist, who is a pastor’s wife and mother of four in St. Johns, Michigan.


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About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. Learn more.