Where Modesty Begins

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The Keepers at Home Series:

“A man’s eyes are automatically pulled to where the skin line and clothing line meet.  So, if you don’t want a man’s eyes to go there, don’t place the skin/clothing line there.”

This is a statement I probably heard 100 times growing up.

The battle for modesty and style kept us in a continual tug-of-war.

How short can a skirt be before it is considered immodest?

How much sleeve can we cut away before it shows too much skin?

How short can our shorts be before they are simply too short?

How “skinny” can our skinny jeans be before they are no longer appropriate?

How low can the neckline go before we are showing too much?

In order to arrive at the right answer, we have to ask the right questions.  And these questions are not the right questions.

Because modesty doesn’t consist of length of fabric or the amount of skin we show.  That is only the result of modesty.

True modesty happens first in the heart.

If you have a pure heart, it will reflect in how you present yourself.  If you have a pure heart, your desire will be to partner with your brothers in Christ to ensure that they do not have to engage in a needless battle with their thoughts.

Titus encouraged the older women to instruct the younger women to remain “chaste” – pure, modest, undefiled, unblemished. 

How can we be sure that our hearts remain chaste?

1. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal our true hearts

Because moral purity first occurs in our hearts: our minds, our attitudes, our inner desires, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to shine His pure light on our hearts and reveal any hidden areas of impurity, immorality, blemish or defilement.

You see, we could quickly examine our own hearts, but Jeremiah reminds us that: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.”  

2. Allow your husband to openly share with you his feelings

Often times a woman’s perception of modesty and a man’s perception of modesty are vastly different.  Women do no want to look like they are wearing a tent.  They don’t want to appear frumpy or fatter than they already feel.  And in our efforts to shed a few pounds in clothes, we fail to present ourselves modestly.

Ask your husband to sincerely share with you if there are times when you dress less than modest. Allow him to share why he thinks those outfits to be immodest.  Do not view this as an attack on your morality, but rather him fulfilling his God-given role to protect you.

3. Avoid rules and a judgmental spirit

 I have worked for ministries that measured hemlines, skirt slits, told you what kinds of hose were appropriate, shoes to wear…

In the end, this accomplished 3 things:

1. It bound us in fear that we were fully responsible for a man’s thought life. This is simply not so.  While we should partner with them in ensuring that we are not needlessly engaging men in a battle for their thoughts, they must employ self-control because merely walking down the street will likely engage them in much greater battle. 

2. It gave room for self-righteousness to reign in our hearts.  Because we lived under severe and stringent rules about what we could wear (and we were constantly reminded that failure to maintain those rules was displaying an immodest spirit) we frequently examined those around us to see how their morality measured up. There is nothing like a self-righteous spirit to turn off the world to message of the gospel! Ultimately, that is our mission!!  Is it not?  To extend the kingdom of God on earth? 

How will the world receive the love of God when His kids are busy measuring each others’ hemlines and arguing over the modesty of open-toed shoes?  Being self-righteous is just as defiling as flaunting a micro-mini!

3. It fails to address the heart.  Children who are given a long list of “what not to wear”, tend to see how close to breaking the rules they can get before they actually break them. The reason is because a list does not address the heart.  A child can be made to act a role, but if the principle of matter does not engage his heart, he will cease to act that role as soon as he is out from under the eagle-eye of his parents.

If we want our daughters to be truly modest, we must speak to their hearts and from there teach them how clothing merely reflect inner desire to be modest, and then as a family decide in what way we can reflect godly modesty!!

Dear sisters, may our modesty be evident for all to see.  And may what we wear on the outside reflect the inward purity of our hearts!

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  1. Well put. My daughter responds so much better to the heart behind the issue than severely held “thou shalt nots”. I do have guidelines on what she wears, but always try to point back to the reason behind it. Works much better than what I grew up with!

  2. That quote is really something to think about! And you are right… when we seek God to keep our hearts pure, the way we dress will reflect that. Thanks for posting on this subject!


  3. This was a great post, but I want to add to the children’s part. Of course, we are not overbearingly strict like some of those you spoke of. You cannot just lay out a bunch of set rules and not give a heart reason for following. Giving a rule or regulation is not sharing God’s way, God works through the heart. Our teens have been free to choose whether or not they would dress modestly once we see that they are at an accountable age. After searching the Scripture for themselves, they know the answer to that. In serving God, they are beautifully modestly dressed. Our youngest, she doesn’t have a choice. She wears clothing that is modest…period. If she had her way, she’d be naked! We parents must teach our children God’s ways and enforce them. However, we have always explained to her that this is God’s way…not ours. She has a deep desire to please God, which teaches her heart the path to follow.

  4. I wish we’d hear more in our church services. I’ve actually seen less modesty among some adults than among youth in the church.

  5. Absolutely! Explaining the principle behind the rule is so critical – because it captures the heart. When a child is able to make the principle personal to them, they are less likely to abandon it later on. Thank you for pointing that out!

  6. Excellent post. I worry that we’ve spent too much time worrying about “rules” for modesty, when our focus needs to be on the heart of modesty. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Such great advice here. Brilliant post! I love especially what you have said in #2 as it’s very insightful that a man’s perspective is different from a woman’s on these issues.

    I linked here from Thrive at Home Linkup and thought you might want to link this post at the linkup I host called Essential Fridays.


    I’m sure my readers would love to see this!


  8. I appreciated this post on modesty because you emphasized the heart as being at the bottom of modesty. Thank you for sharing this over at WholeHearted Wednesdays this past week. Have a good week, Rosilind.

  9. Yes – my husband knows that he has every right to ask me to change, if he feels that what I am wearing is too immodest. and I welcome it. It’s his way of protecting me and protecting our marriage.

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