We are in the month of the year that might well be called the “off season.” When the weather warms up the clothes typically come off. Modesty should be a conviction for a Christian as deeply rooted as any moral or doctrinal tenet that we might hold. Yet, people are weak in this area. Attitudes are so often relaxed and altered by public opinion, fads, styles, and worldly standards. Christians should never have to be corrected about wearing clothing that is too short, too sheer, too tight, too open, or too revealing.
The Greek word translated “modest” appears twice in the New Testament. Once it is rendered “modest” with regard to women’s clothing (1 Tim. 2:9), and again it is translated “of good behavior” as a qualification for an elder (1 Tim. 3:2). Vine defines the word as meaning, “orderly, well-arranged, decent, modest.” R. C. Trench said of this word, “The well ordering is not of dress and demeanor only, but of the inner life; uttering indeed and expressing itself in the outward conversation” (Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 346). In simple English: “What is in the well will be in the bucket.” That is, if the heart is right the outward expression will be right. The words “adorn” and “modest” in 1 Timothy 2:9 are closely related in that they both relate to an orderly, decent and well-arranged life. A modest person will not call attention to him or herself in the way they live, talk or dress. Immodesty is more than just displaying one’s sexuality in skimpy clothing, although that certainly is included! In reality, that which makes a lady attractive is the inner, spiritual things rather than the outer, material things (1 Pet. 3:3-4).
It doesn’t take a Solomon to see that many of the problems women face today have at least some connection with our culture’s attitude toward modesty. Problems such as violence against women; sexual assault; date rape; teen pregnancies unwelcome advances; young women suffering from eating disorders; pornography, fornication and adultery are all related to some degree to our culture’s attack on modesty. We are assaulted with immodesty as an accepted way of life. Our society grossly trivializes modesty and increased violence against women has been the result (Gal. 6:7-8).
We should care about modesty for the sake of a woman’s physical protection, but more importantly we should care because it is God’s will. Every command or principle of God is given for our good. In a society that has lost its moral foundation it is crazy to think that immodesty does not increase one’s chances of unwelcome physical advances from unprincipled men. Second, we should also care about modesty for the sake of our influence for Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:8). We have to consider our example before other people (1 Tim. 4:12). We cannot control what everyone does, but we should not cause anyone to sin by our lack of attention to modesty and decency. Third, we should care about modesty for the sake of the differences between the boys and girls. Jesus had warning for the men (Mt. 5:28). Paul had a warning for the women (1 Tim. 2:9). Do we need to wonder why?