Have you noticed that the Church seems preoccupied with policing the clothing of women – from the smallest of baby girls to the oldest of women – the Church is obsessed with something they call “modesty.” Maybe you’ve seen it at your church – women in denim skirts that touch the floor, or women in spaghetti-strap maxi dresses with a white t-shirt underneath at a funeral – I know I have.
If it’s what’s on the inside that counts, why is it that the Church puts so much emphasis on how people look outside of church services?
The only thing that matters is, “what does the Bible ACTUALLY say?” Let’s use the actual Bible, in the original Greek, rather than an English translation. 1 Corinthians 12:23. The word used is the Greek word “εὐσχημοσύνην” (euschémosuné – Strong’s Concordance #2157) which means, “decorum, becomingness.” Therefore, are you dressed correctly for the occasion? It has nothing to do with being “too tight” or “too revealing.”
Is it proper decorum to wear a bathing suit to a church service? No. Is it proper decorum to wear a bathing suit to swim at a church pool party? Yes. Is it proper to wear a dress suit to church? Yes. Is it proper decorum to wear a dress suit while swimming at a church pool party? No. The Bible is saying that Christian women should know the difference!
Decorum is all about acting appropriately for the position that you hold and the event that you are at. Christians aren’t supposed to stand out for all the wrong reasons – like being inappropriately dressed for the occasion. Christians draw negative attention to themselves by not having proper decorum. We see this at the Wedding Banquet parable in Matthew 22:1-14. A guest is kicked out for not wearing the proper wedding clothes. It’s not that they were immodest or revealing, NO! It’s that they were dressed inappropriately for the wedding (like wearing a sports jersey or jeans to a wedding would be, while modest, inappropriate.)
In 1 Timothy 2:9, the word “αἰδοῦς” (Aidos – Strong’s Concordance #127) is translated as “modesty” but in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it can also mean “reverence.” This is the only verse in the Bible that this word even appears. It’s important to note that there is a play on words here, if you’re not familiar with Koine Greek. The word derived from “κοσμέω” (Cosmos – Strong’s Concordance #2889) means both “adorn” and “world” and is translated as such throughout the Bible. So women aren’t to adorn / make their world be about hairstyles and jewelry. When you understand the actual passage, you see it’s about not being materialistic, and being concerned with being a good person on the inside.
Women today, especially Christian women, make clothing and hairstyles their world. How many “modest” bloggers spend all of their time making outfits of the day, blogging about modest fashion, policing others’ clothing and acting “holier-than-thou” because they’re soooo “modest?” Even if you dress like a frump, if you’re like many “modest” bloggers, you’re being the kind of woman 1 Timothy talks about NOT being.
Nakedness was our original condition before sin. We only covered up because of sin. We only feel shame because of sin. The high priests and Aaron only covered their thighs and up to their neck, because they were in sin – they had no covering before God, because Jesus hadn’t come yet. We have Jesus. Our sin is atoned for. We have no shame because we are right with God. When we are under the covering of Jesus, it’s as if we’re back in the garden, before sin. Nakedness is not a sin. Being naked or showing skin isn’t automatically improper – it depends on the occasion. Likewise, showing skin doesn’t mean you’re trying to lure others into sexual sin. Christians need common sense!