Sheila's Books
Click on the covers to read more or order autographed copies!

My Webrings

Crazy Hip Blog Mamas Members!



Medical Billing
Medical Billing

For ALL Your Graphic Needs

Dine Without Whine - A Family 

Friendly Weekly Menu Plan
Modesty Should Not Mean Dowdy
Fun in the art roomphoto © 2005 Serena | more info (via: Wylio)

Modesty is a big "buzz" word on Christian women's blogs. We're all supposed to want to be modest (which I agree with), but often the definition of modesty is something which I find completely unreasonable, and rather off-putting.

A friend of mine, whom I would consider very modest but stylish, took her pre-teen daughter to a mother-daughter event recently. Originally the daughter had been asked to model, but at the last minute they found someone else to fill in in her size, so told her they didn't need her.

My 11-year-old friend was devastated, until she saw the actual fashion show. And then she was so appalled by the clothes that she whispered to her mother: "I'm so glad they didn't ask me to model after all! I'd be so embarrassed if I were up there!"

Now I wasn't at that event, so I didn't see first hand, but apparently the clothes were layered to the nth degree and so long and bulky that they looked like sacks.

I've been on other women's blogs that seem to be pushing the idea that if we're not dressing modestly--and by that they have a very narrow definition of modest--then we're not being Christian. And so I'd like to spell out my philosophy on this, just to inspire debate, and to perhaps free some of you who aren't comfortable with this line of thinking but aren't sure where else to go.

First, I do think modest should mean no cleavage, and no drawing attention to particular parts of the body deliberately. So no super-tight T-shirts, no low-cut shirts that look more like bikini tops, no super short skirts or shorts, and no tank tops (UPDATE: I meant to say tube tops. We here in Canada used to call tube tops tank tops, but I know tank tops are something different now. Sorry for the confusion!). I'd even be careful with sleeveless dresses. For swimming, I'd steer clear of bikinis, and even some one-pieces, and go with some flattering tankinis, which are often prettier and which often have bottoms that go down a little bit further. I find most people look better in these anyway.

But to say much more than that, I think, puts women in a bind, sounds very legalistic, and can be dishonouring to our men.

For instance, I've seen some women say that we should only wear skirts. Really? Personally I wear skirts most of the time in the summer, because finding shorts that fit is difficult, and I love skirts. So I'm not against skirts in the least. But to say that all women should wear skirts because it's more feminine is really strange. A nicely cut pair of jeans with a pretty blouse in my opinion is far more feminine than a shapeless denim skirt.

Similarly, to say that one can't wear any pants that fit well because they would draw attention to one's *ahem* behind is thus saying that we should all wear sacks. Now I certainly don't think that we should wear tight clothes. But there is a difference between tight and clothes that simply fit. My daughter told me about a blog post she read on a popular teenage girl blog that said that if you can't pinch your pants and find a few inches, it's too tight. How many girls are really going to follow that?

But here's another question: do we really want to give the impression that Christians are dowdy spoilsports, because that seems to be what we're doing. As a married Christian woman, I feel that my responsibility is to dress modestly but fashionably. I want my husband to be proud of me, and if I were only wearing denim skirts with button down blouses, he would not be proud to take me out in public. I would stand out like a sore thumb. And so I go out of my way to try to wear things that are pretty and flattering but that don't cling too much, show cleavage, or come up too high on the thigh.

I think sometimes that the Christian wives who advocate the long, shapeless skirt look with the baggy t-shirt forget something. The rationale for dressing modestly is that because men are visually stimulated, we shouldn't dress to stimulate them. Okay so far.

But if we admit that men are visually stimulated, then don't we also owe it to our husbands to look our best? And how many husbands like walking around with wives who are dressed in shapeless clothes?

Now, I know many of the people who advocate wearing skirts do not wear shapeless ones, and I'm not trying to say that you're wrong. I think longer skirts can still be fashionable, if they're cut correctly, and you can wear lovely shaped blouses to go with them that do flatter your figure.

For instance, the True Femininity blog, written by a 21-year-old, has an "Outfit of the Day" recurring theme where she shows a modest but fashionable outfit. Here's one from June:

Lovely. But many of the "skirts only" blogs that I've read, and that my daughter has seen, really do advocate skirts resembling potato sacks, that look as if they were bought in thrift stores.

I don't think that's the image that Christians should be presenting. Why not just look fashionable, attractive, and fun, without trying to look sexy? Looking like you put some care into your appearance says that you respect yourself and you respect your husband.

My friend Terry, over at Breathing Grace, wrote a post recently where she said that her standard of beauty is her husband. She wears what he likes, because he's the one that really matters, and I like that conviction. Sometimes when we think about all this "modesty" stuff, I think we do it without male input. We say we're trying to protect men by not being tempting, but I wonder how many of the wives have ever asked their husbands honestly if they like the "sack" look, or if they would prefer that their wives be a little more attractive? I think many women get caught up in this "modesty" movement online, and in their little cliques, and they barge right ahead without asking the guys.

Finally, there's one other thing that concerns me, and this is perhaps the largest issue. This world is in desperate need of help. All around us families are breaking up, debt is ruining people's lives, addictions are taking over. And that's only in the neighbourhood. On a worldwide scale, wars are being fought, persecution is rampant, and injustice abounds.

This world needs Christians to become engaged, to be good role models, and to be outspoken (in a gentle way) for what is right. That means that we have to be people that others respect. We need to be people that others will look at and admire. And I don't think that it's flighty of me to say that part of that admiration will be tied in to how we look. If we show up looking like we have never cut our hair (let alone put conditioner in it) and as if we are wearing sacks, then why would people want to listen to us?

When you dress that way and present yourself that way, you make your world smaller. You tend to retreat into your family or your church because that is safe, and that is where you fit in. You don't fit into the wider world anymore.

That's not right. We need people who will speak up and who will be role models. We need to stop shrinking. Certainly retreating is easier and less messy, but it is not what we are called to be. We are called to be "in" the world. We don't let its values dictate ours; we don't follow after the world's idols. But we must still be "in" it. We must not shrink our own world, and that is what we do when we adopt too narrow a definition of what is acceptable clothing.

So what would I recommend? If you're married, talk to your husband about what sort of dress he considers modest and fashionable. Take a friend with you who is fashionable and go shopping and get some clothes that actually fit. Get a nice haircut (you can go to a haircutting school if you can't afford a salon). Treat your body as if you respect it, not as if you're ashamed of it. And let's stop using Christianity as an excuse to look dowdy.

Fashionable and feminine while still being modest. That, I think, is what we should be doing. And, by the way, there's really nothing wrong with a good pair of jeans!

UPDATE: I'm just going to chime into the comments now (it's Sunday morning). I've been away with my hubby for a few days, and I missed all the discussion! Sorry.

Labels: , ,


At 9:20 AM , Blogger Tonia said…

Great post. You said so much of what I think but I would like to share one thing. My thoughts are that being modest means not trying to draw attention to oneself. Buy dressing in a shapeless sack you are actually drawing attention to yourself in a negative way. You will stand out in a crowd, and people make assumptions about you that may not be correct, but affect the way they treat you. They often assume you are boring, have no sense of humor, dull witted, hollier then thou, take your pick. If you want to be truly modest, then you have to stop standing out like a sore thumb. Being "in the world, but not of it" applies to how we dress too.


At 9:47 AM , Blogger Stacy Lynn said…

Loved this post. I've always thought pretty much along these same lines. Tonia ads great insight, too. It crosses my mind, these women may also struggle with issues of self-esteem. Perhaps their self-image is such that they dress to not draw attention to what they see as their less-than-perfect self....much the way some overweight people hide inside billowy oversized clothing.


At 9:56 AM , Blogger Kathie said…

I absolutely agree!!! I've grown up in IFB churches, and many women in these churches are stuck in the rut of dressing ugly to try to be modest. I learned the most about modesty when I married my husband. There are certain clothes I own that I won't wear outside the house because they are just a little too tight, but I can wear a lot of attractive clothes without showing too much. Also, it's not AS hard to find modest clothes at department stores as some women would have you believe. If you have a good collection of camis, you can make any shirt modest!


At 11:00 AM , Blogger Carol Fleisher said…

I agree also. We are called to be expamples of faith, love and purity but that doesn't mean we have to wear frumpy outfits. I really like what you said about our husbands being the standard our beauty should be our husband. Great post.


At 11:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Mary here -- I agree with Tonia -- you end up drawing attention to yourself, and if you are dowdy you can end up looking like you belong to some cult, and like you said, Sheila, you can withdraw and be in your own little world. I got through my dresses-only phase -- feeling like I had to wear only dresses took all the joy out of it. I am like Terry -- my husband can define modesty and style for me, and it definitely isn't frumpy (or immodest). The look we really don't like is "long baggy skirt, shapeless t-shirt which still ends up being clingy, hair skinned back into a pony tail, no makeup or jewelry, and don't forget thick socks and heavy mannish running shoes." Ends up looking kind of like a man in a dress, not very feminine. But nobody will look at you, that's for sure, unless it is to think you are weird, drawing that kind of attention. You don't have to look unattractive if dresses-only and no makeup or jewelry is part of your religious conviction.


At 11:48 AM , Anonymous Kellie said…

I agree with some of your post. I believe in dressing fashionably, and not frumpy. I like to wear the latest colors, and accent with jewelry but I don't let the world's fashion dictate my modesty. I believe God created us to be feminine and we should embrace that and dress accordingly, therefore I wear only skirts and dresses. I believe that God wants us to be modest. Obviously everyone has their own definition of what modesty is. Some think that as long as you are not showing your "privates" then you are being modest. When God clothed Adam and Eve He made them coats. The fashion in Bible times seemed to be that of wearing coats/robes. It seems that the further we get away from Eden, the less covered we have become. Women who showed their ankles use to be considered immodest. We have come a looooooong way baby! Am I an advocate of wearing burkas? NO! But I do think that what is most important is pleasing our Lord in every thing that we wear...even if it means standing out like a "sore thumb." Sometimes sticking out means being the only one in Walmart not wearing pajamas & slippers! The Bible says that we are to be a peculiar people.

1 Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"

We are also, royalty. When I think of royalty I think of the queen of England. How gracious she is, and how respectable she dresses. As princesses of The King, we have even more of a reason to dress the part. We represent the King of Kings! I want to point people to Jesus, and tell them how He changed every aspect of my life from the inside out! I have had several opportunities to share my faith with co-workers simply because I dress modestly. What a huge reward for dressing right!


At 2:21 PM , Anonymous Mrs. P said…

I agree with your general ideas on this subject, Sheila, but I feel like you got a little too specific in listing "what not to wear." Those may be the standards you have for yourself, but we have to be careful not to judge others whose standards are a little different. Like if we say "no tank tops", that's fine for you personally, but don't get that rule so stuck in your head that you think any woman wearing a tank top is being immodest. Because if the bible doesn't specifically say "no tank tops", we can't force that on anyone else, even if we hold that standard for ourselves.

I think it also depends a lot on where you live. For example, I live in California. Short shorts and tank tops are everywhere around here, even on Christians. I think the men around here are a little more used to seeing that kind of thing so it's not really considered terribly immodest (except by the more conservative Christians around here). But in the Bible Belt, those clothes might be considered scandalous.

But I totally agree with you that we should use our husband as a "modesty gauge". Ever since I've been married I've felt so much more free to dress how my husband likes, rather than trying to figure out my own standards, or follow someone else's standards, for how to be attractive yet modest. I used to feel like I had to wear clothes that defined me, or showed the world who I was. But it's hard to make an outfit tell a life story. Now I feel like my dress is meant to please my husband and show him respect, rather than express myself. I guess that's not much help for single girls... maybe that would be a good topic for you to discuss: how to dress when you don't have a husband to tell you how... even though this is more of a marriage blog.

One more quick thought. You often tell us wives to dress up nice for our husbands, which is great. But I would suggest (as you do in this post) that you ASK your husband what he likes you to wear. My hubby actually prefers me to wear simple clothes (like solid colored tops and jeans, or even sweats when we're at home [he likes it when I look "comfortable"]), no make up, minimal or no jewelry and fairly simple hairstyles. So telling me to put on lipstick and earrings before my husband gets home wouldn't be good advice. So anyway, figuring out what your hubby likes makes life so much easier!


At 4:27 PM , Anonymous Allison said…

I love this post. I really do. I grew up in homeschooling circles, where the idea that modesty meant dressing pretty "dowdy" was commonplace (is it still?). I admit, I was in on it at the time. As an adult, I see the error of my former ways, and am endeavoring to dress much better.


At 5:22 PM , Anonymous UK Fred said…

As a husband and a man, do you mind if I make a comment? I feel that so much of modesty is situational and/or cultural. In N America or Europe, the culture is somewhat different from parts of Africa where women's breasts are not covered, but then they are not seen by the local men in the same way as a man from Europe or N. America would look at them.

Here in Europe, we are having silliness like Islamic Swimwear which is considered suitable for a muslim woman to wear in a mixed swimnming pool. All it does is draw attention to the lady wearing it because it is so different from what (often) every other woman in the pool is wearing.

I believe that modesty is more often seen in the manner of doing, rather than the act, or the manner of carrying oneself rather than the clothing one wears. I do not want my wife to go around wearing clothing that looks like a burqa, but equally, I would not want her to go around in a skirt that looks more like a belt. Both extremes would attract unwanted attention. I can still remember schooldays with a strict uniform code, and yet some girls could always make the uniform look modest and on others the same uniform looked raunchy and suggestive.

I have no problem with my daughter wearing a bikini when she sunbathes on the beach on holiday, but I would say it was a no no should she wish to wear it to a shopping mall without some cover up on top.


At 9:03 PM , Blogger SingleMamma4God said…

I am young looking, single and raising a teen daughter. There is no husband to moderate me. Thankfully God gives us all the ability to know what is right for us.

I discussed this topic on my blog earlier this summer. I think it is an important one.

I enjoy being a woman. I enjoy being able to wear pants or dresses and skirts. I like color. I like fashion.

Mostly in churches and around town Christian women seem to have a balanced approach to this issue. It is almost like there is only a problem in theory or on the fringe.

Maybe discussing it helps keep it in check. Maybe it depends on where folks live.


At 9:15 PM , Blogger Kari said…

I agree that modesty does not have to equate to dowdiness, and I also think it's wonderful for women to dress in an attractive manner that shows her femininity! The one thing I keep coming up against, though, is the standard of modesty that Christian women have. While I think it's great to ask your husband what he thinks, I have also seen husbands who like their wives to show cleavage and wear really short skirts in public....and that doesn't make it right. I think churches/mentors should encourage women to really seek the Lord's leading in what they are wearing. When I started to do that, I was really surprised that God impressed upon me that the items I deemed to be okay since I was just "dressing attractively" were actually a means to get improper attention. There are some things, like showing cleavage, that I really don't think are appropriate in any situation in North American culture, as I can't imagine a God-honouring reason to dress in that way. But if someone can truthfully say that they brought it before God in prayer and they feel led to continue on, then I am happy to be proven wrong!!:)
And as UK Fred mentioned, this shouldn't mean that women need to wear swimsuit burqas! But somehow I also don't think that a bikini is the only alternative...perhaps a modest bathing suit would be a happy medium? :)


At 9:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I find it odd that we have not discussed at all what the purpose of modesty is. Maybe it is too obvious? If we look t the reson to be modest, I would say it is so as not to unnecessarily incite lust in our brothers. But we also have to recognize that men are visually stimulated and some will have a problem no matter what we wear. So we cannot go to the burka extreme. There is some room in there between truly immodest clothing that any man might find it hrd to look away from and clothing tht just covers up women in a way that demeans them.

For whoever said God gve dam nd Eve coats--I just do not get that. All Genesis sys is that He gave them animal skins instead of leaves but there is no indication of what shape these garments are. Nor do I think we can tke what Jesus or OT people wore as normative for us. They did not have alot of wonderful things we have like different fabrics nd velcro and zippers that allow for many different kinds of clothes. Their men didn't even have pants but no one suggests men now shouldn't wear pants because Jesus didn't. If anything, there was even less difference between their men's and women's clothing than we have now.


At 11:44 PM , Blogger Gretchen said…

Love this!
I'm a skirts and dresses girl myself, but there's a fine line between being ladylike and being frumpy. Proper cut and proper fit are what its all about! :)


At 9:44 AM , Anonymous Kellie said…


Here is the scripture reference I was referring to.

Genesis 3:21 "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them."

We will all have to stand before the Lord and give an account for how we represented Him. I don't think God will chastise anyone for covering up too much. I do however think that it can be done in a fashionable manner.


At 2:45 PM , Blogger Laura said…

Hey Sheila -- I think the number one question, one that's been addressed a couple times in the comments section, is: What is the purpose of modesty?

If the purpose of modesty is to make women responsible to protect men from their own unchecked lust, then we end up with the hijab and the burqa. Obviously most of us would reject this.

If the purpose of modesty is primarily to help our brothers keep their thoughts pure, which is, I think, where most women start in this discussion, then we end up with dumpy sack-dresses and people arguing that anything that reveals that a woman is a woman must be immodest.

The issue for me is, the Scriptures don't ever frame modesty in terms of keeping our brothers from sinning sexually. They frame it as a gender-neutral demeanor that begins in the heart and works its way into things like behavior and clothing. If we start with "ask the men," we're starting in the wrong place. We need to start with, "Look at the heart."

Do I desire to draw attention to Christ with my speech? Do I desire to put as few stumbling-blocks as possible before people by my comportment and dress? Do I desire to cause people to think on whatever is good and pure and true and lovely and admirable? Do I desire to kill my own pride and need for recognition? Are these desires reflected in the way I speak, act, and clothe my body? THAT'S modesty.

My barometer for all those rules about how I can dress is this: Does it work? In other words, if the problem of modesty is about seeking attention and recognition for myself, does wearing long skirts and baggy tops and never cutting my hair work to make me humble and selfless? Obviously, the answer to that is no. If I can wear the Christian "uniform" of a long denim skirt, nylons, boxy shoes, a baggy top, no makeup, and uncut hair and still be eaten up with pride, or worse yet, have that costume FEED my pride, I need to check my heart!

I think there are a whole lot of women who need to take a look at our hearts long before we take a look at our skirt length.


At 2:45 PM , Blogger Liz said…

Thanks for writing on a touchy subject... I agree with so much of what you have said.

I would encourage you & your husband to seek your definition of "modest" from the Bible, not our culture. (whichbis what I think Kellie means). God really has an opinion ;)

After the fall, Adam & Eve's nakedness brought them shame. After they made "aprons" they still considered themselves naked. Gen. 3:10

God came on the scene & made them "coats." It will take some time but get out a Strong's dictionary & do some study on the definitions of the words "apron" & "coats."

It seems to be true that fallen man is always ok with aprons, but God does prefer coats. Fallen nature seems to always want to justify the lowest common denominator for the standard...

You mentioned specific areas of concern for you... How do you plan to pass them on to your children in a continually "undressing" culture? I'm guessing that there will be new, fallen man ideas that our children's generation come up with & new rationalization for why your concerns are out of date...

God's unchanging ideas in this area are of primary importance to me, as I know they are to you too. I don't care to be hard-nosed about this. Just want to lift up the word of God as relevant, sufficient & applicable to children of God in 2011. God's word is our only hope, and yet its all we need.


P.S. I really appreciated the admonition to ask my husband if he likes things - sage advice. And I love the name of your blog. ;)


At 2:50 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

I actually liked this post a great deal, Sheila, even though I'm wearing a tank top today, LOL!

It is not, however, a spaghetti strap top, and I always layer my tank tops with contrasting colors.

Not to mention I'm wearing a skirt that almost touches the floor. I believe contrasting tops and bottoms are important. It softens the look and lessens the chance of immodesty being a factor.

In other words, I wouldn't wear tank tops with jeans because while my jeans aren't tight, they aren't super loose either.

Mrs. P kind of hit on what I'm trying to say here. A couple of layered tank tops that show a bit of shoulder is nothing down here is S. Florida. Even in a tank top you can find yourself wearing far more clothing than the average woman. Easily.

Thanks for the linkage and thanks for reminding us to run these things by our husbands instead of getting caught up with the latest online Biblical womanhood fad.


At 4:37 PM , Anonymous Kellie said…

"Even in a tank top you can find yourself wearing far more clothing than the average woman. Easily."

Please don't take this as an "attack" but this is the attitude I try NOT to have. My standard of modesty is not based on what everyone is, or is not wearing, or if compared to others I am more modest. I base my standard on the Word of God, and on if I feel like I am grieving the Holy Spirit. God has given me a standard/conviction for how much skin I should show publicly, and regardless of where I am, or who I am with, or what the latest fashion trend is my standard will not change. Our sole purpose is to bring glory to the Lord in all things, and should be at the top of the list when we look in the mirror.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.


At 7:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Enjoyed your post, Sheila, and many of the comments too.

Thank you UK Fred for saying what I was thinking - modesty is a biblical principle, but the way that plays out will differ in different cultures and times. What is seen as 'modest' in Bible belt USA is different to what is 'modest' in London, or Sydney or Nairobi, and 2011 (compared to 1985,1965 or 1578!).

We each need to search our hearts, ask our husbands for their input and weigh up the culture in which we live, in order to dress in a way which pleases God where we are.

For some it will mean this, for others that. God never looks at the 'rule' (is my denim dress so many inches past my knees) before he looks at the heart...



At 3:44 AM , Blogger Anna said…

Thanks for this post. I've been having the "skirts/pants" conversation with someone lately (in person and via e-mail). I have trouble verbalizing exactly what I'm thinking, and this helps me clarify my thoughts. I would basically second everything you have said.
Modesty can be culture driven to some extent. Where we are living (Congo) modesty standards are different than in the US. Knees cannot show, but upper body modesty is minimal. Dressing nicely shows appreciation and respect.
Here I'm careful to wear pants or skirts that are long enough and to wear nicer clothes on the appropriate occasions. Wearing a ratty or frumpy skirt and t-shirt to an office would be offensive where a nice outfit with pants would be OK.
In the discussion with my friends, wearing skirts has been equated with honoring God through our dress. But while I believe it is important to honor God through everything, including the way we dress, I disagree with the specifics.


At 9:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I absolutely love your blog!


At 9:54 AM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

I base my standard on the Word of God, and on if I feel like I am grieving the Holy Spirit. God has given me a standard/conviction for how much skin I should show publicly, and regardless of where I am, or who I am with, or what the latest fashion trend is my standard will not change.

And where in the word of God does it say that shoulders are immodest?

I don't mean to be argumentative, but I fail to see how my layering two tank tops (with my back and chest fully covered, I might add) is automatically immodest according to Scripture.

I fully appreciate that you feel convicted about it and I respect that. I used to feel that way, too, to be honest with you.

And you should follow the Holy Spirit where He leads you in this area.

But unless clothing is clearly and overtly sexual and provocative, showing areas that it is generally understood should not be shown, let's not add a list of do's and do not's that the Bible doesn't offer and then claim it does.


At 10:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Kellie, if you are going to dress like they did in the Bible you have to get a weaving loom, make all your own material, out of wool, cotton, or linen, don't use a sewing machine, scissors or paper pattern. You see, they wore robes because it was incredibly difficult to make anything else! They simply didn't have the tools.

I looked up "skirts" in the Bible once. Most of the time they refered to the clothing of either male or female. Once to female's clothes, and the rest of the time specificly to men's clothing. Using only the Bible as you claim you are doing, your hubby needs to be the one in the skirt. His wearing pants is a cultural thing that started about 1700.

Actually, "skirts" being woman's wear is a cultural standard from the 1800s. You aren't being biblical, you are being outdated.

The word "modest" means "not in extreme. So those five layers of sacks are just as imodest as the hooker look. As has been said, our clothes shouldn't make us stand out.

Now having said that, I wear almost exclusivly skirts and I don't cut my hair (except a few dead ends once a year or so.) This is because my Hubby specificly asked me to wear only skirts (with the agreement that there are times, like when mucking the animal pens when jeans really are more appropiate) and to not cut my hair. He thinks these things are prettier so I do them. I try to dress in a pleasant but not dowdy way. I try not to attract attention to myself by my clothes but by my actions and demeanor. That is what preaches Christ to the world. Not looking like a reject from the 1850s.


At 10:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I found this article from a link on The Generous Wife blog. I agree that modesty should not mean dowdy. I'm a christian woman who prefers wearing skirts for various reasons, primarily because I believe that's the best way I can represent being a daughter of the KING of kings, but also because skirts have so much more character than pants. :) I will wear pants when skirts would be impractical, i.e. riding a motorcycle w/ hubby. I found it interesting to read your perspective on this issue, and that even tho you and I are far apart in our personal standards, (and maybe because of it) I felt as much of a.... judgemental spirit? towards those who do things differently than you do as I have in some articles who are proponents of the 'sack' look, which I agree does not look feminine. I think the Bible should always have precedence over culture when it comes to dictating how we dress and conduct ourselves. Have you ever thought about it that the Bible says long hair is given to a woman for her glory? And even insinuates that it's a shame to cut it? And that those women who don't cut their hair are not doing it out of honor to God's Word? Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." I believe our primary attraction should be the glow on our face that comes from Christ living within and that the way we dress should also reflect that beauty. Sometimes I find myself focusing too much on the outside, instead of the inner self. I think it's pretty cool that God left us ladies instructions as to what is of great price in His sight.:) (1Pet 3:4) Grace to you, sister.


At 11:40 AM , Anonymous Marriedandjoyfullyhis said…

God says it is an abomination to Him when a woman wears a man's clothes or a man wears a woman's. We surely wouldn't appreciate it if men started wearing skirts.
The fact is all through history men dressed in clothes very different from the women.
Only when a nation forgets God do they beginning taking their clothes off and showing more and more of their bodies. It probably wasn't anymore sexual to women of that time and place for a native man in some hot country to wear only a loin cloth, than it is for a man to wear t-shirt and shorts today. That doesn't make one right and the other wrong does it? But if a man walked down a street in your city in only a loin cloth it would cause a sensation! One day it may be commonplace in our country.
The clothes we women wear today while we call ourselves Christian would have in _all_ ages past been considered sexy and immodest in any God-fearing culture. How is it then, all of a sudden right?
Some of the questions we as women need to ask ourselves and our husbands are: does my husband feel comfortable with me wearing this out? Ask him, "What do you think when you see me in this?"
Are we to look like the world? To act like the world? Does modesty really mean not to stand out and be different? So the teen in the center city school should engage in sex and drugs to avoid being different. I just left the teenage myself a few years ago so the thought process is not foreign or very long put away from me.
Are you sure that modesty doesn't mean to cover?
Please remember that in all history past, as a nation forgot God or didn't want to acknowledge Him they also unclothed and uncovered themselves more and more. So we refuse to learn from the mistakes of history and continue to go with the flow right to destruction (nationally, culturally anyway) We must let God be judge but our conscience does bear us witness ~ if we are truly His children we will want to please Him more that anything else.


At 12:07 PM , Blogger Liz said…

Everyone has their lines... it makes no sense for one person to scoff at other because their lines are more covered than anothers... There will be people who prefer bikinis scoffing at you in a tank top and ppl in tank tops scoffing at those preferring shirts with sleeves... That's a long and ridiculous process.

That's why I again, encourage you all to look at Genesis 3 where God dealt with The Fall. There are several results of sin listed there.

I will try to break it down and you can receive the word with "readiness" & search the scriptures for yourselves. (Acts 17:10-11)

1. Before sin Adam and Eve were "naked and not ashamed."

2. After sin, they were naked and ashamed. Even after they made aprons (coverings for their private areas, according to historical studies), God considered them still "naked." Nakedness ALWAYS has a shameful conotation in all of scripture, except between a husband and wife.

Needing to cover nakedness, as defined by God, is a part of the fall... it is a result of sin.

3. There was no culture to look to for Adam and Eve - God did what He knew was best. He made them coats (coverings from the neck to the knee, historically). He knew that man, in the fallen state needed this protection, though before the fall they didn't need it.

I do believe the culture one lives in is necessary to consider, but don't use that as a weapon to shoot at people more conservative than you.

My grandfather remembers a woman being arrested for wearing shorts in public! That wasn't that long ago - definitely not 1850!

Women rarely ever cut their hair before 100 yrs ago or so and then it was still quite edgy in our culture. Don't pretend that women who wear skirts and have long hair are dowdy, out of date, based on these things. In the scheme of 2000 yrs since Christ 1900 yrs of culture have been on the skirts/long hair side for women.

And when did it become imperative that we not "stand out in a crowd?" Those who have stood their ground (graciously, I hope) thru the ages have stood out in the crowd! Do you think Daniel was accused of drawing attention to himself when he continued to pray 3 times a day to the true God. Only in a culture of mediocrity, & every man a law unto himself, would it be a bad thing to be different.

I feel like I need to add a bunch of *what I'm not saying* ("pants are never appropriate", "looking dowdy is godly", etc) to this comment.

Truthfully, my heart wants to point all of us to scripture and its sufficiency to guide us today - even more than a 5 minute devotional reading - really digging in and studying God's opinion, which is timeless and relevant for us, right now. Try studying it without your assumptions and what you've always thought and ask God to show you what HE thinks.



At 12:22 PM , Blogger Kathie said…

This comment has been removed by the author.


At 12:34 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

I do believe the culture one lives in is necessary to consider, but don't use that as a weapon to shoot at people more conservative than you.

I am actually pretty conservative. You can find me in a long skirt most days of the week. And a head wrap some days, too.

I was simply responding to the knee-jerk, legalistic reaction to the words "tank top", as if all tank tops are created equal. They are not.

I don't think a legalistic approach to something so subjective is godly, to tell you the truth.

My husband buys me clothes quite often as gifts. And sometimes he might buy something that is sleeveless, but still tasteful and modest.

I think we have bigger fish to fry as the church than whether pants are sinful or upper arms incite lust.

There are men with foot fetishes. Does than mean we can't wear sandals?


At 1:58 PM , Blogger Liz said…

Dear Kathie,
Kellie made a point to say what she does and explain why in a kind way. She made a reference to the fact that we can't look at our culture or area of the country and say, "We're doing better than they are so we're ok." We truly have to look to God. (Look up Corinthians 10:12 - really, go read it if you can)

And we are talking about this subject because the author of this blog cared enough about it to devote a lengthy post to the topic. If we were on a blog about recovery ministries, or feeding the homeless, or jail visitation, or showing God's glory to the nations, it would warrant my passionate response as well.

Please don't assume about any of us that this is the is the centerpiece of our relationship with Jesus. Its not. It just happens to be the topic of these comments & its one of many things that we care about.

Please assume we have the honest motivation of glorifying God in everything we do and we will assume the same about you.



At 3:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This is the first time I have visited your blog - through a link from Generous Wife. Thanks for posting about modesty! I have a 9 year old daughter & have really been seeking God on where He is leading us as we guide her what to wear.

However, I had to laugh when you commented on allowing our husbands to give input - and trying to honor that. Don't get me wrong, I try my best to be a submissive wife.....but my (wonderful, Christian) hubby would have me wearing bikinis to the pool, short skirts, spike heels, and tight, low cut tops. For some reason, he seems to have a very "loose" definition of modest. He's been this way ever since I met him almost 20 years ago.

I buy the clothing he likes - but wear it in private. =)


At 4:09 PM , Anonymous Kellie said…

"And where in the word of God does it say that shoulders are immodest?"

Please re-read my comment. No where did I state that tank tops were wrong. I stated that MY standard and convictions regarding modesty are not based on how I compare to others. I would like to point out though that you appear to have a problem with spaghetti strap tanks, as well as with pairing a tank top & jeans together per your comment. We all have our OWN lines that we have drawn based (hopefully) on God's Word, or the conviction of the Holy Spirit... as it should be!

@BettySue--I was not advocating going back to Levitical law, or even back to robes. I was simply making the point that the further society has gotten from Eden, the more uncovered it has become. Just FYI...The Bible does record God commanding the priests to wear "breeches" (Exodus 28:42)under their robes for modesty, so they did have the ability to sew pants of sorts.

@Kathy--I was not picking apart the standards of others. I was simply stating what I base MY standards on. You know those who are heavily involved in charity can be just as self righteous as one who wears a dress and is covered from her neck to her ankles. I believe that a sold out Christian woman can exemplify BOTH charity & modesty. How mightily she can be used of God by humbly giving Him EVERY aspect of her life, and withholding nothing. That is my personal goal. Just this morning I had the opportunity to help a hurting teen. She was weeping at the alter for her family and what they are going through. She was dressed in a spaghetti strap tank top, and a pair of shorts. Did I take that opportunity to preach to her about what she was wearing? Absolutely not...I wept and prayed with her. I hugged her and let her know that I loved and cared about her and her family. If you would like to pray for her too, her name is Lyric.


At 5:13 PM , Anonymous Brenda said…

Hi, Kathy, and others.

It is so easy to look at someone who dresses a certain way and look down upon them. For example, some of you see a modestly dressed LADY and believe she is some kind of fruit-loop fanatic. HELLO - YOU'RE JUDGING THEM. What is worse, Kathy, if you will open up your KING JAMES BIBLE and set aside your own personal preferences, you will see some clear standards for modesty. First, and foremost, true modesty has very little to do with a person's attire. Modesty is an attitude. When a woman adopts a truly modest attitude for the glory of God, her modest attitude will be apparent through her appearance. Then, and only then, will her overall appearance magnify the Lord. Kathie, it is impossible to have a modest appearance when one does not have a Christ-like attitude. Remember, modesty is an ATTITUDE. A Godly, modest lady will not draw attention to herself by being brash, bold, confrontational or preachy. This is why you seem so immodest to me, even though I have never looked you in the face.

As an aside, I find it absolutely hilarious, yet terribly sad at the same time, when young people, like Kathie, believe they are some kind of expert on anything other than the pimple on the end of their nose.

One last question: Is it possible to be too Godly? Too modest? Too chaste? Too pure? Too honorable?


At 5:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I agree with the commenters that modesty is kind of cultural. I can wear shorts and a tank top even to church (ours is pretty casual) and no one is going to look twice at me.

I tend more to look at modesty in regard to my work wardrobe, though. As different culturals do have different modesty standards and I serve a very diverse population and most of my clients are older and probably still hold to the modesty standards of their country of origin. I always wear long pants and shirts with sleeves.

I guess I don't really consider modesty something necessarily spiritual, but just dressing appropriately for the occasion.

Nurse Bee


At 7:11 PM , Anonymous FatherOf4 said…

Our current definition of modesty was derived from gnosticism and the Victorian age, and not from the Bible. There were several instances of nudity in Scripture which were not only not condemned but considered normal. The early church (including Jesus) baptized the participants naked (in a co-ed setting). In addition they would attend the gymnasium and baths naked with mixed gender. We would do well to return to that body acceptance and understand modesty as not attempting to obtain ungodly attention.


At 7:48 PM , Blogger Kathie said…

Sorry for my comment earlier... I was misreading some things that were said.

Really though, I am tired of people making rules about modesty that are ridiculous and make women dress ugly. We ought to wear whatever clothes the Holy Spirit allows us to wear, and not worry about what others think. :)


At 9:58 PM , Anonymous Kellie said…

No problem Kathy! I've been guilty of mis-reading/interpreting before as well. Thank your for acknowledging it! =)


At 10:02 PM , Anonymous Kellie said…

Oh one more thing KathIE...I just noticed I've been spelling your name wrong...sorry about that :/


At 10:59 PM , Anonymous sue said…

hummm not one Bible verse in your post. You very much do not understand the Bible on this subject. You sound more preachy than any skirts only lady. You are the one jugding people who where skirts only, and asume way to much about them. You are also being way dramatic about it. I have never seen someone where 5 layers of patato sack like dresses! please, it sounds like you are tring to justify why you want to wear what you want to, and not feel guilty


At 9:10 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Wow, this has gotten heated! Sorry I'm just chiming in now; I've been away with my husband on a bike trip and I haven't had internet.

One little thing: I said no tank tops in the blog post; I really meant no tube tops. They used to be called tank tops up here where I live bank in the seventies, and I still sometimes mix up the two terms.

When I was biking in the hot sun, I definitely wore a tank top and lots of sunscreen this weekend. But I still had a good bra on, and no cleavage was showing, so I consider that fine.

Anyway, I think we're getting a tad mad at each other, but on the whole people are handling it quite well, which makes me happy. I really don't want this to become a place where we fight each other, so let's try not to do that.

The comments about modesty being an attitude I find quite interesting, because to tell you the truth I never thought of it that way. I agree that we aren't to be overly brash, but some people, to tell you the truth, are. That's just their personality. But they're still lovely, godly women. I think we need to distinguish between people who have a big but good-hearted personality and people who are intentionally confrontational and harsh. I know some women who walk into a room, and everyone knows they're there. They hug everyone, and everyone feels so much better just having her around. Does she draw attention to herself? Yes. But I believe she's still godly. So it's a difference between motive, I think. I don't want to label people's personality as ungodly, if it's shaped in a godly way.

As for the people who don't believe that others dress in sacks, perhaps I should have explained myself better. I think if someone is in a long, shapeless skirt, and is pairing it with a shapeless top or T-shirt, that's a sack. But you can also be in a sack if you're in long, shapeless sweat pants and a shapeless T-shirt. You look frumpy and dowdy. And I don't think that's good, on a daily basis.

It's funny, because I mentioned this post and the comments to my husband in the car last night, and his comment was: you know what differentiates men's and women's bodies? Breasts. And I hate it when women don't wear bras. I don't like to see breasts dangling by the navel.

You may judge him, but to tell you the truth, I agree. I think a good bra is necessary for a woman to look like a woman. Wear a fitting, well-supporting bra.

And then don't be afraid of your shape! I guess my attitude on clothes would be closer to What Not To Wear without the cleavage. When you wear things that are too big for you or that ignore your shape, you look very frumpy. When you pay attention to shape, you look attractive, and I believe you can do that and still be modest.

I fear that many people wear the shapeless look because they're ashamed of their bodies and it's easier. I don't think it's good, though, for our husbands or our kids to see. Let's just focus on how to look attractive with dignity.

There is nothing wrong with beauty. Many women in the Bible were praised for being beautiful. And women have this urge inside them to "Be the Beauty". That's how God made us. So let's do that with a modest attitude--covering up important parts, and wanting to be attractive not to attract too much attention but just to give the idea: I take pride in myself because God made me, and I want to seem approachable. I think that's a godly attitude, and you can't have that attitude either with too much cleavage or with no shape.

One final thing: I do think we tend to be too legalistic about what we wear. I don't believe that there are firm lines in Scripture, and people who are starting to measure inches to the floor or inches of fabric are becoming legalistic. Galatians was written about legalism. So do what you think is right before God, but please don't set rigid rules for others.


At 2:03 PM , Blogger Barb, sfo said…

A couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon at the mall with my 15-year-old daughter. I was PLEASANTLY surprised that some of the stores marketing to teen girls were offering pretty, feminine skirts and flowy blouses with floral patterns. Girls (and women) can be modest, feminine and fashionable all at the same time.


At 2:04 PM , Blogger Rachel said…

There was a time when ankles(yes ankles!) were considered sexy and women kept them covered up. The definition of modesty is ever evolving. I think the main thing to consider is, will people treat me with respect if I wear this. In my experience neither frumpy looking women nor trampy looking women are treated with respect.

That being said, of course when taking your husband's opinion into account, you should also be true to your own tastes and comfort level.


At 2:08 PM , Anonymous Brenda said…

Several people have asked about Scripture. Well, here is some to consider.

I suppose almost everyone believes it is wrong to be "naked". The problem is defining what naked really is. Is it just keeping your privates covered? The Bible gives us a clear, definite definition for the word naked:
Isa 47:1-3 Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. (2) Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. (3) Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.
God is quite clear: when their thigh and leg were uncovered, they were naked and their shame was revealed.

Second, if we go back a bit further, we can look at Adam and Eve. When they realized they were naked, they made aprons to cover up with. However, the aprons they made were not sufficient. Look at what God made for them:
Ge 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
A coat is a long garment (we tend to call the shorter, cold-weather garment a coat, but it is really a jacket). An apron may be long or short, but it is almost certainly not a complete covering.

Third: the well known verse in 1 Tim 2:9 dealing with "modest apparel" is also quite clear when you consider the definitions of the word modest.
1Ti 2:9-10 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; (10) But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
Modest is not directly dealing with revealing the flesh or form of the body, it is dealing with attitude. There are several definitions of modest:
1. Properly, restrained by a sense of propriety; hence, not forward or bold; not presumptuous or arrogant; not boastful; as a modest youth; a modest man.
2. Not bold or forward;
3. Not loose; not lewd.
The first two deal with attitude, the last would deal with the clothing: a modest lady will only reveal her body to her husband where a loose woman will advertise it to the world.

The bottom line is: What you do in moderation, your children will do in extreme. When you compromise a little on any standard, your kids will compromise a lot. If you move the line on modesty a little, the kids will move it a lot. Anyone remember the old western TV show "Gunsmoke"? Remember Miss Kitty? Remember what her profession was (hint: she worked UPSTAIRS in the saloon)? In that day, she advertised her profession by shaking her ankle and calf at men. What that generation did in moderation, our generation has taken to excess: there is very little left to a man's imagination if he should walk in a mall or Wal-Mart on a warm day. Honestly, the prostitute's attire of twenty years ago is deemed modest enough to be common in many of today's mainstream churches. Again, what you do in moderation, your children will do in extreme.


At 2:09 PM , Blogger Lorrie said…

This comment has been removed by the author.


At 3:27 PM , Blogger Sharon A. Lavy said…

I love this.

I am a member of a group that wears a church uniform. And it got so bad that some did seem to count inches. And people were accusing others of being immodest when we were all covered from high neck to below the knee.

And I have a problem. I do feel called to talk about modesty. And right away I am told yes you need to let these young girls know this and this and this.

That is not my calling. It just isn't.

When I was put on the ACFW Operating board last year our lovely president asked me if I would feel uncomfortable with how the others dress. I don't. They don't dress at all like I do but they are modest.

I don't have to worry where to look when they talk.

For those of you into fashion I will say that shoulders are not an issue, but make sure your armsye is not so baggie or low on the garment that your bra or lack of a bra is visible. I believe that is the reason why some do not wear anything sleeveless.

I believe it is possible to be fashionable and modest. And now a days all skirt lengths are in, so you don't have to feel dowdy if you don't wear above the knee styles.

I believe in beauty. How many knees are attractive? Especially men's knees?

Sadly summer is often the ugly time of year for humanity.

Look at the reason for the advice. When you bend over skirts ride up. They need to be longer than pants to be modest. Above the knee pants just show your knees. Do you really have nice looking knees?

Love and Blessings,
Sharon A Lavy


At 5:24 PM , Blogger Laura said…

"I find it absolutely hilarious, yet terribly sad at the same time, when young people, like Kathie, believe they are some kind of expert on anything other than the pimple on the end of their nose."

Brenda, I'm 29. Is that old enough for me to gently point out how very rude that comment was? I disagree with you at many points in your argumentation, but I will not stoop to sarcasm and snottiness to try to score points against my sisters in Christ. I hope you'll consider doing the same.


At 5:35 PM , Anonymous Sue said…

The word legalistic means something that has to do with salvation. People often misuse that word and think it means "rules". It does not. I do not believe, or have ever heard anyone say, women need to wear skirts only, to get to heaven. All you need to do is believe in Christ and accept him in your heart. Works do not get us to heaven. Please know what words mean before you use them. No one is being legalistic here. The Bible is clear, and does not say to evolve to whatever the world considers modest at the time. It also says it is a abomination for men to dress like women and women to dress like men. If women can wear pants, then can men wear dresses? Why not isn't it the same? Women started wearing pants to act like men and do what they do. That is something God is very against! He has clear rolls for men and women, when we get away from those is when things fall apart. That is why the world is the mess it is today. I don't judge anyone, but just wanted to state why I think you shouldn't be letting other women think it's ok to wear pants and that modesty always changes. You seem to be the one condemning skirt only women. No we do not think we are better than anyone in anyway, that is not nice to portray us that way.We are to be a light to the world, and yes be a little different. We are commanded to love not the world or be a part of it, but to be yet separate. I urge you to study what the Bible says and not simply what "you" think. You can wear skirts only and dress modest and still look nice. I don't believe in wearing jean jumpers everyday or that stuff. We should look nice and present Jesus in a good way.I wear skirts only and modest tops, and get complements all the time on how nice I look, people do not stare at me like I'm a weirdo. Most women that wear skirts only and myself, do so the way our husbands want us to. My husband often goes shopping with me and tells me I look nice. He has always says he is proud to be seen with me. I am not trying to be unkind in anyway, just want to let you know we are not all like how your stated in your post. Some women are like that and that is not right. Modesty doesn't mean frumpy or weird, and God very much cares how we dress.


At 5:53 PM , Blogger Sheila said…


Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

A few things: while I see what you're saying about legalism meaning the way to salvation, I think it's a fine line and I still stand by what I said. While you may not say that women who don't wear skirts aren't saved, you are still setting up rules for what a good Christian woman is, and that's a problem for me, especially since nowhere in Scripture do I see it saying that women must wear skirts for all time. We have to remember they did not have good scissors; they did not have sewing machines; they did not have mass production. Things are simply different.

And again, I have absolutely no problem with women who choose to wear skirts everyday--you can find me in a skirt most days in the summer. My problem is with women who say that a good Christian woman will always wear a skirt, and women who wear shapeless skirts with shapeless shirts. I don't think that's really presenting a good view of what Christianity is, nor do I think it's good for marriages (which is really what this blog is about).

As for being judgmental, perhaps you're right in that I am sounding so. It is not my intention. When one does write a blog post, though, one presents one's opinion, and this is mine. I think that there is a subset of the Christian female culture that is setting up a lot of rules over what is acceptable and what is modest and what is not, and these rules are unnecessary; they can marginalize women; and they don't necessarily honour their husbands. I'm not sure that most men want their wives looking like they're wearing sacks.

This is obviously not true in your case, since you are making an effort to be attractive, and so I have absolutely no problem about how you dress. My problem is with people who set up rules for other Christian women that I believe are overly restrictive, and who say that we should never look attractive. That's my problem!

Thanks for commenting, and if you want to respond further I'd be happy to hear what you have to say.


At 5:54 PM , Anonymous Jrmiss86 said…

Very interesting conversation. This is something I am struggling with right now. I have always leaned towards the overweight side and after 2 children I just can't seem to take off the weight, so I have fallen into the comfortable mindset. The last 6 months or so I have begun to realize that God and my wonderful husband love me just as I am, and I am trying to get out of the frumpy mindset. My biggest problem is that stores that carry clothing that I would consider modest don't carry my size and ones that do carry my size are either frumpy or not what I would consider modest. It may also be just my perception. But thanks for the post and the thoughtful comments, it has given me something to think about!


At 5:59 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Jr. Miss--

I hear your pain! Here's one thing I can say that hopefully will make you feel better: sometimes we get into the trap of feeling like we have to have lots and lots of clothes. I always figure it's better to have 6 outfits that make you feel fabulous than 30 that make you feel frumpy.

So if clothes are hard to find, don't worry! You don't need a lot. A pair of jeans, 2 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, a dress, and a few tops. Pay the extra money and get nice stuff that fits. It's better to pay more for a few quality items than to pay a ton for stuff that you don't like and don't look good in. And then just wear the few outfits you have that make you feel great! It sounds like your husband is on board, so hopefully he'll encourage you!


At 6:14 PM , Blogger Sharon A. Lavy said…

Also you have the option of separate tops and bottoms. A classic bottom will go with all kinds of tops to make a different outfit.

If you can sew, then the trick is to get the pattern to fit right. (Why to they have the shoulders droop etc in large size patterns.)

But a good pattern is valuable and then fabric shopping can be fun.


At 7:23 PM , Anonymous Sue said…

I'm not telling other Christian's Lady's that they are not "good" unless they wear skirts and dress modestly, The Bible does. I never have gone around "preaching" this to women I see in pants. I would tell them what I thought if they asked and really wanted to know,not just argue. You seem to believe different , I'm sure you have read many post on the issue on blogs. From your post though I don't think you understand it. The Bible doesn't say thou shalt not smoke, but there are principles that make smoking wrong. If you look up the word apparel in Greek, it means long flowing garment. The Bible says that women should dress in modest appeal. Sounds like a skirt to me. Also if you study the Bible Jesus wore pants. The Bible calls them pantaloons. S there was a difference back then. Yes they also wore robes, but the men and women dressed very different, or eles why would God say it was a abomination to wear each other cloths?


At 8:02 PM , Blogger Rachel said…

This comment has been removed by the author.


At 8:04 PM , Blogger Rachel said…

Sue, you do realize that the bible has been translated many times and was simply the account of men from various perspectives? The word that was translated into "virgin"(reference to Mary) it turns out could also have simply meant "woman". There are a lot of things said in the bible. Do you take them all literally? I'm sure someone could find something in the bible that they translate into meaning we shouldn't be using the internet...or at least that women shouldn't. There are a great many more important things that make people "good Christians" besides wearing skirts! In any case, why would women be required to wear skirts anyway? I wont speculate here, but I will reiterate that in the grand scheme of a christian life, skits are probably around the last thing we should be worrying about.


At 8:33 PM , Anonymous Sue said…

you wrote - Sue, you do realize that the bible has been translated many times and was simply the account of men from various perspectives? The word that was translated into "virgin"(reference to Mary) it turns out could also have simply meant "woman". That was so blasphemous, I am no longer reading here! Wow! The Bible WAS written by God! The Holy Spirit told each of those men what to write. Mary WAS a virgin! If she was not, then Jesus wasn't who he said he was and the whole Bible would be a lie. It means what it says, those verses are not at all hard to understand. I find when people don't like what the Bible says, They want to "interpret" it different, or make it seem unclear, or untrue. If you don't think dress is a important issue, why the long post about it? God went into very much detail on how he wanted the temple to look, down to colors ect. I think he very much cares about how we present or bodies! We are a temple of the Holy Spirit! It's not just what we think is ok, it is what the God thinks. Believe me I have studied and studied it and cannot see how it would be ok for me to wear pants. If I wear lose enough ones they will look sloppy, or like men's pants, and women's pants are to tight and I don't want men staring at it or lusting my body. I do not think I am anything spacial. Men think very different from us, and a lot of men out there are perverted. The Bible says if a man even lust after a women he has committed adultery WITH her. That means the women was a part of it, by the way she dressed! This is a very serious issue and should be studied and prayed about very much! Women are even treated very different when wearing modest dresses or skirts, then when they wear pants. I know I probably wont change your mind, but please be very careful on how you talk about the word of God! I hope you didn't mean what you said about it! 1Cr 6:19-What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you , which ye have of God , and ye are not your own?


At 8:36 PM , Blogger Sheila said…


While the Bible says we must dress in modest apparel, apparel does not mean "flowing garment" today. It meant it then because that was all there was. Men did not wear pants in Roman times. They just didn't.

Yes, we are to dress differently than men, but I can tell you that there are a lot of pant-top ensemble outfits that are a ton more feminine than baggy skirts. And women's jeans are very different from men's jeans. I would say that I feel far more feminine in some of my pant ensembles than I do in my skirts.

I think you are stretching what the Bible says. Modesty does not mean skirts (some skirts, after all, are harldy modest, and most pants, I would argue, are more modest than most summer skirts. At least you can't see up them).

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with skirts. I'm just saying that the claim that the Bible says women must wear skirts--and only skirts--is based on a very legalistic view of the Bible.

Take smoking, for instance, as you mentioned. Do I think Christians should smoke? No, because of the verse that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. But Christians smoke all the time in the Middle East and Europe because it is not as much an issue there as it is here. So much of the idea that we shouldn't smoke as Christians is cultural--although you can make a biblical case for it.

I can also make a biblical case that you shouldn't listen to most modern music, but I wouldn't tell people that the Bible says they can't. I would say that I feel that I shouldn't listen to the music, and that we should be careful, but that it is up to everyone to decide for themselves, because the Bible does not speak directly to modern music.

Because we are in such a different culture, you can't take things and apply them in exactly the same way. You have to take the principle. The principle here is that we should be modest in how we act and dress. It isn't that we should wear skirts. And modesty must be something that every woman thinks about and stands before God on her own about.

I would caution women about cleavage or short skirts or things that are too tight, but beyond that I think every woman has to make the decision for herself.

To say that a Christian woman can only wear skirts is to put a burden on women that I don't believe Jesus meant for us to have. We are bigger fish to fry in this world than wardrobe. And if we start saying that Christians don't do this and Christians don't do that and Christians only dress this way then we put up stumbling blocks for new Christians.

Let's stick to the basics--the Apostle's Creed--and then work at how we can best impact this world for Jesus. To tell girls that they have to dress the way women did in Jesus' time, I believe, will only hinder that cause.


At 8:37 PM , Anonymous sue said…

Also I wanted to state the KJV is the one and true Bible we have today, not any of them. Othder ones have been changed and messed with, and God warns about that in the last chapter of the Bible. People didn't just make it easier to read, they changed meaning and words, added to it, ect.


At 8:45 PM , Anonymous sue said…

Exods28 And thou shalt make them linen BREECHES to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:


At 8:46 PM , Blogger Sheila said…


I'm sorry but I feel that this conversation has gotten really strange, and I don't want people to think that this is what my blog is really about, so this will be my last comment on the subject.

The KJV was an English translation made in 1611 with the best manuscripts they had available at the time, and the most they knew about ancient Greek at the time.

Since then, more ancient manuscripts have been discovered, and academics became more exact in their Greek translations.

The translations we have today (not the Message, or the Good News Bible, but the actual translations) are academics looking at the original Greek. They have not "messed" with the Bible. They have simply translated it better because we have more knowledge now than they did in 1611.

People who claim that the King James Bible is the only true Bible are, I fear, simply scared of moving forward and are trying to stay in the past. The King James Version is a beautiful translation, but it is not perfect. We will never be perfect because it is just a translation. But academics are always trying to do it better, and I am grateful for them.

To say that we must only read a translation that was made 400 years ago, when English was very different, is to cut Christianity off from the majority of the population who has never heard the gospel. I do not want to do that. I want to make Christianity accessible to those who haven't heard the good news of Christ, and to tell them that they can only hear it by reading the King James, whose reading level is far higher than the average reading level in our population, is to say that most people will thus never read the Bible. I think that is a travesty.

You are welcome to use any translation you want, but please do not malign the others. They are made by scholars who are trying to be as faithful to the text as possible. And I am grateful for them.

It seems as if you are trying to turn back the clock, and keep Christianity as it was 150 years ago. That doesn't work. We live in a changing culture, and we must learn how to be relevant--while still holy--in that culture.

This blog is specifically about how marriages can thrive in our culture, and that is what I want to continue to write about. I really feel that arguments over translations are a side issue and have too much possibility of turning people off, so I will say nothing more on the subject.

But this is the reason I wrote this post; because too many Christian women are drawing an unhealthy view of our wardrobe which I think harms marriages, as I said.


At 8:46 PM , Anonymous sue said…

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


At 8:51 PM , Anonymous sue said…

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


At 8:57 PM , Anonymous sue said…

Just one change version is the NIV. John 3:16 it changes the word shatt be saved to Might be saved. Shall means you will be! Might has a whole differnt meaning! That is a very important verse! See what I mean. Study it out people!


At 8:58 PM , Anonymous sue said…

shall* not shatt


At 9:07 PM , Blogger Sheila said…


I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what you're talking about. Here's John 3:16 in the NIV:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I do believe the Bible is perfect. I do not believe the KJV is perfect. And I do believe that some directives (such as a woman should have a head covering on in church) were for that time for a purpose. I do not think they were meant to be eternal.

I really don't want to get into an argument about this, because this is not the purpose of this blog. But I just wanted to clear up the misconception about the NIV, which I think is a very good translation (especially the newer one).


At 9:20 PM , Anonymous Sue said…

Ignorance is all I have to say! Funny how you removed my comments, maybe because you can't adress them, like many of the things I've said. I love how people suddly can't talk about it, or "it's not the purpose of their blog" when you bring up some good points. I'm sure this will be removed also, but I was inteded for you to read, and you will.


At 9:21 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Okay, one last thing.

Sue, you're making a really big deal about Exodus 28:42 and the linen breeches to show that men wore pants.

The breeches were UNDERGARMENTS. That's all they were. I don't know whether Jesus wore breeches for undergarments, but I do know that He wore robes, as everyone else did at the time. They did not wear pants.

To say that because men wore breeches as underwear between 2000 years ago and 4000 years ago means that men should wear pants today and women should wear skirts is really a stretch. This is the sort of thing that drives me a little bit bonkers.

Do you remember Jesus bringing the sheet down to Peter, and telling him to eat of the unclean animals, because the days of legalism had ended? Do you remember Jesus yelling at the Pharisees because they added all kinds of laws and yet wouldn't lift a finger to help people?

Jesus wants us to love Him, to serve Him, and to tell others about Him. I think regulating women's wardrobe choices is rather low down the list.


At 9:23 PM , Blogger Sheila said…


I removed your comments because I felt they were rude and were starting to give this blog a feeling that I do not want it to have. I shall leave your final one here so that others can see the kind of thing I removed.

I also do not want to propagate the "King James only" line, because I do not believe it, and I fear that it turns people off of Christianity. That is another reason I removed your comments. This is my blog, and I retain the right to remove comments that I think will harm the message of this blog, which I believe comes from God.


At 9:27 PM , Anonymous Sue said…

It talks about the breeches going down to their knees, I don't think it was underwear lol! Yeah you left that comment up, not the other one that brought up good points you cound not answer.


At 9:32 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Sue, do you truly believe that Jesus did not wear robes? Even though that was what they wore in the Roman period? Do you truly believe that the breeches were not undergarments, even though robes were all that was worn in ancient history? That's strange.

I do not remember what your comment was that I deleted, or I would address it. I remember that I thought it was rather rude and argumentative and did not add to the discussion, and that you said something about me being brainwashed or something for believing the NIV, even though I quoted it and showed you that you were wrong (which you did not reply to). I will delete the rest of your comments from now on, because as I said, this blog is NOT about the KJV only movement, and that is what we seem to be getting into, and it is silly and pointless and makes me very sad, because I don't like to think that there are that many people out there who are clinging to the past so much that they are ruining our witness today.

You also linked to a YouTube video; I don't know what it was, but as I said, I won't allow this blog to be used by people to promote the KJV only agenda. You are free to write your own blog on the subject.

As far as I am concerned, this subject is now closed.


At 10:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Wow! This comment thread shows how quickly things can get out of hand, even within Christian circles. Sheila, I think you wrote a great post and it has really challenged me to take my wardrobe before my husband and to evaluate my clothing choices.

And Sue, you are part of the reason some people are so turned off by the gospel of Christ. And if spreading the gospel isn't our greatest call, I don't know what is.


At 10:35 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Beth, thanks for the encouragement! I hope your husband likes your transformation. Have a great day!

Post a Comment
<< Home

About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

See my complete profile

Follow This Blog:

 Subscribe to To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Follow on Twitter:
Follow on Facebook:

Important Links
Previous Posts

Popular Archived Posts
Christian Blogs
Mom Blogs
Marriage/Intimacy Blogs
Blogs For Younger/Not Yet Married Readers
Housework Blogs
Cooking/Homemaking Blogs
Writing Links
Blog Design by Christi Gifford

Images from

Related Posts with Thumbnails