As a Youth Minister, I sometimes cringe at the sight or sound of this word. Modesty is a topic that I do not like to address for various reasons. Sometimes girls get offended because they believe the conversation is one-sided. Others tune out when they hear the topic of discussion, because, like me, they remember modesty talks they had in the past. These discussions would center around what was appropriate to wear and what was not. Was knee-length shorts modest or nah? Do shoulders need to be covered or nah? What is proper swim attire? I could go on and on....
I recently had the modesty talk with the parents of our youth group. Yes, it is important to talk about what clothing we deem as modest, because of what we advertise, as a whole. I took a different approach in the matter. As Youth Ministers, we tend to write the policy on dress code for our students and parents to follow. However, I decided I would let our parents write our dress code policy. They are the ones responsible for buying the clothes that will fit in to our guidelines.
Is modesty something that we should talk about? Absolutely!
Modesty is more than just the clothes we wear. It's more than determining if shorts should come to the knee or 3 inches above the knee or to the middle fingertip.
I love what Philip Jenkins writes in the book, "Hot Topics: Addressing Global Trends with Gospel Truth". He writes the chapter on modesty and writes:
"We could dissect the subject of dress and modesty until our clothes go out of style, but what’s the issue really? Is the topic of dress addressed with a camp dress code? Does telling girls that wearing shorts 3
inches above the knee is sinful equal Biblical teaching on modesty? No way. So where to begin? On one hand, God hasn’t given us a strict dress code. We aren’t told (despite what some of us have been told all of our lives. Zing!) anywhere in the Bible that it’s wrong to wear shorts, sandals, or jeans to worship; nor are we told anywhere that in order for our worship to be acceptable to God, we must be wearing a tie. But on the other hand, GOD HAS GIVEN US A STRICT DRESS CODE. I’m talking guidelines and principles that help us get a better grasp on who we should be as His people."
What Philip is saying and what I am trying to portray to you is this simple principle: The way you dress reflects who you are. The way you dress either reflects Christ or the rest of the world.
What do I mean?
Our dress code comes down to being holy, being set apart, being different. If you look at Galatians 3:27 we are told to "clothe ourselves with Christ." Okay? Where I can I buy these Christ clothes? Old Navy? American Eagle? The clothing has already been bought by the blood of Christ, the only requirement is holiness.
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." - 1 Peter 1:14-16
If we are to be holy, that includes what we wear. What are we advertising in our dress?
People are watching. Sometimes in admiration or curiosity. Some are watching to say if we really are different, like we say we are. Will what we wear bring others to know the life-changing power of God? Or will what we wear cause others to stumble farther away from the life-changing power of God?
This is a gender neutral issue - Guys can struggle with modesty just as much as girl. What are you advertising? Do the things you wear, the messages on your shirt, the way you act and talk, portray Christ?
It comes down to simply this: What kind of Gospel are you advertising? Would people buy into Jesus if you were their only
connection to him, or would you turn them away by the way that you live, talk, or dress?
Modesty is a taboo subject that we don't like to talk about. However, we need to be keenly aware of what we wear, how we act, and how we talk so that we can portray Christ in EVERYTHING that we do!
Philip Jenkins gives 3 practical applications in his chapter on Modesty and I would like to share those with you:
1. Check yo’ draws. Maybe you need to go home and go through your clothes. Do you have some stuff in there you might need to get rid of? Besides, how impressive would it be to your parents if they came home and you told them you wanted to get rid of some clothes that you didn’t think were appropriate…plus, that would probably mean new clothes. =)
2. Hold each other accountable. Guys, hold each other accountable. Girls, hold each other accountable. The Bible tells us to “bear one another’s burdens.” Find a friend who will shoot straight with you about the times when you blow it.
3. Practice purity. It’s the old cliché: Girls might say: “Guys shouldn’t lust.” Guys might say: “Girls that dress like that cause us to lust.” Both points are valid. Guys shouldn’t lust, and girls should be mindful of that as they dress. The only answer is purity and holiness across the board.
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Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rose Hill Church of Christ. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading!