Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are you modest enough?

I would like to start sharing a bit more on modesty, posting pictures, etc. but before I do that, I want to talk about this lovely little word called judging. We all know what that is. I would guess we have each been on the receiving and giving end.

I don't want to talk so much about judging those who do not dress modestly. I think to some degree we can't help but make a judgement that someone who is dressed in skin tight jeans with a halter top on is not dressed modestly. There is an obvious degree of what is right and wrong that God has instilled in us.

My observations are that women who are in the homeschooling movement and who possess the "dress modestly and be submissive to your husbands" mentality can oftentimes be extremely harsh in their judgement towards other conservative, homeschooling ladies. In fact, I almost don't like to share what I believe to be modest because I can promise you there is going to be someone out there who will judge my standards of modesty as not being modest enough.

Ladies, are you called to love your sister in Christ, or to judge the amount of lace on her dress? Are you to encourage her in Christ, or be appalled because her neckline comes down 2 inches below her collarbone? Does the fact that she has on a red, cheerful dress make her bold and flashy in your eyes? Do you believe in only wearing cotton, so therefore anyone who walks around wearing polyester just doesn't quite have it together in your mind? If you see any part of a woman's leg, do you grimace (because of course you wear your dresses down to the lowest part of your ankle)?

These queries might seem harsh to some, and silly questions to others, but believe me, I have seen and felt those judgements applied to me and in a dizzying number of combinations (neckline is fine, but color is a bit too, um, BOLD. Color / print as drab as it ought to be, but whoa, I see some ankles there! Dress is nearly dragging the ground - check - but, my, that's an awfully modern style.) I have found it impossible to satisfy everyone's "standards of decency."

On the other side, if a woman walks in your church wearing a headcovering, do you judge her as being self righteous and wouldn't dream of speaking to her? I went through a period of life where I did wear a headcovering; I dressed exclusively the cotton, homemade Mennonite look, my husband wore a beard and *gulp* yes even suspenders at times (when he worked in his cabinet shop. Not an appearance thing mind you. He liked them because they were more comfortable), and our closest family thought we had turned Amish!

We are told to have the adorning of a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). What if there is an older woman that seems to have a meek spirit, but you just can't get over the fact that she wears pants? Ladies, I think you will greatly miss out on the ministry that woman can give you if you get so caught up in the pants/dress debate. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for wearing dresses; but what we wear is not always the clear window to the heart as many make it out to be.

Growing up I was extremely blessed to have an older woman that I could look up to. Our family was so close to her that we "adopted" her and called her Grandma Dorthy. Her testimonies were endless, and her faith was remarkable. She was widowed for many years, but talked endearingly of her late husband. While she wore sweat pants and jeans everyday, she more closely resembled the Proverbs 31 woman to me than most ladies I've met who don dresses day in, day out.

It's our heart ladies.....More to come on this.

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At February 17, 2011 at 10:25 AM , Blogger Noel Giger said...

I agree wholeheartedly :) There are many women who have given no thought to modesty, not as an act of rebelion, but because they have never been exposed to it.

I had a group of ladies in my home one day whnen my duaghter came out in her gymnastics outfit, intending to "exercise" in the front yard with firiends. When her daddy told her no, she questionied it and he sent her to me for training. I explained it to my daughter, the ladies overheard. One young woman remarked that she had never thought of it that way before, and thanked me for explaining it.

And, how will they know, unless they hear - it applies to the great commission and so much more :) How will they hear, if those who have the knowledge are unwilling to associate with those who need to know?

At February 17, 2011 at 12:03 PM , Blogger Mrs. Stam said...

my husband is my standard of modesty, he chooses what I wear and makes the final cut (what he thinks looks modest on *me* or not)

So he prefers dresses, I wear dresses, he like longer style so I wear long dress, he like flowers or bold pattern, so that is what I wear.

But most important of all he wants me to be a modest and submissive wife with my heart more then my clothes!

My heart to please him, and God is shown in what I choose to wear, but modesty is more then only what you wear, it's who you are :-)

Thanks for this lovely post!

At February 17, 2011 at 12:33 PM , Blogger Tiana said...

This is such wise thinking.

I have drastically altered the way that I dress just in the last two years. I'm sure some people think I've taken things "too far", while perhaps some might think I haven't gone "far enough".

We have to remember that, in the androgynous culture that we live in, defining the "standard" for modest and feminine dress can be pretty challenging. We must prayerfully consider what God is showing us to do through His Word, while at the same time showing a great deal of grace toward those who don't approach the issue as we do.


At February 17, 2011 at 1:14 PM , OpenID heritageofgrace said...

Hello Modest Mom,

I liked your post on the natural deodorant! I also read this new post that you put up. I agree that some women can be judgemental in a bad sense of the word. I'd like to add though, that if we see other ladies who claim Christianity and dress imodestly, then according to the Bible we are supposed to go up to them and gently, lovingly let them know they are dressed inapropriately and they should take action to change.
I am a young lady, and I can tell you from experience that it's a hard thing to do (confrontation)- both for yourself and for them, but it's the healthy thing. Believers are supposed to admonish one another in love.

What you said is true. We are not supposed to dress modestly according to human standards- but to the standards of the Bible.
And since we're on the same topic, I'd like to mention that the recent trend of headcoverings for unmarried ladies (that I've noticed on some websites), is un-Biblical. The passage of 1 Corinthians 11:3-5 was talking about the married woman. Taking the verses in context, v.3 says "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man". Clearly the order in marriage.
Then it goes on to explain about the head coverings.
I just thought I'd mention this for the good of other readers, not that Modest Mom endorses such a thing.

At February 17, 2011 at 5:10 PM , Anonymous Lisa said...

This is so true! I used to dress very modestly (no pants ever), but I was very judgmental of anything even remotely immodest. I have changed a lot in that area. I try to look past the dress and see the heart. I still prefer dresses, but I've decided this isn't as much of an issue as I used to think it was. Sure, I still believe in modesty, but I've ceased to make an idol of it. Thank you for sharing!

At February 17, 2011 at 5:45 PM , Blogger Too Many Kids In The Bathtub said...

i agree! I have felt the sting of judgement and even been the judger at times. I agree with the pp...i ask my husband what he likes! being able to sew really helps too! for instance, I liked a dress at old navy but it was, in my opinion too short! It wsa on clearance, so I bought 2 and I sewed some of one to the other and now it is super long! I have a hard time finding modest tops though. Everything is low cut!

At February 17, 2011 at 5:55 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

I agree about having a hard time finding tops. I am finding that if I layer with a cami that can really widen my selection of tops. But trying to find camis high enough is a challenge by itself!

At February 17, 2011 at 8:21 PM , Blogger Don and Shelly said...

A great post and we hope to see a lot more on this! We're right in line with Mrs. Stam's spirit and comments. Bottom line: it's all about the heart.

At February 17, 2011 at 8:53 PM , Blogger HappilyDomestic said...

Thanks for sharing this. I too have felt the judgmental sting from friends for not always wearing skirts and dresses. I fully agree it is a matter of the heart. A woman can be very modest dressed in pants, where in cases some woman are not. I wear pants most of the time, but never feel I am immodest in anyway. I do not wear tight clothes, low cut anything and do not draw attention to myself. I do like wearing skirts and dresses, but for me they are not always the most comfortable for house work and such.

At February 18, 2011 at 8:16 AM , Blogger Becky said...

LOVE your attitude here! So true about the self righteousness we stay at home homeschooling mothers put onto others. We are supposed to be on the same TEAM! We do not have a "membership" at our church and I told someone the other day the way you know you are a "member" is: You look like I look and YOUR IN! So SAD!
Let's let God lead people's hearts and not try and be their conscience!becasue if someone is doing something to please men it won't last, unless it's your husband!

At February 18, 2011 at 8:48 AM , Blogger Mary Joy said...

Thank you so much for this post. You will never know how much it has meant to me. My family attended a church for a time this past fall that had an "unwritten" rule about dresses and skirts only for women. They looked down on anyone who wore pants...ever. We live in a very, very cold part of the country. Skirts are not always the most practical. I enjoy wearing both...skirts/dresses and modest, loose-fitting pants. Modesty is very important to me. But I feel that...after being judged harshly..that Modesty is SO much more than what we wear. It is about our attitude, our spirit...the way we love one another.

Thank you so much for this!!!

At February 18, 2011 at 1:26 PM , Blogger Laurie said...

Ladies, i am rather new here, having stumbled across this blog very recently. Let me suggest a wonderful site called If you scroll down on the main page she has lots of posts about modest apparel. I've read through many of them, and I think it's some of the best-explained posts out there on how to dress modestly, and why.

Would you also permit me to disagree with some of you, ever so gently? I do not believe modesty is determined by "what's in our heart," and whether or not we are sincere or not. I believe the Bible has guidelines that we are to follow. I believe the Bible very clearly teaches how our clothing is to be, as Christian women. I did not know these principles for a long time. It has only been in the last 7 years that I have learned of many of these principles.

Our job is to search the Scriptures, and find out what God says about our clothing. Once we are convinced of what He wants, excuses will not be able to stand up.

At February 18, 2011 at 1:41 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

Lauri, I don't want you to misunderstand me. I also agree that there are some standards of modesty, and that it does not matter what we wear. But if we judge so harshly over standards that different woman have, such as necklines, patterns, ect. and cast stones at each other, I don't think the Lord would be pleased at all. I wear dresses 99.9% of the time, and modesty is very important to me. But it is not more important than seeing sisters in Christ casting judgements that are harsh and extreme at each other. Also, unless you have developed a friendship with another woman, I have issues with women feeling the freedom to go correct anyone they want, in the name of the Lord. There is a time and a place to everything. I'm writing in context of women who all agree they should dress modestly, just differing on the standards of what exactly that is. I hope that makes sense.

At February 18, 2011 at 2:04 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

Oops! I meant to say that it DOES matter what we wear!

At February 18, 2011 at 2:39 PM , Blogger Susanna said...

Wonderful post, Caroline! Right on!

God could easily have laid out specific measurements and rules about dress just like He did when He gave instructions on how to build the temple. He could even have sent along a sketch so we wouldn't mistake His rules. He didn't do that. He put His Spirit into His people's hearts.

"Who are you to judge another man's servant? To his own master he stands or falls."

At February 19, 2011 at 11:29 AM , Anonymous Mrs. V said...

I am so glad to read this post from you. I wrote about my own journey in dressing modestly a month or so ago and really attempted to break it down as you have here. Modesty is our humility in dress - so it is a heart issue, it is a way we show our hearts on the outside. (Sometimes saying "it is an heart issue" makes it sound as if something immodest is alright for those who are "alright with it in their heart" regardless of what they are showing. I do not mean that. I mean that it is to be an example of where our heart is.)
Have a great day ladies!

At February 23, 2011 at 7:28 PM , Blogger Valencia said...

I totally agree with what you wrote. I try not to judge women, but rather offer exposure to modest and feminine clothes. I can't very well judge if I never take the time to lovingly offer a suggestion. I host Feminine Fridays over at my blog to do just that.

At February 24, 2011 at 1:02 PM , Blogger Lori said...

True. Modesty is a matter of the heart...YOUR heart. And no one can judge YOUR heart. I have been held under that microscope before. It isn't a fun place to be! Great post!

At March 1, 2011 at 3:34 PM , Blogger Kendra said...

This is the second time I've stumbled upon a post on this topic this week. My daughter is 7, and I've been trying to teach her about modesty since she was 4! She wanted a "cute" bathing suit (i.e. bikini...NOT gonna happen!) when she was 5. The world begins to bombard our girls with so much when they are still so little. Teaching modesty is something that is near and dear to my heart.

At April 18, 2011 at 11:16 PM , Anonymous Heidi St. John said...

Beautifully said - there is SO MUCH judgmentalism in the homeschool community and the vast majority of it is unnecessary and self-righteous. It breeds division within the body of Christ, too.

I love wearing skirts and dresses but my husband does not care one way or the other as long as I am modest - which I also want to be - and we have raised our children in this way. We all wear modest clothing but do not see anything wrong with wearing pants.

Honestly it took me a while to not judge women who wear only dresses simply because I felt so judged for wearing jeans and a nice t-shirt! One day, a dear friend of mine who is mennonite told me that she appreciates and sees my HEART for the Lord and for others. She complimented my modest, modern dress and gave me the biggest compliment by noting that she loved the way my husband looks at me :) After I dress for the Lord, I dress for him :)

When we can ask the Lord for His heart, His eyes, His love and His perspective, we begin to see why the the verse that says "rend your heart and not your garments" is so poignant.

It's the heart. And while we can usually all agree on blatant immodesty, it's a good idea to leave opinions at the door when we interact with other ladies who love and serve our risen Lord, whether they wear jeans or skirts. It should never become a divisive issue. God sees the heart, and would should ask Him to help us see the heart of others, too.

At August 5, 2011 at 6:39 AM , Anonymous Jill Mary said...

I love what you wrote here. So true. Thanks for sharing! We can add to God's word without even realizing it.

At February 7, 2012 at 9:53 PM , Blogger Belle said...

Thank you for saying this. I've gone both ways and I'm still praying about what is modest and what is not and beaten myself up about both. It's an area of constant growth.


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