Now this is a subject where we must tread lightly. Just when you think you may understand what modesty is you find after a little research that the subject is as vast and as controversial as defining holiness. There are some words that for some reason send up red flags in people’s minds and emotions. Modesty is one of them? Could it be because this subject touches on the very nerve of our character before God? How is it possible for a person to be modest in a clamorous sea of immodesty and immorality? Restraints on human behavior have become so disdained that anyone with a heart for the holiness of God can see that our country has degenerated in the past 100 years from respectability to disgrace. Thank God for Pentecostal holiness churches that still stand for a modicum of proprietary in demeanor and dress. Now before the “red flag” of “legalist” looms in your mind let us look further.
In the early 1900’s the idea of women or men in scanty beach attire was unheard of. This was our society at that time and not just the standard of a few conservative Christians. Then the revolution among women in the 1920’s brought a radical change to the culture. It all began with the right to vote, which was certainly a noble cause, and progressed to the era of the flappers where women everywhere chopped off their hair, began to paint their faces, and wore skirts above the knee as they danced shamelessly into the night. Wearing of pants was still considered too extreme for a woman and eventually even that barrier was broken down to the degree where that is the norm today.
The focus of this study is not what we as women wear, but the attitude of heart that would cause a woman to desire to cast off God-given restraint and the leaning towards “exhibitionism” or glorification of self. The American Heritage Dictionary says that modesty is “reserve or propriety in speech, dress or behavior.” So modesty goes far beyond what we wear – it involves our speech and behavior. It is possible for a woman to be dressed modestly and yet be inwardly immodest or prideful. According to Marilyn Brock in her book What is Modesty? “modesty is not compatible with showy, excessive attention to appearance. In other words, pride is not modest, but humility is.”
Modesty implies chastity and moral purity. For a wife it is to be under the authority of her husband, honoring him by her meek behavior and chaste conversation. For an unmarried woman it is to be under the authority of Christ, totally given to learning His ways and pleasing Him in word and deed. Modesty includes our lifestyle, thought process and desires.
Here are a few definitions I found regarding modesty. “The quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities.” In this context modesty is equated with humility.
“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly (modestly) with thy God?” Micah 6:8
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phillipians 2:3) In Strong’s Concordance lowliness of mind is said to be “humiliation of mind, that is modesty.”
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phi 2:5-8
Our Lord has set the example for us as to how we should spend our time here in the flesh. True joy is found when we follow His pattern.