I have overheard several people say that word “Modesty” was such an old fashion term. In fact they believe that I should change the name Banner of Modesty to something like Banner of Meekness or Banner of Simplicity, or perhaps the Nay Sayers would love Banner of Wack-ness. However, first that will never happen lol… Second, one of the main missions of this organization is to resurrect the word Modesty; not just in theory, but in practice!
Modesty has been resting in peace for far too long… In today’s society we can see the devastating effects that the lack of modesty has provided to this culture. Also this is not just a “secular issue” that excludes Christian women… but now we as a body of believers have to address this issue in some of our local fellowships.
You may ask, “What is Modesty… really?”
On Dictionary.com Modesty have three definitions
- Modesty is freedom from vanity and boastfulness
- Modesty is a regard for decency and of behavior, speech, dress, ect.
- Modesty is simplicity and moderation
According to Wikipedia a modest person does not draw attention to their own real or supposed accomplishments and desirable attributes.
I mean I can go on and on with different definitions found from different resources about how the world defines Modesty. However the real questions are….How is Modesty defined for a woman who professes to be a believer? And how can we see women and girls in this generation impacted and inspired enough, to want to be Modest?
Well first, we can never address Modesty with an unbeliever…they will never understand the concept of being a “Modest Woman” unless they come to know Christ and understand that they are saved by grace and not works. Also we do not want to raise up a generation of “robots,” where we are saying look like this, act like this, think like this, and dress like that.
Next, there is no clear definition for Modesty found in the word of God.
So you may be wondering now, why does the modern church associate the term “Modesty” with “Long Skirts” and “Loose Clothing?” Well my guess is, a lot of traditional pastors like to refer to verses like 1 Peter 3:3-4
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
Or even 1 Timothy 2:9
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,
And hands down the argument that the bible does clearly address this term can be won with those two verses alone…
Nope! This is still not a clear definition of Modesty.
We must take a look at these verse hermeneutically (hermeneutics according to Wikipedia, is the art and science of text interpretation). Although Paul appeared to be addressing the issue of the way a woman adorns herself and dress, the underlining meaning of these verse were to encourage Christian women to simple live….HOLY.
Yep…Paul was addressing the issues of the heart and not the hemline!
Let’s Take a Deeper Look:
1st, the Author of 1 Timothy is Paul and Peter was the Author of 1 Peter
2nd, Their audience both times were Christian Women, (meaning they believed that the women they were addressing in these passages had somewhere in there life confessed that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins)
3rd, The time period was around A.D. 59-61 and during this time, history shows us that women typically wore Stola’s which were very simple, long pieces of cloth, that doubled in the middle, and was sewed up on both sides, leaving room only for the arms and a slit at the top for the head. However, some of the women wore them open on each side, from the bottom up above the knee, so as to discover a part of the thigh. This was typically done by very young women or immodest women of their time. Also we learn if we study the background of both books, that the Gentile women adorn themselves with bands of gold and arranged their hair in plaits also known as braids.
So before I continue we can gather from our brief history lesson, that all women during the time Paul wrote 1 Timothy and Peter wrote 1 Peter wore long loose fitting robes down to their feet.
The next thing we can gather is that if the only difference between the robes were the slits on the side that showed a little thigh, typically worn by younger a woman.
And last, we can clearly see here that during this particular time period, women who adorned themselves in gold and pearls were the Gentile women. These women did not know Christ, and idolized their beauty and image.
So our final observation should be here just based on the background, is that Paul and Peter did not use the illustration of clothing to show us what the right way to dress was or the wrong way to dress was. They simply gave this illustration to encourage Christian women, who professed godliness, to live out what they profess and not conform to the world around them.
They were stating… don’t be consumed with the gold jewelry and or pearls, or how your hair looks… Do not let your adorning be external like the young girls or the Gentile woman; but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
They were stating, have self-control over vanity and the idol desires of your heart.
Surly Paul and Peter could not have foreseen todays fashion trends of skinny jeans, halter tops, and hair extensions… However because of Gods sovereignty they were able to preach a message then that we can apply to our life now, which is to pursue Godliness.
So for the believing woman, the clear message in these verses is, Godly women are modest women because they have a desire to please God. It is not… Godly women should dress in long skirts with no jewelry or hair weaving because this will make her appear modest.
It is always a heart check. Banner of Modesty will never address your appearance first, because we know that if we teach women how to “look like” Christians, we will still be doing an injustice to this generation of women and young girls. Anyone can put on “church clothes” in the words of Lecrea, and appear to have it all together. In fact, I know a few women who appear to be naturally meek and humble and unfashionable in their appearance, but behind closed doors struggles with lust, adultery, and even pornography. However, if we focus on the things that woman deal with in their heart like; rejections, loneliness, hurt, shame, pride, low self-esteem, lust, and many other things and point them to Christ as the one who can redeem them and restore them in all areas of their life, then that is where we will began to see an impact on the way woman present themselves in a immodest society.