Recently, I had a conversation with another Christian woman who asked a question similar to this:
"What standards do we, as Christian women, use to decide what is modest when it comes to dressing? Islam and Judaism both have
very specific laws, but Christianity, as a spiritual system of
relational obedience in freedom, has no such standard."
think this question can be answered by thinking, as this woman pointed out, about one of the
biggest differences between Christianity and other religions. In
Christianity, we live by relationship rather than law. We obey God's
laws, not out of fear or tradition, but because we
have relationship with him and love him. Because we have this
relationship, we are able to go to him with our questions about modesty
and ask him what this looks like for our own lives.
The Bible gives us
very little to go on as far as what to wear. It is clear that we are to
be modest (1 Tim. 2:9), we are to dress "like women" (Deut. 22:5), and that we are not to be
obsessed or proud (as in not humble) about our appearance (1 Peter 5:5-6). I think it's
clear in the heart of any woman who desires to dress modestly that she
should be "covered up" in the essential places with clothes that are not
tight-fitting. After that, I think a lot of it is dependent on what
God knows we need to do to make our own hearts right and, in some cases,
what the people around us need to keep theirs right.
For instance, I
don't think a woman in slacks and a button down top is dressing
immodestly. I don't think it's the most feminine outfit---but it's
modest as far as "avoiding lust of the eyes" goes.
I think that many Christian women, when discussing modesty, confuse it with the issue of femininity. This is where a lot of the bickering and belaboring of details comes in that those of us who discuss this face. No Godly woman wants her femininity questioned---but that's exactly what ends up happening when we confuse the two terms.
Modesty: "Reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior."
Femininity: "A characteristic or trait traditionally held to be female."
I don't think that any true, Bible-believing woman would question the need for modesty. This is of pretty obvious importance in Scripture, as well as in the conscience of anyone who has Jesus dwelling in her heart. It's the femininity question that needs to be answered and I truly believe that is a personal choice based on interpretation of both the current culture and the voice of God in ones heart.
Before you get all up in arms that I mentioned our culture having an impact on what we consider to be feminine dress, just think of men in togas...or men in tights, if you'd like! How about salwar kameez?
For me, I
know that I need to be in skirts and dresses because of how it works in
MY heart. When I am dressed in what I consider to be more feminine
clothing, I automatically act more feminine. I function in my roles of wife and mother better and I speak, act and carry myself in a more
peaceful and kind way. I know what God wants for my own personal
walk---because I have relationship with him and can ask him!
Does this mean you should also adopt a wardrobe of skirts and dresses? Of course not. You should, however, make sure that what you are wearing makes your gender obvious and is following the standards of modesty that you know in your heart to be right. I don't need to spell those out for you---just ask God, He'll make it perfectly clear for you!