I know that this subject is a very controversial one, but anyway– just wanted to weigh in on it for a bit. Mind you, nothing too philosophical, but kind of just off the top of my head.
First off, I certainly can’t say I have much of a concreted belief on the whole subject– my view is kind of “evolving” as I learn more about what it means to be a Christ follower.
^That^ being said, I don’t want to come across like I’ve figured out this whole thing (’cause I haven’t), but this is just my understanding of the subject.
This is a good place to insert the definition of modesty (according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Emphasis my own):
- The whole reason we wear clothing: Adam and Eve (in the Garden of Eden– see Genesis chapter 3, in particular verses 6, 7, 11, 12, 21) were unashamedly naked. But when they sinned, they became ashamed [of their nakedness]. The need for a covering/clothing is a direct result of Adam and Eve’s sin. A really interesting part of it all is that their sin was based in pride (the opposite of the definition of modesty/propriety/moderation, by the way)– they figured they knew better than God. (see Genesis 3:1-7)
- I believe that clothes shouldn’t draw attention to ourselves (once again– pride). Rather we should seek to draw attention, with the end result being God’s glorification, to the work we do in God’s name. (1 Peter 3:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:8-10)
- Motives. What are our motives for wearing a certain garment? If our motives are based in pride (the opposite of modesty/propriety/moderation)– seeking to show-off how fancy we are, or even trying to show off how we’re-“so-good-because-we’re-not-wearing-revealing-clothes” (the holier-than-thou attitude); then we’re sinning. (Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 18:12; Proverbs 21:4; 1 Timothy 6:17; 1 John 2:16) If our motives are to receive sexual attention from those who aren’t our spouse, then we are sinning. (Hebrews 13:4)
- Self control. A lot of times, Christians seem to consign “modesty” to the role of a woman; and tend to also focus on “tangible modesty” (i.e. clothing). Men need to use self-control, so as not to think impure thoughts about women (among other things)– no matter what the women are wearing/acting/saying. *Side note*, I firmly believe that women need to use self-control in their thought life as well (we can just as easily think lustful thoughts about a guy, which is a sin– see Matthew 5:27,28). It’s also important for all Christians (men and women) to implement modesty in the way we dress (and think, speak and act)– as in, not wearing gaudy clothing, or having the wrong motives for wearing something that isn’t gaudy in our perception (a.k.a a plain t-shirt and jeans can be immodest if we have wrong motives/intentions).