Appropriate Apparel

By pastor Gary S. Prisk

"As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;" (I Pet. 1:14,15).

The word modest is found only once in Scripture: I Timothy 2:9,10. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."

From this passage it is apparent that the subject of modesty is addressed to women. The word, as defined by Webster (1828) means: "a limit...properly restrained by a sense of propriety. Not loose or lewd. The word is used as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem (crown) or their honor."

The word modest is associated with shamefacedness, which is defined as "bashfulness towards men." To be bashful is "a quality of mind often visible in external appearance, as in blushing."

From this we are led to understand that modesty is an inner attitude or state of mind that is evident in a woman’s actions and appearance in that they do not draw the attention of men to themselves.

The opposite of this is detailed in Proverbs 7:10-13. "And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him..." This woman is impudent, which means "shameless." She is everything the modest woman is not. She is loud and stubborn, aggressive towards men, anything but bashful. Her attire draws men’s attention and advertises that she is a loose woman and available for immoral purposes. The attire of an harlot.

A woman whose attire exposes or draws attention to the contour of her body is not modest or shamefaced. Her attire is that of an harlot, not of a woman professing godliness. To claim to be otherwise is a direct denial or the Word of God’s teaching. It is stated in Titus 1:15,16: "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." As stated, it is incongruous for women who profess to know God to deny it by the way they dress. It is a shame when seductively-dressed women (professing to be saved) divert men’s minds to immoral imaginations in the worship service.

What becomes women professing godliness are hemlines that cover the knees when seated, and necklines that are necklines indeed. Attire that is full, rather than form fitting. Skirts and dresses instead of pants. Skirts with hemlines below the knee, but with slits to mid-thigh, are anything but modest. The fashion designers of our day do not know, nor do they care about, what God would classify as modest. Adam and Eve’s standard for appropriate attire was little more than a "mini-skirt" Genesis 3:7. God’s standard "clothed them with coats of skins" Genesis 3:21.

Modesty is, then, a mentality more than the minimum amount of material it takes to make a dress. It is the indication of a godly heart and a shamefacedness that issues in an attitude that causes a woman to be careful that her outward appearance expresses her inward attitude, that nothing in the way she dresses would give the impression of impudence or immodesty.

While modesty is a term applied, in this case, to women, it is also applicable to men. The wearing of tank tops, shorts, etc., is not appropriate for any church service or church-related activity.

Those who are in any ministry of the Church as a director or worker are required to adhere to the dress standard established by the Church. Those members not in ministry are expected to adopt these standards as they mature in their understanding through being taught what it means to be godly.

I find it difficult to understand why it is necessary to continually remind long-time saved people that they need to pay attention to how they dress. It seems to me the fashions of this world, sad to say, hold more sway over the saints then the Scriptures that admonish "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."

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