When we talk of modesty, I always think of the story Elisabeth Elliot told of the Auca Indians. They wore nothing but a string around their bellies. But to them, the neighboring tribe who was lacking that tiny bit of adornment was walking around stark naked and terribly immodest. That did not mean that Elisabeth and her daughter Valerie adopted the same mode of (un)dress to minister to them. But neither did they equate wearing clothes to believing in Christ. Ever since the Garden of Eden, a realization of one’s nakedness seems to follow an encounter with one’s Creator (Genesis 3:7).
In another part of the world, my cousin Jennifer, careful not to offend her new African friends, wears several layers of skirts and a head covering when going out, since only one layer of fabric is deemed quite immodest. Jennifer has freedom in Christ to wear only one layer. Elisabeth and Valerie could have demanded that the Aucas wear the clothes they had neither money nor opportunity to buy. But in so doing, each of these women could have forever damaged not only their own reputation, but their Lord’s, in the minds of these people.
My husband often talks of how we have made it “Christian” to dress, talk, and act in a certain way here in North America, despite the fact that very sincere believers in other countries have an entirely different style of dress and behavior, whether by situation or by necessity. That is not to say we believe modesty is unimportant. But perhaps it is, in a way, “immaterial.”
Wearing a specific style or cut of clothing will not save anyone. I dress my daughters in cute and modest attire now, praying that by the time they are grown enough to make their own clothing decisions, they will have acquired a heart of modesty which will be reflected in their wardrobe.
As a married woman, I am incredibly jealous for my husband’s eyes. But in my desire to protect him, I have to guard against not only a self-righteous attitude, but a spirit critical of those who expose more than I would have my husband see.
I am responsible for how I dress. It reflects directly on my husband and my Lord. My actions and attire have the power to “commend the gospel.” I must use that power wisely, so that no one will “dishonor the Word of God” because of me (Titus 2:5).
I married a godly man. In submitting to him, I submit to my Lord. My husband’s smile of approval is my daily encouragement to dress modestly, attractively, and femininely. After all, I am his beauty. And his is the approval I dress for.
originally published in an interview for Feelin’ Feminine