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My Problem: I Was Dressing Modestly for Guys and Not for God

By: Bethany Baird

“Sometimes I wonder why I even dress modestly. I mean, guys see immodest women all the time anyway. It’s not like they don’t know what cleavage is. I’m starting to wonder if modesty is really worth it.”

Those were the words of a girl who was feeling super discouraged about modesty.

As she shared her heart with me, I felt like her words could have been my own. At this point in time (mid-high school) I had some very similar thoughts running through my own mind.

Why am I even doing this?

Do guys really appreciate the effort that dressing modestly takes? Do they realize how inconvenient modesty can be at times? Do they even appreciate it?

I clearly remember days of feeling down, discouraged, and not even wanting to dress modestly. I felt like I was dressing modestly for guys, but then most of them didn’t seem to appreciate the effort I put into it anyway.

I’m sure some of you girls can relate to my feelings of frustration.

Looking back on my middle school/high school years, I clearly see where I went wrong with my perspectives on modesty. I see how my priorities were out of whack. I understand why I was feeling discouraged. I can see why I wanted to give up on modesty. And I can see where some of you might be going wrong as well.

My biggest problem was this: I was ultimately dressing modestly for guys and not for God.

That’s where I went wrong. I had my priorities out of place and that is why I was discouraged about modesty. I was doing what I was doing for people rather than for Christ.

As we all know, people will fail us. People will let us down. If “people” are the reason for why we do what we do, we will lose our motivation and desire.

I now realize that my motivation for modesty (and anything else in life) must be rooted in a desire to honor and glorify my King.

Christ must be the ultimate reason for why I do what I do.

I now dress modestly for a bigger and better reason. Guys are no longer the main reason for why I dress modestly. God is the main reason I choose to dress modestly.

Here are a few reasons for why I now dress modestly:

I dress modestly because I understand God’s big perspective on the purpose of clothing.
I dress modestly because I desire to honor God with my life.
I dress modestly because I love God and want to reflect Him well in the way I represent Him.
I dress modestly because I understand that God created men and women differently and I want to bless and encourage the men around me.
I dress modestly because I want to point others to Christ and not my body.

If you desire to understand the “why” behind modesty, I highly encourage you to check out my e-book, Project Modesty: How to Honor God WIth Your Wardrobe While Looking Totally Adorable in the Process. Kristen and I dig deep into the purpose of clothing and show you the big picture for why we even wear clothes. You can also check out my blog post, The Naked Truth About Why We Wear Clothes.

My encouragement to you is this…dress modestly out of a desire to honor and glorify Christ.

Dress modestly because you love God.

Dress modestly out of an overflow of your understanding of why God created clothes in the first place. Dress modestly because you understand the value of the Gospel and you understand how your clothing is a reflection of that incredible truth.

Don’t make “guys” the main reason for why you dress modestly. Make “Christ” the main reason for why you dress modestly.

I’ll never forget the words Susan Hunt shared with me at a conference a few years back. Kristen and I were talking with her about our new book, Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity. We were asking Susan for advice relating to our book and this is what she said (in a nutshell).

“Make sure that everything you write is centered around Christ and the gospel. He should ultimately be the center of why you do what you do.”

Wow! That applies so perfectly to the topic of modesty. Christ should be the number one reason for why we dress modestly. Everything else should be a secondary reason.

I want you to evaluate your own heart. Ask yourself these questions:

Why do I dress modestly?
Who am I striving to please?

Share with me in the comments section below and let’s continue the conversation.

PHOTO CREDIT 

girl looking down

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  • Kaiya

    This is great!! I’m 13 and have always grown up in church, but I think I have made my own chairs about modesty. Most of my friends dress modestly because their parents say so. A big encouragement, since most of my friends are guys and i am around them more.

  • Shanae B

    I was raised to dress modestly for God right from the beginning! I always knew it was right yet it didn’t keep me from feeling bad when in high school I saw boys turn their heads towards the girls “showing off” through their clothes. This message is so important right now! So many girls and women are being told by the culture that modesty means you’re weak and ashamed of your body. Or that how you dress dosen’t matter. When you really dig into it modesty really is important and does matter. Thanks for sharing!

  • July

    It’s funny how you label the expansive world of seduction as “from the devil”, but then talk about the second half of the process of procreation (s*x) as a gift from God. If we’re supposed to ignore what our bodies naturally do and what we’re naturally attracted to in favor of listening to God’s leading, shouldn’t we also be “Letting God lead” when it comes to s*x? I think this is just about control, not about teaching people what’s healthy. You people are toxic.

  • Amy

    I guy I’ve been talking to things men and women should show a distinction about how they dress. For instance he says women should be in skirts/dresses only from the verse in Deuteronomy. I do dress modestly and believe it’s important but to dress to impress guys or to ‘please’ God is a wrong mind set. Guys don’t seem to ‘notice’ a woman unless she is showing her body. Our lives and bodies should reflect Christ as an outflow of our hearts to him.

  • Rachel

    I agree in all said here! But there is a bit of a battle going on in my mind – that dressing completely modestly will discourage any guy ever finding you attractive. I don’t want to mislead my brothers in Christ but im nearly 30 and don’t get much attention from guys and am starting to think it’s because I don’t attract them partly due to how I dress and look. How can I make myself more attractive without compromising my modesty?

    • Gina

      My husband told me early on in our marriage that “God’s girls” have a protective “bubble” around them… it cuts down a bit on the everyday/distraction and riff-raff. As a single gal, I remember going out with my friends and THEY would get asked out/flirted with and I was the “overlooked” reject! I would think, do I have a third eye on my forehead that I don’t know about… am I ugly? BUT Woody has also said that there is nothing more alluring/attractive to a Christian guy than to see a gal living out her God-ordained, individual life purpose… smack-dab in the center of His contended will! (After ten years of marriage, we *still* find the other person to be attractive but… we most deeply respect the individual calling that has become our “joint calling in Christ.” Know that YOU are beautiful in God’s eyes and He SILL has a special purpose for your single years. As I look back on my single years the following saying is SOOOOO true… “if you’re not content as a single gal, then you’ll never be content married!” [easier said then done, I know.]

    • Val

      I think that there are a lot of way to dress modestly and attractively. You can buy clothes that are flattering for your body shape, choose a beautiful hairstyle, learn how to put your makeup on in a way that enhances your natural beauty!
      Sometimes I ask my male friends or family members advice about it. Brothers are especially helpful to know if something looks fumpy or not 🙂

  • Beautifully said and wonderfully written 🙂

  • Angela Li

    ‘As we all know, people will fail us. People will let us down. If “people” are the reason for why we do what we do, we will lose our motivation and desire.’ Thank you Bethany for this reminder! I feel that a lot of times I love on people more for their praises than God’s glory, and those moments have left me feeling dissatisfied when I don’t get the worldly affirmations I secretly desire. Though your post is in the context of dressing modestly, I thought that everything you mentioned is centered around putting God first, which is so true! As long as we focus on pleasing our creator, everything we do (dressing modestly, loving people etc.) will not be burdensome, but joyful! 🙂

  • emergingclarity

    Excellent post! I love it. Right on the money

  • Gina

    Great article! Well do I remember sitting at the front of a crosswalk/stop light as a scantily clad gal walked right in front of the car. My teenage brother and I sat in silence as this gal strutted her stuff from one side of the street to the other. Finally, I laughed out loud and said, “Tommy, I am *SO* sorry… I have no words to even address what we just witnessed.” His response? “Wow, poor gal. She must feel SO bad about herself to dress like that.” As an older, single gal at the time, his words really struck a chord with my heart… to think that the way we dress communicates a lack of respect for ourselves (as God’s creation) or a great deal of respect (as daughters of the Most High King). All based on the simple act of putting on clothes. I love the idea of fashion and cute clothes… and mostly, I LOVE asking Jesus every morning what He thinks I should wear!

    • GuessWho

      The other day Jesus told me to wear a plunging v-neck dress with a push-up bra. Jesus is a pervert.

    • Shanae B

      My mom and brother were out practice driving when my brother had his permit and a girl was out jogging in what was basically underwear and my brother took a hand off the wheel and covered his eyes. My mom said she had conflicting feelings because she she was upset he took his eyes off the road but proud he took his eyes off the girl! We really don’t understand how much we communicate through our dress.

  • Val

    My “rule” for modesty is “does this outfit say that I strive to be a classy woman?”. I tried to choose my clothing based on “is this a stumbling block?” but I hated it: firstly because i dress modeslty not just for guys but mostly because I want to be dresses appropriately and show respect for others, men and women, by not showing them body parts they would likely not want to see and also because there is no objective standard on if something is a stumbling block or not, guys have different opinions.

  • Paola

    Dressing modestly reveals the true beauty from the heart. Otherwise is very distracting (not only to those who see you, but to you as well), and you gradually loose the grip of what truly matters in life.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for this! I feel like I’m not fully clothed if I’m not dressed modestly (skirt two inches below the knee, a palm from the top of my chest to my neck, etc). Sometimes I do get lazy with what I’m wearing and this reminded me that I should always ask myself if God would approve. Thank you so much for this post!:)

  • Valerie Morby

    Thank you for sharing this. I personally have been blessed by Christ Himself with a imperfect, yet Christ honoring husband a few months back. He encourages me to dress in how God would want me to dress and how God would want me to style my hair, etc. I have decided to switch my dresses to all “maxi-style” (I cannot stand that new description) of dresses and skirts. I have a strong desire to do what pleases my Father and King with how I dress. I LOVE the bathing suit video on Youtube. Thank you. I had just recently purchased my very first modest bathing top and pants. I am appreciated that there are actually others out there who also do not want to be wearing their “lingerie” to the pool or beach either. To me, that is what they are…..especially bikinis…no different than choosing to wear your “B’s” and “P’s for all to see. I certainly do not. Thank you. Love in Christ.

  • GuessWho

    God sees you when you’re buck naked, so why would he care about clothes? He can see through your clothes!

  • Jocelyn

    Thank you so much for touching on this topic! I know for me, seeing how people dress in school; it can make you want to throw out your morals and follow the crowd but God wants to see if you will stay strong next to him.


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