Modesty: A Heart Issue

As a home schooling mom, modesty is a topic that comes up on a regular basis. Because I have boys, I haven’t paid as much attention to the discussion as I probably should have. Much of the time, the discussion on modesty centers around what girls (or even grown women) should or should not wear. There are so many opinions on this. Everything from shoulders to knees covered! No tight clothing! Nothing low-cut or too short! No spaghetti straps!!!! And absolutely NO underwear should EVER be visible.

While I certainly see the benefits of discussing the practical application of modest dressing, There seems to me to be a significant element missing from these discussions. For all our concern about how our society is dressing, are we not equally concerned about the heart issues involved? If our daughters are clothed from nose to toes, but inside they are counting off the days until they are free from our rules and restrictions, what are we teaching them?

When it comes to obedience and my children, I want them to listen to me and obey me. But I don’t want simply outward obedience. I don’t want them to toe the line and hop to while inside their hearts and minds they are angry and resentful. When my children argue over toys, I want them to learn to share, not just because it’s wrong to grab things from others, but because if they love each other they will seek the best for each other. It’s a heart issue. And from my studies in Scripture I have learned that the heart is very important. This is not to say that outward obedience isn’t important, just that the heart matters too.

In reading the Scripture verses that deal with modesty and clothing, I noticed something. First, I noticed that Scripture gives very little by way of specifics as to what modest clothing looks like. Second, I noticed that Scripture speaks more about what might be termed “inner beauty.” (Again, I want to be clear that I am not disagreeing with those who see the need to address the practical issues related to dressing with modesty.) Here are three passages that address women specifically.

1 Timothy 2:8-10

8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

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