Modesty: The Naked Truth
Editor's note: In this issue of The Mediator Dr. Poland sets aside his regular series on "Wisdom for the Trenches" to deal with a subject he considers critical to the witness of Christians living in a media-saturated culture. "Wisdom for the Trenches" will return in the next issue.
Modesty is a virtue that is all but lost in American society and that has become increasingly rare even in the Christian community. The pervasive influence of immodesty in society impacts Christian men and women through images in film, TV, videos, Internet, and in secular social settings.
Regardless of the above, the Bible condemns immodesty. Immodesty has a number of destructive effects on the immodest person, on those who view the immodest person, and on the Christian community.
Speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jeremiah the prophet condemns Israel's immodesty by saying, "...you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush in shame." (Jer. 3:3 NIV). Again, he declared, "Are they not ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush." (Jer. 6:15 NIV). Peter exhorts women to modesty in the following words, "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety...." (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).
The Apostle Paul exhorts believers to "shine like stars" on the dark backdrop of the degenerate culture around them. Surely this includes the believer's image as well as his behavior--modesty is about both.
A simple definition of modesty is: Making sure that my external appearance accurately reflects my internal commitment to Christ and to biblical holiness--regardless of worldly fashions.
DESTRUCTIVE EFFECTS OF IMMODESTY
While immodesty can be a problem for both sexes, it is a greater and more common problem when expressed by women. Following are some destructive elements of immodesty among believers:
1. It blurs the distinction between those who know and love Christ and those who reject God and His law. Question: "Why wouldn't I want to appear to others like one who knows and loves Christ, rather than one from 'the world?'"
2. It blurs the distinction between those who are immoral by behavior from those who are moral by behavior. Question: "If I am not an immoral person, why would I want to dress like one?"
3. It detracts from the believer's true beauty, the countenance. Question: "If the light of Christ is in countenance, and He is the source of my attractiveness, why would I want to draw attention away from His countenance and true beauty by immodest dress?"
4. It tempts others to sin. Question: "If immodesty in dress tempts others to lust after or to covet me sexually, am I willing to be responsible for their struggle?"
5. It feeds the fleshly--not the spiritual--side of the immodest believer. Question: "If I dress or act immodestly in public, will it not stir within me inappropriate fleshly or sexually seductive passions?"
6. It sends messages about the immodest person that reveal their true heart attitude toward purity. Question: "If, as Jesus said, 'from the overflow of the heart a person speaks, 'why would I want my apparel to 'speak' that my heart is impure or immoral, if it isn't?"
7. It contributes to temptations that lead to porn addiction, fornication, adultery, pregnancy out of marriage, sexually transmitted diseases, and the impairment of sexual intimacy in the God-ordained bond of marriage. Question: "If I am not soliciting sexual advances, why would I want to dress as if I were, and, thus, risk having to deal with the potentially horrific consequences of such advances--possibly even rape?"
In their best-selling book, Every Man's Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time, Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey describe the plague of addiction to sexual temptation and impure images (a.k.a. pornography) in the Body of Christ. Not just a man's problem anymore, "lust addiction" is a growing issue with believing women.
Is it not time to make a renewed commitment to help each other conquer these temptations? Step one surely must be to do nothing which feeds sexual lust and moral sin in others.
“Reprinted by permission, Dr. Larry Poland, Mastermedia International, www.mastermediaintl.org”