brown wooden walkway near beach during daytime

The struggle between modesty and display

“This struggle between concealment and display, fabric and skin, modesty and nakedness is a continuing story of how American society–including many Christians–has shed is clothes in public.” ~Jeff Pollard

“They that borrow the fashions of the Egyptians may get their boils and their blotches. Certainly such as fear the Lord should go in no apparel but first, such as they are willing to die in; secondly, to appear before the Ancient of Days in; thirdly, to stand before the judgment seat in.” ~Thomas Brooks

“Help men live holy lives by the way you dress…There’s still great power in concealing your physical beauty.” ~Kevin L. Howard

We’ve lost our fear of God

The West has lost its fear of God, sense of shame, and the wholesome reserve we once had between men and women. Along with those, we’ve tossed aside our sense of personal responsibility. No matter what it is, it’s somebody else’s fault. This is especially true when it comes to modesty, as we’ve been conditioned to believe that women have no responsibility towards our brothers in regards to our clothing. “I want to be free to do what I want and you can deal with it” rules the day.

Where are the fathers and pastors who will speak up?

Even in our churches, it is rare for pastors or elders to speak up against immodesty. Seemingly fearing loss of position, loss of parishioners, and loss of financial stability, they chose to stay silent. Fathers in turn bow to mothers who bow to friends, culture, and to the whims of fashion.

This isn’t how it used to be and if we are to be women who honor the Lord in everything, it can no longer continue to be the way it is. This must change. We must repent. We must once again stand for the truth of God’s Word.

Modesty isn’t just about a set of rules. It is a heart issue, a reflection of who we are in Christ and of our love for the brethren. It affects how we act and speak as well as our choices of clothing.


God’s Word on Modesty

I encourage you, sister, to read what the Lord says about modesty. A truly godly woman will long to be pleasing to the Lord. If you haven’t been modest, repent. If you are, train your daughters and encourage your sisters. Let’s seek to glorify the Lord, once again, by our clothing choices.

1 Timothy 2: 9-10, 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, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Proverbs 31: 30, Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 11: 22, Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.


The History Of The Swimsuit by Jeff Pollard

The conflict erupting over swimwear was not simply a matter of taste: the metamorphosis of the bathing suit forced our society to reassess its views of modesty. This was a culture war, a war of worldviews. As a people we shifted from the Biblical view of covering the body to an exhibitionist view of showing off the body. The sad outcome is that our society—including its churches—doffed its robe of Christian modesty and stood proud and naked on the beach.

To illustrate this point, let’s chronicle the evolution of America’s public undressing during the 1900’s:

1900’s-1920’s

Women’s arms were exposed in the first decade. Though this may seem laughable to some in our day, this was a major shift in thought. Women’s arms and shoulders were usually covered in public. This change, however, was just the beginning. The controversy of body concealment versus body display raged on into the 1920’s as legs and backs were progressively bared.
Cleavage appeared in the 1930’s. In their headlong pursuit for more freedom and maximum exposure, swimwear designers jettisoned the overskirt which had been standard fare for most feminine swimming attire. Both men and women wanted to showcase their tan bodies, so the legal prohibitions which were designed to protect public modesty were regularly challenged and all but discarded. Public resistance barely whimpered, slid its clothes off, and joined the crowd.

1930’s-1940’s

A technological tour-de-force took place in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and a major shift in swimwear design followed. New fiber and fabrics allowed the body beneath to come out. These fabrics made it possible to expose more of the body’s curves. The body hidden underneath the bulky old suits of the past was now literally emerging into the light of day. A two-piece suit first appeared in 1935 on the pages of fashion magazines. This bared a few inches of flesh between its two parts. Though some wore this daring item, it would not really become fashionable until the 1940’s.

1940’s-1950’s

During the 1940’s and 1950’s two-piece suits bared the midriff. Also popular was the maillot,61 which was designed with holes and openings to reveal midriff and sides. The maillot focused on the hips and became tighter. Once again, new fabrics made this possible. Elasticated knits accentuated the curves of the body in a way that was previously impossible. Now the body underneath could be amply exposed, emphasized, and exploited in breathtakingly skintight costumes, while its designers could declare that it was “covered.” The maillot inched ever lower on the bosom and crept higher on the leg. Most of the newest suits went strapless. Bared shoulders and skin-tight waistlines and bosoms filled the shoreline like high tide. During this period when swimming attire focused on the body’s curves, men with cameras focused on them too. Models smiled and bared themselves for the media, their bodies adorning virtually every kind of advertisement. Young sirens in bathing suits became a standard item for American merchandising which marketed everything from automobiles to political campaigns.

1960’s-1970’s

The navel was exposed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Then in the 1970’s high cuts revealed hips. Designers bared women’s thighs sometimes to the waist, which bedazzled the America public with yet another erogenous zone. This made the so-called “conservative” one-piece suit more erotic than ever. And with each new fashion season, the creators of swimwear shifted and manipulated the new fabrics to unveil yet another part of the body. Their garments virtually shouted at onlookers, “Look here! Now look there!

1980’s-1990’s

And in the 1980’s and 1990’s even more radical expressions like thongs revealed breasts and buttocks. The designer’s intentions quite obviously were to disrobe and showcase parts of the human anatomy which had never before been “up for grabs” in public. Their constant eroticizing and de-eroticizing portions of the body and their perpetual search for the next erogenous zone to expose screams design.


The importance of modesty

Rick Holland:

This issue of immodesty in Christian women has become a Trojan horse, a place for invasion of worldliness in the blood-bought church of the Savior. There’s becoming a decreasing difference between the attire of women who claim to know Christ and the attire of women who mock the Cross in unbelief. It’s almost the case where you could go grab ten random girls in your age group at the mall and ten random girls in here and say, “Well, how much substantial difference is there in the way they dress?”

John Marcus:

“Modesty will always be an issue in the lives of God’s people because the old man of sin will not be done away with until we reach glory. From time to time we need to remind ourselves and our fellow believers what the Lord requires of us as regards modesty. When we inform ourselves on this issue, it must not be from the perspective of the world and what standards it deems acceptable. Rather, we must seek to know the will of God in the matter. God’s people will earnestly seek the way of modesty, both inward and outward. They will do this for His glory.”

Richard Baxter:

“And though it be their sin and vanity that is the cause [of lust], it is nevertheless your sin to be the unnecessary occasion: for you must consider that you live among diseased souls. And you must not lay a stumbling-block in their way, nor blow up the fire of their lust nor make your ornaments snares but you must walk among sinful persons as you would do with a candle among straw or gunpowder, or else you may see the flame which you would not foresee, when it is too late to quench it.”

John MacArthur:

“How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood?…. Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshiping God? Or is it to call attention to herself, and flaunt her…beauty?  Or worse, to attempt to allure men sexually? A woman who focuses on worshiping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance.”

Jeff Pollard:

Jesus did not die in agony upon Calvary’s cross to dress His beloved bride like a harlot. He did not. His enemies stripped Him in public to shame Him. Professing Christian women today expose themselves voluntarily without shame, in skimpy clothing, short skirts, swim wear, low-cut tops, obscenely tight clothing and pants. Yet the Word of God which is sufficient for all things in life plainly commands women to clothe themselves in modest apparel because you are the Bride of Christ. In modest apparel. With shamefacedness and sobriety, self-control. Our Savior clothes His bride in righteousness,  good works and heart felt modesty. He gives her a heart for purity, not sinful sensuality.

Richard Baxter:

You little know what you have done, when you have first broke the bounds of modesty; you have set open the door of your fancy to the devil, so that he can, almost at his pleasure ever after, represent the same sinful pleasure to you anew; he hath now access to your fancy to stir up lustful thoughts and desires, so that when you should think of your calling, of your God, or of your soul, your thoughts will be worse than swinish, upon the filth that is not fit to be named. If the devil here get in a foot, he will not easily be got out.


Online resources on modesty

“Some men in the world are lustful and will lust after you in spite of anything you may try to do to prevent it. Those men will answer to God for their sin. As a Christian woman however, you must do everything you can to prevent this, or else you may have some things to answer for as well.” ~ Errol Hale

https://graceonlinelibrary.org/christian-life/christian-modesty/discussion-on-apparelling-by-james-durham/

https://graceonlinelibrary.org/christian-life/christian-modesty/cultivating-a-passion-for-purity/

https://graceonlinelibrary.org/christian-life/christian-modesty/the-right-lawful-and-holy-use-of-apparel-by-william-perkins/

Free Grace Broadcaster: Modest Apparel

What Christian Modesty Looks Like by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

How Christian Modesty Acts by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

A Call to Modesty in Dress by Joni Bouma & Corrie Neven

A Return to Modest Apparel by Jeff Pollard

Thinking Like a Christian About Modest Apparel by Robert Spinney

Q&A: Women’s Clothing by Arnoud Vergunst

A Biblical Perspective on Modesty


“We can therefore walk into most churches on any given Sunday and behold a parade of young women pass by in tight tee-shirts, low-slung jeans, form-fitting skirts and other curve- and flesh-revealing styles. Church youth groups participate in mixed-sex pool parties without a second thought, everyone coming in their skivvies and no one batting an eyelash. We have become callused to public nudity, even in the church.” ~Mrs. M. L. Chancey


Books

If you purchase a book through one of the links below, I will receive a small commission at no added expense to you.

Christian Modesty: The Public Undressing of America by Jeff Pollard

The Beauty of Modesty: Cultivating Virtue in the Face of a Vulgar Culture
by David J. Vaughan, Diane Vaughan

Modesty: More than a Change Of Clothes by Martha Peace and Kent Keller

What’s up with the Fig Leaves? The Principles and Purposes of Modesty Uncovered by Heather Thieneman

Free Grace Broadcaster – Issue 216 – Modest Apparel by Arthur W. Pink, et al


Audio

Sermon series on Christian Modesty and Purity by Jeff Pollard


Let us be modest

“Feminism has affected the way we think — even the way we dress. Did you know that the lack of clothes we see women wear today is an effect of feminism? How many feminists — pro-aborts — do you know who dress modestly? We as Christian women need to make a distinction in our dress and make a conscious effort to dress modestly and femininely. We need to have a dress standard, and it needs to reflect Christ and not the world.” ~Sarah Zes

“Sisters, let us be modest! Let us be women! It is time to embrace again the unchanging commands and precepts of Scripture with giddy abandon. There is joy in modesty! This is not about soulless rituals or rigid rulemaking. This is not about trying to win “brownie points” with God (our works never justify us; instead, they flow out of our love for Christ). This is about glorying in God’s distinctions and embracing them for their loveliness.”~Mrs. M. L. Chancey


Shops that sell modest clothing

The Mainstreet Exchange

Inherit Clothing Company

Rene’s Creations

Sweet Salt Modest Fashion

Slaydon & Rose

Nee See’s Dresses

Modli

Lace & Lilac

Cleo Madison

Jessy Kate

Lily Fields Threads

Lilies of the Field

Mikarose

Downeast

Shabby Apple

Modest Pop

Jen Clothing

Snoga Athletics

Ahuva.com

The Frock

Junees

Apostolic Company

Dainty Jewells

Be Modest Boutique

The Klassy Girl Boutique

inherit clothing company

Blair (not a modest website but a lot of modest options)


The Undressed Life

“Love for the beach and the “Undressed Life” is so deeply embedded in modern American culture that to question its propriety is thought to be the height of legalistic Pharisaism….” ~ Jeff Pollard

“Do bikini bathing suits and Speedos cause our brothers and sisters to stumble? Then we may not wear them. Is there a modest alternative? Then we should choose it. If there is no suitable alternative, then better not to go to the beach at all. Better that than to cause another to stumble. And if we know that there will likely be those at the beach dressed immodestly, then better to stay home than to put ourselves in temptations way.” ~ John Marcus


Shops that sell modest swimwear

I’m sure there are other resources where you can purchase modest swimwear, and you always have the option of doing as my daughters do and putting together a make-shift one that works beautifully, but here are some resources where you can purchase, one should you so like.

HydroChic

Dressing for His Glory

ModLi

Tuga

Swim Modest!

Wholesomewear

Swimsuits for All (this shop doesn’t offer swimsuits as modest as some but it does offer some cute modest tops that could be paired with board shorts, bike shorts, etc.)

Photo by Khachik Simonian on Unsplash