In my time as a minister and attending church, one topic that seems to be brought up regularly is Christian modesty. This is understandable since culture has shifted, dress standards have changed, and no one wears what they wore 2,000 years ago during the founding of the New Testament Church. Everyone has their own ideas of what Christian modesty is, what lines there are, and what the Bible actually says concerning this topic. In this post, I will attempt to be Biblically honest regarding this topic and share some pragmatic principles. 
 The first thing we must understand when it comes to modesty is, as it is with all issues, your heart. God changes His people from the inside out, not the outside in

1 Peter 3:3-4 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

     Notice how he brings it right to the heart. Peter was talking about the issues we see even today, such as people being more concerned about their outward appearance while at church, rather than that of the heart.The Christian should first be concerned about the condition of their heart before they concern themselves with their outward appearance.

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.

     Within context, this verse is primarily talking about sexual immorality. However, modesty is related to topics of a sexual nature so it seems the moral would apply here as well. Our body is God's temple. We must be presenting ourselves correctly or else we risk presenting Christ incorrectly. Aim to please only God. Not yourself, not your friends, or your family. Seek to only please God.  

1 Timothy 2:9 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...

Definition Modesty: From the Greek word Kosmios (κόσμιος) meaning decent, orderly, and well arranged. This word stems from the word "Kosmos" which means "harmonious arrangement"

     Paul here is saying that Christians need to dress modestly and humbly. We should not be trying to bring attention to ourselves. All of us Christians have to be careful not to bring undesired attention that could present ourselves (God’s temple) in a way that dishonors Him. There is nothing wrong with dressing nicely and in trend. The “braided hair” is not saying that it is a sin to braid your hair. Within cultural context, often times the wealthy and vain women would braid their hair, and so would many prostitutes. Paul was cautioning the women about what they were associating with, and primarily what their reasons were for dressing in such manner. After all, modesty starts with your heart.

Why is Modesty Always Brought Up to Women?

     It is no secret to most Christian girls that modesty tends to be emphasized among women in the church. In many ways this is unfair, since both men and women can both be immodest. 

     So why is it that modesty is always brought up to women? The simple answer is this: men tend to be visually stimulated. Men are not just visually stimulated sexually, but also intellectually, emotionally, etc., This is why men tend to be more visually oriented in education, love to watch sports, play video games, some of the best artists are men, and even why more men are addicted to pornography than women. Men are visually stimulated in most areas of their lives, but especially sexually. 

(I understand that I am speaking in generalities and this may not apply to every individual.) 

     It seems almost every man struggles deeply with lust in some form or another. Since men are more visual in nature it makes sense that men would struggle when women choose to wear revealing clothing. Let me be clear, this does not excuse a man's behavior. If a man is lusting after a woman that is his own heart issue. However, many men do not intend to be lustful, but are often hampered when women present themselves in such manner so a little understanding on both sides of this issue would appear to be beneficial. 

     This can be frustrating for women and can also bring unnecessary pressures upon them before they present themselves in public. I know many Christian women who used to examine every part of their outfit to ensure they were not showing that extra fraction of skin that could cause someone to have a problem. Even more confusing is that every Christian organization seems to have different rules and standards about modesty sending even more mixed messages. I know that this is cumbersome for many individuals and can even be damaging to people if they are raised with this mentality. 

     Women do not have men's brains so often times they wear certain things innocently, not aware of what it may trigger in a man across the room. When wearing short shorts, low cuts shirts, etc., you are going to bring attention to undesired areas. I know women hate being treated like sex objects (as they should) but if you dress in a revealing manner, you are looking like a sex object. If you do not want to be subjected to this point of view, then do not participate in that kind of presentation. Remember to always present your body as the temple of God, and to always put others before yourself. 

Why Should Women Change for Men?

     Naturally, this question has come up many times. Basically, girls have told me that if men have the problem then why should women fix it? Telling men not to look at a woman showing 80% of her body goes against the very visual nature of men. We should always present ourselves in a way that is holy and acceptable unto God. 

     Honestly, women dressing more modestly will help both sides of the aisle. So many men do not even know how to romance a woman because everything in our culture is centered around lust. If women dress sexy they will get the attention of the man, who then will treat her out to dinner, a movie, maybe a few drinks, and if he is lucky he might be able to have sex with her later. If women dress respectfully they will only increase the chances of warding off the trashy men and actually attracting decent men. You want a respectable guy? Dress respectfully! Remember, men are visual. The first thing he will be interested in is your appearance. If you dress in a revealing manner it can communicate to him that you are easy. However we present ourselves does affect how people perceive us. If a girl dresses nicely, but covers up, it communicates to others that she is respectful and responsible. 

     This does not mean girls have to wear potato sacks for dresses, and shirts 5 times their size. You can dress in trend, with clothes that fit you, wear make up, and look beautiful! Just, try to look beautiful, not sexy. As the phrase goes:

“Women, when you dress immodestly it’s like rolling around in a pool of mud, you’ll get plenty of attention, but mostly from pigs”

     Also, as Christians, we are to help one another. Encourage one another! Not be a stumbling block. This is why we ought to be mindful on how we are presenting ourselves. No one wants to be the reason someone stumbles. No one wants to be the object of someone's sin. Being mindful and courteous never hurt anyone. 

Modesty in Men

     This portion will be much shorter because everything I have said before applies here. 
     Men need to remember a few things. One thing to remember is this: just because men are generally more sexually visual than women does not mean that women are not visually stimulated at all.  Men, be aware of what you are wearing as well. Women are not the only ones who have issues with modesty. We should be sure that we are not revealing too much of ourselves either. Keep your shirt on. Keep your pants around your hip. Wear clothes that do not bunch up your junk. Lead by example. 

     Another thing men, if a woman is around have some respect. She is not your sex toy and she is definitely not eye candy. She is a person. Have some decency and self control. We do not need to be looking at every girl that passes by like a piece of meat. Can women help us? Yes. Can some dress more modestly? Yes. But does that give you the right to look and desire? Crack inappropriate jokes with friends? Wink and point fingers? Cat call? Absolutely not! We are Christian men and should act as such. As with all Christians we should be blameless. This applies to the modesty department on both genders. We should be presenting our bodies in a way that honors Christ and using our eyes in a way that reflects our Savior. 

It’s Hot Outside/These Clothes Are Comfortable

     Summers can be hot, and there can be clothes that are extremely comfortable, but this does not mean they are modest. Being comfortable is not an adequate reason to dress immodestly. In fact, as Christians are we not to inconvenience ourselves for the betterment of others?

      I have heard countless amounts of people using this as an excuse to walk around revealing well over half their body. Both men and women are guilty of this. Remember, this is not about you, it is about others. Plus, you there are plenty of ways to dress modestly, in trend, and still remain comfortable. 

So What’s Considered Immodest?

     This is where the topic gets a little difficult. Most women know that men are visual, and most Christian girls want to dress modestly, and many people are aware of how men see women who dress loosely; but where is the line? Unfortunately, this can be extremely subjective. 

Outside of the passages above there is really only two other passages that can be referred to. 

Exodus 28:42 You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs...
Isaiah 47:2-3 Take the millstones and grind flour, put off your veil, strip off your robe, uncover your legs, pass through the rivers. Your nakedness shall be uncovered, and your disgrace shall be seen. I will take vengeance, and I will spare no one.
יָרֵך yarek (yä·rāk'): thigh, side, loins. 

     These verses are referring to the upper thigh. Not the first few inches from the knee. I know these verses are not talking about modesty specifically. In fact each one is in the middle of a different story. Notice that it refers to showing the thigh as nakedness. So, even though you are not revealing your genital areas does not mean you are not considered naked in the eyes of God. This should be of no surprise to any of us. God has a set standard. His are high above anyone else’s. Even to lust after a woman is to commit adultery in the eyes of God.

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

It should come to no surprise to anyone that showing off the thigh would be considered naked. God does not  allow people to “Walk a fine line.” God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33.) He communicates to us and sets up these standards to help eliminate temptation. 

     So as with the thigh/nakedness topic I would apply the same rules to the upper body. Do not show half your breasts/chest. If showing the thigh is considered naked, then one must assume that showing half your breast/chest must be considered the same. This is not supported by a Bible verse, only my own conclusion to the applicable principle. Both men and women can be lustful when the opposite sex is revealing their upper body. Best to avoid it altogether. 

     Do not misunderstand me. I am aware that certain women are more well endowed than others. Therefore sometimes it is hard, if not impossible, to fully cover up without wearing a turtle neck. However, women should at least attempt to cover up reasonably. 

     It is also worth noting that just because skin is covered does not make one modest. When clothes are starting to look like they are spray painted on you instead of worn on you, then it is too revealing. Certain clothes are just way too tight. Now, again, this doesn’t mean wear potato sacks or mom jeans. In fact, I prefer it when men and women wear clothes that fit and compliment their appearance. You can wear clothes that fit your body shape and compliment your appearance without being immodest.

     It seem that many Christian women are subjugated by the church into dressing a way that makes them feel unattractive or they feel that if they dress in trend they are somehow sinning. We should not make them feel guilty for dressing in trend. We should just emphasize modesty. So many girls have become broken form the expectations set before them in the church when it comes to dress standards. This is not Biblical. It is also completely counter productive to the church.

     Many do not know the confidence issues this has caused Christian girls. I have met grown women that are so confused, hurt, and disturbed by things people have said to them about their dress. People in the church calling a girl who is wearing pants a “harlot”!? Or a girl who shows her shoulders immodest? So many girls who have been taught to such an extreme in modesty that they are literally living in fear. The Christian life should not be about fear, but of victory. 

     Remember, you are a beautiful creation of God! He created you for a purpose and so do not buy into this lie that you have to dress in a way that is old fashioned, ugly, unattractive etc. There is no biblical support for that mindset (Not without distorting the actual context of what was being said) You can be modest and dress beautifully! 

Psalms 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.


     Remember, each person will set up a different solution to this issue. I do not believe God cares about a specific solution: only that we are modest. No one is better or worse for having a different dress standard than someone else. This concept is biblically subjective and the Bible does not draw a clear, distinct line. This is where individual soul liberty comes in. In this article I sought to bring my perspective to light using biblical and pragmatic principles. However, this is my interpretation what do you think? 

     After-all, most importantly it is about your heart. We should, in our hearts, desire to show ourselves in a holy light. Having a humble and willing spirit. Seek God's guidance and I know He will guide you to where you should be.

In Christ,

Will Hess

My Personal Tips for Dressing Modestly

     As most my readers already know, I am not an extremist in any way. So in this department I have a few recommendations from myself. Seeing as the Bible does not give exact lines in the modesty department, only principles, I realize that each person will express this differently. That is fine, as long as it is modest and therefore within the Biblical grounds. 


  • Avoid V-neck shirts that go down to your cleavage.
  • Check your skirt/short length while standing and sitting down. (Generally just above the knee is a solid length to go with)
  • Make sure your pants/skirts have at least a little give in your butt/crotch areas. This way it does not grab your butt/crotch areas bringing undesired attention
  • Avoid bending over. Instead, squat to pick things up. (Depending on where a person is positioned; bending over can show off your butt or breasts)
  • Check your shirts in the mirror, if showing cleavage, put on a cami.
  • Check to make sure that you cannot see your bra openly underneath your clothes (Like white shirt with black bra)


  • Do not wear anything above the knees.
  • On your tank tops make sure they are not completely open on the sides revealing your stomach/chest.
  • Keep your pants around your hip bone. 
  • Wear a belt.
  • Make sure your pants have some actual slack. Check to make sure there is no bulge in the front of your pants.
  • Keep your underwear under your pants.
     These are just some basic tips/ideas to help make sure you are presenting yourself decently. I am not saying it is law or some sort of sin if you do not follow these basic tips. Do not strap yourself in with a bunch of different dress rules. Just set some very basic guidelines. So have fun. Be modest. Honor Christ.

Skirts Vs. Pants


  1. Great article. Amen!!
    Only thing I would include, is that it is a sin for a man to have long hair : -)

    1. Hey brother thank you for pointing that out. Remind me to make that change with the biblical reference!

  2. Good article, well put!