The following article by Nancy Leigh DeMoss is excerpted from the transcript of a May 2005 Revive Our Hearts radio program.
Before we get into the specifics of what’s right to wear, what’s wrong to wear, what looks modest, what looks immodest, we need to lay a foundation. I’ll tell you the starting place for all of us has to be answering this question: “Why do I live”?
What is my purpose in life? You know the answer: to glorify God. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That’s a foundational principle in life and we should come to the place where we can say, “My purpose in life is to please God rather than to please others.”
We have to come to the place where we recognize that our ultimate purpose, our supreme primary purpose for living is to make God happy.[And] that affects everything about our lives, including this matter of clothing. It affects our motives. Why am I wearing this? Why do I like this outfit? Why do I like this look? Is it because I want to fit in? Is it because I want to be accepted; I want to be cool; I want to be popular?
You see, if I determine to live my life for the glory of God—that will affect why I wear what I wear. It will make me think about what I wear, not just go to the store and pick up whatever is the current style.
The Principle of Ownership
The principle of ownership means that my body does not belong to me. It’s not mine. Now, in the last thirty years we’ve had a huge emphasis on a woman’s right to her own body. It’s your body, you do what you want to with it.
Some girls have taken that philosophy to the extreme and have abused their bodies with eating disorders, with substance abuse, with drugs and alcohol. It’s my body; I can wreck it. I can trash it. You know, how sad to think how cheaply some girls consider their bodies.
But to recognize the principle of ownership is to recognize that my body is not my own. It’s not mine; it doesn’t belong to me (1 Cor. 6:19).
You know what, it doesn’t make God happy when you and I take these bodies He’s given us and give them to somebody that they don’t belong to. An immodestly dressed woman is giving away something that doesn’t belong to her. This principle of ownership means that you and I are not free to dress in any way we please.
We’re accountable to God. He owns us, and if you’re not a child of God that’s a principle that you’re not going to like. In fact, you won’t like any of these principles if you don’t belong to the Lord.
But if you are a child of God, you will find great comfort and security in the fact that you do belong to God, that your body is His. It means that you can trust that God will take good care of His property. It also means that you have a responsibility to take care of it.
The Principle of Lordship
Jesus is Lord over all. Ownership, then Lordship. Romans 14:9 tells us: “For this very reason Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.”
You know what it means when we say that Jesus is Lord. It means that God has the right to regulate every area of our lives, including what we wear.
So I want to ask you, “Who runs your life? Who’s your Lord?” Most of us would say, “Jesus is my Lord.” But when it comes down to what you wear, who’s your Lord?
Are you governed by fashion? Are you governed by the culture? Are you governed by your friends’ opinions or are you governed by Christ and His Word? Who is your Lord? You see, you and I are not to be enslaved to anything or anyone other than Jesus—to have any Lord other than Him is to be a slave.
The women who have adopted the world’s philosophy of fashion and clothing are not free. You’ll never be truly free until you’re free to do what God wants you to do regardless of what anything or anyone else dictates to you.
Could I ask, based on these principles, “Are you willing to make whatever changes may be necessary in any area of your life, including your clothing, in order to live out those principles, to live under the ownership of God, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven?”
Additional Modesty Resources
- The Modesty Survey Petition: A list of seven encouragements from Christian guys to the girls reading the survey results.
- The Soul of Modesty: C.J. Mahaney’s heart-focused, grace-filled, gospel-centered audio message on the topic of modesty. Made specially available for free download by Sovereign Grace Ministries.
- The Responsibility of Modesty (Part 1): Excerpted from the survey results, a 20-year-old Christian man shares a powerful summation of men’s responsibility in this area.
- The Responsibility of Modesty (Part 2): Excerpted from the survey results, a 22-year-old Christian man shares an insightful analogy explaining the responsibility of women to protect their brothers in Christ.
- The Purpose of Clothing: John Piper explains both the negative and positive messages God communicated by clothing Adam and Eve after they fell into sin.