Bible verses about modesty
Throughout my walk of faith I see how God has been teaching me about modesty. Even I have fallen short in this area. Modesty is not only for women it is for men as well. “Yes, we get it muscle man you’re buff now put a shirt on because you’re causing women to stumble, a nice sized one.” Immodesty shows bad intentions and in a way it is boasting of self.
Professing Christian women dressing like prostitutes. Dressing showing cleavage even in the church, it’s terrible. Many churches today are nothing but fashion shows where people go to show off their immodest clothing and worship a god that they made up in their mind. A god who lets them live in ungodliness.
We need more people to stand up and say, “no this needs to change. Sin!” Christians wearing extremely tight clothes to reveal their body parts and then they wonder why they only attract scoundrels. Why are professing Christian women dressing like the world?
Mini skirts, skin tight clothing, bikini swimsuits, low neckline, booty shorts, dresses that show off your curves, and your bum. These things do not have modesty in mind. I am also seeing more and more women wearing yoga pants. I’m not saying it’s sinful to wear yoga pants. However, your motives are what makes it sinful.
Once again, I’m not saying that you have to look like a ball of clothes especially if it is extremely hot, you’re going to the gym, etc. But there is a fine line between appropriate and not appropriate and you know it. What are your motives deep down? Be honest with yourself. We must always have a godly perspective on how we present ourselves.
The younger generation is looking at the older generation and they are mimicking them. That is why these 13, 14, 15, and 16 year olds are dressing like grown worldly women. People applaud them. No, it’s terrible. It’s of the devil and I’m tired of it! 10-20 years ago these kids weren’t dressing like this. It shows the moral decline of the world.
You’re not fooling anyone when you’re taking pics showing cleavage and in a bikini on social media. There is a strong chance that you have impure motives to show off your body. You need to stop. We are all aware of how we look when we take pictures and the message it is sending out.
The culture is killing us. “Oh lighten up.” No! This stuff needs to stop. I heard someone say, “Christian women can look good too.” If by looking good you have to put on clothing that will show off your body, appear evil, and cause others to stumble this should not be. Who cares how Hollywood or people around you may dress. You must not wear revealing outfits in public or in church.
All you have to do is Google the word “women” and immediately you will see sensual women and you will see how the world looks at women. Where is the respect? Where is the dignity?
- “Women, modesty means you have beauty and power. And you use that to teach men how to love you for the right reasons.” Jason Evert
- “Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.” C.S. Lewis
- “Dear girls, Dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure. Yes you will get attention, but ALL of it will be from pigs.” Sincerely, Real Men
- “Dressing modestly doesn’t mean I lack confidence, it means I’m so confident I don’t need to reveal my body to the world because I rather reveal my mind.”
- “Modesty isn’t about hiding ourselves – its about revealing our dignity.” Jessica Rey
More parents need to lovingly be on their children.
Properly bring up your daughter. Allow your daughter to know she is not going outside of the house looking like a promiscuous woman. She is not going to be buying these ungodly clothes. Encourage them and praise them when they dress modestly. Every adult has been a teen before and we know how it is. Daughters ask your parents, your pastors, or the biblically wise about your clothing. Be more accountable.
- Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
There is a difference between beauty and sensuality.
This verse says, “with proper clothing.” That means that there are proper clothing and there are improper clothing for a woman. The body of Christ should not dress in a way to draw attention to physical beauty. When you look in the mirror are you looking for sexiness or fruits of a biblical woman?
- 1 Timothy 2:9-10 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
The intentions of a worldly woman and a godly woman are different.
Worldly women seek to bring you down and set a trap before you. They seek to cause you to chase after them and lust after them by their clothing and the way that they act. Sometimes worldly women bend over as a sign that they want you to approach them.
Sometimes it is the way that they walk, stand, flirtatiously glance at you, or sit to reveal themselves even more. They even sometimes engage in sexual undertones. A godly woman guards her sexuality with a modest attitude and modest apparel that does not draw lustful attention. She seeks to glorify God and not herself. Her life shows the worship of God and not the flesh.
- Proverbs 7:9-12 at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)
- Isaiah 3:16-19 The LORD says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.” In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils,
- Ezekiel 16:30 “What a sick heart you have, says the Sovereign LORD, to do such things as these, acting like a shameless prostitute.
Satan is deceiving many women.
Satan told Eve, “did God really say you can’t eat that?” Now he is saying, “did God really say that you can’t wear that? He wouldn’t mind. It’s just a little cleavage.”
- Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
- 2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
The way that you dress reveals your heart.
There is no getting around this. Immodesty shows a wicked heart. Immodesty shows ungodliness and spiritual immaturity. There are pretty women who dress inappropriately who will never look as beautiful as a woman dressed modestly.
She shines so bright and the way that she is dressed says so much about her. People say God knows my heart. Yeah, He knows that your heart is wicked.
- Mark 7:21-23 because it’s from within, from the human heart, that evil thoughts come, as well as sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, cheating, shameless lust, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these things come from inside and make a person unclean.”
- Ezekiel 16:30 “What a sick heart you have, says the Sovereign LORD, to do such things as these, acting like a shameless prostitute.
Godly women know their significance in Christ.
They know that they are so loved by Christ and they don’t need to find false love in other places. It saddens me by the number of women who need to try to reveal themselves to get attention from the opposite sex. So much people today struggle with self-esteem issues because they are looking at the false images of the world. “I need to look like this, I need to do this, I need to dress like this so more men will be interested.” No!
You need to work on your inner beauty not your outer beauty. You are so loved by Christ. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. If you dress for sensuality you are sending out negative energy and you will attract ungodly people. Christian women you need to respect yourself and embrace modesty. Teach people to see you for who you are. Not some sex object, not some toy, but a woman who is after the heart of Christ.
- 1 Peter 3:3-4 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
- 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
You don’t want to be a stumbling block for your brothers and sisters and you don’t want people degrading you in their minds.
Especially in the church all women must understand that not only are they a distraction when they dress immodestly, but they are competing against God for glory, attention, and honor. I’m tired of hearing women say, “it’s not our fault that men lust.” A godly man will turn his head immediately after noticing an immodest woman and there is a chance that he already has stumbled in his mind.
Let me tell you something woman of God. That should not be the attitude of a Christian. The less you advertise the less chance that someone will lust after you. If you are dressing immodestly you are not helping one bit. Think about others and the battle that they have to go through.
Some people are going through war right now regarding lust. Once again men need to be held more accountable as well because there are many Christian women who are going through a battle. Let’s not make it harder for each other.
- Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
- 1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.
- 1 Corinthians 8:9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
- Galatians 5:13 you, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
A beautiful woman without discretion does not have good judgment.
She might be beautiful, but she lacks discernment and just like a beautiful pig she will make shameful choices regardless of her beauty. She is beautiful on the outside, but inside she is unclean it’s a waste of beauty. A real godly man will not seek after a sensual woman.
A woman who fears the Lord will show that she fears the Lord by the way that she is dressed and a godly man will find that attractive. A woman who stands out among the wicked crowd by her modesty is to be praised. God has made something special and we can see that God is working in her. Glory to God!
- Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; 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 who shows no discretion.
Does your clothing give glory to God?
If your clothing draws attention to your body to outline it, to make people notice you, to show off sensuality, then you know exactly what you’re doing. Some people feel like the only way they can get noticed is by showing off. One of the things I hate most is when men make crude comments about sensual women. It burdens my heart and it sickens me. Your body is a gift from the Lord.
It should be treated as a gift beautifully wrapped with the righteousness of Christ. When your breasts are hanging out of your clothing, when parts of your breasts are being exposed, when your body is being seen through your clothing, when your legs are being revealed in an immodest way how does that glorify God?
All the time you will hear people say, “Jesus is my life,” but it’s a lie. Just look at their pictures. Just look at how they present themselves. God is not pleased. He doesn’t compromise. How are you going to bless the world by looking just like the wicked world?
- 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.
- 1 Corinthians 12:23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty.
- Romans 12:1 therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Your body belongs to Christ and secondly it should only be seen by your husband.
- 1 Corinthians 6:13 you say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
- 1 Corinthians 7:4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.
You must clothe yourselves in holiness and in proper clothes for a Christian woman.
When you’re modest you dress with humility. When you are immodest you dress with pride. Humble people don’t draw unnecessary attention to themselves.
- Romans 13:14-15 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
- Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
A virtuous woman is clothed with strength and dignity.
Her hope is in the Lord and she laughs at what the world throws at her. “Everyone is doing it. You need to look more like this if you want a man. You need to be confident and show off your body.” The godly woman says, “no! I am wonderfully made and my body is for the Lord not the world.”
You don’t need to dress a certain way to attract someone. Be still and don’t be discouraged. Don’t start compromising. A godly woman’s hope is in the Lord that God will provide. He will make a way so you will meet the person He has for you. You don’t need to start doing things in the flesh to speed up the process. Be patient and pray. God is faithful.
- Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Bonus: Always examine yourself.
If you have been dressing immodestly repent. There are beautiful outfits that you can buy that are modest, but still stylish. Now every time you pick out your clothes look at yourself in the mirror. What are my motives? Am I looking to be sexy? Will I cause someone to stumble? Are my clothes too tight? Am I seeking to find a way to compromise in my mind?
How would God feel? Are my clothes too short? Do they reveal too much? Is it revealing too much of my legs? Do they show off small parts of my breasts? Ask yourself this and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Pray about this and allow the Lord to lead you to clothes that honor Him. Let your love for God and others be seen in the way that you dress.
Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
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What is meant by “modest apparel”
in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 & 1 Peter 3:3-5
Well, let us read the two passages in the New Testament that discuss how women should adorn themselves:
|King James Version English Translation:
2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. – 1 Timothy 2:8-10
|King James Version English Translation:
3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 3:4 But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 3:6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. – 1 Peter 3:3-5
One thing to consider is that the Apostle Paul is refering to a Christian attitude of dress and its perception by others. As it is clear, when the Apostle Paul talks about Sara, he mentions how she honored and obeyed Abraham, her husband. This is mirrored in the other passage, when it says to adorn yourself “with shamefacedness and sobriety”. So, Paul’s instruction is not really a set of clothing standards, but rather a standard based on the message you are giving other people and the inward heart. Two of the fruits of the Spirit are “gentleness” and “self-control”. The greek definition of “shamefacedness” is “reverence, honor”. And for “sobriety”, it is “soundness of mind, self-control”. So, essentially, the Apostle Paul is telling all women to dress with reverence and self-control, rather than without reverence (to husband, God, etc) or without self control (one who is addicted to fashion, shows herself in a manner to draw the wrong type of men or attention, etc).
So, it is not refering to an actual dress code, other than the mention of “broided hair”, “costly array” or “plaiting the hair”, etc. And, what this is refering to was likely obvious violations (per the culture he was in) against being reverent and self-controlled. Is it saying a woman can never braid her hair? Or that a woman can never wear “gold, or pearls”? Or that a woman can not “put on apparel”? Whoa? Wait a second! Did I just say that a woman can not “put on apparel”?!? So, basically, if you read this passage to say, you “never” can do these things, it would also mean a woman can never “literally” put on apparel (clothing, in greek). So, if you could not wear gold, you could not wear any form of clothing either(you would be nude), with such an interpretation, logically contradicting itself. Therefore, it is actually saying, a woman is to focus on being “modest” in apparel, rather than focusing on braiding her hair (eludes to women’s hair being longer), wearing gold jewelry and the arrangement of apparel. So, it is about the focus of the woman in question, not the apparel she is wearing.
What should be glean from this? The Apostle Paul is assuming women have a tendency to wear such things and get addicted to fashion, so your focus should be away from it, on the inward heart. In other words, if your heart is right, your clothes will follow. So, if you are focused on being reverent and self-controlled, you are not concerned with being the most beautiful woman, or looking glamourous, having the latest fashion (whether according to your church or the world), hence you will not have the persona about your character either. And being a woman of God who seeks to show your inner character, it follows, you should also not judge other women by what they are wearing as well. As then, you are playing into the whole problem (judging by outer appearance). So, worrying about if other women are too fashionable or not fashionable enough, rather than showing them how to focus on their inner character is not good either. So, the point is not wearing no gold or jewelry, the point is to maximize your Christian character to others (reverence, self-control).
Regarding hair length, generally, there are two opinions that revolve around one passage’s interpretation, namely, “11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” – 1 Corinthians 11:16. When looking at the greek for this passage, it appears to be saying, “11:16 But if a certain one be of opinion and happens to be fond of strife/contentious we with such as this kind regarding being used to or accustomed with not join closely neither the citizens of the God“. It seems to be saying that those who are contentious in nature or have striving opinions, we don’t take on such a custom or associate with them or their ways. It is NOT saying, we don’t have a custom saying women need to have hair of longer length. So, this verse seems to become clear and we can conclude that the chapter’s interpretation is that women’s hair is longer as a covering and to show submission to her husband and that the man should not have longer hair than a woman. But, I don’t think it is a commandment, but more of a “custom”, or a commonplace approach. And that a woman who is with short hair, it is the same as it being shorn or shaven, as, to God, short hair is the same as being bald, as it does not show submission to her husband (“head” of household). So, shaven, shorn or short are all the same in God’s sight and the point is you should have your head covered (as a customary rule). As shaven can refer to someone grieving (yet to reverence her husband, she should cover her head maybe as done in Jesus time with her head garment)? As woman is second in the household, under her husband.
What about men who take a Nazarite vow? Also, why do all paintings show Jesus’ hair longer? With regards to the Nazarite vow, it could be viewed as a form of special submission to God, as longer hair is designated with submission. Regarding the priests of Israel, they were to cut their hair regularly, and not allow their locks to grow long. Regarding Jesus Christ, if we look his time period, the Romans, Israelites and the Greeks had shorter hair as a custom. So, within Israel, around the time of Jesus or Paul, it was common for men’s hair to be short. So, either Jesus had short hair, like those of his time and culture, or he had a special exception for having it longer (at the time of death). And if he did have longer hair, it could be perceived as longer, per our standards of what is “long hair”. Or, maybe the renderings of Christ are just in error and his hair was shorter. As Paul, would be condemning Christ’s hair length in this passage, if every man was required to have short hair. The longer hair renderings are likely based on the Shroud of Turin, which may be the image of Christ at his burial, before ressurection. So, it is one of those dilemas where, I think it is quite clear that the Jews generally had shorter hair for men during this time period. And it is clear, Jesus did not take a Nazarite vow, because he touched both the dead and drank wine, which is expressively forbidden in the Nazarite vow. However, here is a question for you: “What if Jesus took a different vow?” As there is some indication that if a man takes a vow, he would first grow his hair longer and then shave it off as part of the vow (as Paul likely did here). Also, many heroes of the culture, philosophers of that time generally are shown with longer hair in depictions. So maybe Paul is actually just declaring the “standard” way for men and women to have their hair length, but there are exceptions to this “custom” as well.
Now, what is “modest apparel”? Well, if you look in the greek, you discover that “modest” means “orderly, decorous, good behaviour, modest, well arranged, seemly”. If you sort of wrap all those words into one definition, you discover “modest apparel” to mean, “apparel of good taste that is well arranged, not trying to show yourself as important”.
Regarding some specific dress code of what Christians can wear, worldwide, I believe such a thing would not be possible beyond what Paul stated. Because, in one culture, wearing a dress maybe considered immodest or something maybe a loose woman would wear (Muslim countries), while, in another culture, a dress maybe the highest standard for modesty (the Western World). So, it has to do with your audience/culture and what you are trying to convey to those around you. Not so much what you are actually wearing. So, the Christian standard is one that comes from the attitude or heart of the person and considers what its audience would think.
For instance, some men in Scotland wear a kilt. In countries, such as the USA, this would be deemed inappropriate clothing, and perhaps even something a woman would wear. Yet, no man would dare say this to a Scottish man, lest they offend and receive their just due reward. So, to say, a man can not wear something like a kilt, would be to assume God made such a prohibition. In Scotland, it is normal. In other countries, it may not be. As Paul said, “unto a Jew I become as a Jew… To them that are without law, as without law”.
So, the point is women are to be humble in dress toward their husbands, not loud and riotous, without self-control, or with expensive and flashy attire. So, lets say a Queen wore something considered expensive apparel, would this make her immodest? I do not believe so, because she is actually expected to wear such clothing and modesty for her, would be as the greek says, namely, “apparel of good taste that is well arranged, not trying to show yourself as important”. So, a queen should consider apparel that would be well arranged, good taste, yet not trying to show herself as more important than others (simple, not extravagent or expensive in perception). Further, she is to show herself as reverant and self-controlled, not loud or rebellious. So, it is dependant on your circumstances, and the message you are giving to other people.
On the topic of jewelry and fine dress, you find the Bible full of righteous examples of people using such things:
Looking at the high priest and his levitical clothing, you see use of jewels on the turban, the breastplate, and the ephod, etc. If God had a problem with jewels and expensive clothing, he would not be putting it on the man who is represent his people and to enter the Holy of Holies. So, the point is not the value of the clothes, but what you are conveying to those around you. The priest is to represent his people and to be perfect before God. The design or dress of the high priest had symbolism in the concept of humbleness, atonement and judgement. In the New Testament when it discusses how woman should dress, the idea is not to attract the wrong attention or give the wrong message to people and to avoid pride and self focus on outer beauty. So it is a matter of the heart. God’s commandments tend to deal more with the heart, while man made commandments tend to deal more with the outer appearance and outer actions.
Regarding how a woman’s modesty relates to the topic of nudity, I would say, nudity is something that has its place and time. You have to ask yourself this question, “Is there any time in which it is normal to be nude?” One would likely consider such situations as bathing, maybe sleeping in private, having sex with your husband, etc. So, you can not apply the “modest apparel” command to situations that would warrant nudity and you can not be hypocritical and apply it to situations you don’t like, while not applying it to situations you do like. For instance, you may think it is OK to bathe nude, but you may consider it sinful to have sex, in daylight, nude. Such a viewpoint is your opinion and you can not apply the “modest apparel” to the sex situation and not the bathing situation, being hypocritical.
Further, there are situations that you would likely deem uncommon or not a time to be nude, that the Bible and other people would consider situations to be nude. For instance, King Saul actually prophesied naked before the prophet Samuel, for a complete day and night! Now, to most people, this would seem very “immodest”, however, as you can see, this was commonplace with prophets, as the people said, “[Is] Saul also among the prophets?” So, there are situations where nudity is justified and “modest apparel” would not apply. Generally, nudity is associated with shame, and sometimes prophets would show nudity to mirror the people’s shame before God. In this case, where King Saul is naked for a full day and night, it does not say he is doing this for any shame related reasons. Nudity is often tied to “shame”, “sex”, or “prophecy”. So, being nude in public is often a sign of some sort (shame, prophecy, etc), atleast in the Old Testament, as some nations defeated in battle were paraded naked. In the Garden of Eden we find Adam and Eve naked and hiding, because they were afraid (and ashamed). We see one instance where David danced unto the Lord atleast in a manner, for which those who didn’t like him, were able to say he was not “modest” in their sight (though, not naked). Ironically, David while in the joy of the Lord, actually said he would become more base, to prove a point (verse 22). What did he mean? – I am not sure, but he said his “maidservants … of them shall I be had in honour.” Just a guess – He was going to dance more for them and that they are not so high-minded, as to judge. “. So, the point is the message you are giving.. So, nudity is defined by scripture, not by people’s beliefs. And it is clear, there are situations in the Bible, where someone is naked and people today would assume it is evil or wrong. A brutally honest question for you, “If you saw a man of God, one you revered, naked, prophesying, would you assume he is insane or sinning?” Like I said, there are situations which many would judge hastily, without considering what the Bible says. I am not saying go do such a thing, but obviously, we have to put our preconceived notions aside and let scripture speak for itself.
By modest apparel, it is refering to the message you are conveying. Looking at the greek definition of “modest apparel” again, it is, “apparel of good taste that is well arranged, not trying to show yourself as important”. This modest apparel would be utilized in most of your activities in life (secular, religious, etc). However, there are actually situations where less clothing conveys the right message (swimming, displaying the human form, etc). Could a regular beach be something acceptable in God’s sight, with all those swimsuits and bikinis? It is hard to know from scripture, as it is not discussed in depth in scripture (lust of eyes factor discussed here). So, to assume it is a sin, would be an assumption, not something based in scripture, as not all situations call for “modest apparel”. Probably the closest thing to a beach for swimming would be the Apostle Peter, partially nude, on his fishing boat, seeing the Lord Jesus at shore and swimming to him. I am guessing the Apostle Peter was wearing something equivelant to a bathing suit, as it would lend to his occupation. So, atleast, you could say a regular beach wear or common boat wear would be deemed permissible.
Regarding a nude picture of a woman, is she sending the wrong message or sinning? When making a nude photo, she is not working in secular or religious society, but rather for beauty and/or eroticism (such as seen in the Song of Solomon). Would doing such a thing be sinful automatically, because of Matthew 5:27-28? A majority of people would assume so, however, I have recently posted an article about Matthew 5:27-28 here, challenging the common interpretation of this scripture, harmonizing it with the Old Testament. You could have various opinions in this gray area. Some would say, it is a sin in all sexual circumstances, others would say it is a sin only if it is not art, while others would have a more controversial viewpoint of thinking it is not a sin, as long as your witness is intact. For instance, consider also nudity for medical purposes. What about a medical textbook showing various regions of a nude anatomical body for medical purposes? Are these sketches or photos immodest? Again, it has to do with the message you are giving and what you are conveying to your audience, as that is the point of 1 Timothy 2:8-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-5 . Putting a nude picture in the lime light can be unwise, particularly if it can be identified with you and cause you problems within your own life or represents Christianity in a bad light. But, does that mean every form of nudity would cause damage or bring shame on Jesus Christ? As currently, most non-Christians, assume Christians are rather sex-negative, so what would be a method in which to represent Christianity in the right light on this topic? If God can put the Song of Solomon in the Bible, perhaps not all forms of eroticism and nudity is sinful? Of course, I should just fall in line with most and say it is a sin? Maybe Romans 2 or Matthew 7 is relevant to such a discussion?
Let us not be hypocritical in our judgements or make a standard God did not set. Should I say to those who have a different interpretation, you will goto Hell for your viewpoint? Or, should I be a little more open minded and not ignore such things that are enigmas in scripture? Can you deny God telling a prophet to be nude for 3 years? Or declare the Harlot Rahab to be a sinner? Or maybe Sampson, are you ready to judge him for harlotry and say he is in Hell? What about King Solomon with his erotic laden text of the Song of Solomon? Did you know, it is highly likely King Solomon wrote more than one of these erotic stories (potentially a large amount, as he wrote 1005 songs)? What would you think of a Christian doing that today? If a Christian wrote several erotic stories for people to read and it even had nude depictions of men and women, I would have to ask you, where is the sin? Did not King Solomon do basically the same thing? How about King Solomon for dressing in expensive apparel and living in luxury? Or John the Baptist wearing animal skin and eating locusts and wild honey? Should we say Jesus was a drunk and accompanies sinners, like the pharisees did? How about avoiding the woman at the well, for being such an adulterer? Maybe, those who do not dress the same as us, should we judge them by outer appearance, rather than looking upon the heart? What do you say to all of these things? Am I crazy, or am I making a valid point?
I am not saying, change your standards. What I am saying is do not assume your standards are the only ones that are biblical and also test your standards in light of scripture. As you can see above, you can not define “modesty” by your own opinion, but rather, you should seek out the meaning based on the original languages in scripture. Dresses did not even exist in Jesus’ time, neither did pants for men. There is a commandment for men not to dress as women and vice versa. So, is a Scottish man required to wear pants? Or should we go “old school” and wear a garment like Jesus wore? I believe the standard is based on what culture around you accepts as moral, reverent and self-controlled. In Arabia, you could be stoned for wearing a dress, so you should consider your audience, rather than your local church’s teaching. In America, wearing a burka could get you in trouble with your driver’s license picture ID. Do you see my point? The standard is not a laundry list of what to do and not do with apparel (sleeve length, dress length, beards, suits, etc), but rather, what is reverent and self-controled per the audience around you.
Lesson 7: The Conduct Of Women In The Church (1 Timothy 2:9-15)
I’ve always thought that being a TV weather forecaster would be a pleasant job. You don’t have to report on war or tragedies; you just get on camera and tell everyone about the chance of rain or snow or clouds or beautiful sunshine.
But I read recently that TV meteorologists frequently get hate mail and obscene phone calls. People call up and swear at them because the weather isn’t what they wanted. One forecaster received a hangman’s noose in the mail—as if he were personally responsible for the bad weather!
Being a pastor is kind of like that at times. I didn’t write the Bible. God didn’t even consult me in the process. I just try to report what it says. But sometimes people get upset with me because they don’t like the forecast. That’s probably going to be the case when I tell you what the Bible says about the conduct of women in the church. I confess, if I could write the script myself, I would not write it as Paul did. But being a Christian means obeying apostolic doctrine, not changing the message to be more compatible with our times. So my task today is to tell you what God’s Word says about this sensitive but significant topic.
I have read the arguments of the “evangelical feminists.” I wish I could be convinced, because their views are not as culturally offensive as the traditional view. Besides, I like women, I’m not threatened by women, and I don’t have a problem with the idea of women in church leadership–except that I can’t escape what to me is the plain teaching of Scripture that prohibits women from exercising authority over men.
Our text is the central one to grapple with. Paul was correcting a problem in the Ephesian church. Presumably, the false teachers whom Timothy was to confront had led astray a number of women in the church, both in doctrine and morals (1:19). Ephesus was a sensual city, with temple prostitution devoted to the worship of the goddess Diana (or, Artemis), whose idol had multiple breasts. It was also a center of commerce, with many wealthy people. Apparently some church women were dressing in a sensual and extravagant manner, so Paul corrects this by telling Timothy how godly women should adorn themselves (2:9-10; compare 5:11-15).
In 2 Timothy 3:6-7, Paul mentions false teachers who enter “households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Thus the false teachers were appealing to women under a load of guilt who were living by their feelings instead of by God’s truth. Of course, Second Timothy was written later than First Timothy. But probably the situation confronted there had already begun when Paul wrote First Timothy. So he corrects this by commanding that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the church; rather, their normal sphere of ministry should be in the home (1 Tim. 2:11-15; see Titus 2:3-5). Thus,
The conduct of women in the church should be marked by godliness and submission to male leadership.
In 2:9-10, he deals with the proper attire of women which is godliness; in 2:11-15, he deals with the proper attitude of women, which is submission to male leadership.
1. The proper attire of Christian women: not focused on outward appearance, but on godliness (2:9-10).
Our grooming and clothing says a lot about our values and the way we think. If a woman dresses in a sensuous manner or if by inordinate attention to grooming she emphasizes external beauty, it reveals that her emphasis is on the superficial and worldly rather than on that which is significant from God’s perspective. Paul’s directive in verse 9 means that Christian women should not dress in a seductive manner nor in a luxurious, fashion-conscious manner that would arouse jealousy on the part of poorer women. Rather, she should put her emphasis on good deeds.
Obviously he is talking about a woman’s appearance not only when she attends church, but at all times. He is not prohibiting a woman from looking attractive, as long as she is not seductive or showy. Nor is he putting an absolute ban on a woman’s braiding her hair or wearing modest jewelry. He’s talking about emphasis. He was correcting women who went to great expense and effort to braid jewels and expensive ornaments into their hair. Their clothing was showy and expensive. Their appearance did not reflect a value system with God at the center nor did it draw you to their godly character. It focused on the external. It was worldly. It was the wrong emphasis. Christian women should be marked by good works.
I would encourage my sisters in Christ to take to heart Paul’s command here to dress modestly and discreetly. “Modestly” (in the original) means to be free from shame; “discreetly” means to have control over one’s passions. Many modern fashions are shameful and seductive. They are designed to attract attention to the body and to arouse lust. Men are aroused by sight (that’s why pornography attracts men). You may think that your Christian brothers should be free from lustful thoughts. Yes, they should! But you should not put a stumbling block in their way by dressing seductively! “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:30). So Paul’s first instruction is that Christian women must dress properly and put their emphasis on godliness.
2. The proper attitude of Christian women: not assertive, but submissive to male church leadership (2:11-15).
Keep in mind here that I’m just your friendly reporter. I didn’t make up the script; I just report and explain it. Like it or not, the Bible is not politically correct, in tune with our modern sensibilities. Also, there are many truths in the Bible that are seemingly contradictory or paradoxical. You have to hold both sides in tension, not going off the deep end either way. As we saw last week, God is sovereign in saving whom He chooses, but He commands us to pray for the salvation of all.
When it comes to the roles of men and women, the Bible is clear that both male and female reflect the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Men are not superior over women nor women over men. In Christ, men and women are equal (Gal. 3:28), but at the same time, they are to fulfill different roles. Often in Scripture, the male/female relationship is a picture of the divine/human relationship.
Thus (in Eph. 5:21-25), after instructing all Christians to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ, Paul stipulates that in marriage, wives must be subject to their husbands because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ also is the head of the church. And husbands must love their wives just as Christ sacrificially loved the church. In this way we reflect the image of God, in which the Son is equal to the Father and yet voluntarily submits to Him; and the Father loves the Son. We also reflect the relationship of Christ to His church, in which He accepts us as His brothers and sisters, and yet we submit to Him.
Paul teaches (both in our text and in 1 Cor. 11:3-16) that there is also to be a gender-based hierarchy in the context of equality in the local church. While it would be wrong to emphasize the hierarchy and neglect equality, it is equally wrong to emphasize equality and throw out any form of hierarchy. While “evangelical feminists” try to explain the hierarchy as a cultural thing (thus not binding for today), every time Paul mentions the subject, he appeals to the Old Testament, not to some cultural factor, for support. So it is a serious error, in my judgment, to take a verse like Galatians 3:28 (“neither male nor female” in Christ) and make it the governing verse by radically reinterpreting the plain sense of other texts, such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15. We need to affirm both aspects of the truth.
In our text, Paul spells out the realm (2:11-12); the reasons (2:13-14); and the reward for submission (2:15).
A. The realm of submission involves activities where a woman would exercise authority over a man (2:11-12).
Paul is speaking here about the church, not the home (although, as mentioned, women are to be subject to their husbands in the home). It is significant that Paul directs the women to learn. In the Jewish culture, they were not able to go to school to learn the Torah. But Paul wants women to learn as long as their attitude is marked by two qualities: “quietness” and “submissiveness.”
The word translated “quietly” doesn’t mean absolute silence, but rather to have inner tranquility or peace (see 2:2). Women are not to be agitated, assertive rebel-rousers in the church. “Submissiveness” is a military word, meaning under in rank. A lieutenant and a sergeant are equal in personhood, but different in rank. Even so, women are to put themselves in rank under men in church leadership. Paul adds the words, “in entire” (submissiveness) to show that it is more than mere outward obedience; the attitude of respect is included. The implied object of their submission is church leaders (elders) who teach sound doctrine.
The word translated “exercise authority” is used only here in the New Testament and has the nuance of usurping authority or being domineering. Apparently some of the Ephesian women had taken a seminar on assertiveness training and were applying it by teaching even the men in the worship assembly. Paul is prohibiting this since, as he shows (2:13-14), it violates God’s pattern of authority and submission as pictured in creation and the fall.
I realize that Paul opens a host of questions which he leaves unanswered. Can women teach men in a home Bible study (remember, the early church met in homes)? What about Sunday School classes (or “Precept”)? What about the role of women in “para-church” ministries? Can they be in leadership positions over men? What about a woman teaching as long as she is in submission to male elders? What about a woman teaching through writing books or teaching a man individually (as Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollos [Acts 18:26])? What about all the noteworthy exceptions in Scripture (Deborah, Huldah, Junia, etc.)? What about the many godly and effective women missionaries down through church history?
I can’t begin to answer all those questions! But I can give several principles that apply to the church. First, the office of elder is limited to men (1 Tim. 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-9 assume male elders, and in every N.T. instance elders are men; also, Jesus chose men as apostles with authority over the church). This means that the office of teaching elder (1 Tim. 5:17) is restricted to men.
The Greek word for “teach” is used almost 100 times in the New Testament, and in only three instances does it refer to teaching individuals (Roy Zuck, cited by Ann L. Bowman, “Monograph” from the International School of Theology, “Women in Ministry: An Exegetical Study of 1 Timothy 2:11-15,” p. 4, footnote 21). So Paul probably had in mind situations where women taught the entire church. Is Paul giving one prohibition (a woman should not teach men in a domineering way) or two (a woman should not teach men nor should she do anything else to exercise authority over men)? The Greek grammar indicates that Paul intends two distinct and yet closely related commands (Bowman, p. 5, footnote 31): A woman should not teach men, nor should she do anything else to exercise authority over men.
So does Paul mean that a godly woman can never teach men? Then how do we explain God’s manifest blessing on women missionaries who have evangelized, planted the church, and taught whole cultures of men and women? We need to be careful not to put God in our doctrinal boxes. He is notorious for doing as He pleases. The many noteworthy exceptional women in Scripture tell us to be careful here.
But the exceptions as well as the plain teaching of passages such as our text show us that the exceptions are just that. The norm should be men in leadership and teaching positions in the church. If God raises up a gifted woman, we ought to recognize her ministry. But even so, she will have an attitude of submission to male leadership. And, she will focus on teaching women. I think Elisabeth Elliot is a modern example of such a gifted woman.
B. The reasons for submission are the order of creation and the order of the fall (2:13-14).
It is compelling that every time Paul cites reasons for gender-based distinctions in the church, he goes to the Old Testament. This means that we can’t dismiss this as a cultural matter that doesn’t apply to our day. God could have created Adam and Eve simultaneously, but He did not. He first created Adam and later created Eve to be a helper for Adam, not vice versa. Paul explains (1 Cor. 11:9): “For indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.” Thus while being equal with Adam as an image-bearer of God, Eve was yet to be subject to Adam so that their relationship reflected the image of God and His relationship to His creation. So Paul is saying (1 Tim. 2:13) that the order in creation should be reflected in the church.
Then he adds the order of the fall (2:14). Paul isn’t implying that Adam was less guilty than Eve, nor is he putting all the blame on Eve. Both were culpable (Rom. 5:12). Nor is Paul implying that women are constitutionally more prone to deception than men. The Bible is clear that we all are easily deceived by sin and false doctrine. What Paul is getting at is that in the fall, the God-ordained roles were reversed. Satan didn’t approach Adam, but rather Eve, so that he could upset the reflection of God’s image in the original couple by enticing the woman to act independently of her husband’s and God’s authority. She didn’t need to remain under her husband or God; she could attain god-like existence by acting on her own.
So Paul is saying here that this role reversal that brought such awful consequences on the human race should not be repeated in the church. The responsibility for teaching and leadership in the church falls on qualified men (3:1-7).
How then can women serve in the church? If they can’t assume leadership and teaching roles over men, what can they do? Paul goes on to show that a woman’s normal sphere of ministry is in the home. If she serves in her God-appointed sphere, she will receive her reward.
C. The reward for submission is salvation from the curse (2:15).
Many commentators call verse 15 one of the most difficult verses in the New Testament to interpret. As can be expected, many different interpretations have been suggested, each hinging on different lexical and grammatical variables. I can’t go into great detail, but here are a few:
(1) Women will be kept safe (physically; the Greek word for “preserved” is “saved”) through childbirth in spite of the curse of the fall. The problem with this view is that it isn’t true: many godly women have died in childbirth.
(2) Women will be saved (spiritually) through the Childbirth, namely, the birth of Christ, the seed of the woman, who brought salvation to the human race. The problem with this view is, if this were Paul’s meaning, “he could hardly have chosen a more obscure or ambiguous way of saying it” (Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles Eerdmans], p. 78).
(3) Women will be preserved from insignificance and find fulfillment by bearing children. This imposes an unusual meaning on the word “saved.”
(4) Women will be saved from the corruption of this sinful world by assuming their proper role at home. This is closer to the truth, but it doesn’t grant the normal meaning to the word “saved.”
(5) Women will be saved spiritually (with an emphasis on the future aspect of salvation) if their lives show the fruit of saving faith, namely, submission to God’s order as evidenced by taking their proper role as godly mothers. This is the best view, since the word “saved” in the Pastoral Epistles always refers to spiritual salvation.
This doesn’t mean that a woman earns salvation by bearing children. Rather, it looks at the future aspect of salvation. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. But genuine saving faith always results in a life of good works and in the development of godly character. The hope of future salvation should motivate us to a life of good deeds now, in spite of the hardships. Paul mentions child bearing to tie in the earlier reference to the fall. In spite of Eve’s sin and the curse (increased pain in childbirth), women who hope in God and His salvation will submit to their role in the home. An evidence of their salvation is their continuance in faith, love, sanctity (holiness), and self-restraint (the same word as “discreetly” in 2:9, meaning control over one’s passions). Thus Paul comes full circle to say that the conduct of women in the church should be marked by godliness and submission.
I’ve spent most of the message explaining a difficult text—difficult exegetically, but also difficult culturally, because it runs against the grain of our modern world. I want to conclude by applying these verses to three areas:
(1) Check your attitude toward Scripture: Defiant or compliant? Because of our rebellion against God, we all have a tendency to shrug off the parts of His Word that we don’t like. If you only submit to the parts of the Bible you like, then you’re just using the Bible to reinforce your sinful desires. Even Satan quoted the Bible with Jesus to support his temptation! The test of whether you are under the lordship of Jesus Christ is when the Bible confronts your preferences. Yes, we need to determine what the Bible means before we apply it. But it’s easy to shrug off difficult truth by saying, “I don’t agree with that interpretation,” when really we don’t want to submit to God. Be careful!
(2) Check your attitude toward the opposite sex: Competitive or cooperative? There should be no war between the sexes in the church. Men should esteem and affirm godly women for their ministries. Women should respect and submit to godly elders in their leadership. Elders are not to lord it over the flock, but to be examples of godliness. The times when elders need to use their authority are rare. If we all submit to God and serve in our God-given roles, there will be cooperation. And, as our text shows, Christian men and women should relate to one another in purity, not in sensuality.
(3) Check your attitude toward the home: A burden or a blessing? Children should never be viewed by Christian women as a hindrance to their fulfillment through a career. Children are one of God’s greatest blessings. The responsibility of shaping their character through godly example in the home is more important than any career, male or female, because the whole fabric of society depends on it. If we seek self-fulfillment, even if through a teaching or leadership ministry, we will come up empty. If we deny self and serve in the roles God’s Word ordains, He will bless us beyond measure.
Well, that’s the forecast, folks! If you don’t like it, remember, I don’t make up the weather; I just report it!
- Does submission imply weakness or inferiority? Why/why not?
- Some say that the submission of women was related to the cultural situation of that time. How do you answer this?
- Is it wrong for a Christian couple to be purposefully childless in order to pursue a career or ministry?
- Many evangelicals argue that Gal. 3:28 erases all distinctions in the church on the basis of gender. Discuss.