Those of you who are close friends or family know that I feel very strongly about the issue of modesty! And, like most of my convictions, this has grown stronger throughout the last few years. When I first met Paul I was still wearing more closely fitting clothing and shorts. I was never immodest by most Christian/"evangelical" standards (if you grade on a curve!) But, I was being convicted by Bible reading and by the lifestyle of other believers.
Second Timothy 2:9 says women are to "adorn themselves in modest apparel." Ok - but what does that mean? See verse 10 she is to be known by "professing godliness with good works." Titus 2 is that classic passage regarding what we may call mentoring relationships. The older women are to teach the younger women to be "discreet" and "chaste" (Titus 2:3-5).
Chastity is a foreign concept to our 21st century minds! Purity and discretion are not attributes that bring fame in our culture! We have to ask ourselves honestly, "Do I want to please God or man?" The answer to that may change the way you dress! Modesty is a heart issue and not just a clothing issue. I can cover myself head to toe, but if I resent doing so, that may indicate I have an immodest heart!
So what does this mean practically? Does God grade on a curve? Should our standards be lower in the 21st century? First of all - I cannot deny that modesty probably does change from culture to culture. Paul and I have had the pleasure of knowing a lot of missionaries - and they must suit their dress for their intended country. I cannot deny that. HOWEVER, that does not give license for us to expose all in America (or parts Europe) just because it is commonly accepted! Galatians 5:20-21 gives a list of traits that are evil (of the flesh). Among those are adultery, fornication, and lasciviousness. How much adultery in our society is prompted by lust? How much lust and fornication is brought about my lasciviousness? How much of all these things could be avoided if we just kept our clothes on?!
Sisters, we need to guard our brothers' minds as much as is our responsibility to do so. If you are a Christian saving yourself for your husband only - then why do you need to expose so much?! I will not impose upon you a certain rule of dress. God says that we will be judged by the standard we use to judge (Matthew 7:1-2). My standard is the Bible. And, the Bible does not seem to say precisely what we ought to wear. But, it does make evident the need to cover ourselves enough that we are known by our good works - not our good figures!!
For me this means that I do not wear shorts outside of my house (even when I lived in Florida!). I try to be careful to wear tops that are not too revealing in their cut and fit. I personally do wear pants, but would like to wear more long skirts. I will not part company with those who wear shorts, nor should we part company with someone who only wears long skirts. (It isn't an issue to split the church over.) I am earnestly striving to "walk in a matter worthy of the calling with which I have been called" (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12).