In the first century, Paul said that Christian women “are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense” (1 Tim. 2:9 HCSB). Speaking more broadly of sexual purity, all Christians should dress decently and not in a sexually immoral or suggestive way. Kent Hughes talks about modesty in chapter seven of Set Apart. His discussion is a good one; I’ll summarize it below.
What Fuels Immodesty Today?
1) The fashion industry. Early on, Calvin Klein led the way in promoting a drugged-out cocaine chic as pale, skinny adolescent men and women posed in jeans (some with flies unzipped) in various postures of strung-out languor. Today Abercrombie & Fitch is the leader in marketing lewdness.
2) The body industry. If anything trumps the fashion industry in promoting immodesty, it’s the body industry. The body business lives on the promotion of the myth that you cannot be happy without the body you desire. …All you need to do is buy ‘Men’s Health’ and follow the directions. And with those abs you’ll have a rich, full life.
3) The beauty industry. Immodesty is fueled by an inordinate emphasis on the body and on the myth that you can’t be happy in less than a perfect body. This culturally induced delusion and frustration is further fueled by the fashion industry’s peddling of fashions for skinny models who epitomize the ideal.
4) Sin’s industry. And then there’s sin’s industry – that is, our own sin’s industriousness in dragging us down into immodesty. At the heart of our sin is self-love. We are naturally lovers of self rather than lovers of God.
“These immense pressures serve to marginalize modesty, until finally it is viewed as a quaint sentiment of a bygone day.”
And what are the negative effects of immodesty?
Hughes lists four things. First, immodesty demystifies and diminishes the mystery of sexuality. Second, it devalues humans, sexuality, and marriage; people are reduced to objects. Third, it breeds shallowness. Fourth, immodestly confuses people and makes it difficult to live a chaste life.
“The Christian’s only hope is in Christ and his Holy Word. And for the man or woman who has been victimized by the propaganda of the body industry, the answer is that you have been created in the image of God, and as such you are a beautiful and unique creation by God – whether tall or short, skinny or unskinny, well-endowed or less endowed, muscular or muscle less.”
The above is a summary of a longer and excellent discussion in chapter seven of Set Apart. Recommended!