Our Apostolic distinctives and the holiness identity that we have associated with a woman’s choice to dress modestly and to live a separated life are under constant scrutiny. There are some that consider this choice to be spiritual oppression, bondage or church rules that keep women trapped in a patriarchal system dominated by men and antiquated ideas of spiritual authority.
I believe our Apostolic heritage, our tradition of modesty, and submission to God and spiritual authority has been preserved because it is not only biblical, but it works! When a woman wakes up each morning and makes the conscious decision to dress and groom herself in a manner that pleases Christ, it sets the tone for the entire day.
It’s our duty to continue to preserve these distinctives. To do so, this generation needs the “whys” behind what we teach (1 Peter 3:15). So, in the Leadership for Women class at IBC, I asked the questions; “What if, for sake of argument, we looked at the idea of modesty from a secular perspective? What would we find?” Here are some powerful examples from non-religious sources on this issue.
“Like it or not, you are being judged by how you look, how you dress, and how you carry yourself—and, if you’re lucky, how you do your job” (Forbes). “Women in high-level positions who dress in what is seen as sexy attire are viewed as less competent…These women are passed over for promotions more often than their more modestly dressed female colleagues” (Psychology of Women Quarterly). Even fashion icons weigh in on the topic: “With women, the more unhappy they are, the more undressed they are” (Miuccia Prada). “Modesty is the highest elegance” (Coco Chanel).
Modesty is clearly something that God knew was important. In order to live modestly, we have to define it. These definitions aren’t rules but rather a way to demonstrate to ourselves and to others that we are God’s chosen, His bride.
Does fashion matter? Of course it does! “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world—fashion is instant language” (Miuccia Prada).