Remember the Great Yoga Pants Debacle of 2015? The internet blew up about the rules of Christian modesty. But there is so much more to modest than shoulds and should nots.
Confession time: I love yoga pants. Yes. There. I said it.
But honestly, ladies, let’s not call them yoga pants…let’s call them “mom deserves a break” pants or something like that. I mean really.
And after a good laugh, let’s understand WHY yoga pants get so much love. Life is full of a lot of stress and women love their yoga pants because they are
- a) easy
- b) comfy
- c) usually make us look healthier than we are
This isn’t rocket science. It’s plain and simple.
Does that make yoga pants appropriate attire? No, but it helps us have grace for all the millions of women that wear them (including me…who is a huge proponent of modesty dressing).
I have no qualms with yoga pants themselves. My philosophy is cover your bum area with a loose and long shirt and it’s all good.
Do I always cover my bum? No.
Should I? Yes.
Does that make me a hypocrite? Yes. Yes, it does.
Please, if you have always dressed appropriately on a bleary-eyed midnight run to Wal-Mart because you need milk or medicine cast your stone. If you’ve never jumped into the van in your yoga pants to drop off a kid somewhere, not intending to get out of the car, but something forces you to don your yoga pants in public without appropriate butt-coverage, throw your boulder at me.
Yoga pants happen…even to people who love modesty.
I know that due to the nature of my blog’s name “Radical Christian Woman” many women who don’t own yoga pants and only wear skirts 24/7 may read this. I also realize that there are women wanting more from their faith reading this. It puts me in a hard place because I’m not looking to upset either side. Instead of going balls-to-the-walls “never wear yoga pants” or supes-liberal “sure show your crotch in public thinly veiled by a shiny and tight piece of fabric”…I’m just going to tell you what I’ve learned/known from my years of practicing my trying-my-best-and-failing-often Christianity.
Modesty is about what you wear. Hands down.
Modesty is also NOT about what you wear. Hands down.
How can this be?
It’s an oxymoron.
Well…welcome, to the Christian faith. Where the first is last and the last is first. Where faith without works is dead, but works doesn’t justify you, only faith does. Where salvation lies between once-saved-always-saved and you-can-lose-your-salvation.
People want to nail it down into a list of rules of dos and do not’s.
But Jesus himself said “The Sabbath is for man, not man for the Sabbath” and healed on the Sabbath, yet also said the words, “Not one jot or tittle will be erased from the Law.”
Our faith is simple, yet the more you try to contain it, the less containable it is.
Modesty is About What You Wear
I usually wear long skirts and t-shirts muck like I did in this photo:
Modesty is about covering your body in a way that suggests you aren’t trying to draw extra attention to your figure.
Modesty is also about not adoring yourself with jewels and other items that scream “look at me.”
Some women will interpret this as:
- no jewelry
- no makeup
- no anything extra
Here’s the scripture that’s usually referenced:
Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV
Do I wear jewelry and makeup?
It’s obvious from my photos, I do.
My husband and I both are a big fan of me looking nice. We don’t take issue with it. We have peace there. And if the Holy Spirit convicts us otherwise, we’ll change our ways. I’m not looking to muster up false-conviction where I have none. I’ve been in bondage before and I’m not looking to go back to a rules-based faith.
That said, I try not to go overboard.
Do I fail? Yep.
And depending on who’s judging my appearance I might be a complete failure even on my BEST and most modest days!
Luckily, I don’t answer to many people. To those people I allow full access and constructive criticism to be considered as proven by scripture.
I suggest you do likewise.
Be teachable and listen to Godly people, but only follow God.
There are a lot of people out there that want to tell you what to do…most people speak out of pride and not love. Pride masked by love, but pride nonetheless. They also speak out of their own religious bondage.
- If you were to ask a man/woman from Bible days if I was modest in the picture above, they would look at my uncovered arms and say, “NO!!!!”
- If you were to ask a Muslim man/woman from Afganistan if I was modest, they would look at my uncovered face and say, “NO!!!”
- If you were to ask the average American man/woman if I was modest, they would say, “YES!!!”
- If you were to ask the average Christian man/woman if I was modest, they would say, “YES!!!”
- If you were to ask the more fundamental man/woman if I was modest, the answer would be “NO/YES/Yes..but…”
So, who is right?
Who is wrong?
Even if my face was covered in a niqab, yet I wore a non-black color, some would continue to say I wasn’t modest because of the color.
You see where I’m going?
The quest to wear modest clothing can get quite eccentric…and fast.
That’s what leads me to my next section.
Modesty IS NOT About What You Wear
I’ve been asked about my head coverings.
Considering I believe the Bible is literal about wearing an actual head covering, many women have said, “Isn’t wearing a head covering drawing attention to yourself?”
And I honestly have to answer, “In this culture, in Texas…yes. My head covering, no matter the style, will draw people’s eyes to me. In India or Pakistan, maybe not. Here, yes.”
Does that mean I shouldn’t wear a head covering because it’s not modest?
I’m confident when I say, “Absolutely not!”
(In an upcoming blog post I’ll explain why I don’t associate modesty and headcovering…at all. I don’t wear a headcovering to be modest. I wear it to be biblically aligned with the divine hierarchical order the Lord has put into place.)
As much as modesty is about what we wear, it doesn’t stop there.
It’s about a heart condition.
It’s about not taking our outward beauty and placing it on a pedestal, for sure.
But there’s still more. It goes deeper.
It’s about focusing on what’s inside.
According to the scripture in 1 Peter (listed above), the text also includes:
- silent influencer (1 Peter 3:1)
- being in chaste conversation (holy talk) (1 Peter 3:2)
- being meek, like a lamb to the slaughter (1 Peter 3:4)
- being silent (1 Peter 3:4)
- being in submission to authority (1 Peter 3:5)
- trusting in God (1 Peter 3:5)
A woman who dresses in nothing but long flowing dresses, never braids her hair, or never wears makeup could have the most vicious talk, violating the spirit of beauty and modesty.
Doing even one of these things would be akin to failing to cover your yoga-pant-wearing-bum in public.
Does the argument of “it’s a heart thing” mean you can go around wearing your scandalous bikini this summer? Certainly not!
But I’m pretty sure I’d rather hang out with a bikini-wearing sweet-tongued woman than a burka-covered rude woman.
There’s a Balance We Must All Find…Alone & Together
We must search the scriptures like the Bereans. Day and night. Trying to find truth.
We seek the opinions of those in our lives that we wish to emulate their faith.
We must pray.
We must ask our fathers and husbands.
We must do it both alone within ourselves, with the Holy Spirit, and together, with those who are ordained to speak into our life.
I’ve found, over the years, it’s better to let a select few speak into your life.
Not the internet.
Not some troll on a blog. (Don’t fight on blog comments, it’s just silly. No one has walked away from a rude blog comment a better Christian…I promise).
And unfortunately, not even your best friend always qualifies. Unless your best friend is one of those speak-the-hard-truth-in-love type of person who doesn’t mind calling you out. If you have one of those, can I just say that you are blessed? You should call her right now and tell her “thank you” for not always taking the easy road in your life. Seriously.
Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit that tells you to go back into the house and change.
Just do it.
It’s better to have peace with God than the compliments on your outfit at some party.
But whatever you do…wherever your radar lands, be gracious to those no so far in the modesty journey. Realize that one day, you might be convicted further about your own modesty standards.
We all have to start our modesty journey somewhere.
Don’t squash someone’s attempt at modesty because it doesn’t align with your current own personal standards.
Remember where you started from. You didn’t come out of the womb a righteous woman. In fact, all our attempts at righteousness and modesty are rags in comparison with the living Holy God.
So be gentle in your verbiage.
Because God said that Jesus would be gentle with us…even in our brokenness (because we are already broken and he must be gentle to not break us completely) :
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. Matthew 12:20 (KJV)
What are MY Personal Convictions?
If you are reading this post and wondering, “Well, does she…?”
That’s okay and completely normal.
I will give you my personal standards of modesty so those of you who need help making a decision may emulate my standards ONLY until you develop your OWN!
That’s how the world usually works anyway, we copy people only to come to realize what actually works in our real lives.
I’m not giving you my personal standards so you can leave a comment about how wrong I am.
In my 10 years of blogging, I promise that NOT ONE ounce of my convictions has EVER come from a blog comment.
Okay, maybe once…in 10 years. And wasn’t even meaning to “convince” me of anything.
- Makeup, all kinds
- Long Skirts, this is my go-to “bottoms”
- Tank Tops, usually covered, but not always depending on the style/looseness/cut
- Yoga Pants, bum usually covered by a long shirt
- Tankini, but I usually wear a long skirt or athletic skirt over bottoms (my hubby thinks it’s weird…it’s the only modest thing I do that he’s not fully supportive of…he thinks it makes me stick out like a sore thumb at the pool, but he allows it…most days)
- Shirts that aren’t too form fitting, a little is okay, but nothing too tight
- Color my hair all over with natural looking colors…especially as I start to have grey hair (look out 40 here I come!)
I Don’t Wear/Do:
- Shorts (I have an ugly birthmark on my upper thigh that I still haven’t gotten over being embarrassed about…I have worn Bermuda shorts occasionally, but don’t find that a flattering style on me)
- Skirts Above My Knee
- Tight Shirts
- Midriff Shirts
- Cut my hair shorter than my earlobes (though I usually wear it very long…like middle of my back long or longer)
- Fishnets. I love fishnets, but my husband has made it clear that despite the idea women think it’s “cute”, to a man it just screams porn star/stripper. I do own fishnets…but only for the bedroom!
- Shirts with cheeky sayings that would send the wrong message (I do have a shirt that says, “Act like a Lady, Think Like a BOSS.” I wear that one, but I don’t wear shirts that say “Wife, Mom, BOSS.” The difference is subtle, but I think one says “I’m a go-getter” while the other signifies defiance to my God-Given role…that’s my take anyway).
Jury is Still Out
- All over non-natural hair color (I think strips of color are fine, I look all over non-natural colors I hair, but I’m not certain it qualifies as modest…but I like it…maybe it’s just because I’m too old)
- Thigh-high boots (long boots are cool with me, too high of a boot reminds me of that scene with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman where she’s in the elevator with that old couple)
- Uh…I think that’s it.
If you have any other questions about things I do or do not wear/do, comment below. I’ll try to tackle them.
In the meantime, I’m going to wish I was okay with lavender hair…but wondering if I’m just having a pre-mid-life identity crisis because suddenly my daughters are all turning into beautiful and trendy teenagers!
Head covering Christian woman who loves good wine, coffee, stinky cheese and missionary books. My favorite dessert is Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake. I am a Christian author, blogger, and speaker. I fell in love with my husband because he had rain drops on his glasses (true story). In my spare time I homeschool my six children (5 girls, 2 boys).