Modesty-Your Spiritual Act of Worship Part 1
I was so pleased when I saw this group of youth dancing for the Lord on stage at the 2011 Jesus in the City parade in Toronto. I was particularly glad because the dancers were dressed so modestly, and so they looked so beautiful—more beautiful than any lady I have seen in a long while. Sadly, modesty was not the norm at this event: there was a worship group from Ottawa composed of two ladies who were dressed so immodesty that I didn’t photograph them (I didn’t even watch them), because I would’ve been nearly impossible for me as a photographer to edit their photos to make them acceptable with Christianity’s teaching about modesty. There was also another two ladies in the crowd who I avoided standing behind them because they wore such tight pants (both, to avoid temptation and to avoid photographing them), and so you can imagine my surprise when they later walked to the stage and started signing a worship song—they were a worship team! When I photographed them I composed my photos above the waist. I remember one young lady in particular at the Jesus in the City parade because she was dressed in a summer dress like she was going to the beach, and so I thought, “WOW! This parade has attracted even the non-Christians. This is wonderful!” A short time later I was shocked when I saw her singing worship songs on one of the floats—she was a worship leader!
When I was in my early teens (that was in Iraq) I was sitting on the school bus after Sunday school (technically, it was more of Friday school because that was the weekend day in Iraq; this Sunday school was organized by the Roman Catholic church). It was summer so it was a hot afternoon and as I looked out the window my Sunday school teacher, a young lady in her 20s, looked at me, gave me a sweet smile, and waved good bye as she walked home. I don’t remember how she looked like except that she looked like a typical Chaldean: fair skin, brown eyes, and dark wavy hair. But what I do remember is how modest her clothes were which stood as a contrast to how the other girls dressed at Sunday school. Her clothes were simple and modest, unlike the flashy, expensive, and immodest dressing of the girls who attended the Sunday school. Actually, immodesty was one of the reason I disliked attending church, because it makes no sense for a man to be more tempted with sin in the church than on the street! Until today I find modest girls very attractive, but this writing is not about my personal experiences or beliefs, and it is not about my feelings. This writing is about God’s Word and what He teaches about modest dressing. I am writing about this topic from a man’s point of view, and so I hope I do it justice.
Immodesty, in my opinion, is an epidemic in the church—whether in the eastern churches or the western churches. It is a sin so advanced and accepted by the churches that I really don’t see how Christians will be able to turn this tide of sensuality around. I remember when I was new in Canada, that was in the early 2000s, I was watching TV and there was news about the National Day of Prayer in the U.S., and behind the reporter this “Christian” lady wearing a short-skirt came and knelt with her head down to the ground in prayer! Now, I am not going to describe to you how absurd the scene was, but I remember thinking, “What’s wrong with this Christian woman?” Another time, I went with my uncle to this Canadian church in Toronto and the pastor invited this 16 years old girl to come on stage to read some youth news and she was wearing such tight pants they looked like they were painted on her. The same thing was with their worship leader, and all the ladies who were in the rows in front of me. The whole time at that church I kept my head down. My uncle’s wife told me, “Fadi, church is a place to rejoice with the Lord, why are you sad?” I didn’t answer her. But we cannot rejoice in sinfulness—joy with the Lord must be coupled with holiness.
And that is what I have against the Jesus in the City parade: the pastors spoke and worshipped, and encouraged, but the whole event did not even start with the people confessing their sins! Lady, if your husband said a very mean and hurtful thing to you in the morning, and when he came from work he was all smiling and nice to you as if nothing had happened. Would you be smiling back or be joyful? No, you would want him to first apologize, explaining why he said those hurtful comments, and how he would not hurt you again (repentance), right? Then why do we expect God to accept us joyfully when we come to Him with our unrepented hearts?
Another time I went to a Middle Eastern church with my sister’s family because they had a play called “Heaven or Hell”, and the same scenario repeated itself: all the actors were dressed immodestly, including the worship singers! Another time, last year in April I think, I went with my sister’s church to this conference held by Arabic churches in Toronto. One lady who was standing at the door giving away brochures and she was dressed in such an immodest dress that it immediately reminded me of the sensual dresses Hollywood actresses wear! I then thought, “Who organized this?” Because not a single pastor, or a church elder, or a senior Christian man or woman thought or spoke up–as if this is how Christians are supposed to dress. Speaking about worship here is what the Bible says in Romans 12:1-2:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Let me ask you a question. Before coming to Christ we spoke foul words and laughed at dirty joke, but after we came Christ we put those sinful ways away, correct? Before coming to Christ we lied and cheated and even stole, but after we came to Christ we put those sinful ways away, correct? Before coming to Christ we doubted, we rebelled against God, we blasphemed, but after we came to Christ we put those sinful ways away, correct? Before coming to Christ we lusted, fornicated, and committed adultery and all kind of sexual immorality, but after we came to Christ we put those sinful ways away, correct? Then why do women dress immodestly after coming to Christ just as they did before coming to Christ? Actually, after becoming born-again we are supposed to evaluate even our good deeds such as honoring our parents and self-control. Before, we honored our parents because we were taught that is the right thing to do, but after becoming born-again we understand all things should be done for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Before, we practiced self-control as a mean to “succeed” in life, but after becoming born-again we understand that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). How can a Christian woman then not evaluate the way she dresses—the way she represents Christ?
I remember going with my sister’s church to a trip and there were many people at that location, and when the church ladies mixed with the non-Christian ladies you could not tell who is Christian and who is not from the way they dressed. And it is sad when a Christian woman dresses so sensually that she does not stand apart; remember what the above verse says: Do not conform to the pattern of this world. How is a Christian woman going to be a living testimony to a Muslim woman when she can not even dresses blamelessly? In Iraq, my Muslim friends used to ask me out of curiosity, “How can the priests let the girls dress like that in church?” I did not answer them, because I agreed with them.
Do you know what is blameless? Our Lord was blameless: the Bible says that when they tried to bring charge against Him none could stand because He was sinless and blameless, and they finally crucified Him because of His identity–the Son of God. Some say we represent Christ through our words and actions. That is not entirely true: we represent Christ through our minds—remember what the above verse says, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”—and our minds are expressed through what we say, how we dress, and what we do. Some people say, “But you can’t judge me because you don’t know what’s in my heart!” You are right that I cannot judge you, but I know what is in your heart: all I have to do is take a look at your life. People love to hide behind “But you can’t judge me because you don’t know what’s in my heart”, but you know what? That is not even a Biblical teaching. The Bible says in Matthew 7:16-20:
“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
And it says in Matthew 15:19:
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
And I say to you, Christian lady: Can I recognize your holiness by your immodesty? A sinful woman cannon dress modestly, and a righteous woman cannon dress immodestly. Thus, by the way you dress you will be recognized.
The problem with immodesty might not be a discipline problem, it might be a much bigger problem: it might be a question of, “Am I even born again?”, and not a question of, “Do I need to take another Alpha course?” You see, if a Christian lady says, “I know I dress immodestly, I know it’s a sin, I know it’s wrong and grieves God but I can’t help it because my emotional security is tied to the way I dress—I can’t break free from the hold it has on me.” Then I would say, “Yes, there is a big chance that she is born-again but she is struggling with a sin that is gripping her and won’t let go.” Just like smoking: people do not necessarily become free from the addiction of smoking as soon as they come to Christ. But if a Christian lady who has been going to church for 10 years says, “What’s wrong with the way I am dressing? It’s not immodest. The Bible doesn’t say anything about modesty, and whatever it said that wasn’t for us—that was for the church 2000 years ago. Besides, Jesus Christ paid for my sins.” I will be very fearful of this woman’s eternal destiny because her statement shows me she does not have the discernment of the Holy Spirit, and if she does not have the Spirit then she does not have part with Christ. It also shows me that she is using our Lord’s sacrifice as an excuse to sin—she does not understand anything about salvation and regeneration.