The Expository Files

 

 “Modesty”

I Timothy 2:9-10
 

Hannah Colley wrote: “We live in a society that praises the beauty of materialism rather than the beauty of simple gratitude and the importance of outward appearance rather than the importance of character, honor, and integrity. Women feel pressured to fit a certain mold that the media tells them will equal success, but that mold has little to do with the qualities that will truly make them happy, successful adults. Instead, women-especially teenage girls-are taught to love things and not people, to love a good hairstyle more than a pure heart, and to favor fashion, movies, and pop music over intelligence, scholarship, and responsibility.”

Our focus in this article, however, is not women’s struggle with materialism. Prevalent in our outward-focused and undressed culture is a serious male problem. Its hold on many men is strong. But women can sometimes play a part in promoting sin that is destroying men and families in our culture.

For example, in 2007, CNN reported that approximately 28,258 Internet users were viewing pornography every minute [I’m sure it is much more by now]. According to The Huffington Post, a full 12% of Web sites on the Internet are pornographic. A quarter of search engine queries (around 68 million a day) are related to porn. The top pornography related search terms are “sex,” “adult dating,” and “porn.” There are some 116,000 searches for “child pornography” daily. Twenty percent of men say they have watched porn online while at work.

While pornography is not exclusively a temptation for men, statistics show that the number of female pornography addicts pales in comparison to that of male addicts. Why is this an overpowering form of mind control for men?

Instead of discussing why it’s not just about sex but about power and a feeling of belonging, and instead of trying to pick apart how the male mind works, let’s examine what outside factors contribute to the problem. You might immediately think of unfulfilled marriages or broken homes when the porn addicts were children, or the lures of Victoria’s Secret ads, popular sex symbols like Lady Gaga, or the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated. For sure, these lures work. That’s why wet t-shirt contests are so popular at Hooters and so-called “gentlemen’s club” billboards and Adult Super Stores” are dotting the interstates.

But have you considered the lure of immodesty in our everyday world? Everyday female strangers can easily affect the minds and bodies of men simply by dressing or acting provocatively.
In Matt.5: 27-28, Jesus said: You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Obviously, women can be the objects of temptation that can cause men to sin without even knowing they are doing it. The question is: are you contributing to the problem of lust by the way you dress? In choosing your attire for the day, are you making it easier or more difficult for God-fearing men to keep their thoughts in check and their temptation to explore sexual experiences like those that pornography provides at a minimum?

I Tim.2: 9-10 directly addresses the adornment of women: “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation…But which is proper for women professing godliness with good works.” Notice the definition of these words from the Greek language. “Modest”-“kosmios” (kos’-mee-os) {in its primary sense}: orderly, i.e. decorous: of good behavior, modest. “Propriety”-“aidos (ahee-doce’) {through the idea of downcast eyes}; bashfulness, i.e. {towards men}, modesty or {towards God} awe: reverence, shamefacedness. “Moderation”-“sophrosune” {so-fros-oo’-nay}: soundness of mind, i.e. {literally} sanity or {figuratively} self-control: soberness, sobriety. “Proper”-“prepo {prep’-o}; to tower up {be conspicuous}, i.e. {by implication} to be suitable or proper, become, comely. “Godliness”-theosebeia {theh-os-eb’-I-ah}: devoutness, i.e. piety: godliness.
Ladies, when you make your wardrobe choices, the following words should come to mind: Orderly, decorous, of good behavior, modest, bashfulness, modesty toward men, Awe and reverence toward God, shamefacedness, propriety, moderation, soundness of mind, self-control, soberness, sobriety, proper, suitable, right, comely, becoming, devoutness, piety, and godliness. These words came from the Greek definitions of words used by the Holy Spirit.

Consider the types of clothing worn at pool parties or at the beach. Can you honestly characterize such swimwear as modest apparel? What about short shorts or revealing tops? Ask yourself every morning whether you would be comfortable spending the day with Jesus adorned in whatever you are wearing. If there’s any doubt, cover up (and don’t forget that Jesus really is there!
If you truly love your brethren in Christ and want to see them in Heaven, a wardrobe adjustment is a tiny sacrifice. Above all, remember that God doesn’t care how physically attractive you are. He only cares about the appearance of your heart (1 Sam.16: 7), described by Peter as: “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 Pet.3: 4). Let’s be honest-in the eternal scheme of things, it is God’s opinion that really counts the most!
 

By Dennis C. Abernathy
From Expository Files 19.3; March 2012

 

 

 

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