I detest legalism, and I often hear obsessive conformity to rules when some people within the Christian community talk about the way women present themselves. That’s not to say God doesn’t have guidelines for us, but we’re awfully good at adding to them. That’s part of what gave me pause when it came to surrendering my wardrobe to Jesus.
I also like fashion! And I think that our desire to express our beauty comes from God. Look at a rainbow or sunset, and you will see His passion for expressing Himself with beauty. We women got a big dose of that, and I think we should celebrate the Truth that we are masterpieces created by God (Eph. 2:10).
My resistance to letting God have authority in the way I dress ended many years ago when my publisher asked me to write about modesty. This opportunity made me wonder: What do I believe about clothing and how we’re meant to wear it?
At the time I was a mother of a young girl who I felt was being pressured to grow up too fast. (Why did she need name brand clothing and eyeliner before she was even a teenager?) I was just beginning to walk a tightrope of questions like:
- How do I help her experience body confidence and avoid body image issues?
- Does the way my daughter dresses matter?
- Can I teach modesty without body shaming?
I dug into social science first, to see what the data could tell me. The research revealed that some types of fashion and beauty products—and the marketing associated with them—did, in fact, put girls on a conveyor belt to body image issues and eating disorders. That was not something I wanted for my girls.
I decided to examine the Scriptures but only found a few verses that directly addressed the topic of modesty. However, I noticed the Bible had a whole lot to say about clothing starting in Genesis. When Adam and Eve sinned, they became aware of their nakedness and experienced shame. God “clothed them” with the skin of an animal (Gen. 3:21). This occurs in proximity to a Bible verse theologians call the protoevangelium, which means “the first gospel” (Gen. 3:15). I have come to believe that God’s gift of clothing represents the way God meets us in our shameful, sinful condition and covers us through a sacrificial death. Our wardrobe has the potential to display the presence of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Clothing has the potential to declare “the gospel is here.”
For that reason, it is essential to consider what we believe about clothing. This is especially true if you are a mother or influencer because you are certainly embedding your belief—either intentionally or unwittingly—into those who look to you for understanding about their faith. Both our example and our conversation have to represent God’s heart accurately.
If our lives—and those of our girls— are going to please God, they have to be adjusted to His authority in everything. That includes what we wear. Even our clothing must be submitted to the ownership of the One who paid a blood price for us.
“There’s not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ,
who is Lord over all, does not exclaim, ‘Mine’!”
— Abraham Kuyper, Dutch Theologian
This article is a sample of a magazine-style booklet I wrote to put my theology of clothing into writing. Get a copy of Clothed in Dignity when you make a donation of any amount to support my ministry for tween girls, True Girl.