Appropriate Dress

Have you noticed that flip-flops have become popular in the last few years? With all the changes going on in society around us, how do you know whether your clothing is reflecting a proper Christian look? Does the style of clothing you prefer to wear enhance or detract from your Christian example? This is complicated by culture and personal preferences. However, the Bible does give specific input to this discussion. Consider a few questions from a previous post.

Is it appropriate?

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. —Ecclesiastes 3:1

Solomon was speaking about life in general. As he looked back on his life, he told his readers that life was filled with different situations. That frustrated him. It seemed that life was full of despair. But inside this frustration, he noted a truth that can help determine the answer to our question.

What he says in this passage seems to promote subjectivity. This is not the same as following the crowd. It is just a real view of life. Different situations require different attitudes and actions. A boy named Mike was riding in a car with his uncle when they decided to have a laughing contest. Mike’s uncle went first, hanging his head out the window to ensure the attention of anyone on the sidewalk. Not to be outdone, when it was his turn, Mike did the same. Unfortunately, they happened to be passing a funeral home as the pall bearers were carrying the casket out of the building. There is definitely a time for everything. But that was not the time for laughter.

There are different situations which will call for you to wear different types of clothing. When attending a church service, it is appropriate to dress in a way that reflects your reverence for God. When changing the oil in a car, it is appropriate to dress in clothing you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. When playing basketball, it is appropriate to wear an outfit that allows your arms to have free movement. However, these three outfits are not always appropriate. Wearing a suit and tie to change your oil would be foolish. Wearing a basketball uniform to a worship service at our church would be out of place. Wearing oily clothes to play basketball would be unkind to the person guarding you. You get the point. The clothing you wear should be appropriate for the situation.

Is it modest?

In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. —1 Timothy 2:9-10

The Greek word used in 1 Timothy 2:9 is an adverb which comes from the root word, kosmew. It means to “put in order; adorn, decorate; make beautiful or attractive.” [Bauer’s A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament] How does this fit into our understanding of this passage? Is God telling us that women should be concerned with the way they dress? Yes and no. A Christian woman ought to dress in an orderly and attractive way, but not to the extent that it takes over the main purpose of her life. Apparently, there were people who were overly concerned with their outward appearance in Timothy’s church. Instead of concerning themselves with godly actions, they were concerned about wearing fancy hair, jewelry, and expensive clothing.

Think about the way you dress. When you walk into the room, do people notice your personality or your body? Your dress has a lot to do with that. Your clothing ought to be moderate instead of extreme. It’s not wrong to wear nice clothing, but clothing can become a distraction.

Our family lives in an area of the city that is known for drugs and prostitution. My neighbor took me for a drive around the neighborhood and informed me of the events taking place without my knowledge. He told me that a homely woman, with most of her teeth missing, walked into the restaurant with skin tight clothing. Her clothing caused several men to look past the obvious deficiencies for other reasons. That occurrence illustrates why a Christian woman ought to be careful of her clothing. The natural attraction men have for women can be enhanced by the type of clothing worn. It should not be the purpose of a Christian woman’s life to attract men to her body. Instead, she should dress and act in a way that portrays the godliness appropriate for a modest, Christian woman.

Is it godly?

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. —1 Corinthians 6:19-20

One of the things we easily forget when we dress is that we are a walking advertisement for Christ. At the time of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian. Imagine that—God is living inside of you! So, how does that affect your daily actions? It makes you think before you act. You begin to reflect on your actions before doing something. But what about the outward appearance? Look at verse 20 again. Christians are commanded to glorify God in their bodies. How can we do that?

God expects you to glorify him with your body. So, it must be possible to glorify God with your body. Everything about us should be a positive advertisement of our relationship with the Lord Jesus. But it is also possible to dishonor the Lord with our bodies. So, how does your clothing help with that? When you have a proper respect for the Lord and the body he has given you, you will want to dress and live in a way that does not detract from his glory. In other words, it’s not about me; it’s all about Him.


Is it appropriate? Is it modest? Is it godly? These questions should cause you to honestly consider the clothing you wear. There is a time for wearing a variety of styles. However, as you choose the clothing you will wear for each activity, keep in mind the principles found in the Scriptures.

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