This is a subject that is much discussed between my husband and myself. In past years, we attended a Brethren Assembly where women always wore skirts or dresses of a proper length to be considered modest. No woman would consider wearing pants. But that was then, and this is now. We moved to a new location 5 years ago, and began attending an assembly where the dress was very different. Skirts or dresses were rarely to be seen, some ladies wore dress pants that were modest, but others wore tight pants and tight tops. I have never worn pants to church, and have been accused of doing my “skirt thing”.. But what does the bible have to say on this subject of proper Christian dress? Quite a bit, actually. Below are notes I have made from a sermon on this subject, with the link to the sermon below. My notes are not nearly as detailed as the sermon.
Here are notes from the sermon by Paul Dowling:
Proper Christian dress: we are meant to be dressed because God dressed Adam and Eve. Men are to wear men’s clothes and women are to wear women’s clothes. Modesty is that which is appropriate, that which is humble. We are not to be anxious about what we are going to wear. On a par with the sins of speaking against God and doing things against God, are pride and immodest dress of women.
Dress as godly: 1 Timothy 2:9-10 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” Shamefacedness is humility and sobriety is sensibly as becomes women professing godliness with good works. 1 Peter 3:3-5 “whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Adorn means arrange or decorate yourself inwardly with a meek, mild, gentle and quiet (tranquil) spirit. Also submission to their own husbands.
What does it mean to dress Godly?
Dress as becomes your profession of Godliness, do not dress in contradiction to your profession. Dress meekly, dress quietly, dress in submission. Dress so that your profession is not contradicted. So that your profession shows itself on the outside. How you dress is a reflection of your inward self. That is the way holy women dressed in the old testament, they have dressed consistently with their profession of being Godly. It doesn’t mean to put on humility or meekness, it means to dress outwardly so that your outward appearance shows your inward humility, your meekness and your Godliness. If your heart is right with God it will reflect outwardly in how you dress.
“Validate the gospel by your dress” The power of the gospel saves sinners from sin..the power of the gospel makes proud people humble. It makes those that are mad, sane. It makes the arrogant, meek. It makes the tempestuous, tranquil. It makes the rebel submit. When it comes to dress, show by your dress what the gospel has done for you.
How could a true godly person be clothed with humility, sobriety, meekness, tranquility while outwardly dressed in clothes which project pride and arrogance”? Clothes which project loudness and attention seeking. It is a complete contradiction of the profession of godliness. “By their works you shall know them”. Dress consistently with a profession of godliness. Dress reflecting good works so as to show a meek and quiet spirit.
What should be pre-eminent in our mind in how we dress? Is it how do we look? Is it in fashion? In the believer it should be “is it modest, is it humble, is it sane, does it show a meek and quiet spirit or does it show a proud and noisy spirit. “look at me” Does it project visibly godliness and good works or innuendo? What does your dress visibly promote? Godliness or worldliness. According to 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter our dress should promote and reflect godliness visibly.
There are not many books that address this subject but they will almost always say that you do not have to dress “dowdy” By that what they mean is, what the world means by dowdy: which is “not in fashion” “very plain, a bit dull” In the light of that, where does it say in the bible you have to dress “dowdy?” No where. “dowdy” according to Noah Websters 1828 dictionary means “awkward, ill-dressed, inelegant” it does not mean plain or dull.
True Christian women usually put on their best clothes to come to church, they do not dress “dowdy” as the world thinks dowdy means.
Women’s dress has to be decidedly modest and distinctive in its femininity. The world being what it is, woe unto her through whom stumbling comes.
Link to full sermon, which is much more detailed on this subject: