Dressing with Dignity
Paul Washer and his wife covered this in the best way I’ve heard yet in a message I watched recently (Recovering Biblical Womanhood). I combined some of the things he talked about with my own thoughts.
In 1 Timothy 2:10, Paul writes women that a woman’s adornment should be her good works, godliness, and her quiet and submissive spirit. He also says they should wear proper clothing (which tells us that there is clothing that is improper for Christian women). The clothing should be modest (literally, it’s “proper clothing with modesty”).
Paul Washer’s wife said:
“If your clothing is a frame for your face, from which the glory of God is to shine, it’s proper if it draws attention to your face. If your clothing draws attention to your body to outline it, make it noticed, then it’s sensual, it’s wrong. It’s not beauty. It’s sensuality. And even though you can’t exactly write down the rules and put it all on paper, when you see it, you know it. There is a difference between beauty and sensuality. And God is not against beauty. He is against sensuality.”
Washer said, “The way a woman carries herself and the way she dresses ought to promote following those types of words: modesty, discretion, wisdom, beauty, elegance, refinement. But not sensuality, luxury, extravagance. There was a time that people dressed for beauty. Now it’s for the sake of lust. It used to be refinement… Seek to find out what this means and go wherever the Lord shows you.”
“There is nothing more attractive than a woman who has this look of wisdom and discretion and nobility and simplicity. Simplicity. There’s just a simple beauty about her.”
Have we as women actually looked at the Scriptures and asked, “What does it look like to be a feminine, beautiful woman with discretion, wisdom, and nobility? How should the daughters of God dress themselves?” It’s a difficult task, you have to be very careful not to put specific rules on something Scripture doesn’t say specifically. You don’t want to end up in bondage or putting rules on yourself that are going to take away something that’s good and fine. It’s honestly about choosing to honor God in the way you dress and exemplifying the heart of a woman who’s life and heart is overtaken with Christ. Use discretion, keep your dignity. Washer shared some great advice:
“Take simplicity, take modesty, take discretion… put within that beauty and elegance. Throw away from it all sensuality, luxury, and extravagance. And try to find, “Where does the Lord want you to be?”
He also assured, “A woman who is not that attractive in her face or body, if you see nobility in her, if you see discretion and wisdom in her clothing, in her way of being, it is attractive. It is pleasant. A noble, virtuous woman, who doesn’t just have it on the inside but it effects the way she dresses, it effects the way she holds herself. You are very special. Very proper, not in the wrong sort of way- but there’s a dignity to you. So don’t allow the world to tell you how to dress, to be sensual. Don’t let people tell you how boys are supposed to treat you- let God tell you.”