In Part 1 of this series (which you can read here), I discussed the fact that modesty as the Bible defines it is quite different from the way that we Christians define it today. Even though it is still true that there are no rules in the Bible about bikinis, shorts, or spaghetti straps, we shouldn’t throw out all rules about clothing. Yes, modesty is all about wanting to draw attention to ourselves instead of God. And yet, how we feel about the clothes isn’t all that matters here.
Wearing clothing or not wearing clothing isn’t good or bad in and of itself. After all, you have to take off the clothes to make the babies, and that’s not wrong. In the context of marriage, of course. And that’s the point: many actions are good or bad because of context, not because they themselves are inherently good or bad. Paul addressed this concept in 1 Corinthians 8. Some believers who were spiritually stronger than others were eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul admits that there is nothing inherently wrong with this. Idols are nothing, after all. Other believers, however, because of their former association with others, still viewed it as a sin, and they were stumbling when they ate because their conscience counted the action a sin. Paul concludes with these statements:
Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:12-13)
Your heart matters, but other people’s hearts matter as well. If you do something that you know or that you think might cause another person to sin, then you are sinning. We are primarily social beings, and every decision you make, big or small affects someone else in some way. Obviously, you can’t control the way people see you. You can’t control what guys are going to think about you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care. I’m by no means perfect, but I’d like to live a life in which I did everything I could to help the people around me live the holiest lives possible. If that means layering tank tops under low-cut shirts, so be it. It won’t kill me. It won’t kill you either.
Appearance matters. God may know the inside, but often, each other’s outsides are all that we have to go on. You may have all the best intentions, but if you don’t dress appropriately, don’t expect guys to be thinking about how pure your intentions are. Have intentions. Don’t live your own life unexamined. Dress intentionally. Live as if people are watching you, because they are.