What is the appropriate adornment for women of faith?
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. 1 Timothy 2:9,10
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. 1 Peter 3:3,4
With what should we be adorned?
As I understand it, this passage is saying that you should not gain honor by braiding or plaiting your hair, wearing jewelry and costly clothing. Instead we should focus on adorning ourselves with three things:
#1 Modest Apparel (we’ll discuss that a little later)
#2 Shamefacedness and sobriety, hidden man [woman] of the heart which is a meek and quiet spirit
#3 Good works
Is it true that these verses mean we should not wear jewelry or braid our hair?
I remember when one man mentioned that, my father replied; “This verse also says to not let your adorning be the putting on of apparel. Are we going to stop wearing clothing?”
Knowing that there had to be more to the meaning of this verse; I looked up the word adorn in the Greek, to see what the definition was. These were the words I found:
to put in order, arrange, make ready, prepare, to ornament, adore, and then it said: “metaph. (metaphor) to embellish with honour, gain honour.”
I think that the word adorn (in this context) could be defined as gaining honor.
What does shamefacedness and sobriety mean?
Shamefacedness: a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect.
Sobriety: soundness of mind, self control.
Today, when we think of the word shame, we think of someone’s reaction when they have done something wrong and have been corrected for it. I do not think it has the same meaning in this verse. Even though it seems almost redundant to substitute the word modesty for shamefacedness, I think it is appropriate, because we must be modest inwardly as well as outwardly. We must be self controlled and have a sound mind. The definition of modesty is: orderly, good behavior.
We should be humble, meek and quiet. A loud voice does not gain honor. Most of us do not appreciate listening to someone (especially a woman) speaking in a loud tone. When we think of a loud voice, we usually think of it being harsh too. Words spoken by a gentle voice, in a soft tone, will be respected.
We need to have sound minds. While it is a good thing to be joyful, being out of control and silly is not very honorable. We should be full of joy (Proverbs 17:22), but we also need to have self control. Having modest attitudes will affect our ideas about modest apparel.
With what type of good works should we adorn ourselves?
There are quite a few definitions for those two words, but it could be summed up by saying;
“Be useful and joyful in your work, business, occupation, undertaking, etc.”
As daughters and sisters (especially those of us in larger families), we have plenty of opportunities to practice this! I, for one, am guilty of not being as helpful as I could or should be. My mother often tells us that we are missing out on a blessing whenever we do not have a good attitude about being helpful!
I have been trying to think about practical ways to be more helpful. Most of the time in our home, the best way to help is to look around and see what needs to be done. Is the bookshelf a mess? Does the kitchen floor need to be swept? Do dishes need to be put away? Does the laundry need to be hung out? Is my little brother (or sister) asking me to read a story?
The list could go on and on. Again, this subject is not my strength; indeed it is one of my weaknesses (ask my mother!). I have sometimes wondered if it is hypocritical to teach on something that I have a hard time doing. I hope not; I think it is right for us to encourage each other even if we struggle with the issue we are discussing. After all, if we wait until we are perfect to open our mouths; we are going to be waiting a long time! Anyway, that is another way to gain honor – we are to be happy helpers.
We have covered two of our objectives: shamefacedness and sobriety, and good works. The last one is modest apparel, and this is one topic that is difficult to tackle!
What types of clothing are modest or immodest?
I believe that very few (if any) of us try to be immodest. If we are truly trying to please the Father, then we usually do not stand in our closet, and say; “I am going to wear this because it is very tight and it makes me look very attractive.” If you do that, then I believe you need to ask the Father for a change of heart and a desire to have a modest spirit.
However I think that in most cases, it is out of ignorance that we may dress immodestly. Or we fall prey to the enemy’s subtle deceptions. I don’t think that we pick out an outfit to wear, choosing it because we know it is immodest, but we may pull our dress ties a little tighter than usual or wear a blouse that is bordering on being too tight and clingy, and try to tell ourselves that is okay.
I have decided against putting a list of immodest clothing types in this article. While I believe that certain clothing types are immodest on all women, and I do have convictions about what I should wear, it’s not my place to decide (or try and tell you) what you should and should not wear. If you truly seek the Father and desire a modest spirit, He will show you what you should wear.
There is an article with which I am familiar called The Sin Of Bathsheba, and I recommend to any woman. It is a long read and while I may not agree with everything the author says, it is definitely food for thought. One of the reasons that I believe it is an important article, is that it is written from a man’s perspective. I’m afraid that we often do not understand how we can be a stumbling block to men by dressing immodestly.
A friend of mine was recently telling me that her mother will talk to her older brothers about their younger sister’s clothing, and if they think it is modest. I think that we may better understand the importance of modesty if we understand the difficulties with which men struggle when women dress immodestly. By wearing tight and revealing clothing, we may think that we are making ourselves look attractive but in reality, we could be causing others to struggle with impure thoughts.
I believe the most important thing is to have a modest spirit or attitude. You can dress in modest clothing all you want but if you are loud and obnoxious, you will not be gaining any honor. On the other hand, if you have a modest spirit or attitude, you will desire to dress modestly. And the crowning touch is good works.
Let’s be modestly-dressed, modest-spirited, happy helpers!!
(This article was originally published in Volume1 Number1/Spring 2008. You can request the entire issue in PDF on this page.)
Possibly sharing at: Mom 2 Mom, The Modest Mom, Mama Moments, The Art of Home-Making Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, Roses Of Inspiration, So Much At Home, A Wise Woman, Raising Homemakers, A Little R&R, Coffee and Conversation, Hearts for Home, Growing in Grace, Imparting Grace, SHINE Blog Hop, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Fridays.