“Pretty Is As Pretty Does”

All the time I was growing up I wanted to be beautiful. I was impatient to finally be allowed to wear makeup, stylish clothing, and high-heeled shoes. I would go to the mirror – but I would never see the beautiful woman I longed to see. . . Instead, my father and mother kept talking to me about developing a beautiful heart. If I would do this, then everyone would see beauty in my face. Mother would say, “Pretty is as pretty does.” I know she meant that what we DO is more important that how we look – but I still kept checking my mirror, anyway. . . Even though I kept thinking of that mirror, I also listened to my mother and father. What did they teach me? How to live for Jesus. Simple, isn’t it. Just learn to please Jesus.

One of the ways my mother taught me to love Jesus was by the way she dressed, what shesaid and what she did. She remained modestly dressed even within the family home and taught me to do the same in front of my brother and father. What standard did she use to make her decisions? God’s standard, of course! Because she dressed modestly, I wanted to copy her. But when I grew older and wanted to be like the other girls, to feel like I belonged, I began to desire more than my mother was willing to let me do. I now had to make a choice. I had to ask myself some questions: Who has the right to rule my life? Did God make it impossible to obey him? Why not? Do I return His love? Am I thankful for His love? Can I obey him in the way HE wanted me to dress and act?

Young ladies, yes, you have to make a choice in how you dress. Dress is not neutral!

Everyone has a dress code – either because you thought carefully about your choice from a moral, God-driven standpoint, or because you let someone else think for you and you have accepted their choice. You say, never? Hmmm, when you pop into clothing stores, what are you looking for but for “fashion” clothes designed by ungodly men and women whose god is big money. What makes big money? S.E.X! What kind of fashion clothing? To reveal the body! “ One fashion designer (J Pollard) said, “The deliberate concealment of certain parts of the body originated not as a way of discouraging sexual interest, but as a clever device for arousing – covering the body in such a way as to exaggerate and draw attention to the naked body underneath.”

So the real choice over our standards of dress is between man as lawgiver (Sex! Pride! Money!) or God as lawgiver (modest clothing). God has always cared about how women AND men dress (Gen 3:6-11,21). When Adam and Eve sinned they recognized that their naked bodies must be covered, but God had to give them guidance about how much of their bodies must be covered. What God provided we KNOW is modest in His eyes. When we read of God’s design for his priests’ clothing, it can give us even more understanding of modest clothing (Exodus 28:40-42).

1 Timothy 2:9-10
In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel,(well ordered, honourable, respectable, tasteful, presenting themselves as children of God) with propriety (with a sense of shame toward nakedness, thus standing respectfully before God) and moderation (to be of sound mind, thinking
reasonably and rationally), not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

1 Peter 3:3-4
Do not let your adornment be merely outward (misplaced focus, example Isaiah 3:16-24) – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Modesty is not just about clothing. It is an attitude, a way of behaviour and therefore tied together with purity, humility, moderation, propriety, shamefacedness, and reverence. Thus, modesty also includes consideration of how we walk and sit. Notice how the Scriptures describe a prostitute’s walk, Isaiah 3:16.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-6 teach us how we are not to focus on how we might dress ourselves in an expensive, stand out, showy manner, but instead we must focus on our service to God–good works performed with humility. Until we settle this matter of who is going to set the standard of dress in our hearts, we will not allow the Scriptures to teach us to wisely apply the many principles that must guide our choice of dress code.

Yes, modesty is an issue of the heart. And if the heart is true and right with God, it will exercise inner self-government before God, with outward evidence of humility and purity from a genuine love for Christ. People will read your heart by looking at the clothes you wear! Make sure Jesus is shining within you.

We are in a battle against Satan in our culture. The lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16) is one of Satan’s strongest tools. We are bombarded with messages of sexuality - TV, newspapers. magazines, billboards, radio. We can rarely find modest clothing in the shops... All of these things numbs and dulls our senses as to what is appropriate dress.

Young ladies, you are not alone. There are other good young women who are trying to live for Jesus. I know it will take extra effort to consider what you wear and the difficulty you will have in finding modest clothing. It might even cost more if you make your clothing yourself or have it made. Yes, it will be really hard to stand out, to be different, to not be part of the “in” crowd, to not be accepted. But you CAN make the right choice. It is worth going against the crowd. You will be developing true beauty of the heart and you will be a beautiful woman long after your friends have shrivelled up and are looking like old ladies. You are going to be full of life. So pay the price now, and watch how God will bless you with good fruit.


Let us think. Men are created by God to be visually stimulated. The following list of problems has been made by young men who want to encourage you to dress modestly:

1. Tight clothing. If you are wearing jeans that are the exact imprint of your seat, they’re too tight. If you can see each cheek outlined, it’s too tight. If you can’t grab any loose fabric from your chest, your shirt is too tight. (Look in a mirror. Can you see the shape of your breasts? Yes? Then your blouse/sweater is too tight.)

2. Too thin. Thin material is very clingy and reveals too much of the exact shape you are. Men do not need to wonder if you are wearing a bra or not – or waiting to catch you standing in the sunlight. Is it a hot day? What then?

3. Low-cut. If you can even begin to see cleavage, go back to the closet and put on more clothes. Showing even a little makes the guys imagine what is further down.

4. Too short. Can you see your thigh when you sit down? Legs are attractive and men don’t stop there, and mentally take your skirt off. And on the sports field? What then?

5. Midrift showing. Men will imagine their hands going up under your top and reaching downward into your panties.

6. Slits in skirts. Stop and think. Why have the fashion people created the slit? Because the skirt is too tight? Yes, and because the slit moves a man’s eye upward for a sexual thrill. Men cannot help the desire to look at an attractive woman because God has created them to be visually stimulated. What they do with the thought AFTER they look is their responsibility and God holds them accountable (Matthew 5:28; Luke 17:1-2). Why or why would we want to make them struggle with sin? Do we just not care? Is that why women dress so indecently? Do we want to cause another woman’s husband to sin?

Let us help our men, young and old, to make it to heaven! BE that Christian woman you say
you are and LIVE it. If we have any doubts about our choices, we need to examine our
conscience. We can ask ourselves how we would feel if we were standing before a preacher
or president. Imagine that Jesus is sitting beside us. Would He be comfortable with what we
are wearing? (He is there with you, He sees, He knows...)

Scriptures that help us to understand our responsibility to dress modestly:

Genesis 3:6-10 and 3:21 God made clothes for Adam and Eve, but remember they had already put on enough clothing to hide their private parts. God is saying they needed to cover MORE of their bodies.
Exodus 28:42 - God required the priests to wear undergarments when serving God.

Isaiah 47:1-3 God is speaking against wicked Babylon, but notice how God describes a girl who is no longer pure.

Read Isaiah 3:16-24 which is a description that God condemns in women who are concentrating on the outward body instead of their inward heart.

Song of Solomon 4:5 This is a description of sexual suggestion to make the husband want sex with his wife. But if a girl or woman allows her breasts to show (even without the nipple showing) she is enticing ANY man to look and lust after her.

Proverbs 5:18-19 Again, the proverb is speaking of a married man who should desire only his wife – notice what should be exposed ONLY for him.

1 Timothy 2:8-10 Christian women should be concerned with matching their clothing to what is
supposed to rule in their hearts. No one can confuse her with a prostitute (Proverbs 7:10). Paul also encourages Christian women to dress without great show.

“Proper clothing” – well-ordered, honorable, respectable, tasteful.
“Modestly” – behaving reverently
“Discreetly” – to be of sound mind; sane; thinking reasonably and rationally.

1 Peter 3:3-4 What is in your heart decides what you will wear. Titus 2:5 describes what should be in her heart.

Matthew 5:27-28 Any man can be lost eternally because he is enticed by a woman exposing her skin too much. Don’t be the one that causes him to sin (Matthew 18:6-7).

Matthew 5:13-16 When people see you in shorts that ride up your thigh in back or in blouses that dip down into your breasts, they are not being impressed with the light of Christ. When boys and men see the stomach showing they are waiting to see what else they can see – and it isn’t the light of Christ shining in your eye!

Titus 2:3-5 Older women are to be an example to the younger and to teach the younger women to
live pure lives, in reverent behaviour “that the word of God may not be dishonoured.”

Ephesians 4:1 Christians are to walk in a manner worthy of Christ.

Hebrews 12:14 The word “sanctification” speaks of moral purity, set apart as righteous. Verse 15 says this is a command!

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 We are to carefully examine our hearts, our speech, and our actions (which includes the way we dress). We are to avoid even the APPEARANCE of evil. That means if we are behaving so as to get someone to have sexual thoughts by what we wear, we are not walking in holiness.

Galatians 5:19 Dressing immodestly is a work of the flesh and is condemned.

1. Some boys/men will lust no matter what I wear.
a. That may be true, but at least you won’t be the cause.
b. Even if this is true, does that mean you can still wear immodest clothing?

2. If someone lusts after me, that’s their problem not mine. They ought to learn to control their minds.
a. No, it is your problem (Matthew 18:6-7).
b. If you dress in revealing suggestive clothing you are guilty of lasciviousness (Galatians 5:19).

3. It is hot and I dress for comfort in the summer. If that means shorter shorts, lower cut dresses and blouses, and shorter skirts that barely cover what underwear covers then so be it – I have to keep cool!
a. Nothing is wrong with keeping cool as long as we cover ourselves the way God wants us to.
b. Are you willing to throw away God’s standard of decency just to keep cool? Do men and women stop lusting just because it is hot?

4. It is none of your business what I wear!
a. God made it His business. God made parents responsible. God made you responsible to please Him.
b. The fact that I love you and want you to go to heaven causes me to talk with you about what
you are wearing and how it can cause you to miss eternal life.

5. I like the way I look. It makes me feel good. It makes me fit in with the crowd.
a. Notice who you want to please. You are ignoring that God wants you to be pure in heart and
clothing. You are ignoring how you can cause others to sin.
b. Do you like the boys? Then why are you doing them harm?

PARENTS, we are to model a consistent example, Deut 6:5-7. You cannot have a double standard in how you dress and what you teach your girls.

Deut. 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Parents are charged by God to protect their children. Modesty is just ONE area that must be done. We must teach the principle of ownership. Our bodies are not our own (1 Cor 6:19-20). They belong to God. Jesus is Lord over all. You do not belong to this world. God is trusting us to respect our bodies, our beauty and how we use it. It is necessary to constantly train our children from a young age, encouraging right choices right up until they marry. Teach your daughters how to be modest around their dad, around their brothers. It should be a way of life. Make it the normal, natural way to dress, behave ALL the time. Emphasize that they cannot make other girls their standard for dress. The issue of your children’s clothing must not be a bigger issue than their hearts. Help them to recognize that it is pride that will get in the way of choosing appropriate clothing. Young women, we MUST understand the power of our influence on men and how we can destroy their good intentions.

Let us teach and encourage our girls. Nothing hurts a young lady more then to be accused of dressing like a harlot who is trying to seduce a man when she doesn’t realize she is doing so.

Education! – confront the problem before the problem exists. Teach with great regularity and boldness the principles of godly living. Teach by example! Titus 2:3-5,7. Live godly lives before one another and this will accomplish more than a hundred sermons and classes.
Expectation! – We need to EXPECT those who say they are children of God to act like it!
Examination! – It is critical that we “examine everything carefully and prayerfully, lest there be any among us who may fall short of God’s gracious gift of salvation” (Hebrews 12:14-15; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). If one among us is behaving immorally, including provocative apparel, designed to entice lustful thoughts in others, to be something less than walking in holiness – then we owe it to that person, as well as to the congregation, to call them to more responsible behaviour.

Talk! – Reason with Bibles opened when talking to a Christian who is not dressing modestly. Help them to write the meanings of important words in their Bibles and make sure they understand the words. Not only should young people be brought to an awareness of how to dress herself but their parents also need to be educated. If such a talk is done in love, and with God’s Word as the guiding standard, then precious souls can be steered back onto the straight and narrow way of Christ.

The church is the bride of Christ. Let us honour and protect His bride!

By Joanne Beckley

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