Biblical Principles of Dress for Christian Ladies & Gentlemen

Pastor Robert Hammond

At Long Hill Baptist Church we take care to avoid imposing unnecessary rules upon members.  That said we must not ignore the fact that the Bible teaches principles that govern our conduct.  In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul teaches church members to “….put off concerning the former conversation (conduct) …. and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  There, the LORD calls believers to take up new, Godly standards of behavior.  One such standard involves our dress. 

In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul urged Timothy to teach that “…women adorn themselves in modest apparel…”  Here, we see that the LORD cares about how we dress.   Therefore, this is a topic that must not be ignored.   Individuals and families desiring to obey the LORD must consider what the Bible teaches regarding modest dress. 

Consider three Biblical principles that should guide our dress:

1. It is important to dress in a way that minimizes temptation for others.  In Matthew 5:28, Jesus warns, “… That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  Lust is not a small sin; Jesus equates it with adultery.  Believers need to understand that immodest dress frequently causes others to lust, i.e. to sin. In 1 Corinthians 8:9, we’re urged to avoid becoming “a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” And in 1 John 2:10, the Bible commands,  "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him."  Christians are called to take every reasonable step to avoid causing a fellow-believer to stumble in his or her walk with Christ.

Instead, the Bible repeatedly implores us to love one another.  In 1 John 4:11, we read, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”  True love involves action.  One way that a believer may choose to demonstrate love is to avoid dressing in a manner that encourages lust!

Application:  Demonstrate love by avoiding clothing that draws attention to one’s figure.  Avoid clothing that is tight-fitting or revealing.  Ladies should avoid short skirts / dresses and tops that are low-cut or sleeveless.  “If you’re going to err, err on the side of caution!”

 2. The Bible teaches that our attire should be distinct to our gender. In Deuteronomy 22:5, we read, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment…” Our culture continues to fight an all-out-war against this Biblical principal.  But God desires a clear distinction!

Application:  Christian ladies and gentlemen should dress in a manner that is as distinct to their gender as possible.  Men should avoid clothing that is feminine.  I encourage ladies to wear modest dresses or skirts.  I specifically discourage ladies from wearing pants / slacks or shorts. 

3. There’s a Biblical reason for ladies to wear longer dresses / skirts. You may be surprised to learn that the Bible defines a bare thigh as nakedness! (Isa. 47:2- 3). However, that is God’s perspective. As such, I encourage ladies to wear dresses or skirts that are no shorter than knee-length when seated.

Is there a simple approach to dress that honors Biblical principles?  Yes!

Gentlemen may honor Scripture by choosing clothing that is neat and modest. Avoid clothing that is either feminine or that projects an immodest, rebellious or worldly appearance.  Avoid shorts that do not cover the thigh.  

Ladies may honor Scripture by wearing modest skirts or dresses that cover the knee when seated. They should avoid low-cut necklines or any tight-fitting attire. 

Parents:  Please teach your children and teens to observe these Biblical principles (Deut. 6:7).

This article is intended to be a help and encouragement.  If you have questions or concerns, please see the pastor.