Monday, 23 September 2013

What exactly is modesty?

 “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he had done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable”
-          Romans 12:1
“And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing…”
-          1 Timothy 2:9

I'm learning to become the girl that doesn't believe every “Scripture says…” if I can’t find it and read it for myself or you can’t show me where it says what you’re trying to sell to me, I won’t believe it. So, of course, I'm having a really hard time with the specifics of this modesty thing. I wish the clothing items considered modest were spelled out in the Bible like, “Loosely fitting jeans, slouchy shirts, etc.” but it doesn't.
As a Christian, I KNOW I ought to be modest with my dressing but I ask myself sometimes: what does modesty exactly mean?! According to Wikipedia, “modesty is a mode of dress and deportment intended not to encourage sexual attraction in others; actual standards vary widely. In this use, it can be considered inappropriate to reveal certain parts of the body
We know some types of clothing are COMPLETELY OUT OF THE QUESTION no matter what society you’re from but what about the grey areas like shorts, dresses, jeans. In my opinion, there SHOULD be a universal standard for measuring modesty like: “How short can shorts be before they’re considered immodest? How fitting/snug can your jeans be before they’re considered immodest?
I talked to Tokunbo, one of my guy friends, about this a while ago and he said, “Anything that emphasises or draws attention to the crouch area is a no-no, shorts are fine as long as they aren't ridiculously short (amen to Bermuda shorts), short dresses, plunging necklines (of course) encourage sexual attraction but these things vary. What I consider inappropriate probably won’t be what the next guy thinks.” (Para-phrased, words in bracket mine) In other words, actual standards vary widely. But what about BATHING SUITS?! I love the water and it is my desire to NOT lead the innocent guys at the pool to temptation but to be real honest with you, I wear a bikini at the pool because I'm not exactly spoiled for choice at this time. Finding a cute un-frumpy one piece suit has been like finding a blue-eyed Nigerian so I still wear a bikini. I'm not very proud to say. Yes, a certain level of undress is expected at the pool but is it okay for me to wear my bikini?! There are no universal standards but there are a couple of questions I have been mulling over these past few days that I we can ask ourselves no matter the society we are in:
1.       Does this blouse/dress have people constantly staring down my chest?
2.       Will I have to keep tugging down this skirt during my day?
3.       Will this outfit draw unnecessary attention to my curves/cleavage/bottom?
One thing that is pretty much a given is that, as believers, our motive for picking out clothes should never be seduction.

I realise that there are a lot of questions in this post. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers. It was never my intention to write a how-to manual to modesty. I’d love to hear what you think on this topic (ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE A GUY!) What does modesty mean to YOU? And what type of clothing encourages sexual attraction to women for you?

Just a brief side note, I'm on Instagram now and would totally love to connect with you there! If this is your first time on ‘She is out of control’, don’t forget to subscribe to receive weekly thoughts about life, love, faith and books from me. If this isn't your first time, it’s not too late to subscribe. Breathe deep, linger for longer, give thanks and have an amazing week!


  1. Hi ibukun nice topic and interesting one too I for once have wished the bible gives the exact type of clothes we should wear honestly as a guy I think modesty is dressing nicely with no intention of seduction and negative attention from the other sex and for the second question I have a lot but I'll mention a few;too tight skirts,too tight jeans,revealing tops and not to forget the trending one at the moment above the knee skirts.i sincerely think ladies should not help the guys lust rather make themselves beautiful with their dresses and not sexy,guys we should also make a decision not to be attracted sexually to ladies job did we can too. I would love to read the comments of others

    1. Hmmn! Thanks for sharing this. Hope to see others comment on this too :)

  2. 1. Modesty - Simplicity... Neither exuberant or outrageous...
    In keeping with the statement above one would say Modesty is operating within the framework of Holiness.

    2. Intent - for what purpose do you wear what you wear?
    There is a question that begs to be asked at this point. "Who determines what intent is?" I could wear a simple skirt which just kisses the top of my knees and some dude somewhere will still lust after me.

    3. Society - I wonder why fellow ladies would wear tops which expose their cleavages, no one wants to see that...or do they? Even pastors' wives do same. This begs the question is Modesty dependent on prevalent socio-fashion standards?

    I think one must accept that there will always be vagrants who will be seduced by you even if you were clad in steel tops and parade about like a rectangle, with all your curves covered. but that aside i think there are certain areas of the female form that should be covered to avoid all questions of modesty or not.

    1. Breasts and all tissue in that region - the outline of your chest will probably cause more men to fall than your whole mammary gland. the brain processes information like pieces of a puzzle. If you are concerned about modesty at the pool, then

    a. wait till you get your own private pool
    b. look for an all-female pool (this is even ineffective as you can turn on your female 'lesbian' friends)
    c. wear a swimsuit that covers that boob-region adequately

    2. le ass or un bumbum... come'on!!! oh well.. .before i am seen as a deeper-life sister. let me share some thoughts


    1. Oh my heart! I don't know who you are but you pretty much answered my questions on the subject. Thank you for taking out time to share your insight on modesty though I believe you still HAVE a lot more to share. No worries, looking like a "Deeper life" sister won't be such a bad thing, girl! ;)

  3. Hmm...good enough to dare the devil of today...#vices.
    Well, when it comes to certain issues that doesn't suit or favour us we tend to say stuffs like: it's not clearly spelt out in...(bible)...#Hypocrites.
    An example, when it comes to the issue of dressing (the lady can dress sexy and say her intention was not to induce any current through a guy), when we use the road we aren't just cautious of ourselves alone we must also be cautious of the next road user...
    Above all let the bible always be our moderator and not a particular denomination or pastor!
    In conclusion, more power to your elbow, author of this article.

    1. The Bible should always be our moderator. I completely agree!
      Thanks for sharing insight :)

  4. I wrote some thoughts on modesty earlier this year. I definitely take a different approach to the whole issue of modesty. You might disagree, but just wanted to share a different perspective!

    1. Hey Alyssa,

      I love that you took a different approach and you gave real life instances (I think that was very very brave) thank you for helping me look at this whole modesty thing differently. Grateful for a new perspective

  5. I think CS Lewis put it best when it came to modesty. Have you read mere christianity? He really put it best imo ------ "The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of “modesty” (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle. Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes. A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally “modest,” proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste). Some of the language which chaste women used in Shakespeare’s time would have been used in the nineteenth century only by a woman completely abandoned. When people break the rule of propriety current in their own time and place, if they do so in order to excite lust in themselves or others, then they are offending against chastity. But if they break it through ignorance or carelessness they are guilty only of bad manners. When, as often happens, they break it defiantly in order to shock or embarrass others, they are not necessarily being unchaste, but they are being uncharitable: for it is uncharitable to take pleasure in making other people uncomfortable. I do not think that a very strict or fussy standard of propriety is any proof of chastity or any help to it, and I therefore regard the great relaxation and simplifying of the rule which has taken place in my own lifetime as a good thing. At its present stage, however, it has this inconvenience, that people of different ages and different types do not all acknowledge the same standard, and we hardly know where we are. While this confusion lasts I think that old, or old-fashioned, people should be very careful not to assume that young or “emancipated” people are corrupt whenever they are (by the old standard) improper; and, in return, that young people should not call their elders prudes or puritans because they do not easily adopt the new standard. A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems."

    1. Hello Naijawife!

      I have read C.S Lewis' Mere Christianity but I guess I needed to be reminded of the few paragraphs you shared above.I remember reading those words and screaming "AH HA!". Thank you for taking out time to actually share it with me here. I might have to read that book again lol.
      Thanks again!