If you haven’t read Part 1 of The Beauty of Chastity begin HERE
What is biblical beauty?
Biblical beauty and how it pertains to chastity is often misunderstood. We seem to see one extreme attitude or the other. While one side appears to obsess over outward beauty, vainly (and often carelessly) taking pride in this withering flesh (1 Pet. 1:24), the other side sometimes rejects beauty altogether, attempting to avoid sin through fleshly means (and sometimes taking pride in the attempt).
Have you ever heard the term, “Beauty is as beauty does?” It’s a good saying, but I have a better one: “Beauty is when the beauty’s His.” The beauty of the Lord in us is what makes us beautiful.
“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17, NKJV)
If you are His child, the beauty of the Lord is within you, and it should certainly be evident by the way you treat others and avoid sin; but, it should also be reflected in the way you speak, carry yourself, behave, and, yes, even by the way you dress.
Let’s discuss for a moment the two extreme attitudes. The first extreme is demonstrated by Hillary Hotstuff. She dismisses a woman’s duty to dress modestly (which is included in her call to be chaste) by misconstruing the biblical concept of “Christian Liberty.” But the Bible clearly calls women to:
“Adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety [what is decent and proper] and moderation [self control], not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10, NKJV)
While these verses do not condemn braided hair, gold, pearls, or nice clothing, they do make it clear that a godly woman’s modest heart should be reflected in what she chooses to wear, whether it is her jewelry, her hairstyle, her clothing, or the smile on her face.
Paul was not being “legalistic” or trampling the “Christian Liberty” of women. God’s Word is true and unchanging. And as the foolish young man in Proverbs 7 discovered, there is a type of physical beauty that is not beautiful at all (Prov. 7:22-23).
Although immodesty and nakedness are celebrated like never before in our country, it is nothing new to sinful man. John Bunyan (1628-1688) preached against immodesty in his day as well! Consider his words:
Why are they for going with their…naked shoulders, and paps hanging out like a cow’s bag? Why are they for painting their faces, for stretching out their neck, and for putting of themselves unto all the formalities which proud fancy leads them to?
Is it because they would honor God? Because they would adorn the gospel? Because they would beautify religion, and make sinners to fall in love with their own salvation? No, no, it is rather to please their lusts…
I believe also that Satan has drawn more into the sin of uncleanness by the spangling show of fine clothes, than he could possibly have drawn unto it without them. I wonder what it was that of old was called the attire of a harlot: certainly it could not be more bewitching and tempting than are the garments of many professors this day.
My, wouldn’t John Bunyan be shocked by the “bewitching and tempting” garments of today’s professors?
Notice how “Hillary Hotstuff” justifies her immodesty:
God doesn’t care how I dress. All He cares about is what’s on the inside. It doesn’t matter if I look like a wild girl because God knows I’m not a wild girl. Besides, I have the “Christian Liberty” to do what I want. I’m just wearing what everyone else wears. If a guy lusts, that’s his problem. God knows my heart.
But, does Hillary know her own heart? (Jer. 17:9)
While this next extreme may not draw anyone into sexual sin, the false theology and Gnostic tendencies it promotes may be equally damaging. There is no specific “modest uniform” that is officially “godly.” In fact, you can dress a girl up in a strict “modest uniform,” and she may still display an immodest or sensual heart. Have you ever been to a private girl’s school? Modesty truly is a heart issue; and heart issues are not solved by physical means.
Throughout Christendom, our tastes and styles have and will look very different; but, the commonality should be this: What we wear should point others to Jesus, not to ourselves. And the way we dress should speak honestly of the beauty and purity of Christ.
Fanny McFrump exchanges one form of pride for another:
Beauty equals vanity. To be truly modest (spiritual), I must dress as plain or as frumpy as I possibly can. It proves my dedication to God. People who dress in pretty clothes, or who wear make up, are vain and obviously trying to attract attention. My modesty beats your modesty any day of the week!
If we begin to think that there is one particular style of “modesty” that is more holy than others, or if we think we have outdone someone else by how wonderfully “modest” we are, then we are walking in pride, and we are not modest at all.
Ezekiel 16 is a perfect example of God’s allowance for outward adornment, but at the same time a stern warning against the pride that can accompany feminine beauty. It’s also a reminder of who it is that makes us beautiful:
I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.
Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth…You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:10-14, NKJV), emphasis mine
Did you notice God said, “Which I had bestowed upon you?” The King James Version says, “Which I had put upon thee.” If there were any shame in wearing jewelry or beautiful clothes, God would not have adorned His Bride this way.
But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. (Ezekiel 16:15, NKJV)
There is nothing new under the sun. Throughout the ages, women have failed to trust in the Lord, and have instead “trusted in their own beauty.”
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, making a jingling with their feet… (Isaiah 3:16, NKJV)
But dressing beautifully isn’t the problem—dressing beautifully becomes sinful only when we become lost in our pride and “forget the Lord.” And then it’s not the clothing or the jewelry that’s sinful; it’s our own wicked hearts.
“She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, and went after her lovers; but Me she forgot,” says the Lord.” (Hosea 2:13, NKJV)
The views of both Hillary Hotstuff and Fanny McFrump are in error; and, ironically, neither view is very modest. Both seem to disregard the fact that our outward appearance matters. Biblical beauty (not sensuality) is important, since it reflects the splendor and creativity of God. He could have created the world in drab colors, with a boring, shapeless landscape; but, He didn’t.
God’s creativity and love of beauty is clearly evident in the exquisite masterpiece of all His creation—from the depths of the ocean, to the brilliant stars in the Milky Way. From the amazing microscopic creatures we rarely see, to mankind, whom we can’t help but see. God has created beauty in all of it; and He has chosen to create a world that is far from bland, plain, or predictable.
Join me for Part Three of The Beauty of Chastity, where we examine the term, “It’s what’s inside that counts.” If God sees our hearts, what does it matter what we wear or how we present ourselves to others?
[Please don’t think that anyone you know who, in your opinion, appears to dress plain or frumpy is doing so out of pride. Likewise, someone who is immodestly dressed may not realize what they’re wearing is inappropriate. I have purposely used two extreme examples to make my point. And judging the motives of individuals is not my point!]