A Father’s View on Modesty
by Kent Keller
Parenting is hard work!
Godly parents help their teens overcome many issues that Scripture clearly considers wrong, such as immorality, lying, evil influences, and substance abuse. Then there are issues such as modesty where the line between right and wrong is not so clear.
The Bible teaches that women should be modest (1 Timothy 2:9), but what exactly is modesty? What causes the outward manifestations of immodesty? Are your daughter’s clothing choices a fashion statement or sin? How do you wisely explain the awkward topic of a guy’s temptation to lust?
A father can help his daughter to be modest in several ways. You can teach her what modesty is and how guys think about immodesty. You can guide her to examine her motives in order to avoid licentiousness or legalism. You can explain the issues related to immodesty, such as sensuality, shame, and seduction.
It’s important to define modesty biblically. In our book, Modesty: More Than a Change of Clothes (P&R, 2015), Martha Peace and I describe modesty as “an inner attitude of the heart motivated by a love for God that seeks His glory through purity and humility; it often reveals itself in words, actions, expressions, and clothes.” An accurate definition of modesty makes the goal much clearer.
As with all spiritual issues, the problem’s source is the “heart” (Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:20-23). This is the control center of one’s inner being, the source of motives, thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and will. Your daughter will be modest only when her heart is modest, so her biggest need is to receive the gospel, which cleanses the heart from sin. Then, out of gratitude for God’s grace, she should wisely and wholeheartedly pursue modesty.
How can your daughter dress in a way that honors God? Have her think about the acronym JOY: Jesus, Others, You. As she dresses each day, she should begin by considering what honors Jesus. Do her clothes seek to bring glory to His name? Next, she should consider others (her parents, church family, and all who see her). Does she seek to draw attention to herself or to point others to Christ? Finally, once she is honoring Jesus and others, she has freedom to choose the clothes she likes. Getting these steps in the right order is crucial to pursuing godly choices.
Modesty is a complex challenge for fathers who want to help their daughters. But God’s Word is sufficient, and you can make a positive difference by talking to your daughter sensitively and biblically. Fathers will give an account to God for how they shepherd their families. Are you up for the task?
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