The practice of immodesty is a form of modern American idolatry. However, it is so ingrained in our culture that we may not realize the spiritual ramifications of immodesty. Typically when I think of immodesty I think of issues regarding a “fabric to skin ratio” (if you know what I mean), but strictly speaking immodesty is having or showing an inflated opinion of oneself. With this concept in mind, it is easy to see that immodesty is not standard practice for the blood-bought, spirit-filled lover of Jesus. Obviously, the Biblical call for all believers is a call to modesty, lowliness of mind, and humility. But to say that immodesty is a form of idolatry? I mean isn’t that a little extreme?
I don’t think it’s over the top to say that immodesty is a form of idolatry. After all, idolatry- in its most distilled form- is nothing more than image worship; and through the medium of immodesty, the image being worshipped is self. The flashy ‘showing off’ of our possessions, the excessive efforts we make to look hot, and our obsession with beauty are all the daily sacrifices that we make at the altar of self-importance. Of course, we don’t call these practices sacrificial worship- we call them self-esteem, having a good self-image, and loving ourselves; all three of which are standard American ideals. None the less, whether we call our life-styles of immodesty self-worship or self-esteem, we reveal an attitude of excessive and unbiblical self-preoccupation.
It is likely that some people reading this do not agree with me. I mean, is it really morally wrong to have a good self-esteem? Well, obviously not- if our self-esteem is based on our union with Christ and rooted in our submission to the Gospel. But more practically speaking, is it wrong to like leopard prints, sequins, high-heels, and hoop earrings? Or, is ‘big hair’ ungodly? No, these things are not intrinsically wrong. We know this because the Lord Himself created the leopard with his spots and the lion with his fearsome golden mane. And we also know that ear-piercing is used in the Bible to symbolize the love that a bond-servant can have for his master; i.e., the love that believers have for God (Exodus 25:6). I totally understand why some people would not agree with me, why they think that I was a little over the top to say that immodesty is idolatrous. But, I would challenge those who do disagree with me, to think about the practice of immodesty in terms of motive, not so much in terms of manifestation. Perhaps then, they will see what I mean when I say that immodesty is a form of idolatry.
What makes immodesty idolatrous is our desire to turn the eyes of man, to gain the approval and affections of people, to divert the attention of our fellow creatures from God- to ourselves. Bottom line: what makes immodesty so bad is our obsession with our own glory; our passion for receiving praise for ourselves. As followers of Christ we are called to flee idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), this includes self-worship. We are called to hate even the clothes that are stained by the corrupted flesh (Jude 1:23); we are called to “…flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Believers are commanded to do all things for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are called to humble ourselves; we are called to practice modesty (1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 3:8, 5:6; James 4:10). Therefore, let us flee the idolatry of immodesty and, let us remember the exhortation of Scripture, which says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20).
Later this week on the topic of Immodesty:
Wednesday Jackie’s Testimony: The Wonder Working Power of the Blood. One woman shares her story of the power of God to deliver her from her soul-destroying addiction to “getting the attention of others” by dressing and living with intentional immodestly.
Thursday A compilation of web-based resources that can be helpful in destroying the idolatry of immodesty in our own lives.
Friday My review of a helpful resource regarding modesty and purity of appearance.
Saturday The Charity of Chastity: How practicing modesty and chastity in our appearance is a way to fulfill the royal law of love.