Is There a Biblical Dress Code?

A Daily Little Lesson

Read the transcript of this video below.

We’re going to continue with a previous Little Lesson’s topic, where we discussed a question that’s been sent to us numerous times about whether or not it’s okay for women to wear makeup. You might want to see that Little Lesson first.

Woman wondering about clothes - Is there a biblical dress code?

I want to go a little further today and talk about proper dress. And in our previous Little Lesson I did point out the widely known and acknowledged fact that God made men to be attracted to women. Men are very visually oriented, and they can recognize beauty in form and in face, and women that are unmarried who are hoping to attract a husband naturally, naturally think about, “How I can be attractive? And not just in my character, because a guy is not just going to marry my character. They’re going to marry me, the total me.”

Are There Biblical Dress Standards for Women?

So what about dress standards? There are groups that kind of have a uniform code, particularly for the women. And women often think that this is unfair, and I guess it is, but it’s a biological fact that men are different than women, right? And they’re different in a lot of ways. For that reason, this is why Scripture has more to say about women’s dress than it does men’s dress, because men are sexual creatures who are designed by God to be attracted sexually to a woman’s form.

I’m just keeping it unspecific and fairly general here, but you can fill in the blanks. Men like to look at women. And dear wives, can I just share with you that there are a million prostitutes trying to get the attention of your husband? When I say that, I hope you understand what I’m saying.

Bombarded With Sexual Imagery

Within advertising and out in public because of immodest fashion, and at the beach, and you name it, men are bombarded with sexual imagery all the time.

The women that are participating in that, they obviously know what they’re doing. They’re, in essence, prostitutes. They’re probably doing it in advertising, of course, to gain money, and in other scenarios doing it to gain money just like a prostitute, not necessarily engaging in sexual activity, but heading in that direction. They’re in that group, you see?

So men are bombarded all the time, and so it’s wise for wives to be aware of that and, like the bible says, not defraud (see 1 Corinthians 7:5). Both husbands and wives, don’t defraud one another of conjugal rights and everything that goes along with that. Okay?

Maybe I’ll do a Little Lesson specifically on that topic at some point in time, but here’s something in the scriptures that gives some guidance as far as women’s dress, and it doesn’t set dress lengths or name certain garments and so forth. It’s general. Everybody has to kind of interpret it the way that they best can, and it is different from culture to culture, may I add, and I might explain that if I get time.

Scripture’s Guidance on How Women Should Dress

Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, “I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing,” and so there must have been at that time what Paul considered to be improper clothing. He goes on to quickly specifically define what’s proper: “modestly and discreetly.” The very first word is “modestly.” And so there is the key word, modesty.

Now, it is my opinion that that does vary from culture to culture. Our culture that I live in is so immodest that it’s unbelievably immodest. Women parade around half naked in public, and so a less modest woman who might be immodest by biblical standards could be, in a sense (don’t be writing me evil letters about this), considered to be modest within the context of our culture because no one is looking at her.

Because, yeah, you can see a bit of a form under her clothing, but she’s not exposing her flesh for the world to see. Okay? The more modest, the better, but I don’t necessarily think that we should expect women to be wearing a certain garb that’s just like a bed sheet with a hole in it thrown over them.

The Bible does speak about Rachel being beautiful in form and face (see Genesis 29:17), so there must have been some form coming through there. Okay? (Please don’t write me any hate mail!)

The Most Important Thing Scripture Emphasizes

Paul goes on to say after “modestly and discreetly,” “not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” See, Paul is focusing on the character issues here.

Be beautiful in your character, in your internal person, “as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” So I don’t think that Paul is outlawing braiding of hair or wearing jewelry to some degree.

He’s saying “costly garments.” You don’t want to be wasting your money on clothes unnecessarily because you could laying up treasure in heaven with that same money, so it’s quite vain to be spending lots and lots of money on your clothing.

A Possible Explanation

My understanding is back in that day it was customary for wealthy women to have these intricate braids that would take hours and hours to weave, and there’d be pearls and gold woven in, so these elaborate hairdos that would take hours and hours and hours to get the finished product. Okay?

If I’m wrong about that, I’m wrong about that, but I just can’t see the harm in a woman clipping or putting earrings or some kind of jewelry on to try to make herself more attractive if that’s what her husband wants, assuming she’s a married woman. Okay?

And as long as those things are not costly. Peter also wrote about this:

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-4

So there’s the call once again for making sure the hidden person is beautiful, more so than the external person. But this does not mean that just because you made yourself as ugly and unattractive as you possibly can that you’ve got a beautiful, inward person. Don’t try to fool yourself in that as some people do, okay?

All right. I guess that’s enough said. Thank you so much for joining me. I ask your forgiveness for any offense that I’ve caused in this Little Lesson! God bless you.