Though, there may be no clear idea as to what modesty actually is, we do learn that it is has something to do with propriety in dress (speech and conduct). She closed her essay by saying (in part), “Modesty made me “fat” because it defined my relationship with my body in terms of appearance. Not action. Not gratitude. Not the joy of movement. Just appearance. It also defined my relationship with men as one of predator and prey.”
From the point of view of Scripture what can be said about modesty? Does it have any connection with appearance? Is it a doctrine that is immoral and, thus, not part of God’s ideal? In brief, let’s address these.
First, the Scripture does have something to say about modesty, and it all begins with one’s approach to the Lord (1 Peter 3:15). The KJV uses the word “modest” only in 1 Timothy 2:9; it comes from a Greek word (kosimos) that means “well-arranged.” The actual Greek word is used one other time and that is in the next chapter (3:2); a man who desires to be an elder must be a male “of good behavior” (NKJV), “orderly” (KJV). The KJV uses the words “modest apparel” in 1 Timothy 2:9, while other translations will read, “suitable apparel with modesty” (NET), “respectable apparel with modesty” (ESV), “dress modestly with decency and propriety” (NIV).
Second, does it have any connection with appearance? As we have seen in the previous paragraph it does. Does the clothing have to meet a certain standard? The only standard that I am aware is that standard that expresses itself in godliness. There is no certain length to a skirt, no certain arrangement to a blouse top, and neither is there an exhortation that a man must wear a shirt. But there is a connection to apparel that has propriety in view, something that is respectable, suitable, and decent. In the end, the individual will have to judge what is best, but they need to do so in accordance with godliness. If one does not use this standard, then the only standard remaining is one’s own. Can one be pleasing to God with such a standard? Moreover, if godliness has its start in the heart, it can’t help but to come out in the appearance.
Third, is the teaching on modesty in Scripture immoral? No, and those who so identify it as such probably do not have a very good standard themselves. Morality has, at its core, the idea and teaching of the very essence of that which is good – God. Thus, the answer to the question is no, and neither is modesty immoral.
The problem is not modesty; it is the person who has taken modesty, coupled with whatever influences there might be in life, and made a particular application and response to it.