Isn’t modesty the guy’s problem?

When I was a young woman, I often dressed immodestly. I wasn’t driven by a desire to draw attention to myself. In my case, my clothes were immodest because I was clueless.

Throughout high school and college I didn’t understand that being modest meant more than covering up your belly button. More importantly, I didn’t understand why modesty mattered because I didn’t have a firm grasp of how my immodest clothing was impacting my Christian brothers.

If you’re a little like me—you don’t understand why modesty matters, you don’t know for sure if your clothing is modest or not, and you don’t fully grasp why what you wear matters to the guys your around—consider this a wake-up call. After reading this post and watching the video below, you will have to face the fact that what you wear matters and that immodesty is truly everyone’s problem.

Sometimes when I speak or write about modesty, girls feed me this line: "I can’t help it if a guy pays attention to me or my body. If my clothes make him stumble, that’s his problem, not mine." If only it were that easy. The reality is God has connected us to our Christian brothers through the body of Christ. In His Word He makes it very clear that if you are doing something that trips up the people around you, you are in the wrong and the responsibility for their struggle rests on your shoulders.

In Romans, Paul offers important advice about how we should relate to each other. He was specifically writing to address the topic of food, but the principles certainly apply to modesty. To help you apply the meat of these passages, I have replaced references to food with references to fashion. Pay close attention to Paul’s words. Ask yourself what these passages reveal about why modesty matters so much.

"Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you [wear], you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your [clothing] destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of [what you wear], but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of [fashion]. All [clothing] is clean, but it is wrong for a person to [wear] anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to [dress to impress others] or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall" (Rom. 14:13–21).

Now that you know that the Bible instructs you to avoid putting a stumbling block in anyone’s path and you’ve heard with your own ears how immodesty impacts your Christian brothers, are you motivated to see the subject of modesty in a new light? Tell me about it.

About Author

Erin Davis

Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

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  • Laura ‘Coates’ Farr

    My husband is a student pastor at our church. Just last night the girls in my small group were making these statements, “if they guy is still going to look why does it matter how I dress?” I believe this is very much a heart issue. I don’t know how to get them to care about modesty when they don’t see it as a problem.

    • What an awesome opportunity you and your husband have to invest eternally in the lives of the girls in your student group! You are totally right – we believe it is a heart issue. Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote the booklet “The Look: Does God Really Care What I Wear?” You can find it at this link:

      She also did a series on Revive Our Hearts on this topic. Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?

      Perhaps you and your husband could use these resources to host a girls’ Bible Study this summer with the girls in your group. Thankyou, Laura, for the way you are concerned more for their hearts than their outward appearance. They are blessed to have you in their lives!

  • Kayla

    What if I dress modestly and guy still struggles? Am I still responsible for causing him to stumble even though I’m dressed modestly?

    • The only person you will be held accountable for when you stand face-to-face with the Lord is yourself. As long as you are dressing modestly, and your heart is right with God, then you are right with the Lord.

      If the young man still struggles and stumbles, then that is between him and the Lord. The guys I know tell me it is a daily battle for them. It’s a battle that God will empower them to fight as long as they turn to Him for that strength.