It was about a year and a half ago in this space that we examined the Biblical model of modesty. In particular we looked at women’s apparel as it is singled out in I Tim 2:8-10 and found, comparing Scripture to practice, a general disregard for modest dress even among believers. The principle of modesty however is not only for women; it is for men, too.
There is a difficulty in expanding upon this premise because there are no direct Biblical references to what men should wear to be modest. Current church standards can vary between black pants and long sleeved buttoned down shirts in winter and summer to having no standard at all because through Christ we are “free from the law”. But it can seem a bit unfair to the fairer sex when modesty can mean a non-form fitting dress in a world filled with halter tops and slacks, while men just wear shirts and pants like every other man.
If we look closer at I Tim 2:8-10, modest dress is just one of the ways of accomplishing a more important goal, that of being separate from the world. “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (I Cor 6:17) The real issue for men and women is to not look like the world, hence clothing that does not cater to the flesh should be the preferred attire.
But it opens the door to an old conundrum; “How will they believe me about Christ if I don’t look like I’m one of them? They won’t accept me.” But to phrase it another way, how will someone believe the life changing power of Jesus Christ if I still look like them in their unchanged state? Do street witnessers need to go out with six inches of boxer shorts showing above their waistbands in order to testify how God changed their lives? It would be almost like explaining how Christ saved you from being a clown while you are still wearing a green wig and a red, bulbous nose. If the change was so great, where is it?
Just as modest fashions for women are at odds with the styles of the world, the modestly dressed man should be clothed in cleanliness, sobriety, and discipline. I’m not saying that men should wear a suit and tie when plowing the back forty; appropriate attire for the job is right, but we shouldn’t just go around dressing like slobs either. The burden of a modest appearance should not be placed on the women alone. Men, you are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of your homes, so lead by example.
The Bible clearly states that we are to draw a line between the lifestyle of the world and the practice of our faith. Granted, my line might be in a different place than your line, but a Christian needs to be an example to the world that there is another way; for men it may be their appearance, or it may be their deportment. The way a man or woman dresses in public can have that impact. We should remember that when we go out in public we represent a righteous, Holy Savior and the world should notice the difference.