This question from Biblical Gender Roles' article on Christian dress code caught our interest.
Of course, all genders should be free to choose what to wear. I believe (correct me if I am wrong), there are is nothing in the law that suppresses any form of self-expression, dressing included.
There are biblical principles on how every woman should dress according to how it pleases God. It's not a dress code per se, but just guidelines on how to appropriately present yourself in front of others as a child of the Father.
Here is BGR's guide on how to properly dress as a Christian woman.
1. Your physical beauty is symbolic of the spiritual beauty of the Church
Your beauty is symbolic of the beauty of the church.
Psalm 45 which is a messianic prophecy of Christ and the Church says this:
“So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him…The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework…” -Psalm 45:13-14(KJV)
In Ephesians 5, where Paul talks about marriage being symbolic of the relationship of Christ to his Church he writes:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:25-27(KJV)
Just as God wants his Church to be glorious, without spot or wrinkle, and without blemish, so too a woman should keep up her appearance, not only for her husband if she is married, but also out of respect for the symbolism for which God designed her.
So when you as a woman dress, you should accentuate your beauty knowing that your physical beauty, is symbolic of the spiritual beauty of Christ’s Bride, the Church. You dress first and foremost to please God and to show the beauty of his creation – which is you!
2. You should dress appropriately for the occasion
Contrary to the modern meaning of modesty, the Biblical meaning of a woman dressing modestly means that women are to dress “appropriately”. Modesty is such a huge subject, and especially the interpretation of passages such as I Timothy 2:9 that I needed to write an entire separate post on the topic.
In summary though, dressing modestly Biblically speaking does not specifically mean “not dressing in a sexual way”. It means to dress appropriately for the occasion. So while it may be perfectly acceptable for you to wear a bikini to the beach, it would not be appropriate for you to wear a bikini to a job (unless you are a life guard or a model) or to a church service.
3. You should dress in feminine clothing
Someone should be able to look at your clothes wherever you go, and just by your clothing they should be able to tell you are a woman. Yes clothing styles change, but a woman should always look like a woman in her culture (whatever women wear) and a man should look like a man (whatever men wear).
“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” -Deuteronomy 22:5 (KJV)
This passage from Deuteronomy does not forbid a woman from wearing pants (yes there are some Christians who still teach this). There was a time in our culture and history where pants were strictly the purview of men, and at those times it may have been wrong for a woman to wear pants, especially when there were no pants designed especially for women. But fashions and styles do change, and women have pants now that are made and cut especially for them, and these pants are pants a man would not be caught dead in.
In Roman society, before 200 BC, men and women both wore togas. After 200 BC women began to wear stolas and only prostitutes still wore togas like men. Before 200 BC, when men and women both wore togas, the only difference may have been a colorful belt or the color of the material that would have separated a man from a woman. Even after 200 BC, peasant men and women still both wore tunics for their daily work. Only color variations or belts may have separated them.
This would be exactly the same as men and women both wearing pants today – there is no issue with this as long as the woman’s pants communicate a feminine style as we understand it in our culture.
4. You should dress to please your husband
“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:24 (KJV)
God wants women to submit to their husbands in everything. Everything includes how you dress and how you manage your appearance as well as many other things.
When you are married, you should dress to please your husband. Find out what colors he likes on you, find out what styles he likes and try to wear those types of clothes.
This also means you should dress sexy for your husband in the appropriate circumstances. If you know your husband will be taking you out for a night on the town, why not go pick up some sexy dress to wear for him?
There is nothing wrong with you looking sexy for your husband in the appropriate circumstances, whether that is wearing lingerie for him at home, or wearing a sexy dress for a night on the town, or wearing a sexy bathing suit for a trip to beach. Your body is work of art that God has graciously gifted to your husband, and you should not be hiding your beauty.
5. Don’t be lazy with your appearance
Yes big tee shirts and sweats are more comfortable than wearing attractive clothing. But as a Christian woman your appearance is important to God (see principle #1). If you are married, God has given you to your husband and your appearance should be (and most likely will be) important to him (see principle #4).
As believers, and specifically as a Christian woman, God wants you to do everything you can to the best of your ability. It is one thing if you are sick, or if you are doing some work around the house then your clothing might not be as attractive. But besides those limited times, a woman has duty to keep up her appearance, not only for God but also for her husband.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord”
Modern Christian women today mock the women of the 1950’s who prided themselves in making themselves pretty before their husbands came home from work – what was wrong with that? This is what God wants from Godly Christian women.
Does this mean you have to have a dress and nylons on each day and go to the beauty salon before your husband gets home? Of course not. But what it means is making sure you have showered, that you have done your hair and maybe you have an attractive pair of jeans on with a nice shirt when you husband gets home.
You should not view this as some dreary task, but it should be looked at as a privilege and honor that is given you by God, your ability to make yourself beautiful!
6. What others think does and does not matter
This is a very important principle for you as a Christian woman to understand.
In some cases it does matter what others think of how you are dressed. If you as a Christian woman wear the wrong clothing for the wrong occasion, it might offend others and also bring shame on Christ if they know you are a Christian.
You can wear a bikini to the beach, but if you wore it to Church others would be offended, and they would be right in being offended, because that is inappropriate attire for Church (see I Timothy 2:9).
But let’s turn the bikini situation around when you go to the beach. If you and your husband are going to the beach and you happen to be wearing a bikini, and there happens to be a family there from church they need to leave that between you and the Lord. The only exception I would say to this is if you were specifically going to the beach with a family whom you knew were opposed to bikinis, then temporarily out of respect you might not wear one in that instance.
You should not be picking dresses out for a night on the town with your husband, with the thought in your mind of “what would this person think or that person from church think if they saw me wearing this with him” – your thoughts should only be of two people, God and your husband.
God is not ashamed of your beauty, your husband is not ashamed of your beauty, and neither should you be ashamed of your beauty.
7. Do not hide your beauty from other men for fear of causing lust
Many Christian women have since the early days of the church dressed with this idea in mind – that they cannot wear nice things for their husband or show their figure as they may cause other men to lust in doing so. If you believe that Church tradition trumps Biblical theology, then I can’t help you. But if you understand that well-meaning men and women (even some Church fathers who came after the Apostles) added a lot of tradition to God’s Word then I can help you.
There is no shame in a woman displaying her beauty, and there is no shame in men appreciating that beauty or even being sexually aroused by that beauty. Before you reject that premise, please read the post I just mentioned. Sin comes with how men handle their sexual arousal, or appreciation of the female form.
If he begins to think of how he can actually get you to go to bed with him (and you are not married) then those have become lustful thoughts, sexually covetous thoughts. But as a Christian woman you don’t have to go around at all time with a sheet over your entire body from head to toe as to not cause men to lust after you.
No scripture ever teaches this concept, it is completely added by the traditions of men.
Know that God wants your best in all areas of your life, and dressing in beautiful ways appropriate to the occasion is what God has called you to. Do not hide the beautiful work of art that God has made, but display it in ways that please both God and your husband.
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