Not Your Nakedness -- Thoughts on Modesty

When our daughters were young, we trained them not to steal by teaching them what did and didn’t belong to them. “Just because you see it in a store or the church nursery,” we said, “doesn’t mean it belongs to you.” The fruit displays in the produce department were especially tempting to my fruit-loving children. Pyramids of shiny apples, mounds of colorful bananas, and clusters of red and green grapes sat at eye-level as I wheeled them around in the grocery cart. They were oh, so tempting. 

Nakedness is, too. 

Many think the Bible is a stuffy book, dated and obsolete. I beg to differ. Some chapters read like daytime soap operas. They make me squirm. In my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I came upon such a passage in Leviticus 20. 

 “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness.” 

Addressing sexual sin, the primary interpretation of this passage is that a man shouldn’t sleep with his sister-in-law. This is pretty obvious. What caught my eye, though, was a subtlety: “. . . He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness.” 

His brother’s nakedness? If a man is sleeping with this woman, shouldn’t it read “He has uncovered her nakedness”?

God chose this wording for a reason, and we would do well to ponder it. 

Sleeping together notwithstanding, when someone gazes upon the nakedness of another, they steal what belongs to someone else. And when we dress in ways that expose our bodies (shirts that show cleavage, shorts and skirts that leave little to the imagination, bathing suits that make our underwear look modest), we invite people to look at nakedness that doesn’t belong to them. 

If you’re married, your nakedness belongs to your husband. It’s for his eyes and his enjoyment only. 

If you’re single, your nakedness belongs to the Lord, who is your husband (2 Cor. 11:2). 

When we dress in ways that aren’t modest, we invite others to steal what doesn’t belong to them. And while all believers have a responsibility to guard their eyes, we can help them by making wise choices about what we wear. 

 So the next time we’re clothes shopping or selecting an outfit, perhaps we should ask ourselves, “Am I choosing clothes that honor my husband and my Lord, or am I inviting someone to steal from them?” 

Because, after all, 

It’s not our nakedness.

Modesty is a controversial topic. What's a Christian woman's responsibility? What's a Christian man's? I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Leave a comment below and chime in.

If you'd like to read former Victoria's Secret model Kylie Bisuitti's perspective on modesty, CLICK HERE.


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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. First-time reader here. I'm glad that this is a post on biblical modesty that doesn't use the Christianese phrase of "creating a stumbling block for our brothers in Christ". I'm glad that this post takes a look at modesty that goes deeper than "if you show your shoulders or your knees, you're not pure".

    To be honest, I struggle between saying "amen!" and "omg stop blaming women for the racy thoughts of horny dudes!", but I think it's more complicated than that. Yes, I believe that it is a natural thing for men to be attracted to women, whether they are covered head to toe or not. Attraction is what makes us human, and it is not something we should be slapping people's hands for and saying "no! it's wrong!". But on the other hand, if you're wearing a bikini that ONLY covers your nipples and vagina (sorry to the sensitive people reading this, I'm just using the real words for the real body parts), it is illogical to think that men won't be attracted to those parts.

    The real issue is, do the men act on their thoughts? And the grand majority of these men DON'T. They let the thought pass and continue on their merry way because while sex is a big part of their lives, it's not the ONLY part of their lives. Anyone who tells a woman that when a man sees her thigh he goes home to masturbate to her, only serves to make that woman feel guilty and ashamed of her own body and that should NEVER be the case.

    That leads to the next issue: are we teaching girls to love their bodies and only let their husbands see their nakedness? Or are we teaching women that every body part that is exposed will cause men to stumble and pervert themselves? 'Cause lets be real. A shoulder is NOT a sexual organ, neither is a knee. There is debate about thighs but I think you get the picture.

    I'm interested in the theology and culture of modesty because I see so many bloggers setting rules for their daughters as to what they can and can't wear not because their bodies are sacred, but because their bodies are vessels of lust and sin. I think we would do better to teach our daughters about love, creation, respect, self and Grace.

    To make a short story long (heh), I think your blog post is a refreshing take on modesty. Thank you!

  3. Monica,
    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I can tell you've put a lot of thought into the matter of biblical modesty, and aren't just jumping on the bandwagon and repeating overworked and not-very-well-thought-through arguments.

    We forget sometimes, in our zeal to shepherd our children well, that there are reasons behind the standards God has given us. One of the reasons for biblical modesty is, as you have pointed out, that our bodies are beautiful, sex is beautiful, and both are meant to be enjoyed in their proper and holy contexts.

    Sometimes we're so busy saying "no," that we forget to say "yes" to the fact that God designed our bodies to be attractive and yes, even sensual and sexual, but within the safe and beautiful context of marriage. Once we take sensual and sexual out of God's boundaries, it is then that it gets all snarled up with lust and impurity and sullies something that was meant to be a delight.

    I agree that if we teach our daughters (and our sons) to treat our bodies (and others' bodies) with honor and respect, then we will have given them a great gift. To do otherwise, or to miss this important aspect, can contribute to a distorted perceptions of the value and purpose of our bodies. A woman should never feel ashamed of her body because of its sensuality--God made it that way. How she handles her sensuality, however, is a great responsibility. Secret Keeper is a great resource for sharing with our daughters the power they have in their femininity, and how they should guard, respect, and properly use that power for good and not harm.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, and for visiting my blog. I hope your first visit won't be your last :)

  4. One of the ways in which I seek to honor my husband by the clothes that I wear is that EVERYTHING I purchase is seen by him FIRST, whether in the privacy of our home/bedroom or at the fitting room door, before I ever wear it out in public... I realize that this may sound as though I have a controlling, domineering husband who is intent on keeping me "under his thumb and domination", but NOTHING could be further from the truth. My husband ADORES me and is my biggest encourager and cheerleader. However, I have come to understand (in the past 10 years of marriage) that men and women see clothes (and women) differently and I want my husband to be comfortable with what I'm wearing, even when he's not with me.

    1. Vicki,
      You're right, because our nakedness isn't ours, it's our husband's, he certainly has a say in how we clothe it. If our desire is to honor our husbands, it's certainly appropriate to get his feedback on our clothing choices. This is part of the mutual respect and love we have for each other. Likewise, if my husband was considering wearing something inappropriate, I think he'd want my feedback, too. (I do have to remind him occasionally that t-shirts are not proper attire, lol) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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