Why Do So Many ‘Born-Again, Spirit-Filled’ Women Show Off Cleavage in Church?

“I know I’m inappropriate, but I’m trying to save time. I know I’m in the wrong. My mother would not approve. But would it be better that I not come?” Those were the words of a 30-year-old woman entering church in Maryland wearing a revealing tank top and tight pants.

God bless her, but that’s in the same spirit as saying, “I know it’s inappropriate to cuss in church, but I can’t think of any better way to say it,” or, “I know it’s inappropriate to smoke during praise and worship, but I didn’t have time to finish my Marlboro on the way here.”

Some women—and I am talking about so-called “mature believers,” not lost souls or baby Christians—come into God’s sanctuary on Sunday morning wearing clothes you might rather expect to see them wearing at a dance club on Saturday night. Their blouses cling to their bodies, their necklines dip so low and stretch so wide that they reveal cleavage, and the slits up the sides of their skirts offer more than an innocent glimpse of their thighs. Again, I’m not talking about sinners seeking God or new believers who plain don’t know better. I’m talking about those who claim to be “born-again, baptized, blood-bought” (even tongue-talking) members of the church!

Paul instructed Timothy that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation” (1 Tim. 2:9), and he told the church at Corinth that “our unpresentable parts have greater modesty” (1 Cor. 12:23). Regardless of how hot it is outside or how busy we are, there’s no justification for Spirit-filled women to come to church wearing clothes that cause some men to pay more attention to the things of the flesh than the things of the Spirit.

But rather than repenting, some of these progressive women are lashing out against campaigns like Modest Is Hottest, calling it sexist. In her critique of Modest Is Hottest, Sharon Hodde Miller, a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, argues, “A woman’s breasts and buttocks and thighs all proclaim the glory of the Lord.” Maybe, but I somehow doubt Jesus intended for this aspect of His glory to manifest in church.

Worship artist Jaime Jamgochian launched Modest Is Hottest to reach out to teen girls with the love of Christ. She says, “I feel like there’s always more to it when a girl is dressed inappropriately than ‘I just want to look cute.’”

I agree—and the same goes for older women who call Jesus Lord. I’m not suggesting that women subscribe to the Holiness Movement’s guidelines for women’s clothing and makeup. No, I’m not suggesting religious rules and regulations. But I don’t think Christian women should dress like the worldly women in church or anywhere else. It’s not about a shame-based approach to modesty that Miller opines about in her column. It’s about self-respect—and respect for others.

“I love what Jaime is doing; she is right on: Modest is hottest! I think this is such a good message to convey. Jaime is not being sexist but rather sharing that as beautiful women of God we can look so gorgeous without being revealing,” says Alyssa Shull, a youth pastor at Words of Life in North Miami and founder of The Pink Lid, a conference designed for girls between the ages of 12-18 where beauty and purity are key themes.

“You are respecting yourself and those around you when you are modest,” Shull says. “Lust is very prevalent in our culture, but Jesus says in Matthew 5:28, even if you look at a woman with lust in your eyes it is adultery. So I believe that women can do their part and display themselves in a beautiful way without promoting lust. You can be stylish and modest!”

I agree with Shull and, as the mother of a 16-year-old girl, appreciate what she and Jamgochian are doing for young teens. I got more than 100 comments on my Facebook page in less than two hours this morning when I asked, “What’s your view on women coming to church in skimpy tank tops and tight pants? Shouldn’t we come to church dressed modestly?” In a testament to the division in the body of Christ, quite a number of them were offended that I asked the question and accused me of having a judgmental spirit for suggesting that it’s inappropriate to dress immodestly in church.

Again, it’s not about the sinner coming in to look for Jesus or the baby Christian still shaking off the dust of the world. We’re talking about tongue-talking women wearing clothes so tight they may as well have been spray-painted on and cleveage falling out of their blouses. That’s why Facebook comments like this one trouble me: “Get to where God sees and don’t worry about the wardrobe of another person unless you are inclined to buying them new clothes to wear.” And this one: “Even if they aren’t lost, they have an identity issue. Who are we to judge?”

If we can “judge” that they have an identity issue, can’t we judge that they shouldn’t be showing cleavage in church? And it’s not our responsibility to buy a woman new clothes just because she’s wearing seductive garb to church. But it is our responsibility to speak the truth in love to those who may not know better and to lead by example. In too many ways—including sometimes our wardrobe—Christians have conformed to the world. Paul warned us not to “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2).

It’s not about being the fashion police, and it’s not about condemnation. If the Holy Spirit convicted your heart about the way you dress as you read this, don’t let the devil beat you up. Just buy a few new outfits and keep praising God! It’s about not purposely opening the door to the spirit of immorality. Sure, as one Facebook commenter noted, a woman could wear a burlap sack to church and still find lustful eyes upon her. But does that mean we let it all hang out in the name of liberty? God forbid.

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Categories: Christian Living

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16 replies

  1. “It’s about self-respect—and respect for others.”

    This applies in church and out of church. Mature, elder women should address the matter of modesty should it be necessary, especially speaking to those who are in ministry so that they would provide good examples for other women. In our church a worship leader, exposing cleavage with a very low cut dress was spoken to because it was all hanging out in front of the men sitting in the first row. She was brought under such conviction of the Holy Spirit that she is now always modest and dresses with good taste. If you really love the Lord, holiness and purity will be uppermost in your mind. But the spirit of the world, rebellion against authority and moral standards is now rampant in many churches, and weak pastors and leaders don’t want to address these issues.

    We need to be careful to distinguish ‘seekers’ and young Christians from those who should ‘know better’ though, and for the latter, I feel sorry for their careless attitudes and dress, for allowing themselves to give place to Satan, the accuser of the brethren.

    • That’s right. In this particular case, the mature women are NOT doing their jobs. Men should never carry out this task, although a pastor could do a sermon on it, addressing everyone. God bless you, shofar.

  2. ….and if we dare to admonish anyone we get an earful of the old, “I’m under grace, not law” deception. So sad. And I personally don’t think quite as many people are going to make it up in the rapture as we are being led to believe. Jesus is coming to take away a pure, spotless, overcoming bride; not a worldly, tainted, self-excusing wannabe bride. Just my thought……….

  3. Good evening 🙂

    I just wanted to give “The Holiness Movement” some fair representation here instead of some wikipedia author’s unattached viewpoint on it. I enjoyed your article.

    I did not grow up in “The Holiness Movement”, but I have chosen those standards as an adult, due to the lifestyle that I left and my convictions on the subject now. My blog post “Personal Guidelines for Modesty” explains WHY I hold to the dress standards that I do.

    http://musingsofaministerswife.com/2011/08/03/personal-guidelines-for-modesty/

    Thank you for speaking out on this subject.

    Melinda Martin

    • I just read your article…very true! And I used to do the same thing. Profess Good and then go around town dressed like a prostitute and act as if it wasn’t intentional..when it was. I had a problem. My self worth was about how many looks I got per day, or how good I looked when I looked into the mirror. I couldn’t see myself as pretty if my legs, butt, and boobs weren’t all hanging out. So, we can all say what we want..but the fact remains.. who are we trying to impress? Ourselves? Men? Other women? Or Jesus? If the answer is the latter…we shouldn’t be causing other women to engage in jealousy and men to lust. When we dress provocatively, we are doing just that…causing others to sin. God bless you! And thanks for sharing! ♥

  4. Not all born again women are. There are spirits that hang on and sexual perversion is a really strong one.

  5. Sorry, not Leah, but Lyn. I’m so embarrassed.

  6. I’m definitely with you on this one, Leah! Neither should men come to God’s house dressed like a Chippendale. It’s just plain disrespectful!

  7. I’m a cantor in church, and you’re too correct, Lyn.

    I like the female form as much as the next guy, but there’s a time and place,
    And church most definitely AIN’T the place.

    Nice post.

    • Thanks, justturnright. I agree. Saw this in Charisma news today and thought, “I don’t see enough of stuff like this posted..” and decided it was worth a post. God bless you.

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 God's call to the world! Are you ready?

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