Why type of clothing should a Christian woman wear? Can a woman wear skirts, shorts, t-shirts, etc.? Is it a sin to wear skimpy clothing, short shorts, low cut shirts, or bikinis (swim suits)? What does the Bible say about how women should dress?
What Does the Bible Say About Clothing and How Women Should Dress?
The Bible does not mandate a particular dress code for women. Rather, the Bible simply gives a few guidelines that women should follow in their clothing choices.
First, God clearly indicates his desire for us to hide our nakedness from others, and to dress in a modest way that glorifies God. God helped Adam and Eve hide their nakedness after they sinned against Him in the Garden of Eden.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
God expects us to wear clothing for the main purpose of hiding our nakedness. If we wear clothing that reveals this nakedness, then clothing itself loses its purpose.
God also commanded Moses to give laws concerning viewing other people naked (except for a husband and wife).
The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
So the first point Christian women should keep in mind is modesty. Clothing should not reveal what God has made to be private. In today’s society, this is difficult. Many clothing manufacturers are making the shorts shorter, the skirts skimpier, and the shirt cuts lower. Nevertheless, God’s word stands. Women should try to choose clothing that looks nice, but doesn’t reveal unnecessary skin. A simple test is this: Does my outfit glorify God? Would I wear this outfit to church? Is this modest, or does it reveal a part of my body that should be private? Will men look at me more if I wear this?
A second principle women should consider is that clothing should not be your beauty, but rather, your inner Christian walk should be your beauty. Women should have a spirit of gentleness, and that should be what people notice, not flashy clothes or jewelry:
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.”
1 Peter 3:3-4
likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
1 Timothy 2:9-10
The Bible never mentions wearing skirts, bikinis, short shorts, or low cut shirts by name. However, the same principles would apply to those kinds of apparel as well.
Also, Jesus clearly said that if a man lusts after a woman in his heart, he has committed adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Even though it is not necessarily a woman’s fault if a man lusts after her, by being obedient to God in her clothing choices, a woman can lessen the temptation for men to sin. In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that if he even eats something that causes a brother to sin, he would never eat it again. We Christians should never do anything that causes another to sin, even if it is eating or drinking something that could do so:
Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
1 Corinthians 8:13
In this same way, women should be cautious with their clothing selection so as not to lead a Christian brother into sinful lust or unnecessary temptation.
Conclusion: Women Should Dress to Glorify God
While the Bible doesn’t mandate a particular style of dress, women should glorify God in their apparel. The Bible says women should dress modestly, and avoid flashy clothes. The Bible also warns against revealing nakedness or causing temptation to a brother or sister in Christ. Shirts that reveal cleavage, and shorts that reveal the backside would be an example of clothing that would violate this principle.
Any Christian, man or woman, should glorify God with their clothing, and should have a spirit and attitude that attracts people to Christ–not themselves, for this is the desire of God.