Attached at the very bottom are two video presentations that communicate the importance of modesty for both male and females. Although the titles are generally specific to an aspect of modesty, there are insightful comments on the topic of modesty as a whole. (It’s my own view below that certain appearances of neck and wrist jewellery seem ok, contrary to actual or implied parts of the video(s) ).

The content below is a long-held insight which presents information on the subject of Christian modesty in terms of external appearance. Although I have at times communicated some of the comments ‘publicly’, this is a somewhat more in-depth insight.

The post mentions aspects applicable to both men and women and where relevant focuses on a particular gender. It is not by any means intended to be a comprehensive examination of it but rather it is meant to illuminate some insights that have been gleaned from an examination of the Bible over the years.

Importantly, with some subjects, there are considerations which warrant an examination of whether or not a subject carries eternal implications. This insight here asserts that it does because they concern practices that intrinsically reveal the state of one’s relationship with God as well as whether one more deeply understands the nature of God’s ‘image’ and His expectations for believers.

Therefore, it will be necessary to provide some context to this subject in order to understand the reasons for which the statements in this article are been made.

Firstly, it is commonly expressed by believers that God looks at the heart. This is true of course. However, this truth is often taken to mean that God is almost exclusively concerned about one’s ‘internal’ life and that He doesn’t take external appearance too seriously. This is untrue. Why? Well, the reason is because the ‘exterior’ presentation of believers is actually a deeper reflection of their ‘heart-state’ and attitude towards God and is through such that a believer can be known.

In this regard, the Bible states in 1 Peter 1:15 that believers are to be holy in all they do. That is, believers are to be ‘set apart’ which means they are not to engage in worldly conduct or practices which includes how they ‘appear’ before God both internally and externally. For instance, in 1 Timothy chapter 2, Paul the Apostle writes in the context of exhorting believers of the need for godliness and holiness that believers are to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger or disputing.

In doing so, this can be contrasted to a believer whom in being told to do so reacts with disdain or anger. Thus, one can see that his or her outwardly response is not in keeping with godliness and holiness and also does not represent qualities of the fruit of the Spirit which are seen on the ‘outside’ and which include meekness and goodness and self-control. A principle descriptor of what it means to exhibit godliness is in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 below:

9 ‘women (are to) dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God’.

We see above that Paul the Apostle’s instruction of for instance braided hair and the wearing of gold and expensive clothes as indecent and improper attire are obviously practices that are seen externally. Thus, the wearing of such does not show ‘good deeds’ (v. 10)(Jam 2:26) and self-control (Gal 5:22), and therefore, is inconsistent with a true representation of God in the same way that for instance a person’s improper ‘external’ speech and actions misrepresent the ways of God.

In saying so, it is important to address the scripture in 1 Samuel 16:7 in light of the above observations. In the process of choosing a king for Israel Samuel the prophet has the thought that Jesse’s son Eliab would be chosen by God apparently because of his appearance and height. However, God tells Samuel that He had rejected him and that ‘Man looks at the appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7).

This scripture is taken by many Christians to mean that God is not really or at all concerned with believers’ external appearance, but only one’s heart, or the person on the ‘inside’.  This belief is untrue for it has been misunderstood to think that God ignores one’s appearance in terms of how people attire themselves whereas rather He is expressing in context that in choosing leaders it is the heart that He is looking at.

This also means that even if a person were appropriately attired that God would of course still choose a leader because of the nature of one’s heart. That is, He is not saying that external modesty is not important which but that appearing modestly before Him is also a reflection of one’s own understanding of and approach to decency and propriety (1 Tim 2:9) which is an issue of one’s heart.

Thus, with this being said above, the first thing that needs to be mentioned is that the area of modesty and appropriate appearance is approached upon the biblical principle of what is ‘natural’ in God, and therefore in conformity with His ‘image’ (Gen 1:26). That is, that God has made humans perfectly in His eyes and that the Bible does not permit humans to ‘improve’ on His creation nor distort how His Creation should appear. In Psalm 139:13-14 it states, ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well’.

The Psalmist above expresses his understanding and reverential recognition of the wonder of the creation of human life by God. This intrinsically reveals that God Himself is fully satisfied at what He has made and which the Word finds nothing that reveals an approval or endorsing of anything that is contrary to all of God’s created works and what He has intended for them. Following are examples of what God’s Word reveals and seems to reveal about external appearance.


Upon this basis, we find in Deuteronomy 22:5 that ‘a woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God’.

Briefly, it is important to examine the word ‘pertain’. It means ‘be appropriate, related, or applicable to’ something. Or, in a legal sense, it means ‘to belong to something as a part, appendage, or accessory’.

This definition reveals that for something to pertain or belong to another thing, then the standard for such is set by God and by practical extension through society at large. For instance, society has determined that a dress pertains to women’s clothing, therefore, men cannot wear a dress or other similar female apparel.  Likewise, being that society has largely or collectively accepted rightly that pants or trousers is male clothing, then women cannot wear such. Furthermore, a woman’s dress should be at or near ankle length as this befits the standard of holiness for women in presenting themselves before a holy God at all times without the need to bare their legs and just as it would be inappropriate for men to wore shorts in formal worship settings.

Of course, there are cultures and traditions and nations that wear apparel that appear similar to what the opposite sex would wear. For instance, there are some nations in the Pacific Islands regions where the men’s traditional attire appears similar to a ‘kilt-like’ garment. Though, it should be said that such clothing does not belong or ‘pertain’ to a representation of an accepted women’s “dress-like” apparel like a ‘sarong’ for instance. It strictly pertains to accepted male apparel in the culture of a nation which necessarily makes a distinction between the genders which should at least be taken into consideration.

Importantly, some believers say that in the Bible the men did not wear ‘pants’. That, they wore clothing flowing to the ankles and that also the absence of the word ‘pants’ or ‘trousers’ in it reveals that women are free to wear such. However, the fact that men did not wear ‘pants’ does not change the reality that across societies in those times until now there were and are universally accepted standards where clear differences are recognised between male and female clothing which virtually if not all nations adhere to.

Furthermore, Bible history reveals that men typically wore ‘robe-like’ clothing and women wore ‘dresses or ‘gowns’. This historical truth points to a need for such to continue today and is underpinned by the operative word ‘pertain’ in Deuteronomy 22:5. That is, the word ‘pertain’ is intended by God to convey that society at large is to continue to establish appropriate distinctions between male and female clothing in accordance with what societies determine as ‘moral’ and even ‘godly’ differences between the sexes. And, it should be said that these distinctions have been made for millennia until more recent times where an increasing hostility to God’s Word as well as feminism sought to remove the truths and ideals of scripture in contradiction to godly propriety and the representation of God’s holiness.

Pants and ministry

With that said above, it is obviously not appropriate for a man to wear a dress, or for a woman to wear ‘pants’ while engaged in music ministry and evangelism for instance. The biblical stipulation is that pants should not be worn by women at any time, in public or private, because it is not the ‘natural’ intention of God for women and that importantly the distinction must be made in God between the genders concerning clothing. Again, pants are the accepted apparel for men worldwide.

Therefore, it is important that the argument for the similarity in appearance for both men and women regarding pants and therefore a desire for women to wear them is met with a superior argument. That is, that, God did not intend women to wear male apparel and especially because it is the apparel that almost all men wear and therefore as said there must be a difference made between male and female clothing.

On the subject of how clothes appear, briefly, it is not appropriate for men and women to attire themselves with ripped jeans and other ripped clothing. This is because it is not appropriate for a holy people in Christ who, while, living in the world, are not of the world and therefore do not adopt the world’s ‘appearances’ and lifestyles.

Men and women should not wear tights, specifically in public for the latter and certainly not men at any time. Though, it is appropriate for a woman to wear such with a dress overlay for whatever reasons including cold weather. It is not appropriate for women to wear shorts or apparel that resembles shorts irrespective of the material, style or appearance of it.

Both sexes should not wear revealing or tight clothing which has the effect of revealing the body in an inappropriate way. This includes tight pants and jeans for men.

Men and women should not wear short-sleeve tops and t-shirts when leading public worship in formal settings. This is because there is a need to represent the holy nature of God in appearing before Him in such an intimate practice where both the ‘worshipper’ and others present are cognisant of the reverence offered to a holy God and therefore worship leaders should not be casually attired in this way.

The section below continues on modesty with a mixture of appearances that the Bible in different ways prohibits men and women from adopting. This is because Christians are a holy and distinct people and are to be seen as such both privately and publicly.


Women, and men for that matter, are not permitted to wear high heels, or any unreasonably raised footwear, as it unnaturally changes the height of a person which is different from how they were created.

Men and women should not wear sandals or open-toe shoe apparel when engaged in public worship. The entire foot area should be covered. People should not worship barefoot in a public setting unless the doing of it is led by the Holy Spirit.

Along with the above, male and female music ministers should not wear classic sneakers or ‘joggers’ on a ‘worship’ platform or at an arranged meeting. This is because it is too casual in appearance in a corporate setting for the purpose of intimate worship of a holy God. In saying this, if a person happens to be wearing sneakers in an environment where worship occurs incidentally then it is reasonable that in such circumstances one may not be in a position to correct the situation.


The Bible’s implication is that men and women are not permitted to wear makeup as this represents a change in the ‘naturalness’ of how a person is made by God. That is, by wearing makeup, people are saying that I need to do better than what God has made me to be which can even reveal a substantial change in appearance.

It is noteworthy that make-up in the Bible has an ungodly first association, namely with Jezebel the queen. In 2 Kings 9:30, the Word says that she put make-up on her eyes in meeting King Jehu. The Bible refers to her as a seducer and in the other mentions painting of the eyes is used in the context of a woman with a rebellious, seductive and deceptive nature.

The Bible states that ‘rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft’ (1 Sam 15:23). Though, the fact that eye-painting has rebellion connotations does not mean that a person who wears make-up without rebellious intent is exempted from being regarded as rebellious in the eyes of God. The truth is that the wearing of make-up can change the appearance of the face in a significant way and constitutes an act of defiance to God’s standard in terms of how He made humans and therefore it is an act of rebellion.

As such, the association of the first recording of make-up in the Bible with Jezebel says a lot about how it is not God’s intention that people would wear it if not only that it is not natural in God. This is the same for any addition to or promotion of any part of the body such as lip fillers, breast implants, unnecessary plastic and cosmetic surgery, and skin bleaching to name just a few things that God is not pleased with.

With that said, there is an important thing to note which is relevant in addressing this subject. While make-up is regarded as something that the Bible holds in a ‘bad light’, it may seem that, perhaps, to my understanding, this does not mean that a person can never apply a product on one’s face for instance.

This is for instance to cover genuinely ‘unsightly’ areas or things like lasting blemishes from scars, accidents, medical conditions or stitches for example which may require corrective or restorative or cosmetic applications to the skin and promote dignity for a person. This is particularly if the ‘blemishes’ are genuinely embarrassing and by reasonable standards would warrant corrective work which depending on the situation may even require a variety of restorative work from medical specialists. In so doing, such should be appropriately skin-friendly. That is, one must also bear in mind that the skin is an organ and should not be subject to harmful products or substances as well as any that are applied beyond the bare minimum and in places which are unnecessary to receive application.

Assorted apparel and jewellery

According to the Scriptures, people should not wear gold, pearls, or expensive garments. These are not merely ‘advices’ found in the Bible but are disapproved of by God because they distort the image of the believer of Christ whose godly nature is to be identified by inward traits and not by outwardly appearances.

Men and women are not permitted to wear unnatural things such as fake eyelashes, lipstick, rings in the nose, mouth, ear and in other places, nor should they tan their bodies. In regards to earrings, it is clear that it was not God’s original intent that people would cut their skin in order to adorn themselves which remains today.

In saying this, though, it was not an entirely uncommon practice among the Israelites to pierce the ear. In Exodus 21:2-6, God instructed for instance that a bondservant’s ear should be pierced as evidence that he or she willingly decided not to leave their master’s house but to be bonded for life. God made such ‘piercing’ rule which governed such circumstances though it should be said that the requirement to pierce the ear was not originally God’s Will but it was a command that regulated an aspect of servanthood for those who engaged in buying servants which shows its purpose was not decorative or cultural in nature.

The fact that piercing was not God’s Will originally reveals the importance of knowing what God disallows and what He Himself establishes in terms of ‘modesty’ practices that transcend the times under the Old Covenant. As such, it is noteworthy that this understanding is given more emphasis in New Testament times where Christ is the standard of godly living. This reflects the reality that Old Testament regulations are no longer required by the Israelites to follow and that also therefore the fullness of the truth of God is to be adopted through believers embodying their ‘natural’ and pure state as created by God as well as in their general conduct.

The people of God should not wear anklets as it seems that this does not represent an act with any goodly purpose in terms of its position in the body. Humbly, to my mind, it could be that people are permitted to wear simple and inexpensive and inconspicuous bracelets on their wrists though it should be kept at a minimum in terms of quantity. Though, in saying this, I am yet to properly discover whether or not wearing any bracelets is permitted by God. Though, I tend to feel somewhat inclined to think that wearing very minimal and inconspicuous bracelets appears appropriate for both wearer and onlookers.

Concerning neck jewellery, it could seem that the wearing of a simple piece of neck jewellery is acceptable and respectable, as like minimal bracelets. This is my thought up till now. However, again, it should be kept to a bare minimum and not be ostentatious in appearance.

People should not paint their fingernails and toenails as our bodies are not to be painted for fashion or decorative purposes. However, in the case of children who at times have their faces painted for various reasons including amusement, it may seem that doing so appears harmless particularly for a limited amount of time. I personally am not too sure about this at this stage. In any case, in saying so, being that the skin is an organ, great caution should be taken with the substances used due to toxicity and potential harm to the skin. Thus, it is better that, if it is done, it should be with skin-friendly products as with general make-up above and should be very minimal in locations and degree.

I strongly believe that wearing wedding and engagement rings is not necessary nor required, and that the wearing a ring on a particular finger may represent pagan tradition. In saying this, however, I am yet to discover currently whether the tradition of wearing a ring for instance for symbolism is permitted by God. And, if it is, whether He accepts it being on traditionally the fourth finger of the left hand in light of the pagan associations with this. I seek to continue to find out more about it and thus my stated observations here may be expanded upon at some point in the future.

Furthermore, if one does wear a ring, it should not be gold, in keeping with the scriptural prohibition in 1 Peter 3:1-5 and 1 Timothy 2:9-10. In this respect, I do not regard that this admonition to not wear gold and pearls for that matter is merely suggesting that people can wear it so long as they bear an inner disposition of humility and reverence to God.

Rather, I believe that it is a literal prohibition which reveals that it is not God’s Will for people to show such a jewellery colour. This is because on its own it represents greater expense which can easily distort the simplicity of the Salvation message by creating a perception that Salvation leads to money or affluence or that one’s outward appearance is a reflection of their holiness or favour from God.


A man is not to have long hair. A woman is not to have short hair (1 Cor 11:1-16). There is a clear biblical distinction between the genders with respect to hair length and identity in God.

These passages also reveal that the woman’s (long) hair is her ‘covering’ and ‘glory’ and not a cloth which has been sorely misunderstood by many in the Church. The issue of head coverings is examined in more detail in a separate article on this website under the ‘Head Coverings’ category.

Briefly, the appearance of a woman’s hair represents that she has a sign of authority over her head which is man and God. It also reveals this to angels in respect to their role as ministering agents.

Covering her hair with cloth, instead of revealing her hair, shows unwittingly that the woman is covering over her natural glory and submissive representation in God in relation to 1 Corinthians 11:1-3. Furthermore, a cloth covering should not ordinarily be used to shield the use of unnatural ‘hair’ unless there is a cogent reason for doing so.

Men and women should not wear hair braids, attachments, extensions, wigs, grow dreadlocks, and ordinarily should wear their natural hair. Though, I believe that for medical or other credible reasons a person can wear a wig so long as it is synthetic and not human hair and not harmful to the scalp and body at that.

In saying so, it may seem that a wig can be worn by actors and others who are representing roles that necessitate the wearing of such. This, however, should only be done in roles that represent a biblical presentation on subjects or other important situations which appropriately require the wearing of a wig for a certain period of time.

Human hair is dishonourable to God as it uniquely belongs or belonged to another person. Additionally, and in many societies human hair is used in pagan sacrifices to ‘gods’, that is, demons.

Men and women are not permitted to colour their hair as this is a change from the natural colour that God gave them. Therefore, it is a distortion of God’s ‘image’ in that person.

Caps and hats

Caps, hats, ‘beanies’, and other headgear should not be worn by ‘worship’ leaders in public worship. I believe that this is also the case for the congregation.

The reason for this is that God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 11 reveals that the adorning of hair only by males and females means that they are ‘covered’ and therefore there is a need to reveal it before God in representing God’s glory, and, submission to man and because of the angels (1 Cor 11:10) respectively.


Briefly, believers should not be dancing in a worldly way before the Lord, or utilising dance-related worldy themes.

Evangelism and modesty

The practice of evangelism and sharing one’s faith is critical in the life of a Christian. It is of course the Commission that God has given to His people.

Therefore, modesty plays an important role in how the public views and responds to the Gospel and many even base their decision to follow Christ partly by how a believer adorns themselves while sharing their faith. With this in mind, it is important that both men and women attire themselves appropriately and which this writer has increasingly become more desirous over the years to move with such people who share the same belief or think the same.

Thus, in order to strive to facilitate believers honouring God, a mention is made here on a personal note. In those evangelism activities that originate with myself and which involve consulting or planning with others, it is the Will of God that including myself those who are more directly involved should ensure they are properly attired as with all. Thus, in this respect, it should be said that I would reserve the decision to evangelise only with those that seek to be properly attired unless those who are present and are not directly involved in the consultation process are attired in a different manner.

That is, while it is God’s Will for every person to appear modestly, there will at times, if not more often, be believers that for whatever reason do not do so. In such a situation, this will not of course mean that I personally will not evangelise with such. This is because, as above and among other reasons, they may not have been involved in direct consultations and planning and also their presence in the evangelism field may be incidental or they otherwise decided to attend.

Further still, I wish to say that from a personal standpoint I can understand the challenges involved with the issue of attiring oneself in a manner that is fully consistent with the Word of God. This being said, I have a view that relates to the ‘appearance’ practicalities involved in respect to the area of evangelism and modesty. That is, while the area of modesty is important it is hoped at least at the very minimum both men including myself and women would strive to adhere to appropriate clothing attire in terms of the issue of pants earlier stated and hair colour with the latter referring to not presenting in ostentatious colours such as pink, blue and green etc.

Lastly, many believers are unaware or do not believe that immodesty is a Salvation issue, which it is, as with any other sin, in the absence of repentance (Matt 18:3; Heb 10:26-27). And, being that the task of conveying the Gospel is central to the believers’ life, I am increasingly taking the issue of appearance more strictly.

This is because I like all believers must be cognisant of how we appear before God and the world at large. Thus, the need for evangelists and other leadership to model and promote this is made more pressing by the generally greater responsibility and accountability carried by them which must be taken very seriously because of the eternal ramifications involved (1 Cor 6:9-10).