Modesty for Christian Men

Christian women are so often reminded to be modest –  modest in appearance, behavior and speech. Christian women, especially Plain women, are more visible than their male counterparts. We get the most attention, with our long hems, aprons, headcoverings, lack of make-up and jewelry.  Even Christian women who do not cover are sometimes asked why they dress modestly or always wear skirts. People assume, in today’s world, that everyone wants to be on display as a sexual object.

But Christian men are rarely identified as such by their dress, unless they are consciously dressed in the way of the Old Orders or the Conservative Quakers. Yet this does not free them from modest appearance and behavior.

The Conservative and Anabaptist standard for male attire is simple. Broadfall trousers or respectable plain pants, long-sleeved neutral coloured shirts, suspenders instead of a belt, plain black vest, plain uncollared coat, black plain shoes or boots, black or straw hat, unornamented. Many Plain men wear the Brethren beard – a beard of varying length and fullness, but without the mustache. Hair is cut at collar length, may be brushed back from the front or cut into a high bang. The usual male short hair style is considered worldly and vain, and is called derogatorily “roached” or “shingled.”

Sometimes Plain men will wear denim jeans (without any name brand identification) and denim work jackets. These are useful garments for any modest Christian man, on the understanding that the jeans are not name brand and the jacket does not have patches and emblems.

Name brands are not modest. Designer clothes are not modest. If a person can look upon thee and say, “Giorgio Armani” and that is not thy name, then thee is far too concerned with the world and thy status in it.

This is probably where Christian men fail the most in modesty. They are too concerned with the right kind of clothes, cars, tools, boats – well, the usual worldly things. The Christian man following his Lord has no need to carry someone else’s name with him. He belongs to Christ, not Ralph Lauren or DeWitt Power Tools or Dodge Ram trucks.  Christian men have no reason to prove their worldly success by what they can buy. They are not in the competition. Remember what is said about the rat race: Even the winner is still a rat.

Just as Christian women should not desire to show off their figures and attract the attention of other people, Christian men should be decently clad. Men, this means no tight pants, shorts, tiny spandex swimsuits and muscle-baring shirts.  It means shirts at all times

Quiet colours and sensible footwear are part of modest dress. Athletic wear belongs in the gym or on the ski slope, not on the street. (Of course, one must get to the gym, so that’s another matter. The point is that it has a specific use. To wear it on other occasions is just showing off.)

Modesty of speech may be a big challenge for some men. Men often like to boast amongst other men, or to impress women. It may be overt, it may be subtle. But to keep the conversation  on oneself is not modest. Only God is concerned with thy deeds, and thee should lay these before Him with great humility and probably a certain amount of contrition.

Television and film promote a life for men that seems to involve a lot of time socializing. This social life means a lot of drinking, loud conversation and laughter, and even some fighting. This may be what is promoted in our culture, but it is not a life for a Christian, male or female.  It is a juvenile, hedonistic life, not a life of sobriety and service.

Drunkenness is not modest. It leads to a lack of self-discipline that leads to misbehaviour. We have all met men who can’t keep their mouths shut when drunk and have to tell someone what they really think of him. We’ve all known some guy who finds  women attractive through beer goggles, and makes a pest of himself. We have all heard or seen the tragic results of men who could drive better, even race faster after drinking, and they were really, really wrong. Moderation in drink is required of Christians. Abstinence is required of some who simply cannot handle alcohol in a responsible way.

Sexual talk, either with other men or with women, is not modest. Men sometimes like to boast sexually, and this is a betrayal of their partner. If it is about sex outside marriage, it is an indication of grave sin, and a sinful attitude. The modest Christian man does not stay to listen to this kind of conversation and boasting. He does not keep company with such friends. They will drag him down to their level.

The modest Christian man is loyal to the way his Lord has given him. He does not draw attention to himself in how he dresses, how he talks or how he behaves. He is sober and quiet. He will make himself a fit companion for a modest Christian woman, or fit to keep company with holy men.


7 thoughts on “Modesty for Christian Men

  1. Magdelaina,

    this is yet another topic dealt with in a brilliant, god Inspired, no nonsense way! if more of us, women and men alike, genuinely strove to live by these principles, society would be a safer, saner, and more compassionate place by far. These ways honour the command of Jesus to not only love the Lord our God with all our Heart, soul, mind and strength, but also to love our neighbour as ourselves. Again, peter, through Divine Inspiration, penned the brilliance that is 1 Peter 3. All of it; for both parties, as also did paul, with the ultimate reminder that in the end, we are to submit to one another and together submit before God; putting the other first, in love, humility, obedience (which simply is derived from the root word ‘to listen’). yes, we are the wives of our husbands, but our husbands are under Authority of god and expressly directed to love we their wives as Christ loved the church, even laying down His life for it. Too many moderns and post moderns read these passages and fly over the ‘As Christ loved the church’ section almost without thought. if they stopped to meditate upon it, truly meditate, the authentic beauty of this command would be cause for tears of profound joy and almost unfathamable awe. Over the past forty to fifty years, men and women, Christian or otherwise, have been so conformed to this world in their thoughts, feelings and interpretations that they have turned their backs on God’s Divine plan for us; as His children, as His royal priesthood, as His heirs and brethren, and us to one another, to show compassion, stand up for right, be truly authentic, humble, reverent, allowing the Holy spirit to form us and lead us into a level of godly maturity that is now unknown to the wider community and far too rarely seen within the church. This does not mean being dour, miserable or ‘wousers’ as we’re derogatorily called in Australia, but tender, gentle, with spine, godly humility and purpose to follow Christ’s lead. During His Earthly Mission, He showed a level of forebearance and gentleness with those whom he interacted with though he did not shy away from speaking out when warranted; he ALWAYS called right right and wrong wrong, in tenderness yet in firmness, knowing how to address each circumstance, one situation at a time, one individual at a time.

    may men and women strive to walk the walk of our Saviour, and, in doing so, show civility, respect and selfless regard for others, and, afford ourselves the level of humility and carefulness we as ransomed beings are called to enact.

    Modesty in appearance and attitude is consideration for those around us. For, are we not reminded to allow the outside to be a reflection of the insides that have been renewed by our Lord and Saviour jesus Christ?

    Genuine modesty (firstly of attitude, then reflected outwardly) is mindfulness towards others and in action. it puts others first. It eliminates ostentation (so often used to judge and as a benchmark for others). Peer pressure, especially with young ladies and gentlemen in their most vulnerable adolescent years would be virtually stamped out. the poor child whose parents couldn’t afford the expensive brands, the latest personal technology blah blah would not feel any less because of their percieved status, and, such pressures would be redundant anyway, as funds would be used on what mattered; the necessities for family, and the assistance of those without. Technology, trainers, etc would be merely viewed as what they are, tools for a purpose such as a pencil and paper, a good solid kitchen knife, a long-lasting, well made pair of boots. We would be more inclined to use only what we needed, caring for these items that we might get the most use out of them, prompting those who make, to make with mindful stewardship of their resources at the forefront be it a maker of eelectronics or the local traditional carpentry business who makes simple yet sturdy and long lasting furnishings that are not deliberately proud yet beautiful in the simplicity of practicality and material that is being utilized. This is what Biblical Stewardship is all about; mindfulness; of others, of god’s resources we have been given, not to squander, but use carefully and thankfully, and in relationships, us to God, us to our spouses, families, communities and the wider world; as Ghandi put it, living simply that others may simply live.

    lack of such mindfulness has led to the sorry situation financially that is grinding on all over the world; the frankenstein’s monster of Big finance, Big industry, rampant consumerism and hiddeous globalisation come to life, riding upon the backs of the poor of this world who work in diabolical conditions akin to slave labour simply that ‘we in the West’ might have our fancy do=dads and thingamijigs while their blood cries out against us to God. READ JAMES, PEOPLE!!! Especially Chapter 2: 1-26 inclusively; this is so much more than that old chestnut of salvation via grace vs salvation via works; it is all about relationships; those of the believer to god, and more importantly, the vitality of genuineness and tender mindfulness of believers to one another and those around us. And, also, read james 4: 13-17 inclusively. Oh, and the crowning glory of god’s irrefutable truth; james 5: 1-6 inclusively! In these times, these words ring truer than ever! Indeed, just read all of james; here it is, on line, brilliantly translated (j B Phillips did not mince words and in my thinking, along with the New English Bible 1960 edition (Oxford University press) and the Jerusalem bible, is the best modern translation available of the NT. NEB and the jerusalem are equal in pulling no punches and leaving no holes barred. JBP book of James can be found here; and is easy to navigate. but I digress We are all, each and every one of us, wealthy, poor and in between, to an humbling and awesome responsibility with authentic, selfless, god fashioned love at its heart. We have a Saviour who, well knowing our imperfections, chose to pay the ultimate price that we might be reconciled with our Heavenly Father and through the agency of the Holy spirit strive to follow Christ’s example…, and motivated by selfless love.

    Oh, and do read Matthew 25: 34-40

    EVen JBP’s translation of I Corinthians 11 doesn’t back down.

    I’m paraphrasing a quote i read upon another blog from G K chesterton, I think, that runs something like this; ‘We know the problem, but are unwilling to enact the solution’.

    Let us pray for God’s forgiveness, His mercy, and the pouring out of His Holy Spirit upon this world and all its sophistries that have landed us where we now are; as we all too often blithely swing ourselves about by our own tails.

    May god bless you all,


    • Sarah, thank you so much for all the Biblical research that thee put into this comment! It certainly amplified what I meant to say. I think this topic is touching people everywhere. So many relationships are antagonistic, even marriages. We are not here to compete but to support and nurture each other.

      And I do love to see the word “sophistries” used! It applies to very much of modern life and what passes for knowledge.

      God bless thee!

  2. Towards the end of the summer, a church of another group asked to use the camp that I was working at. Right away, you could tell this was a group that expected modesty. The women and girls wore long hair, sleeved shirts, and skirts. For rockclimbing and other sports, the girls were in culottes to keep modest apperance. In the water, shirts and shorts were required. What I noticed on day two, though, was what the men were wearing. All the boys and men had long sleeved tees and pants. There were no shorts among them. They were modestly dressed. I expressed my pleasure that they did not hold a double standard.

    My boyfriend has not felt a call to be plain, but he does not hold the world very highly. He is happy in plain tshirts and whatever pants are for the job. He has a thing about not wearing shoes. It’s some theological thing, but it makes me think of Carmalites. So his shoes collection consistes of 2 pairs of sandles, one pair of running shoes, and one pair of black work shoes. I’m glad I’m with someone who, while not actively seeking a plain life, is concerned with his heart not his shirt, and is supportive of my choices.

    • I went discalced for a while, but it was too much in the winter in Canada! And it wasn’t safe in the barn. My husband has a very small shoe collection, too. Insulated steel-toed boots, which he sometimes wear for everyday, black dress shoes, very plain, barn boots, and a new pair of cross-training shoes for the gym which are so not plain he will never wear them on the street. He’s hung onto an old pair of runners for in the house.

      The problem in gyms isn’t so much a lack of modesty in dress, but a lack of modesty in attitude! Sometimes you can’t help but notice that someone is using the mirrors for self-admiration rather than checking their form. Which is up to them, but when they’re hogging the dumbbell rack, it’s a little annoying.

  3. I have a horrible infatuation with mirrors, and I don’t know why. I am not standing there, thinking “i’m pretty” or “i’m ugly.” I just stop and stare into mirrors. I’m like a parakeet.

    • I don’t think that’s vanity, it’s just some sort of interest or “infatuation” with the perspective. That’s not the same thing as standing in front of a gym mirror admiring your biceps. I had that sort of interest in mirrors when I was young. I loved them, not to see myself, but to see the world from a different perspective. Just don’t get mad at the “bird” in the mirror and start pecking at her.

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