“Modesty Heart Check” by Carolyn Mahaney

Modesty Alert Post - This may not be appropriate for men who do not have daughters or are not in leadership over women.

This is a good start to get you to think about modest attire and the attitudes of the heart.

Modesty Heart Check is from Carolyn Mahaney, C.J. Mahaney’s wife, and her website Girltalk.

Carolyn Mahaney
Nicole Whitacre
Kristin Chesemore
Janelle Bradshaw

“…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

Start with a Heart Check…

“How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshipping God? Or is it to call attention to herself and flaunt her beauty? Or worse, to attempt to lure men sexually? A woman who focuses on worshipping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance.” John MacArthur [emphasis added]

~ What statement do my clothes make about my heart?

~ In choosing what clothes to wear today, whose attention do I desire and whose approval do I crave? Am I seeking to please God or impress others?

~ Is what I wear consistent with biblical values of modesty, selfcontrol and respectable apparel, or does my dress reveal an inordinate identification and fascination with sinful cultural values?

~ Who am I trying to identify with through my dress? Is the Word of God my standard or is the latest fashion?

~ Have I asked other godly individuals to evaluate my wardrobe?

~ Does my clothing reveal an allegiance to the gospel or is there any contradiction between my profession of faith and my practice of godliness?

Before you leave the house, do a modesty check. (What are some things you should look for as you stand in front of your mirror?)

From the top…

~ When I am wearing a loose-fitting blouse or scoop-neck, can I see anything when I lean over? If so, I need to remember to place my hand against my neckline when I bend down.

~ If I am wearing a button-down top, I need to turn sideways and move around to see if there are any gaping holes that expose my chest. If there are, I’ve got to grab the sewing box and pin between the buttons.

~ The same check is needed if I am wearing a sleeveless shirt. When I move around, can I see my bra? If I do, I need the pins again.

~ Am I wearing a spaghetti-strap, halter, or sheer blouse? Not even pins will fix this problem! Most guys find these a hindrance in their struggle with lust. It’s time to go back to the closet.

~ Can I see the lace or seam of my bra through my shirt? In this case, seamless bras are a better option.

~ More key questions: Does my shirt reveal any part of my cleavage? Does my midriff show when I raise my hands above my head? Is my shirt just plain too tight? If the answer to any one of these questions is yes, then I need to change my outfit.

Moving on down…

~ Does my midriff (or underwear) show when I bend over or lift my hands? If so, is it because my skirt or my pants are too low? Either my shirt needs to be longer or I need to find a skirt or pants that sit higher.

~ I also have to turn around to see if what I’m wearing is too tight around my back
side, or if the outline of my underwear shows. If so, I know what I have to do!

~ And as for shorts – I can’t just check them standing up. I need to see how much they reveal when I sit down. If I see too much leg, I need a longer pair.

~ The “sit-down” check applies to my skirt or dress as well. And I must remember to keep my skirt pulled down and my knees together when I’m seated.

~ And speaking of skirts, watch out for those slits! Does it reveal too much when I walk? Pins are also helpful here.

~ Before I leave, I need to give my skirt a sunlight check. Is it seethrough? If so, I need a slip.

~ Finally, I must remember to do this modesty check with my shoes on. High-heels make my dress or skirt appear shorter.

~ And don’t forget – this applies to formal wear as well.

~ A note on swimwear: It’s not easy but you can still strive to be modest at the pool or beach. Look for one-piece bathing suits that aren’t cut high on the leg and don’t have low necklines.

Modesty Check © 2002 Sovereign Grace Ministries
Republished in Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood
by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre (Crossway Books)

Modesty Posts:

Maidens of Virtue – Stacy McDonald

The Style Quiz by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Paul Washer on Modesty in the Church

“Modesty Heart Check” by Carolyn Mahaney

Calvin Klein vs John Calvin’s Opinions on Clothing


3 thoughts on ““Modesty Heart Check” by Carolyn Mahaney

  1. Recently I have read your check on modesty and partly agree in that you don’t go far enough, let me explain. I am a 54 yr old happly married man with two adult daughters. Modesty is an issue and it is a Heart attitude. Only the Holy Spirit can change a believer or non believers Heart attitude. In general your ideas are good, however if you have to hold atop or pin something or wear a slip under a see thru dress then a better motto would be just not to wear it and begin to change your wordrobe accordingly. Duet 22:5 does apply to pants. I suggest that a exegesis be done to clarify the word abomination and breeches. Your on the right track but why compromise the truth. If a woman is pure of heart and modest at heart she will be modest in her dress. Does any Godly woman want to tempt a man to lust after her and lead him to sin ? It is both sexes responsiblilty. My wife and daughter both are modest at heart and in their dress and I applaud them. You can still have a classic style and look nice. One last test Have someone find two picture for you. One of a woman in a nice modest skirt and blouse and one in tight blue jeans and a tight fitting top. Close your eyes and have someone hold up one of the pictures then open your eyes. where are your eyes drawn to first? Now do this with the second photo. Note that in the modest photo the eyes are drawn to the face and in the the immodest phot the eyes are drawn to the legs and crotch area. If this is the case when a woman looks how much more when a man looks. Would you rather have a man look at your privates or your face. Sorry for being so crude, but I can’t put it to much more clearly. Consider modifying your checklist a little more. God Bless You and Keep you from falling. Your Brother in Christ,


  2. Gordon,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I don’t disagree with you at all.

    The checklist above was done by a pastor’s wife and her daughters. It isn’t mine and if anyone who knows me read it they would realize that. I don’t wear shorts nor sleeveless shirts or dresses. My daughters and I would be much more conservatively dressed than the checklist.

    However, most women have not been taught by their fathers nor the church how to dress as ladies and to consider others in their dressing. Women have been taught by TV and magazines, even the Christian women. So since women do not have a good starting ground as a general rule the checklist is to help them think about why they dress the way they do and to start them on the journey of dressing modestly. It can be complicated converting the typical woman’s wardrobe to a modest wardrobe especially when a lady has to learn to think differently.

    Ultimately, unless a woman looks to the Scriptures and the Lord she will be unable to dress modestly and with a pure heart. Fathers and Husbands can help in this area by pointing out areas that can be a struggle for a man. Women on their own will not be able to understand because that is just not the way our brains work. We all need to work together and encourage one another to live holy and pure lives.

    Berean Wife


  3. Pingback: Whatever Happened to Modesty? | Pastor’s Perspective

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