Does God Really Care What You Wear This Summer?

Perhaps you’ve wondered it too: Does God really care what I wear this summer? 

Before diving in to answer that question, it may be helpful to consider another: Do I really want to know the heart of God on this topic, or am I merely looking for affirmation of my already-formed opinions?

In other words, what do I want more? An answer to the question “Does God really care what I wear?” Or am I more concerned with how close I can get to a perceived line of immodesty without going over? 

Can I show any midriff? 
How much?
What about a half inch? 
One inch? 
Two inches? 
Can I wear a bikini? 
Super short-shorts? 
What about a crop top? 

Some of us may be less interested in those details when we’re talking about ourselves (I assure you, this forty-something mom of six won’t be sporting a bikini or crop top anytime soon), but when it comes to what others wear, we can’t help but notice . . . and sometimes comment.

Did you see the length of her skirt?

I wouldn’t let my daughter out of the house like that. 

A Christian woman/girl has no business wearing that in public—or anywhere else for that matter.

We know it’s not our place to judge . . . but don’t we have the right—the obligation even—to be just a little bit judgy? That depends: are we interested in discerning the heart of God and bringing others alongside us in greater conformity to Christ? Or are we more interested in being right, having our own choices justified, and feeling like we’re on the halter-top high road? 

In this, and every area, we need to put our “why” before our “what.” The answer in your heart (and mine) makes all the difference in the world. 

A Modest Proposal from Kevin DeYoung

Pastor Kevin DeYoung addressed the issue of modesty in a recent article titled “Watching What We Wear: A Modest Proposal for Christian Debates over Modesty.” He framed the modesty debate this way:

It seems that at least once a year, probably around spring and summer, Christians start arguing about modesty. As a pastor and a parent, I know this is a real-world issue that we can’t avoid. The biblical commands regarding modesty are something we will either heed, however imperfectly, or simply ignore. We should choose the former. To be sure, these discussions are always culturally conditioned and full of gray areas. The Bible doesn’t give us a catalog from Promise Lands’ End (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist) featuring acceptable outfits and divinely approved bathing suits. Modesty won’t look exactly the same in every time, in every place, and in every context. But modesty in dress—and that’s the kind of modesty I’m thinking about in this piece—does mean something, and we can get to that something if we keep three simple truths in mind.1

His three points are helpful, so I’ll list and summarize them here. 

1. “Modesty can be too rigidly applied and too insensitively enforced.” 

Here he recognizes the difficult experiences many have had with modesty standards being applied and enforced in less than gracious ways, with the wrong heart attitude, and cases in which communication about women’s clothes and bodies from some men in leadership has been “cringey at best and totally inappropriate at worst.” He acknowledges that “young women really have been hurt by the dumb and sometimes sinful things communicated by an overwrought modesty culture.”

2. “The lack of modesty in women is no excuse for a lack of godliness in men.” 

Pastor DeYoung goes out of his way to be clear: “when we sin, we are responsible. No one sins for us. The fact that one person dresses provocatively does not mean that someone else is justified in leering, lusting, or worse.” So, he rightly points out that a woman dressing immodestly does not mean she “deserves” harassment, to be lusted after, or assaulted. 

3. “The Bible commands the Christian to dress modestly and to avoid drawing attention to our bodies in a sexual way.” 

With this point, Pastor DeYoung gets into the meat of his argument—that beauty and sensuality are not the same thing, that “the Lord does not look fondly upon haughty women who . . . strut about like luxury and allurement on parade (Isaiah 3:16–26),” and that if, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:9–10 there is proper clothing for Chistian women to wear, “then it stands to reason some apparel must be improper.”

Pastor DeYoung wraps up his article, saying:

We often hear that any insistence on female modesty is yet another attempt to control women’s bodies and to shame them for being sexual beings. That logic may sound powerful in today’s cultural climate, but it lacks Biblical coherence. As Christians, we know that our bodies are emphatically not our own and that our bodies are not meant ultimately for self-expression or self-fulfillment but for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). 

So to answer our title question, yes, God really does care what we wear this summer. He cares what we wear because He cares about our bodies, as should we since they’re the dwelling place of His Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19–20). But God also cares what we wear because He cares about our hearts. 

3 Truths and a Lie about Your Summer Wardrobe

You (or your kids) have probably played the ever-popular youth group game “3 Truths and a Lie,” where each person shares three true statements and one falsehood about himself or herself. Here are three truths and one big lie to consider as you evaluate your heart—and your summer style.

1. Your swimwear (or whatever else you wear this summer) doesn’t say everything about you. But it does say something about you. 

Christians and non-Christians alike love to cite “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” (Matthew 7:1) when challenged on lifestyle choices, and it’s true: God is the ultimate judge of both our external clothing choices and the garments of our hearts. Our clothing choices should not be a test of our standing before the Lord or our faithfulness to Him. But our clothing speaks when we remain silent. Consider whether yours says, “This body is a precious gift that belongs to the Lord” (and perhaps if you’re married, your husband) or is it saying instead, “This body is mine and I’ll do what I want with it.”

2. Setting standards (whether family, institutional, or personal) is okay and does not equal legalism. 

A close relative of mine worked for Disney a few years ago, and I was floored when I saw their corporate standards for physical appearance. From hairstyles to clothing to tattoos, beards, and mustaches, the company didn’t hesitate to set strict standards, and without apology. Their handbook contained page after page of “this, not that,” with photos showing what was ideal and what was unacceptable at the office and in the parks. They were not making a judgment call on whether their employees were good people . . . they simply reserved the right to determine what was acceptable for the work environment they wanted to create, according to their values. As parents, we should not be afraid to define “this, not that” when it comes to what our daughters wear. (And yes, sons too.) If you’re married, some of your choices may rightly involve your husband. And if you set standards for yourself or your family, you should not feel even a little bit bad for sticking to them. That’s not legalism (provided you’re not attaching your standards to your standing before God); it’s living in faithfulness to what you believe His Word teaches.

3. Your clothing (yes, even your swimsuit) has the potential to tell a gospel story. 

In an article at, Revive Our Hearts cohost Dannah Gresh begins by quoting Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper as saying, “There’s not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is Lord over all, does not exclaim, ‘Mine’!” She says her former resistance to giving God authority over how she dressed evaporated when she was asked to write about modesty. She asked herself, What do I believe about clothing and how we’re meant to wear it? She also wanted to answer parenting questions like How do I help [my daughters] experience body confidence and avoid body image issues? Does the way my daughters dress matter? Can I teach modesty without body shaming? 

Here’s what she found:

I decided to examine the Scriptures but only found a few verses that directly addressed the topic of modesty. However, I noticed the Bible had a whole lot to say about clothing starting in Genesis. When Adam and Eve sinned, they became aware of their nakedness and experienced shame. God “clothed them” with the skin of an animal (Gen. 3:21). This occurs in proximity to a Bible verse theologians call the protoevangelium, which means “the first gospel” (Gen. 3:15). I have come to believe that God’s gift of clothing represents the way God meets us in our shameful, sinful condition and covers us through a sacrificial death. Our wardrobe has the potential to display the presence of the saving work of Jesus Christ.

Clothing has the potential to declare “the gospel is here.”

And that, Dannah says, is “the most important thing you can tell [your daughter] about what she wears. . . . If our lives—and those of our girls—are going to please God, they have to be adjusted to His authority in everything. That includes what we wear.”

4. Finally, the lie. Does what you wear this summer—at the beach or otherwise—really matter to God? Yes. But don’t fall for the lie that your swimsuit style, neckline, or the length of your shorts automatically make you modest or that they make God love you any more or any less.

Like beauty, true modesty has less to do with outward adornment “but rather what is inside the heart—the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Pet. 3:4). Your outside conditions give some indication of your spiritual weather report, but the true barometer of your spiritual condition is deep within your heart. 

You are enough. You’ve likely seen those three simple words as wall art. You’ve come across the message all over social media, and you’ve likely heard it shared by some Christian leaders. Is it true that if you begin to view yourself as “enough” and learn to love yourself, you’ll be successful, secure, and complete?  

No. “This promise doesn’t deliver,” says Allie Beth Stuckey. In her book, You’re Not Enough (And That’s Okay), Allie Beth Stuckey shares how Christ provides a way out of the toxic culture of self-love and into a joyful life of relying on Him for wisdom, satisfaction, and purpose. You can get a copy of You’re Not Enough (And That’s Okay) when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

1 Kevin DeYoung, “Watching What We Wear,” WORLD, June 19, 2023,

About the Author

Laura Elliott

Laura Elliott

Born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Laura Elliott and her husband, Michael, now call Minnesota home. Laura is the mother of five sons and one daughter and serves as the marketing content manager for Revive Our Hearts. In … read more …

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