7 Biblical Principles for how to dress as a Christian woman

Beautiful summery girl

Does God care about how you as a Christian women dress? Does the Bible provide guidelines for how a Christian woman should dress?

If you are looking for an exact dress code, down to lengths of clothing and what parts of your body must be covered when and where you will find no such thing in the Bible. However, if you are looking for Biblical principles that can guide you as Christian a woman in how to dress the Bible does give these principles.

Here are some Biblical principles for women’s dress that should guide you as you select your clothing, whether it is when you purchase it, or when you are choosing when to wear it.

Principle #1 – Your physical beauty is symbolic of the spiritual beauty of the Church

Your beauty is symbolic of the beauty of the church.

Psalm 45 which is a messianic prophecy of Christ and the Church says this:

“So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him…The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework…” -Psalm 45:13-14(KJV)

In Ephesians 5, where Paul talks about marriage being symbolic of the relationship of Christ to his Church he writes:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:25-27(KJV)

Just as God wants his Church to be glorious, without spot or wrinkle, and without blemish, so too a woman should keep up her appearance, not only for her husband if she is married, but also out of respect for the symbolism for which God designed her.

So when you as a woman dress, you should accentuate your beauty knowing that your physical beauty, is symbolic of the spiritual beauty of Christ’s Bride, the Church. You dress first and foremost to please God and to show the beauty of his creation – which is you!

Principle #2 – You should dress appropriately for the occasion

Contrary to the modern meaning of modesty, the Biblical meaning of a woman dressing modestly means that women are to dress “appropriately”. Modesty is such a huge subject, and especially the interpretation of passages such as I Timothy 2:9 that I needed to write an entire separate post on the topic. You can find it here at What does Modesty mean in I Timothy 2:9.

In summary though, dressing modestly Biblically speaking does not specifically mean “not dressing in a sexual way”. It means to dress appropriately for the occasion. So while it may be perfectly acceptable for you to wear a bikini to the beach, it would not be appropriate for you to wear a bikini to a job (unless you are a life guard or a model) or to a church service.

Principle #3 – You should dress in feminine clothing

Someone should be able to look at your clothes wherever you go, and just by your clothing they should be able to tell you are a woman. Yes clothing styles change, but a woman should always look like a woman in her culture (whatever women wear) and a man should look like a man (whatever men wear).

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” -Deuteronomy 22:5 (KJV)

This passage from Deuteronomy does not forbid a woman from wearing pants (yes there are some Christians who still teach this). There was a time in our culture and history where pants were strictly the purview of men, and at those times it may have been wrong for a woman to wear pants, especially when there were no pants designed especially for women. But fashions and styles do change, and women have pants now that are made and cut especially for them, and these pants are pants a man would not be caught dead in.

In Roman society, before 200 BC, men and women both wore togas. After 200 BC women began to wear stolas and only prostitutes still wore togas like men. Before 200 BC, when men and women both wore togas, the only difference may have been a colorful belt or the color of the material that would have separated a man from a woman. Even after 200 BC, peasant men and women still both wore tunics for their daily work. Only color variations or belts may have separated them.

This would be exactly the same as men and women both wearing pants today – there is no issue with this as long as the woman’s pants communicate a feminine style as we understand it in our culture.

Nice woman in a pink dress

Principle #4 – You should dress to please your husband

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:24 (KJV)

God wants women to submit to their husbands in everything.  Everything includes how you dress and how you manage your appearance as well as many other things.

When you are married, you should dress to please your husband. Find out what colors he likes on you, find out what styles he likes and try to wear those types of clothes.

This also means you should dress sexy for your husband in the appropriate circumstances. If you know your husband will be taking you out for a night on the town, why not go pick up some sexy dress to wear for him? If you doubt whether this is right or wrong, I invite you read my post I referred to earlier What does Modesty mean in I Timothy 2:9.

There is nothing wrong with you looking sexy for your husband in the appropriate circumstances, whether that is wearing lingerie for him at home, or wearing a sexy dress for a night on the town, or wearing a sexy bathing suit for a trip to beach. Your body is work of art that God has graciously gifted to your husband, and you should not be hiding your beauty.

Principle #5 – Don’t be lazy with your appearance

Yes big tee shirts and sweats are more comfortable than wearing attractive clothing. But as a Christian woman your appearance is important to God (see principle #1). If you are married, God has given you to your husband and your appearance should be (and most likely will be) important to him (see principle #4).

As believers, and specifically as a Christian woman, God wants you to do everything you can to the best of your ability. It is one thing if you are sick, or if you are doing some work around the house then your clothing might not be as attractive. But besides those limited times, a woman has duty to keep up her appearance, not only for God but also for her husband.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord”

Colossians 3:23(NIV)

Modern Christian women today mock the women of the 1950’s who prided themselves in making themselves pretty before their husbands came home from work – what was wrong with that? This is what God wants from Godly Christian women.

Does this mean you have to have a dress and nylons on each day and go to the beauty salon before your husband gets home? Of course not. But what it means is making sure you have showered, that you have done your hair and maybe you have an attractive pair of jeans on with a nice shirt when you husband gets home.

You should not view this as some dreary task, but it should be looked at as a privilege and honor that is given you by God, your ability to make yourself beautiful!

Principle #6 – What others think does and does not matter

This is a very important principle for you as a Christian woman to understand.

In some cases it does matter what others think of how you are dressed. If you as a Christian woman wear the wrong clothing for the wrong occasion, it might offend others and also bring shame on Christ if they know you are a Christian.

You can wear a bikini to the beach, but if you wore it to Church others would be offended, and they would be right in being offended, because that is inappropriate attire for Church (see I Timothy 2:9).

But let’s turn the bikini situation around when you go to the beach. If you and your husband are going to the beach and you happen to be wearing a bikini, and there happens to be a family there from church they need to leave that between you and the Lord. The only exception I would say to this is if you were specifically going to the beach with a family whom you knew were opposed to bikinis, then temporarily out of respect you might not wear one in that instance.

You should not be picking dresses out for a night on the town with your husband, with the thought in your mind of “what would this person think or that person from church think if they saw me wearing this with him” – your thoughts should only be of two people, God and your husband.

God is not ashamed of your beauty, your husband is not ashamed of your beauty, and neither should you be ashamed of your beauty.

Principle #7 – Do not hide your beauty from other men for fear of causing lust

Many Christian women have since the early days of the church dressed with this idea in mind – that they cannot wear nice things for their husband or show their figure as they may cause other men to lust in doing so.  If you believe that Church tradition trumps Biblical theology, then I can’t help you. But if you understand that well-meaning men and women (even some Church fathers who came after the Apostles) added a lot of tradition to God’s Word then I can help you.

I invite you to read my post on What does the Bible say about Lust to fully understand the issue of lust from a Biblical perspective. A summary of what I said in that post is that Lust is not the same as sexual arousal.

There is no shame in a woman displaying her beauty, and there is no shame in men appreciating that beauty or even being sexually aroused by that beauty. Before you reject that premise, please read the post I just mentioned. Sin comes with how men handle their sexual arousal, or appreciation of the female form.

If he begins to think of how he can actually get you to go to bed with him (and you are not married) then those have become lustful thoughts, sexually covetous thoughts. But as a Christian woman you don’t have to go around at all time with a sheet over your entire body from head to toe as to not cause men to lust after you.

No scripture ever teaches this concept, it is completely added by the traditions of men.

Conclusion

I hope as a Christian woman you will search the Scriptures. Then discuss this respectfully with your husband. If you need to make changes, then make them. Know that God wants your best in all areas of your life, and dressing in beautiful ways appropriate to the occasion is what God has called you to. Do not hide the beautiful work of art that God has made, but display it in ways that please both God and your husband.

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19 thoughts on “7 Biblical Principles for how to dress as a Christian woman

  1. Pingback: 6 Reasons a woman may not want to display her beauty | Biblical Gender Roles

  2. I enjoyed your post! I was worried when I first started reading it was going to be a list of do’s and dont’s but you kept this full of grace and more about the particular woman and her personal relationship with the Lord, which is how all decisions should be made and how we decide how to live our lives. Thanks for the insight!

  3. Very good post. One of the things that Christian women,( and men) need to be aware of is ‘fashioning themselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance in 1 Peter 1:13-16. It goes on to say to’ be ye holy in all manner of conversation’. A woman ,or man may where something that is not necessarily sinful, but it’s a worldly fashion…it represents that which is of this world. 1 John 2:15-16 speak of this warning as well. What are your thoughts. How does this all apply here?

  4. My friend, God’s standards do not change depending on a situation. As Christians we should make every effort to not serve as stumbling blocks.No matter where you go you must dress in a manner pleasing to God. If you dress anywhere in public that can cause someone to lust,that is dishonoring the Lord and is not representing Christ well. Modest dress is not exclusive to Church services. Dressing a certain way for a husband should be behind closed doors and not in public to cause others to stumble.We must represent Christ where ever we go.Not just in works but also in how we dress.

  5. Chris,

    I agree that God’s law does not change depending on the situation. But the situation is often what determines whether an action is right or wrong.
    Even by your own words, you seem to think that a wife can where lingerie for her husband behind closed doors. So you would probably believe in the situation of “behind closed” doors it is moral and right for a woman to wear a bikini if only her husband could see her in it, but you would probably believe it is wrong for her to wear a bikini to the beach. So for you a bikini would be right or wrong “depending on the situation”.

    The major difference between us(and I used to believe as you do as I grew up in Churches that taught exactly what you are saying) is that you believe women must hide their beauty in public for fear of causing men to lust or causing a stumbling block.

    If lust meant a man being sexually aroused – then you might be right. But that is not what lust is Biblically speaking. Biblically speaking lust is covetousness. Paul says “for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” The Bible does not tell women they must dress in a way that hides their beauty(as many Muslims do), for fear of sexually arousing other men by their beauty. That entire concept is man made tradition and found nowhere in the Bible.

    The issue of the “stumbling block” is when we put our freedom(something we believe we can do) in another believer’s face. If my wife wore a bikini with me to go the beach their is no sin in that, even if other men were aroused by her beauty. This would be no more sinful than if I were cooking barbequing hamburgers at the beach and it made the men around me hungry. The stumbling block, the sin would come if I were to go to a Christian friend of mines house who only believed in full bathing suits and not bikinis and I have my wife wear a bikini to their pool – thus throwing my freedom in their face.

    Lust is not sexual arousal or even imagination, lust is covetousness – the desire and fantasy to actually try and possess a woman outside marriage.

  6. Thank you, i was in a discussion on appropriate clothing for a woman,a woman’s hair and u were really helpful.

  7. The bible mentions don’t masturbate, don’t lust, etc. Well it is NOT FAIR when men are tempted by girls dressing half naked.

    I don’t want to hear that men must control themselves. No. We need to stop playing games. How about we not tempt men in the first place.

    Being tempted and being expected to fight it is a horrible thing. You don’t eat tempting foods in front of someone on a diet. You don’t wave a chicken leg in their face and say “Just fight the temptation. Its easy.”

    Its not easy. Its a horrible position to be in, and its WRONG to put someone in that position. Girls have NO IDEA what its like to be men.

    Expecting to resist sexual temptation is like expecting someone not to drink when their thirsty. Not to scratch when they’re itch. Etc.

    I dont think its fair to expect someone not to masturbate when sex is always rubbed in their face. As a boy, there are many times where I DON’T want to be distracted by sexuality. Then I’ll go into a store and the girls will be dressed sexually and that will put sex on my mind.

    And you’re answer to that is that men just have to control themselves (like its easy) ???

    How bout someone locks you in a room without water and says “Just don’t think about drinking”.

    THIS IS NOT FAIR.

  8. What particular square inches (or square centimeters) are the minimum for a Christian:
    Woman to keep covered in public?
    Man to keep covered in public?

    Whoever, if any, choose to respond, please explain why for each.

  9. What particular square inches (or square centimeters) are the minimum for a Christian:
    Woman to keep covered in public?
    Man to keep covered in public?

    Whoever, if any, choose to respond, please explain why for each.

    Thanks.

  10. I am a Christian man, and I do appreciate the natural beauty of a women and would be concerned for myself if I wasn’t drawn in by this beauty, but would have to disagree with you in these matters of dressing appropriately, I have to continually guard my heart in these area. I don’t appreciate a woman who dresses provocatively around me, this is like kryptonite to superman. I know that women are a blessing and a good christian women is true blessing, i.e.” behind every great man is a good women”.
    I do desire for my wife to be confident in who she is but wouldn’t appreciate provocative dressing around other men. I think that most men can easily be distracted by a women dressing in tight clothes and wearing low cut shirts and I feel in my heart that this is a distraction and encourages carnal thinking. I want to see all people for who they are in personality and heart and not according to their exterior. Now with this being said I think it’s healthy to be clean and well kept and if blessed so to wear fashionable clothing, as long it doesn’t cause another to be tempted in thought that encourages temptations. We know that we can sin in hearts with thought alone. Just my two cents.
    thanks

  11. Kives4745,

    Thanks for your respectful disagreement. If you don’t mind can I ask you a few questions?

    Your Statement:

    “I have to continually guard my heart in these area.”

    I agree as Christians we need to guard our hearts but what do you feel you must guard your heart from? What specific things in this area relating to beautiful women?

    Your Statement:

    “I don’t appreciate a woman who dresses provocatively around me, this is like kryptonite to superman.”

    Why do you consider beautiful women who dressed “provactively” “kryptonite” to you? How do they make you weaker?

    Your Statement:

    “I think that most men can easily be distracted by a women dressing in tight clothes and wearing low cut shirts and I feel in my heart that this is a distraction and encourages carnal thinking.”

    What do you view as “carnal thinking?” as it relates to women dressing in tight clothes and low cut shirts. Be as specific as you can.


    You Statement:

    “I am a Christian man, and I do appreciate the natural beauty of a women and would be concerned for myself if I wasn’t drawn in by this beauty…
    I want to see all people for who they are in personality and heart and not according to their exterior.”

    Forgive me, but these two statements of yours seem to conflict. You say you would be worried if you were not drawn to the beauty of women, yet you say you want to see people according to their personality and their heart and “not according to their exterior”.

    So my questions for you on these two statements would be.

    Do you feel that you cannot appreciate a woman’s beauty without knowing her personality and her heart? Another way of putting this question is – do you feel it is a corruption of man’s nature that he can can glean pleasure from and be attracted to a woman without knowing anything about her(whether it be her personality, her heart or her values)?

    Finally. In general women’s attraction mechanisms are more “holistic” – in that it takes a combination of a man’s handsomeness, his personality and his heart for a woman to truly be attracted to a man in most cases. Do you think God meant for men to be more like women in this regard?

    I look forward to your answers.

  12. You said to dress in a manner pleasing to your husband and God. What if your husband is the type that wants you not to wear some certain clothes and hairstyles because he believes they are worldly.
    For example, he may not want his wife to wear pants, wear makeup, hair extensions etc. However, the wife sees no sin in them. She dresses modestly and looks good. Is the wife still supposed to dress to please her husband?

  13. Viki,

    Absolutely a woman is to dress to please her husband. It is irrelevant if the wife sees no sin in them if her husband does not want her to wear them and she defies his wishes then they become sin for her.

  14. I really enjoyed your article, it is very helpful. 🙂

    I was reading through the comments and I noticed your replies were very well constructed and biblical which I appreciate in conversation. I also really liked your answers and opinions very much. 🙂

    With this, there is a question I was interested to ask, and I would really like to hear your view on it.

    One of the comments I read was of someone asking basically if a woman could wear, for example, shorts if her husband personally didn’t like that sort of attire.
    The commenter also added that the wife already dresses modestly and looks good, and she doesn’t see sin in wearing pants.

    In your answer to this question you said,
    “Absolutely a woman is to dress to please her husband.”
    (Which I agree with)

    And the rest of your reply said this,
    “It is irrelevant if the wife sees no sin in them if her husband does not want her to wear them and she defies his wishes then they become sin for her.”

    This is where my question branches off of, I guess. I know the Bible doesn’t say that the husband needs to ‘dress to please his wife’ or anything like that obviously, and he doesn’t need to, but my question is what if the scenario was flipped?

    An example situation could be a couple that are both modest, well dressed people. In the summer, the husband likes to wear his button ups in the style that the top part of the shirt is very open, so you can see his bare chest (as a lot of usually younger adult men like to wear this way in the summer).
    But, the wife doesn’t like him wearing his shirts like that, at the beach maybe it could pass, but for everyday sort of clothing she doesn’t like it.

    So, in this sort of flipped situation, would your answer to the previous commenter’s change much, drastically, maybe not at all? I would really like to know! 🙂

  15. Ken Davis,

    Your Question:

    ” An example situation could be a couple that are both modest, well dressed people. In the summer, the husband likes to wear his button ups in the style that the top part of the shirt is very open, so you can see his bare chest (as a lot of usually younger adult men like to wear this way in the summer).
    But, the wife doesn’t like him wearing his shirts like that, at the beach maybe it could pass, but for everyday sort of clothing she doesn’t like it.

    So, in this sort of flipped situation, would your answer to the previous commenter’s change much, drastically, maybe not at all? I would really like to know!”

    The answer to your question is actually illustrated in a Biblical story:

    “14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod…

    20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
    21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord.
    22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.
    23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

    II Samuel 6:14 &20-23 (KJV)

    So here we see a husband dancing in the street with only his underwear on praising God. His wife did not approve of his lack of clothing and scolded him for it.
    What was David’s response to his wife? He rebuked her.
    What was God’s response to David’s wife? He made her barren.

    You have your answer. I am not saying a husband cannot ever take his wife’s thoughts and feelings into consideration as he should. But ultimately it is his decision what he wears, not his wife. She is not his equal, she is not his partner, she is not his authority.

  16. Thank you so much for making me understand about modesty……….. I really had a problem and confused how I dressed up for my husband……… I will try my best to look good and presentable both to God and my husband……… Thanks to your article

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