What does the Bible say about women’s clothing?


How do you think women should dress in the church and outside the church, i.e. how should women’s clothing be, according to God’s will? My conscience often rebukes me when I see some ladies and young women in the church and I do not agree with their clothing. I do not understand why pastors do not address these issues?

So what does the Bible say about women’s clothing?

Women should dress modestly

Apostle Paul addressed the subject of women’s clothing and wrote:

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)(NASB)

Because in those days women were much less involved in public life, and they took care of the house, it was an opportunity for them to dress nicely when they went to pray, or as we say “go out”. Not to turn prayer times into a fashion demonstration competition, the Apostle Paul wrote these teachings to these women, showing them that the priority was the good works and the ministry and to meet the needs of others was more important and they should not exaggerate in the way they dress, making it a cult. How we see, the Apostle Paul did not make rules on what specific clothes should women wear or not wear, as some tried to do over the centuries. The Apostle just told women to dress decently, i.e. as it was acceptable and not to show impropriety or pride. And we can not make some strict rules in this regard because what is proper to a nation, it is not to another one, and vice versa.

The adornment of the soul must be a priority

As the Apostle Peter wrote:

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. (1 Peter 3:1-6)(NASB)

Unfortunately, some people focused on this passage just as the one that prohibits the wearing of gold jewelry and it is not a correct interpretation. Because otherwise, it seems that women must categorically not braid their hair, and, even more serious, not to wear clothes. No way, this is not a correct interpretation. The teaching of the contrast used in this passage is that a godly woman will put more value on her inner decoration, and she will have a measure in clothing, hairstyle and jewelry, according to what is decent without causing any evil thoughts or wrong opinions neither to men nor to women. Decorating the inner man must be a priority for all of us, men and women.

Why pastors do not address this issue?

I think that some talk about this subject excessively and try to make rules for women what to wear and what not to wear. I once heard a lady who taught women in the church very strange things on the clothes. I was amazed and I realized that she herself was taught by someone else like that.

My opinion is that as the Apostle Paul did not go beyond the written text that I made reference above, we, the priests of today should not set different rules. If there are certain cases when someone is dressed immodestly to awaken men’s desires, then we must address that person particularly. But, even then, I think it is better for a woman, not a man to talk to her. And when we tell our wives about clothes, we, men should guide ourselves according to the teaching we find in the same First Epistle of Peter, that says:

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)(NASB)

Let us not talk and make observation to the women that just began to come to church, even if they are dressed otherwise than we’d like them to be, because this way we can make them feel rejected by us and even by God. The picture below was taken on the image that was located at the entrance of a church.

Do not make woman a victim of the religion

Unlike the other religions of the world, Christianity is a relationship with the living God who loves people, and receives them as they are, forgives their sins and gives them new life. In Christ women are not viewed as some that have a lower value than men as written in the New Testament:

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27-28)(NASB)

Not so is in the other world religions. Usually, woman is placed in an inferior position and oppressed. When they entered Kabul in September 1996, the Taliban announced by Radio Sharia of their 16 decrees. The first decree said:

1. To prevent sedition and female uncovers (Be Hejabi). No drivers allowed to pick up women who are using Iranian burqa. In case of violation the driver will be imprisoned. If such kind of female are observed in the street their house will be found and their husband punished. If the women use stimulating and attractive cloth and there is no accompany of close male relative with them, the drivers should not pick them up. (The Bookseller of Kabul, Asne Seierstad, p.84)

Decree 15 says:

14. To prevent sewing ladies cloth and taking female body measures by tailor. If women or fashion magazines are seen in the shop the tailor should be imprisoned. (The Bookseller of Kabul, Asne Seierstad, p.86)

This is done in the name of religion and many women were sentenced to death by this terrible regime. It is a great evil when religious people link to women to impose their invented religion to the weaker ones. Lord Jesus does not teach us this, but to love one another and cherish and do everything with a love as that which He showed to all of us.

Translated by Felicia Rotaru