In Muslim nations and communities, women dress in burkas or long-sleeved abaya in order to be considered appropriate in their culture. Yet in Indian culture, an exposed belly is not considered revealing—whether it is 20 years old or 80, and whether its size is 2 or 32. Meanwhile, in the United States, Amish women dress only in dresses comprised of a simple scoop-neck bodice attached to a loosely gathered straight skirt, and perhaps only pinned together, because pleats and buttons are considered too ostentatious.
Depending on where you live, culture does play into how one should dress. However, with a few exceptions here and there, most Western nations have a lot of leeway in what is considered appropriate or inappropriate for women to wear. But do we have that much latitude in God’s view?
Biblically, women should not be ashamed of their bodies. When God created Eve, He made her beautiful, and women are designed to want to be that way. Peter acknowledges that women want to be beautiful, and he extends that to beauty that is more than skin deep (1 Peter 3:3). Our character needs to be beautiful, and every godly woman wants to be beautiful on both the outside and the inside.
So, if God meant for women to be beautiful, why must Christian women be concerned with what they wear in public? Does God care if we wear yoga pants and a cropped sweatshirt to the mall? Does God care if we wear a low-cut blouse with a keyhole opening? Does God mind if, when we sit down and cross our legs, anyone in front of us can see halfway up our thighs? Although it is godly for women to desire to be beautiful, is that the same as being sexy—by definition, “sexually suggestive or stimulating”—in public?