FamilyLife Today®


with C.J. Mahaney | April 1, 2011
Play Pause

Dad - are you teaching your daughters about modesty? Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey and C.J. Mahaney, leader of PDI Ministries, challenge fathers to help their daughters make proper decisions about their wardrobe.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Guest

  • Dad - are you teaching your daughters about modesty? Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey and C.J. Mahaney, leader of PDI Ministries, challenge fathers to help their daughters make proper decisions about their wardrobe.

Dad – are you teaching your daughters about modesty?


With C.J. Mahaney
April 01, 2011
| Download Transcript PDF

C.J.:  Why is Paul so concerned about modest dress?  Why am I so concerned about modest dress?  Why should you be so concerned about modest dress? 

Paul is concerned; I am concerned; you should be concerned about modest dress because of the Gospel!

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, April 1st.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine.  Does what you wear—the choices you make in your clothing—does that really reflect on the Gospel, on the Good News of Christ?  We will hear about that today. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today; thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  We' have been listening this week to a great message from C. J. Mahaney, who for a number of years was the pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and now gives leadership to a network of churches all across the country and around the world through Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

This was a message that C. J. preached a number of years ago on the subject of modesty, which is not something you hear a whole lot of sermons about and, actually, not something that you hear much conversation about these days.  There aren’t a whole lot of people talking about what is modest and what isn’t modest.  That is something that isn’t being taught in schools, is it? 

Dennis:  Oh, they teach it in the schools.  They teach immodesty in the schools.

Bob:  By what's modeled and by what's allowed?


Dennis:  I want to tell you something—back last fall, Barbara went to school, and she said, "I am not believing what they are allowing young ladies to wear to school these days."  Now, there are dress codes in the public schools across the country.  The problem is, for the most part, they're not enforced and, even worse, it doesn't matter what's enforced in school.  What does matter is what's being represented at home because, ultimately, how our sons and daughters dress, whether modestly or immodestly, is a representation of our family.

And, Bob, I've been to a lot of prom stores and found a lot of prom dresses that never “passed muster,” and I've done some things as a father that I felt like, “You know what?  I stepped into the modesty issue, and I attempted to hold the line.” 

But as I reflect back on raising four daughters, I think, at times, I thought with my heart and not with my head.  I wasn't as good a father as I should have been with my daughters; and I wasn't strong enough to say, "You know what, Sweetheart, you look beautiful in that dress.  The problem is, you can't wear that out in public."

I have a feeling, Bob, there are a lot of dads who can identify with me who wish they would have been stronger at a crossroads with a teenage daughter—perhaps a young man, too—but most of the battles occurred in our home with our daughters.  I think today's message is going to be a call to courage to the dads of the families who are listening to say, "Come on, guys, step up.  You may have made a mistake in the past, but now is the time to set the standard for your family."  You and I are the spiritual protectors of our daughters and our sons and how they dress.

Bob:  That is a good word.  I was identifying with you as you shared, as I am sure many of our listeners were.

Dennis:  You feel like you have been a little soft at points?

Bob:  There have been times when I probably should have said something, and I bit my tongue, and I shouldn’t have bit so hard.  I should have let it wag.

Dennis:  It is tough.  The culture just keeps coming at us.  Remember the days when you had a two-year-old and you felt like you were constantly disciplining them?

Bob:   Just saying, “No,” all day long.

Dennis:  All day long, you know.  Well, a teenager.  There comes those moments when you feel like, “You know, I am just going to relax the standard this one time.”  That is all it takes.  It is hard to get it back!

Bob:  Well, that is exactly where we begin with Part 3 of C. J. Mahaney’s message on the subject of modesty.  As we mentioned, C. J. was the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  He heads a group of churches known as Sovereign Grace Ministries.  We are going to listen to his concluding thoughts on this subject today.  Here is Pastor C. J. Mahaney.

[Previously recorded message]

C.J.:  You are aware of my gratefulness for my three daughters.  By God's grace this has not been a difficult area.  At an early age, we sought to educate them on the importance of modesty, the attitude of modesty, the appearance of modesty.  They have the role model in their mother.  They also had my leadership. 

We made it very clear that regardless of how exhausting the process was, we were not going to be purchasing and wearing immodest clothing.  It doesn't matter how many hours were spent exploring how many stores, over how many months—doesn't matter—no compromise. 

And to their credit—my girls—the purchase was never final until they presented it to me.  They would put on the outfit, and I would observe it from all angles.  I would observe it as a man; I would observe it as their father; and they will all tell you that there were a number of outfits I said, "I'm so sorry, Love, thank you for all the time you invested.  I believe the Lord is going to provide.  It just means you and Mom will have more time together.  The exploration will continue, and that will be returned."

I desire a church where fathers take responsibility for the dress of their daughters, and I want a church where the daughters joyfully submit to the father and mother and dress modestly for the glory of God.  And over the past few months, I was sent two letters which illustrate this attitude in ways I can't improve on. 

"Dear Mr. Mahaney—Now that I've grown, my clothing size has moved to the Juniors section.  It has been very hard to shop.  Practically all the clothes are either too tight, too short, too low, or they say something bad on it." 

This is a discerning young lady –It's true.  She is discerning that, “If I buy, even if it is a modest piece of clothing from this store, what value am I associating with?” 

“Recently my mom and I went shopping for a shirt.  We spent two hours trying to find one.  We finally found a shirt that we thought was modest.  I thought it was the cutest shirt.  Well, we came home, and my dad and mom realized that the shirt was too low."  Good for Dad; good for Mom. 

"My parents said we should take it back."  Good for Dad; good for Mom.  "I argued with my parents about taking it back and, at first, I didn't want to obey.  I knew that the shirt was too low and that it was immodest; but I liked it, anyway. 

“Finally, I submitted, and my mom and I took it back; and we tried to find another one.  God blessed me.  We found three modest, in-style shirts for the price of the first one.  I just want to encourage other girls to submit to their parents about what they wear; and  just like Scripture says in Ephesians 6:  ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother, which is the First Commandment with the promise that it may go well with you.’  I feel like this Scripture relates to what happened to me.  Thank you for teaching my parents so they can teach me."

Now, this was a letter I was given by permission from one of the other pastors—written by a young lady in the church who writes to this pastor, “Thank you so much for being a wonderful pastor to me, my family, and the entire church.  I'm writing this letter for a reason.  This reason would be to thank you for talking to Mr. Boiver who then talked to my dad about the way I have been dressing. 

I have been going through a period in my life where I have been falling into looking like the world.  This is a terrible sin, and I have repented of it, and now I am changing.  Thanks to your leadership to point this out, my mom and I have come to an agreement of what I am allowed to wear."  Listen to this last statement—“If you ever see anything in me that you feel would need to be adjusted, please come and point it out.  Thanks again."  These letters are holy. 

Questions for application:  Was there a man who arrived today desirous of worshiping and serving God who instead found himself distracted by you and your body because of the way you are dressed? 

Second, is your wardrobe modest, evidencing self-control and respectable apparel—every outfit, no exceptions?  Could I encourage you not to trust your own evaluation?  If you are married, begin by asking your husband, but I would encourage every woman here to invite two or three other women into the evaluation process as well. 

Third, do you warmly welcome and interact with those immodestly dressed or do you pass self-righteous judgment on them and consider yourself superior to them?  Have you been looking forward to this message, hoping that a certain friend would finally experience conviction? 

Fourth, is there someone you should express an observation to, or a concern about their dress in general or a particular outfit?  Have you, instead, submitted to the fear of woman and excused this fear and your disobedience?

The appearance of the modest woman, and actually the accent in this passage is not so much on modest dress as the adornment of good works.  You see, that's Paul's primary burden here in this passage –that godly adornment, or the adornment of the godly, is good works, as he states at the end of verse 10.  In other words, what is to be noticeable about a woman professing godliness is not her wardrobe but her good works.  There is to be this observable lifestyle of serving others.  That's the appropriate adornment, that's the godly adornment for women who profess to be Christians—that is, in effect, the transforming effect of the Gospel.  The transforming effect of the Gospel is less time in the bathroom, less time at the mall, and more time serving family and church.

And so, ladies, which are you more preoccupied with—shopping or good works?  What are you noticed for—clothes or good works?  What is most eye-catching about you—your clothing or your character?  And, mothers, what is your daughter learning from you, for she is surely studying you.  Is she learning the latest fashion, or is she learning good works?

You see, Paul isn't simply advocating modesty in dress.  He is insisting that more time be devoted, more energy be devoted, to spiritual adornment in the form of good works, and he is warning about excessive attention devoted to appearance to the neglect of good works. 

Attitude of the Modest Woman, the Appearance of the Modest Woman and, finally, the Allegiance of the Modest Woman—the Allegiance of the Modest Woman—What motivates Paul to write these commands in verses 9 and 10?  Why is Paul so concerned about modest dress?  Why am I so concerned about modest dress?  Why should you be so concerned about modest dress?

Paul is concerned; I am concerned; you should be concerned about modest dress because, because, because, because of the Gospel!  Modesty in dress and women characterized by good works—they are the effect of the Gospel.  That is the transforming effect of the Gospel.  Modest hearts—respectable apparel—good works. 

We are obligated not only to pray for the lost, but to authenticate this Gospel by its transforming effect in our lives—apparent in ladies by their modest attitude, reflected in their respectable apparel, and evident in the good works that populate their lives.  Ultimately, it is about the Gospel.  That is what this is about!

You see, ladies, you are to be distinctly different.  Non-Christians are to come here, and not only are they not to be distracted by observing skin, but they are to be undistracted as they realize this place is populated by people who are different.  They are distinct—not self-righteously distinct—humbly distinct—but distinct.  In these ways we are to be distinct for our brothers who are saved, for the lost ye-to-be-saved, and ultimately for the Savior who saved us.  It is about the Gospel. 

Bob:  Well, we have heard Part 3 of a message from Pastor C.J. Mahaney on the subject of modesty and a great reminder that what's really at stake here is the profession of our faith and our trust in Christ.  I'll tell you, this time of year as swimsuits start coming out of the drawers that gets to be challenging.  You know, it's tough to go to the swimming pool with your family; because some don’t wear as much you think they ought to wear.

Dennis:  Bob, when I was a boy growing up, there was a—I guess I want to call it a brand of Christianity that I wanted to have nothing to do with.

Bob:  Mm-hm, I know what you're talking about.

Dennis:  It was a legalistic bunch of “do's and don’ts”—a checklist of what behavior was acceptable, what wasn't acceptable.  Anytime you come up with a checklist like C.J. did today, the tendency is for people to make the checklist the Scriptures and to think that that is Christianity.

Bob:  And that was not C.J.'s intent in putting that checklist together, in anyway.  He was trying to give some guidelines.

Dennis:  No.  He's not here to defend himself; but, I promise you, what he would say is, "No, no, no, no, this checklist is only meant to guide you in making decisions. 

Christianity is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  It's heart-to-heart—my heart to God's heart; and although it does impact my behavior, Christianity can't become just a bunch of do's and don'ts.  There's no joy in that.  There's really no freedom in that.  In a sense, you become enslaved when you are just fulfilling a bunch of things you can't do.”

But, you know, if God is holy—and He is—as it says in 2 Corinthians, chapter 1—“We are to perfect holiness in the fear of Christ.”  Now, what does that mean?  That means we need to live our lives and make our choices about what we say, where we go, and how we dress in the presence of God.

I just think this subject he's talked about—and it's why we've spoken about this over the past three days—I think the Christian community needs to dialog on this.  That's why we kind of wanted to raise a national dialog across the country in families about this subject of modesty because, I frankly believe, we have slowly and systematically allowed our freedom to allow license to slide in the door to such a degree as C.J. was talking about, “Church has become a place where too much skin is showing.”

Now, think about that.  That shouldn't even enter into church.  That's not a matter of what church is all about.  The issue of church is about worshiping God—not drawing attention to ourselves.

Bob:  You know, in Titus, chapter 2, Paul says to Titus, "The grace of God has come, and it teaches you to say, ‘No’ to ungodliness."  We often think that the grace of God is there to teach us what we can do.  We can do whatever we want to do.  The grace of God is there to teach us that there are things we've been doing that we really shouldn't want to do.

We're asking the question, “Who are you dressing for?  What standards have you adopted?  Whose attention and approval do you care about the most?  Is it your peer group; is it those around you; or is it the God who has redeemed your soul?”

Dennis:  If you have a daughter who is dressing inappropriately, you've got to admit, it's an issue of the heart.  If you've corrected, you've taught, you've instructed, and she continues to want to dress a certain way, then her heart needs to be exhorted and implored to come back more in line with our Savior. 

And that's a hard thing to say because I have daughters; but I've gone to them around those subjects and taken them out on dates and just really, in a sense, pleaded with them, “Do you understand what you're doing?  You need to realize your dress is letting others know where your heart is.”  And at that point, my daughters have needed my help in knowing how to bring their heart back into alignment and, I might add, how to bring their dress back.

Bob: That's where the checklist that C.J. has put together can be helpful for parents and daughters.  As he mentioned, it's not for young men.  They don't need to be looking at the checklist, but for parents and daughters it's a very valuable tool.

Dennis:  It's not a club to berate or whip your child with—your teenager.  It ought to be an invitation to dialog, to discussion about where her heart is.

Bob: We've got a link on our website at for those who would like to download the pdf of that modesty checklist.  You will also find information about resources that our friend, Dannah Gresh, has put together for moms of younger daughters to help address this issue while the girls are still growing up.  In fact, that is the best time to talk about it—not when they are 13, 14, and 15—but start talking about it when they are 6, 7, 8, and 9. 

Dannah has written a book called 8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters:  How to Talk About True Beauty, Cool Fashion, and...Modesty!  We have the book available if you would like to get a copy.  We have also put together a kit that provides some pre-packaged events for moms and daughters.  You can find out more about both of those resources when you go online at or when you call, 1-800-FLTODAY; 1-800-358-6329.  That is 1-800-“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word TODAY.  Get in touch with us and we will let you know how you can get the resources you need sent to you. 

Now today is the last day that we are rallying folks to consider becoming a Legacy Partner with us here at FamilyLife.  A Legacy Partner is somebody who helps provide monthly funding for this ministry. 

In fact, our Legacy Partners provide the foundation on which this radio program rests financially.  It is Legacy Partners who account for about one third of our syndication and production costs for this program. 

We appreciate those of you who are Legacy Partners, and we appreciate those of you who make donations from time to time.  We thought this week we would see if some of you who are not currently Legacy Partners would consider joining the team. 

We set a goal of 1,200 new Legacy Partners, and we are keeping tabs of that on our website so you can find out more about that if you would like to online at  We would just like to ask you to consider being a monthly donor and staying in touch with us and letting us stay in touch with you with resources and tools to help strengthen your marriage and your family. 

Find out more online at; or call us and say, “I’d like to be a Legacy Partner.”  1-800-FLTODAY is the number;  1-800-“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word TODAY.  I just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance for even considering being a Legacy Partner. 

With that, we have to wrap things up this week.  Thanks for being with us.  Hope you can be back on Monday when Bethany Hamilton is going to join us.  She and her mom will be here with us. 

Bethany’s story is told in a new motion picture that comes out next weekend, starring Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt, Anna Sophia Robb, and Carrie Underwood.  Bethany and her mom will be here to talk about the real-life story that inspired that movie called Soul Surfer.  I hope you can be with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine.  Have a great weekend.  We’ll see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.


We are so happy to provide these transcripts. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you've benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?

2011 Copyright © FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Episodes in this Series

with C.J. Mahaney March 31, 2011
Modesty never goes out of style.
Play Pause
00:00 00:00
Modesty And Appearance Day 1
with C.J. Mahaney March 30, 2011
Does your appearance reflect the attitude of your heart?
Play Pause
00:00 00:00