As we were all cooped up more than usual due to COVID-19, for many of us, that meant more chances to wear comfy sweatshirts, loungewear, and fuzzy socks. Some people threw yoga pants into that mix but perhaps only feel they’re appropriate for home or when we’re alone. This thought could be a legitimate conviction or a reaction to churches’ harsh attitude toward yoga pants.
Now that things have opened back up again, what now? Should Christian women continue to wear yoga pants? Before answering that question, others need addressing: are your wardrobe choices indicative of your spiritual level? Can a clothing item be considered sinful? Is telling a woman what she can or can’t wear legalistic? What are yoga pants, and what is Christian modesty?
What are yoga pants?
As the name suggests, yoga pants started as attire for yoga classes. The fabric is stretchy knit and has an elastic, wide waistband. From there, the shape can be flared at the hem or like leggings. Either way, the area from the waist to the knee is tight-fitting. Some yoga pants are made of a heavy, ponte knit, but others are made of a thinner, lighter fabric. True to form, the fashion world isn’t happy to leave well enough alone, so a new and improved version has materialized with enhanced buttock shaping built in. Instagram stylists now pair these pants with everything from blouses and blazers to tees and sweatshirts.
The designers aim not to cover any part of the pants from mid-hip to ankle. Lately, some prefer waist-length, cropped tops with yoga pants. To most women, what makes these pants attractive is their comfort. They’re easy to move around in and forgiving of extra tummy weight. They also look good with both lug-soled boots and sneakers.
Why the controversy?
You may wonder why comfortable clothing has set off such a controversy. The issue is the fabric’s clinginess to a woman’s hip, abdomen, and thigh areas. Additionally, some fabric is so thin that it’s almost invisible over bumps, curves, and wrinkles. Wearing such attire in public without trying to cover these areas sets off a modesty radar among some Christians.
The definition of Christian modesty.
Reading the apostle Paul’s letters in the New Testament helps shed light on this touchy subject. In each letter, he discusses cultural difficulties faced by local believers while offering insight into how to live a practical life as a person of faith. Peter does so in his two letters intended to flow between several churches in Asia Minor. In 1 Peter 3:3-4, he addresses what women wore, advising us not to focus on the externals and lose sight of the great truth of Christ living in us.
Apparently, the women of Peter’s day were much like contemporary Christian women: concerned about their outer appearance. He encouraged women to decide that improving their spiritual relationship with God was most important. He hit the nail on the head when he implied that if our focus is correct, all other issues will fall into place. It’s essential to note that modesty is a posture of the heart, not rules to shame women into submission. Both women and men are called to be modest towards God in all that God has given them.
Can clothing be fashionable and modest?
When a woman says she wants to be attractive, the next question is, what are you trying to attract? It’s possible to dress fashionably while remaining modest. It’s about how we wear clothing as what we wear. Actress Lauren Hutton once said that fashion is what designers offer us four times a year. Style is what you choose. We choose what we want to convey about ourselves by our clothing choices. A woman must answer the question of what she hopes to convey. Then, all of her choices will be easier.
Is it appropriate to tell a woman what to wear?
Using the Bible as a guide, we see that the apostles carefully preached against using lists of behavior as spiritual tests. Instead, they gave principles upon which to build. It would be best to follow their example. It’s easy to be distracted by the externals, but we should resist. If we’re so consumed to please God and spread the gospel, we’re less likely to be tripped up by someone else’s choices.
We can make false assumptions about the spirituality or motives of others based on a first glance. We believe we know what they’re thinking without even talking to them. This idea is particularly true with hot topic issues like clothing choices. A person’s wardrobe selections act as a message board. For example, consider the teenage girl dressed in black, with dyed-black hair and black fingernails. What do you think she’s saying to the world?
Also, think about the guy wearing heavy necklaces and baggy t-shirts with slung low pants. An older woman who always wears revealing tops and too much lipstick sends a different message. None of these characters need to say anything for you to gain an understanding that they’re hiding their genuine self behind a costume and they want your attention. The same could be said for a woman in practically transparent, skin-tight, buttock-enhancing yoga pants paired with a baggy, cropped sweater.
What kind of attention should we give? What about a genuine friendship with no strings attached? Better yet, what would Jesus do? is still an excellent question to consider. We may want to step back and give grace. Unless we do know the other person well, and perhaps not even then, we can’t know what was in her mind when she got dressed that morning.
How to stop the madness.
In any case, we should think before reacting to someone else and pay attention to ourselves. Galatians 5:22-23 illustrates the fruit of the Spirit, which never goes out of style. When we dress our inner person with these characteristics, our outer self will be easier to manage in a way that pleases God. As 1 Peter 3:4 tells us, that’s the whole point: we should live for ourselves, not others.