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God Says, Keep Those Thighs Covered, Ladies

modesty check

Snark ahead! You have been warned.

The Bible says in Isaiah 47:2,3:

Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

See, ladies? Right there in the King James Bible, it says it is a sin to uncover your thighs. It does? Yes, just read carefully between the lines and run it through an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) filter, and then you’ll see THE truth!

I found the following graphic in an article written by Daphne Kirkland titled, A Return to Biblical Modesty. It is linked to Fairhavens Baptist Church — an IFB group located in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Bob Kirkland pastors the church, so I assume the writer of the aforementioned article is a family member, his wife perhaps?

dressing modestly

Time to clean out your closets, ladies. Get those thighs covered NOW lest God strikes thee dead. Bruce, my thighs are completely covered — with pants. Oh my Gawd, you whore. Pants are for men, not women. Deuteronomy 22:5 says:

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.

Enough said, right? The Big Man hath spoken. Time to get out your culottes (Baptist shorts), maxi-dresses, and feed sacks. No sexy for you, girl.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    I HATE HATE HATE these gender-based modesty clothing rules. Somebody has a LOT of time on their hands to go about compiling these charts complete with accompanying cherry-picked Bible verses to use as backup.

    The first time I was exposed to something like this was 6th grade at my fundamentalist Christian school. Our health & phys ed teacher who doubled as middle school science teacher began our health & phys ed curriculum with info about hygiene and dress. Our school had a strict dress code, more strict for girls of course than for boys. 6th grade was when they really started enforcing it for girls. I don’t remember diagrams, but we students had to model in front of each other how to check ourselves for skirt length while bending over, sitting, how to sit properly as diagrammed above, and checking our tops when we raised our arms or bent over. There wasn’t a collarbone rule, but no bra straps were to be showing, nothing was to be see-through, tops had to have sleeves, and you weren’t supposed to see armpits during any sort of motion. She also made us take our measurements (height, weight, bust, hip, waist, etc.) and told us that the perfect female ratio was for the bust and hip measurements to be equal with waist measurement exactly 10 inches smaller (think 36-26-36). She asked us to raise our hands if any of us had the perfect measurements (and at 11 and 12 years old, none of us did but some of the more vain girls lied). Looking back, that’s when I started feeling bad about my body. For the record, I have NEVER had that perfect ratio – my body type isn’t that way – but I have NEVER forgotten it.

    But back to the dress rules – girls would be sent home for dress code violations (to be fair, boys were sent home for their hair being too long because they had specific rules with a diagram for that). We girls were also monitored for how we were sitting in class – and would be called out for sitting inappropriately. It was abundantly clear that girls were responsible for keeping their bodies covered at all times and for not wearing anything too tight so as to be thought “sexy”, and we were taught this starting at age 11. ELEVEN. Because 11-year-olds are sooooo voluptuous and sexy.

    Before going on our Senior class trip to Florida, the girls had to bring in each one-piece bathing suit that we planned to bring on the trip and model before our female principal, a female teacher, and the female school secretary who recorded a list of each swimsuit description by each girl’s name. We were only to bring the approved swimsuits on the trip. We also were given a packet as to what casual clothing was allowed, including length of shorts, types of tops (nothing sleeveless, how long shorts needed to be, etc…).

    I had body image issues for years and years (and at age 48 I still do to a lesser extent). I have NEVER told my daughter that ridiculous measurement ratio because I didn’t want to infect her with that. (I still have no idea why that teacher made us measure ourselves….) After I graduated from that school, I didn’t wear a dress/skirt for about 2 years except when I had to for church. After that, I bought some mini-skirts and a (gasp) 2 piece swimsuit. Now I wear pretty much what I damn well please.

    This type of thing is DAMAGING to young girls. It teaches us that our bodies are somehow shameful and sends the implicit message that we are at fault if guys ogle us, molest us, attack us, make lewd comments, etc. It’s hard to get over this deep-seated programming.

    And I know it’s been awhile since I took biology class, but isn’t that a kneecap and not a thigh?

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    I’d like to point out that the dictionary definition from the knee to the hip should be read as exclusive not inclusive. The thigh does not include the kneecap just as it does not include the hip.
    Another point is the absurdity of bolstering “God’s word” with a dictionary.

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    So God apparently saw fit not to do anything about the Holocaust but he is going to be LIVID if a young woman’s neckline is “too low”? Right. That’s a God I really want to have a close personal relationship with. (Snark.)

    The guidelines above would be funny but. . .ObstacleChick, you are right: this kind of thing is deeply, deeply damaging. “The perfect female form”? My teenage niece is currently in the throes of anorexia, desperately anxious about perfection, being the best etc (not because she has received this kind of indoctrination) and part of the job of her family and the professionals involved with her care is to encourage her towards a mindset which says ” I don’t have to be perfect. I am okay as I am.”

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    Do not where what please you, where what please God, it’s not about you, it’s all about God. It’s not damaging to be modest and there is no shame because you are covered.Women that are dressed immodest are naked in the eyes of God and you are wicked to be walking in public and causing men to lust at.
    Another reason for Christian women to dress properly is illustrated in Matthew 5:28. Jesus told the men of his day: “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” YOU may not realize this but men are stimulated by sight.

    The wicked thought is as bad as the actual deed. The first look is usually an accident, but the second look is sin. Do you want to be guilty of causing someone to sin?

    While it is wrong for a man to look and lust, it is equally wrong for a woman to intentionally dress in such a provoking manner that she inspires that lust.

    A woman who emphasizes sex and purposely provokes men by the way she dresses and walks may be guilty of leading them into sin, and on into Hell if they are lost.

    (1 Corinthians 8:13) – “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

    God has given women these guidelines for dress so that they will not stimulate men by their appearance. They are also designed to protect the woman from the lusts of the man. Ungodly men who are “turned on” by the enticing look of an immodestly dressed woman may fulfill their sexual desires in the form of rape. Modesty in our dress and appearance is for our protection.

    The third motivation for dressing and looking properly is strictly a selfish one. It is solely for the benefit of our husbands.

    (1 Corinthians 7:4) – “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

    My husband owns me. I am my husband’s property. (Oops, I just lost the women’s libbers.) As his property I have no right to give what belongs to him to another man, even if it is only in that man’s mind, via lust. There is only one man in the world that has a right to lust after me and that man is my husband.

    Don’t show or allow another man to see what by rights belongs only to your husband through the benefit of marriage. If you are not married, then don’t take away from your future husband what he is rightfully entitled to.

    I can hear some of you saying, “But I have to show off what I have in order to get a husband, don’t I?” With that kind of thinking, there is a good chance that you will end up with the wrong kind of husband and you will be sorry for the rest of your life. Be a godly, modest, humble woman and let God find the perfect mate for you.

    (James 1:17) – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

    Your next argument more than likely will be, “Why can’t I wear what I want. That’s my choice. He doesn’t have to look to me. That’s his choice.” Yes, of course, dear, that’s just the kind of response I was expecting from someone who doesn’t want to take responsibility for her own actions.

    Sure he has a choice. He can walk in front of a bus, drive his car off the road into a ditch, fall off a scaffold or down an open manhole, all because he was too busy craning his neck to look at you to pay attention to what he was supposed to be doing. Just what choice do you think that you are giving him?

    Ask yourself these questions the next time you are tempted to wear something suggestive or inappropriate: Would my Lord, my Saviour, my Father, my King be pleased at my appearance? Would I want to be wearing this when Jesus comes? Am I bringing honor and glory to Jesus Christ whom I represent by the clothes I am wearing?

    Your clothes are talking, ladies. What are they saying?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      OMG, did you really just say that if women want to avoid getting raped, they should dress “modestly?” Is your husband a rapist-in-waiting, Andre? Did you really just blame male horniness and lack of sexual self-control on women and how they dress? Is your husband a rapist-in-waiting, Andre?

      As far as “what would Jesus think?” Who the fuck cares? Jesus has been dead for 2,000 years. You, however, are an enabler of of pathetic, weak horny men, giving them an excuse to treat women as property. You are so enslaved to these ideas that you genuinely believe you are your husband’s property. Your interpretation of the Bible has robbed you of any sense of self-worth.

      I feel sorry for you, Andre, I really do. You deserve far better than being a slave to your patriarchal husband.??

    • Avatar
      ... Zoe ~

      Andre: “Sure he has a choice. He can walk in front of a bus, drive his car off the road into a ditch, fall off a scaffold or down an open manhole, all because he was too busy craning his neck to look at you to pay attention to what he was supposed to be doing. Just what choice do you think that you are giving him?”

      Zoe: Andre, you are accusing a woman/women of potentially murdering someone because they looked at her lustfully based on her clothing. What an awful burden you place on any woman who reads this or sits under your leadership believing you know what you are talking about.

      You can cover a woman from head to toe, it won’t stop her from being raped. You think men who rape are turned on and that rape is all about sex?

      You are not your husbands property. You are no man’s property. And if your man considers you to be his property, he is no man.

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      First of all, Andre, dump the “ladies” nonsense. Condescending, sexist crap.

      Secondly, I do not accept representations from mortals on behalf of gods. If your divine buddy can’t come tell me something in person, instead of sending a plethora of errand-boys and a steaming heap of archaic religious fiction, I can’t be arsed to listen.

      Finally, my clothes clearly state “This shirt is much cooler with the top two buttons undone, and if some religious kook hassles me about it, I can always stomp on his instep with my Sensible Shoes™ so that he has to limp to church for a couple of weeks. 😀

    • Avatar
      Benny S

      Andre: “Would my Lord, my Saviour, my Father, my King be pleased at my appearance?”

      Me: Well, I’m sure “Yes, Andre”, your Lord would be pleased at your appearance, since he made you exactly as you are. He knew what your appearance was / would be, throughout your entire life, even before you were born. And he currently sees your exact appearance every time you cleanse your body hygienically. He loves you just the way you are. He sees every woman and man just the way they are, even without clothing. Just as he did with both Adam and Eve. On behalf of your Lord, I implore you not to be ashamed of your appearance.

    • Avatar

      Wow, for a moment I thought this was satire by the way it was written. Time to accept that humans are sexual. It’s keeps the species going. And a percentage of men are gay and don’t care what women are wearing as they are checking out her husband and the way he fills out his pants. Teach the men to be responsible. Women are not things to be owned like cats and dogs, they can determine their own path through life.

    • Avatar

      unsurprisingly andre is a misogynistic little boy who is afraid of women. Poor dear, he just is incompetent and can’t control himself.

      Happily, not all men are as weak as poor lil’ Andre. They aren’t uncontrollably stimulated by whatever they see and don’t blame others.

      Trying to blame women and how they dress for the actions of rapist are the words of a coward and apologist for failures.

      and nothing I have “belongs” to anyone else, little boy.

      I’m going to guess that poor Andre is a poor self-proclaimed “incel” who blames everyone for his incompetence. It’s easy to see why no one would like him at all. What a sad asshole.

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    John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    I go down the beach swimming all year (except winter) and I see plenty of lovely women in bathers. Their thighs are not covered. I bet that many bible nuts who live near the sea go down the beach. They don’t cover their eyes either, yet they pontificate on their idiocy. Don’t these religious nutters realize that men can appreciate beauty in women without having sex with them? Perhaps if they treated ladies with dignity and respect they would realize how silly their views are.

  6. Avatar
    John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    This Spaniard viii character claims that lust (natural sexual attraction) is planted in our minds by demons ( See his post called “Fallen Angels, Demons And The tactics They Use To Entrap You”). So I suspect that he would claim that women showing any thighs are controlled by demons and men who find them attractive are likewise controlled by demons. Why doesn’t he recognize that humans are sexual beings who appreciate beauty and are still capable of treating others with dignity?

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    Ohmygosh, this reminded me that two years ago I was at a funeral for my husband’s aunt. His family is verrrry religious. After the service I got pulled aside by my sister-in-law suggesting that I might want to go home and change. I looked down… I was wearing black slacks and very modest blouse with 3/4 sleeves but apparently there was the tiniest bit of cleavage showing. Ummmm I was 55 years old, there with my husband and the service was at a cemetery chapel. I turned to her and said, “No, I’m fine actually” and then I walked away. Seriously – she was more worried about my blouse than anything else going on at the moment. Perhaps it would have been better to worry about the fact that the deceased’s “Christian” husband had recently been let out of jail (on charges of molestating his daughter when she was a child as well as others) so he was sitting on one side of the chapel with the minister, while everyone else.. I mean everyone else… was sitting on the opposite side of the chapel. Or maybe we could have been focusing on that wonderful woman’s life and accomplishments? Nope. A glimpse of my upper bosom was surely what god was concerned with. Yeesh. How women cannot see that they assist to perpetuate this patriarchal BS is beyond me.

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    Benny S

    Quite timely Bruce. Here are two companion posts from The Friendly Atheist (Hemant Mehta) that have been posted in the last couple of days.

    (Headline) This Christian Jerk Criticized Women At the Beach for Wearing Revealing Swimsuits

    (Headline) Logan Dorn, the Christian Who Harassed Women At the Beach, Says He’s Not Sorry

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      Ok, see, as a 5’10” woman with the coordination of a drunk newborn giraffe, I’ve never really worn heels. Even so, I couldn’t figure out the physics of how that’s supposed to work, so I feel better that I’m not the only one confused. And why are these modest women wearing heels in the first place?! Isn’t the whole point that it makes your bahookey and legs look better? Surely flats are the godly way to go.

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      My view will only make this whole conversation worse…but here it goes.

      I’ve worn a lot of skirts of various lengths and tightness, and many styles of high heels, some being rather dangerously high, and I can attest that I have never had a skirt made tighter by high heels.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    I think that one of the biggest evils Christianity promotes is the concept of thought sins, especially the idea that someone can commit adultery by having a lustful thought. Getting people to believe in thought sins is a terrific way of asserting control over them, because it can make them live in terror of their brain going off and doing something that a deity disapproves of. IIRC, the book of Matthew is thought to date from 80 to 90 CE, so the new religion was getting started on the sexy thoughts = sin bandwagon fairly early.

  10. Avatar

    I remember what the dress code was at our religious church college. Well, married students lived in apartments that weren’t technically on campus, but I think were owned by the college? So I remember a discussion about the administration wanting to stop us from wearing (GASP) shorts. It didn’t go anywhere. Really, really narrow-minded as there was no air conditioning in those apartments!

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    MJ Lisbeth

    If “modesty” is supposed to “protect “ women—whether from the predations of men or the wrath of God—why is it that what Afghani women fear most about a return of the Taliban—who, when they ruled two decades ago, mandated that women be draped from head to toe, except for a cloth grill in front of their eyes—is sexual violence?

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    These people are as obsessed with female anatomy, and in just as dreary and by-the-numbers a way, as the most talentless pornographer. I suspect there are underlying mental commonalities.

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    I still despise these ridiculous mandates about women covering themselves. Covering ourselves doesn’t protect us from sexual assault. My mom was molested as a 5 year old – pretty sure she had no cleavage to show. And I recently found out that a great uncle molested his own son….and we don’t know if he molested any of his other 4 children. Pretty sure they weren’t showing thighs or cleavage either.

  14. Avatar

    I want to answer these questions from my own personal perspective, based solely on my gender, which I am sure will cause the Modesty Police a great deal of angst.

    Does my blouse or upper apparel reveal anything when I lean forward? No, never. But if you stare anyway, we need to talk…

    Does my button down apparel leave gaping holes when I move? No, never. Button down apparel gaps when it does not fit well. Although, on occasion some of my buttons may be left undone purposely. 😈 If it is gapping unintentionally, then you have a fit or design issue. Again, if you are looking at me that closely, we need to talk….

    Do the sleeves on my upper apparel reveal underclothing when I raise my arms? Never. Arm raising count = 1

    Is my upper apparel of see through material, revealing what is underneath? Depending on where I am going, it may well be. And it will be quite tastefully worn. Are you still staring?? Hmmmmmm.

    Is the top tight and form fitting, bringing attention to my form? Sometimes. You are still looking? Do you like how it fits??

    Is my neckline too low to be acceptable unto God? I don’t think this will ever be a problem for me. I’m very certain the bible doesn’t define a neckline for me, or view my plunging neckline as bad, even when its more than 10 fingers.

    Is my top so short that my midriff shows when I raise my hands? sometimes, but I wonder why you keep looking and what you expect to see? Arms raised count = 2.

    Is my skirt too low causing my underwear to show when I bend over or lift my hands above my head? No, I never really got into this style. Just not my thing. I usually have the opposite problem of the skirt riding up, which, oddly, is not on your list of modesty. Arm raised count = 3.

    When I check in a full length mirror is my skirt or dress form fitting in the back? Depending on the style, it may be form fitting if it fits properly. Since you seem to be checking it out, what do you think? Do you like how it fits? 😇

    If a man wore pants that were as form fitting would it be acceptable unto God? Well.. that depends entirely on the man, and the assets of the man. I believe many styles worn by men are an affront to every being in the universe. I also get the idea you don’t like men in tight pants, which is fine. Yet you seem to be spending time looking for gaps, underwear, and shape hugging clothing on me. Umm.. well, I guess it’s because my gender is not male, right?

    Is my dress or skirt too tight causing my underwear outline to show? Again… you keep looking However, in my case, I consider this to be tacky and poor fashion. But you can address this with a different underwear style, or no underwear at all! Oh, sorry, I probably just exploded you mind on multiple levels there..what exactly are you picturing in that good, wholesome mind?

    Does my skirt or dress rise above my knees when I sit down or put on high heel shoes? No, because its usually already above my knees when standing up, unless I opt for a long flowy skirt on hot summer days.

    Is my skirt too tight when I put on high heels shoes? I’m not sure what this means. I also am not sure a skirt can be too tight. But I am sure that someone has a fetish about watching someone put on high heels. Since you have mentioned it..often…I have a lot of high heels that could entertain for hours 😈 – be careful what you lust for….

    Is there a slit in my dress or skirt that comes above my knees when standing or sitting? Wow, you are very observant of skirts. Quite impressive. Personally, I find high slits a bit difficult to manage for daily wear. BUT, on the right occasion, or location, or event, yes, I find high slits to be quite fun. Apparently you observe slits often?

    Is my skirt or dress so thin that it can be seen through when in front of a bright light or sunlight? Oh yes, sometimes. Apparently you also take time to notice as well? I wonder, do you roam around trying to find places that are backlit with bright lights?

    So, from this, I want to make a few observations:

    1) Someone has a fetish with high heels, and in particular, watching someone put them on.
    2) Hands over head count is 3. This seems odd to me. Are you around people often who have their arms in the air? I’ve been involved in groups where this is common, quite often at the Cross of St Andrew. I know how fun that can be, but I don’t recall it ever being any more or less revealing…
    3) Maybe, just maybe, someone is too busy staring at others in tight, low, or short clothing, or spending far too much time looking in the gaps. Perhaps it would be better to learn a small bit of self control. FYI, an intense study of St Andrew can help with that…

    It’s not a woman’s job, nor anyone’s job, to help you manage your actions or thoughts. It’s your job. I remember reading some story where one guy actually taught that it was better to gouge out eyes than be looking at such things. Thank god thats not a christian thing, right? No, much better to blame the other person for your lack of self control since they are so tempting.

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    Many years ago I heard a lecture about how the passage of time and the needs of translation have changed the Bible we have now from the ancient texts. One example I recall was that the men working on the King James translation faced a problem: the original mentioned animals from the Middle East which are unknown in England (jackals and hyenas, as I recall) so they wrote “badgers” so the readers had some idea of what was meant. another example was the word “thigh”; apparently long ago in the Middle East it was a euphemism for male genitals, not the leg above the knee. with that meaning the injunction makes more sense! Beware of the passage of time.

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Bruce Gerencser