I was given a little booklet on different takes on modesty by my soon-t0-be-hubs. It was something he received in the mail that he thought I might like to read as I minister to women – not because he felt like I needed to change the way I dress. But, I always need to be encouraged in this area as well.
I’m going to jot down some thoughts on each of these little papers: this is one by Robert Spinney, who is a professor at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. Some of these quotes are taken from Dressed to Kill.
“The Christian’s wardrobe is no small matter.” What a profound introduction statement. We often get up in the morning, get dressed, and do so without thinking about what we are wearing. We need to think more about it. Not from a prideful or materialistic mind and heart, but in a “how can I honor Christ and my brothers” way.
This discussion is not about checklists and legalism. But, let’s continue to pursue modesty out of a necessity to glorify Christ more with our dress.
Hebrews 12:14 “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” How do we strive for holiness even in this area. I remember a few weeks ago having to go to the store to buy a bathing suit top. I had some cute shorts from last season and I just needed to find a modest top. Do you know how hard that is? Really – three stores. 26$. One bathing suit top. Still didn’t feel modest in it. But don’t hear me say that I think we should wear “bathing dresses” like they did in former days.
What do we do when we want to dress stylishly but not immodestly? There are things called t-shirts and tank tops that you can wear under low-cut shirts. But, I would (even for myself) have to question that. Because even when you wear a low cut top with something underneath it to make it not as low: I for one am often concerned about it (to know if the undershirt is staying put) and wear are guys eyes focusing? Is it better for me to be the most stylish person in the room, or the one who honors my brothers? Yes, you can do both – it is just hard.
As I was recently shopping for my wedding dress: I asked if it could be strapless. To some people, strapless and modest will never be able to co-exist. However, I did find one that is extremely flattering and simple and modest – and strapless. Another factor was the “bling”. Where are my others’ eyes drawn to on my wedding dress. Some dresses have low-cut backs or beading/brooches right on the chest – is that really the most honoring to our brothers?
Spinney brings up that modesty is mainly a male issue, not a female one. God’s directive to men (husbands, fathers) is to protect and lead. They can lead in this area as well. I’ve heard CJ Mahaney and his family say this on many occasions, so this is nothing new. Husbands: love your wives enough to not them go out of the house with revealing clothing on as to not let her be ogled over by the guys she’ll come in contact with that day. Wives: ask your husbands to go shopping with you (or to approve what you buy) so you know what will both please him and allow you to be modest at the same time. Dads: protect your daughters. Teach them how men’s minds think and how visual they are when it comes to skin and clothes and bodies of girls. Teach them to honor Christ in their clothing choices. I know a Dad that goes shopping with his two daughters partly for this reason. Kudos!
I loved this Virginia Woolf quote that Spinney uses: it says a lot to what clothes say about us:
“There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mold of arm or breast, but they would mold our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.”
“It is not only your reputation that is at stake when you wear improper clothing: God’s reputation is also at stake.”
I appreciate this post, I think there are more Christians out there that need to think about this issue. We are striving to teach Caylah modesty even at the age of 3. You’d be surprised how much clothing for toddlers…TODDLERS, is not modest! It gets even harder the older they get, but we want her to learn now the importance of glorifying God in what we wear and we also want to protect her from those out there who might be turned on even by a young girl. Thanks for posting this!
And this goes especially for young girls in how they sit and how they get attention with their bodies. I mean, I work in a kids area – and they slide down slides with short skirts on exposing their underwear or are constantly pulling up their dresses. This is not appropriate. Thank you for teaching C about modesty and a heart after God early on Ariana. I hope if we have a little girl someday that we will teach her the same thing!
Not to leave the guys out of this–please, men, we know it’s hot outside, but do keep your shirts on in public. Thank you.
I totally agree with you Erin. Thank you for that comment. Men should not cause their sisters to lust either.
I just never understand why that seems to be an acceptable exception.
When I was in junior high school in Arcadia I was attending a local Church of God Church. We went to summer camp at Lake Childs (30 mi east of Arcadia) and when it was time to go dip in the lake, the boys had to go second after the girls. There was no such time as co-ed swimming.