Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Modesty

I've been asked to share some thoughts on modesty. There needs to be a lot of grace shown when we address such a broad topic. Certainly grace should be displayed to the woman who has recently come to know Jesus and has not been taught by the Holy Spirit the she is now to imitate Jesus Christ rather than the world. Women need to exhibit grace towards fellow believers who are males, instead of holding fast to our "right" to dress as we like. We need to show grace to those whose definition of modesty differs from ours. When we are teaching and admonishing on this topic - it must be done with grace. Honestly, I've seen many brand new baby believers devastated by well-meaning older women taking them to task for showing up in church dressed like a slut. I'd rather see the gal SHOW UP and witness God transform her from the inside out than slam the door of the church in her face. Grace...wonderful, amazing grace. I needed it for salvation, I need it to live my life...and I need to extend the same grace to those around me.

This is a topic I've thought about a lot. Have you TRIED to buy modest clothes for a little girl these days? If you doubt the sexualization of our young women, you need to visit the mall - or Walmart. I went shopping for Stacia recently. The only dresses we could find (she prefers dresses) are either Holiday type or mini-skirts with midriff-baring tops. It angers me that a generation of women are being raised to believe that they have little to offer other than their bodies. Ladies, you are much more than a dress size or the sum total of your various body parts. Don't buy into this mentality.

I found one use of the word "modest" in Scripture. I Tim 2:9..."...women adorn themselves in modest apparel." I looked up the word modest (Strong's 2887) - literally means "orderly, decent, well-arranged" (Vines). I would guess there is agreement that modest means orderly and well-arranged. Clean. But the word "decent" causes some strife.

Modesty is hard to pin down as we all have different ideas of what constitutes "modest". Some think that a woman must always wear a dress or have her head covered due to modesty. Some feel that bikinis are perfectly modest. I've lived in countries where men wore g-strings and women went topless - with grass skirts. In the Philippines, on Mindanao, the women swam in dresses - that was considered modest. Certainly, culture plays a part in how we dress.

Culture, however, should NOT determine what our clothing portrays. We are called to give a correct representation of Christ to the world around us. This is done by the way we act, speak and yes, dress. We are always in the presence of God. Are we comfortable with what we are wearing in His presence?

In years of mentoring women, I've noticed that sometimes an attitude develops that the problem is MEN. If THEY weren't "so perverted," women could dress however they wish. That is WRONG THINKING ladies. We KNOW that we are to avoid causing others to stumble in their walk with Christ. If my dress is causing a man (or I suppose a woman) to stumble - out of love for Christ - I will adjust what I wear. Men DO need to learn to bounce their eyes. Men DO need to control their thoughts....but ladies, WHY do we need to dress immodestly? What does this say about US?

I've come to think that modesty is a heart issue. Listen to the rest of the definition: modesty is, "not only the propriety of his dress and demeanor, but of his INNER LIFE, uttering and expressing itself outwardly." (Zodhiates)

When we notice someone dressing immodestly, we need to pray about what is being said concerning their inner life. As those inner issues are healed, the outer issues may disappear.

So - what is immodest? I think that I am going to leave the specific details of that up to each reader. Here are a few thoughts that I personally consider:

*What do my clothes "say" to those around me?

*If you question if what you have on is modest; it probably isn't. ::snort::

*Am I giving a correct representation of Christ by my dress?

*Am I causing another to stumble by my dress?

*Do I look neat and orderly?

*If you are short (which I'm rumored to be) it is beneficial to have a taller person tell you what your clothes look like from their vantage point. Yes, I HAVE given outfits away after comments from Mike and my tall boys.

Just as an aside....women are not the only ones with a modesty problem in our society. You have only to spend a bit of time poolside or at the gym to discover that truth. We ALL will benefit from considering how we dress.

Rather random - but there they are a few thoughts on modesty.

Choosing Joy!
©2009 D.R.G.


Anonymous said...

Yes, and amen! Preach on, sista!
And I have also discovered the phrase, Coram Deo, as a regular feature in the Tabletalk magazine by Dr. R.C. Sproul. Good stuff. (It's one of my theology resource links on the sidebar.)

Wild Homeschool Family said...

That was a good post. I am short too (yes I'll admit it!) and didn't ever think of the tall short scenario.

Modesty is so much as you said.

Hayley needed a new jacket and yipee they're on clearance. She is right in between kids large and adults small so we looked in both. Oh and she wanted black rather than pastel for a change! The girls black jackets were made to look slinky or something. Grown up I guess. There were no black left in ladies, mens small was too big. We hit the boys section and found just a nice plain black coat which looks like it would be fine for a boy or a girl. We'll add a couple cute ladybug or cat patches to dress it up a little. I was glad we actually found something. You wouldn't think there would be this problem with coats! The girls coats all had Hannah Montana on them or were made to look more adult like.

all in the family said...

I enjoyed your blog post DeEtta. I feel convicted about dressing modestly and yes it takes on different meanings to different people. Thank goodness we already shop in the thrift stores, because quite honestly that is the ONLY place I can find modest clothing. I have found SOME at Penney's, but very little. Alot of my girlfriends have taught their daughters to sew and they are actually sewing their own clothes, bc the ones out there are not modest enough. There is a line of patterns and there are online companies that specialize in modest clothing. I also think, like many things, that it (modesty) can be taken TOO far (legalism). Like you said, it is based upon each individual convictions. Like we have about 3-4 women in our church that wear head coverings. That is NOT ALL. Those are just the ones that are feeling the Lord's conviction in that area of their lives and to be honest it is SUCH a blessing to see.

Stephanie said...

It is so hard to raise a girl in a society that doesn't appreciate or encourage modesty. Just another reason that we are thankful that we homeschool! DD has never felt like she needed to be anything other than her own style. I've been so thankful that she is drawn to dress modestly, too. (And, she's learning to sew as well!) Oh - we've also had great success at thrift stores. Might be someplace to check.

Kristine said...

Great post, DeEtta.