Jun 3, 2013

Why modesty is important...

First of all, I need to define the 'type' of modesty I'm referring to here... which is probably exactly what you think it is = CLOTHING (or lack thereof)

I have no interest in being a hypocrite in this area, so I'll tell you up front that I AM "that girl" who wears a two-piece swimsuit, fitted tank-tops, & tight jeans... I have a very 'casual' style, but there's definitely room for improvement in the area of modesty. 

This means = no condemnation here! I am simply bringing a little more awareness to a topic many choose to avoid... which is kinda what I do on here = reveal how I'm growing as God brings different things to light in my own personal life :) 

Now... before I start listing what you should or shouldn't wear... we really need to start with the Word of God...

"And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothesFor women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do."  1 Timothy 2:9,10 (NLT)

I wanted to start by pointing out something that really stood out to me from these verses...

Don't dress to draw attention to yourself!

When you put on your shorty-shorts or bikini... look at yourself in the mirror and do a heart-check... ask yourself: "Am I trying to draw attention to myself by wearing this? Do I hope to gain acceptance from a certain person or crowd? Am I hoping this will get a guy to notice me???" We first need to take a good look at our hearts & understand our motivation for dressing the way that we do.

I can recall a time in my life when I thought that what I wore (or lack thereof) was directly related to my ability to 'be in a relationship'... which, at the time, was the only way I thought I could feel secure & loved! So, if I wore something tight or revealing, I quickly figured out that I could get 'approval' & 'acceptance' from a guy rather quickly! 

The problem with this method was... I found out after too many avoidable heartaches... that this approach ALWAYS attracted the complete OPPOSITE type of man with whom I would ever hope to spend my life with! 

I was too young and naive back then to figure this out, but if you really sit down and think about it... what reason would a guy have to pursue me & get to know my heart when, by what I was wearing (and how I acted), all they could see was that I was attractive and completely willing to flaunt my body & (by this it would seem) was inviting them to take something that was never meant to be theirs.

Another thought: have you ever noticed someone that really likes to take pictures of themselves? I'm sure we've all done it at one point or another, but some are quite excessive with this habit (especially teens) and I have to wonder sometimes... who are they (we) trying to get approval from? Especially if we've already been told we are beautiful at one point or another... are we really so insecure that we have to constantly 'prove' our beauty and get affirmation from people we hardly know to truly believe it?

I think an issue we don't like to talk much about is 'Vanity'

The dictionary defines vanity as "Excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements" ...and we already read the verses above that encourage us to not dress with a desire to draw attention to ourselves... so what really is at the root of this issue?

I really think vanity can easily be traced back to our basic human need for acceptance. 

Perhaps we're a complete mess emotionally or spiritually and would prefer to keep our walls up... maybe it's easier to look good on the outside than work on who we are on the inside. We want to be affirmed by others that we are beautiful, but sometimes our definition of what beauty is can be flawed by outside sources like magazines or movies with impossibly slim/busty women! 

We then start to associate true beauty with 1 universal look and forget that we are ALL fearfully & wonderfully made... 

The Word says that our beauty should be shown by our good works & devotion to Christ - not from our layers of makeup, fancy hairstyle, or ridiculously expensive clothing...

The final thing I'd like us to consider after checking our hearts, understanding our motivation, & keeping our vanity/pride in check... is 1 more important piece to this puzzle...

How you dress & carry yourself directly affects your brothers in Christ's attempts at remaining blameless & pure at heart before God.

Now, before you flip over this - just hear me out. 

I am NOT saying that a man's thoughts are YOUR fault. I'm also NOT suggesting that their actions are YOUR fault, but what I AM saying is that you should at least consider how difficult you are making life for some of these poor guys by the way you are dressing & acting in front of them... as well as remembering that we are called to not be 'stumbling blocks' for others... 

(Romans 14: 12-13 pretty much says we can't judge others... for we will ALL have to give an account for our deeds one day... but also make sure not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister in their pursuit of Godliness)

Just so you know, I totally understand that there ARE a lot of gals who are not needy or insecure or trying to attract inappropriate relationships. I think a lot of girls are just comfortable in their own skin - and this is great! I personally didn't stop critiquing my body's flaws until after I was married & finally realized someone could actually love me & find me beautiful regardless of my perceived flaws!

What I have noticed of people who fall into this category though (myself now included) is that they're in a state of ignorance... they do what they want to do and wear whatever they want to wear... without considering how their choices might be affecting others.

Unfortunately - this is a very selfish way to live life.

I don't know if you know this, but I've learned that men are very visual... and sometimes their imagination gets away from them... is this your fault? No, but consider this - if there was a beautiful girl sitting on her beach towel reading a book wearing a one-piece swimsuit... and not far off there was another beautiful girl in an itsy bitsy string bikini slathered in oil stretched out across her towel... which of those girls is going to ultimately end up being the stumbling block for any guy that passes by? Yeah... oil-strings!

The point I'm trying to make here is this: Yes, you have every right to wear what you want, but remember that we've become very desensitized to 'skin' in our generation (notice how swimsuits have changed over the years?) which means that we just aren't shocked by much anymore - but just because 'everybody else is doing it' doesn't make it right (peer pressure 101)... nor does that make something God-approved. 

Really though, why make life that much harder for these guys by leaving so little to the imagination? For that matter, why are we trying to expose so much of what is supposed to be special & enjoyed by our spouse alone? 

I love the story of a father sitting his teenage daughter down & sharing these words: 

"Everything that God made valuable in this world is covered and hard to get to.
Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground. Covered... protected.
Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, 
covered & protected inside of a beautiful shell.
Where do you find gold? Way down in a mine, covered over layers & layers of rock.
You've got to work hard to get at them...

Your body is sacred. You are far more precious than diamonds or pearls
...and so you should be covered (& protected) too."

If you aren't married yet, consider this: If I was visited by the ghost of Christmas past (like the scrooge story ya know) and was shown scenes of my life where I was dressing or acting a certain way to attract men or to cause men to stare and lust after me... or even any scene from those stupid 'relationships' where I didn't protect my heart and gave too much of myself away... or whenever I gave all of myself away... I would literally throw up from how horrible I would feel for remembering just how much was taken away from my future husband, whom I obviously now know. I realize now that the wait would have been so well worth the effort.

If you are already married, consider this: If you already found your man - why on earth are YOU dressing like that? Are you STILL trying to seek attention/approval from other men? Are you trying to look good so other guys will think your husband is lucky? Do you not realize that you're being a stumbling block? What does your spouse think about the way you dress? Have you ever discussed it? Has he attempted to enter this conversation already and you shot him down for questioning your 'free-will'? I had never talked about this with my husband before today, but thankfully he hasn't been worried about me. I think he still appreciated being asked though. He knows I'm all his :)

I stumbled upon a survey that was created from hundreds of young girls asking if certain types of clothing or actions could be considered a 'struggle' for young men... and over 1,000 christian men actually took this survey and answered these questions... and let me just say - "I" was even shocked by some of the things they considered a stumbling block! 

I'd encourage you to click through the topics on the left and then click on any of the Qs that pop up to the right of that topic... then you'll have to scroll down a little to find the results & any comments. I hope you will use this resource as a way to open your eyes to how your choices affect others & will seek to do your best to NOT be a stumbling block to young men who are trying to walk the straight and narrow. 

(Also consider that most of these young christian men immediately lose respect for & actually AVOID girls that wear skimpy/tight clothes... so if you're looking for a good man... don't cheapen your worth by broadcasting your loveliness. Trust God & pray for your future spouse, they might be struggling with some of the same things you are. Remember that God knows the desires of your heart, He knows what's best for you, & knows the best timing... the waiting is hard, but it IS worth it... I promise)

Basic guidelines I've learned over the years:
  • Place your arms to your sides and set your hands flat against your legs - don't wear shorts or skirts shorter than where the tips of your fingers are (knees covered is even better)
  • If your shirt causes your tummy or back or undies to show at all with basic movements or when bending over, put another shirt on underneath and tuck that one in (crack kills ya know!)
  • Consider wearing clothing that isn't quite so tight. If you struggle to wiggle into your jeans, they're probably too tight (sorry) - If your shirt could just as well be spandex because of how tight it is - might want to loosen up a little in that area 2 - especially if you're curvy (it's not fair, but it does make a difference - you'll have to be extra diligent with your clothing choices)
  • Be aware of underwear lines, see-through skirts in need of a slip, & any part of your bra that might be showing. I was shocked to learn from the survey above that a large majority of men agreed that seeing a woman adjust her bra straps (tucking them back in or adjusting or whatever) was a major stumbling block - which was kind of a 'duh' moment, but I never really thought about it before!
  • Bikinis = you could just as well be running around in your bra & underwear if you think about it. Try to find a suit that you feel comfortable in that has full coverage of your buns, tummy, back, & chest... with swim shorts or a skirt for your thighs (yeah those are for ur hubby 2, lol).
These are the most obvious things I could think of, but I'd really encourage you to dig through that modesty survey above and take it to heart. If you're offended by any of this, I'd encourage you to take those feelings to God and ask Him to help you process why you're feeling this way. Again, I'm not trying to say that I've got this all down either, but the conversation has to start somewhere... be blessed :)

View an excellent video on the evolution of the swimsuit by clicking HERE!!!

"God I ask that You would help us process whether what we're wearing is approved by You above all others. Convict us when we get out of line with our vanity & pride. Remind us of how You see us so that we might be content in all You created us to be... instead of seeking attention or acceptance from others first. Amen."

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