I grew up in the generation of mini skirts, Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and string bikini’s. Modesty in the late 80’s in central Florida was a practical challenge. For one thing, it was HOT. All the time. For another, because everyone sees each other in bathing suits so much, really short shorts don’t seem too revealing. Plus, I wasn’t really all that motivated to pursue modesty. Even the word sounded dowdy and matronly- not sophisticated and sexy, which was my goal. (I failed miserably as, in truth, I was just cute) Over the years I’ve seen lots of people go to extremes or legalism to “encourage” (ie. enforce) this principle from God’s word. In the name of modesty people measured hem lengths, vetoed bathing suits altogether or (only slightly less ridiculous) worn culottes. They’ve assumed anything stylish or figure flattering was leading to a possible immodest moment, and created judgmental attitudes within their church cultures toward those who dressed in those ways. Or they’ve gone to the opposite extreme, saying they have freedom to dress however they want, and God doesn’t judge us by our outward appearance, etc.

I think in both cases, we’re missing the point. Modesty is not a rule you can legislate. It is not a concept you can ignore either. It is an attitude that is reflected in our entire appearance, not just clothing (or lack thereof, as the case may be). Modesty says, I do not wish to bring attention to myself as a sex object. I am not trying to entice men. I am seeking to glorify God in the way he created me to express beauty, creativity, femininity and grace. It is a posture of the heart that seeks to ask questions such as: Is how I am dressed distracting from God’s purpose for my life or enhancing it? Is the way I carry myself promoting seduction? Am I approachable and comfortable for people to be around? Does my speech uplift others or draw their mind down “in the gutter”? Am I seeing myself as an object of desire, or a woman of worth?

Modesty should at the very least, include an understanding that beauty is a powerful gift that can be used for good or evil. Sexuality is a sacred treasure to be shared within the context of a life-long committed marriage. And while beauty is of some value, it can be used as a mask to hide behind. So, this summer, I will shed the layers and let the legs see the light of day (which means I have to shave my whole leg, not just my calf…..I should blog about laziness soon). But I will also be asking, is this “look”, outfit or item of clothing sending the right message? 


One response »

  1. Deb I love this article! You sent me back in time with your description of Florida in the 80's! You can tell it is summertime for teachers if I am able to read facebook and a blog at the same time! Love you, Joanna

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