A few years ago a mom in my church came to me thanking me for my recent blog posts on modesty. She has five girls and communicated to me that it was hard to find articles and books on modesty. I think she said that few people have the guts to actually write on such an unpopular subject. Her comments make me smile and yet, there’s real truth in her comments. There are a handful of reformed folks that have talked about modesty, but it’s not something that’s communicated often. And it’s a topic that when it’s communicated, it can be communicated in such a way that leaves people with a list of rules (though I know is unintentional) instead of motivating through Scripture and grace. I recently completed an awesome book, Becoming Chao. In this book (which is a printed form of her blog), Colleen has a “chapter” on modesty. This should be added to the excellent resources given us by such people as Nancy Leah DeMoss, the Mahaney Girls, and Al Mohler. Though lengthy, I’ve copied it below. You can also read it (and many other insightful posts) on Colleen’s blog. I strongly encourage you to check it out!
These days no one notices anything about me but my belly. If I really wanted people to look at my face, I’d have to tack a picture of it onto my shirt. Other body parts are equally lost in the ever-increasing bulge we endearingly call Baby Jeremy.
So in some ways, modesty will be easier than ever for me this summer. I mean, what guy’s gonna check-out a waddling, huffing and puffing, nine-month pregnant girl, right? I can wear anything I want…
Or can I? Humorously enough, I’m still holding my Annual Modesty Conference with myself and Jesus—a yearly reevaluation of my wardrobe and my heart. This year, my husband is a keynote speaker at the conference, addressing my specific clothing questions: "Is this top alright, Babe?" and "Is this skirt too short, Hon?" and "What about these shorts?"
Don’t you wish you had clear-cut answers to the questions of modesty? A once-and-for-all measurement for what’s modest and what’s not. But then, we wouldn’t need to seek our Father’s heart and examine our own, would we? A formula, or a once-size-fits-all approach, would rob us of living by faith.
At 35 years old, I still find myself in a semi-depressed funk at the end of a shopping excursion—trying to find just one pair of shorts that aren’t scandalously short, but that aren’t completely dorky either. Looking for a summer top that covers your boobs? Maybe it’s just a Southern California thing, but all the stores seem to be fresh out.
Over time, I’ve heard quite a few girls scoff at the idea of modesty, declaring men to be disgusting perverts who should learn to control their eyes and thoughts. To be fair, let me propose a parallel: If a good-looking guy wrote you insanely romantic love letters, wined and dined you, and daily told you how beautiful and charming you are—and then scolded you when you became emotionally involved ("You should guard your heart better," he chides), wouldn’t that be just a tad frustrating?
Same idea: You can’t flaunt your stuff and then tell a guy to stop wrestling with those thoughts…
But you know all this already. And so do I. Yet we girls continue to struggle with this issue, to indulge our vanity and pride with "show-and-tell" clothing. Or maybe we don’t flaunt it, but we push the envelope. Or maybe we don’t even push the envelope, but our heart is full of the wrong intentions and motivations.
I’m not blogging about this because I have any easy or satisfying answers—for myself or for anyone else. But wouldn’t you agree that this issue definitely starts in our hearts? If my heart’s cry is to honor and show Jesus in every facet of my life, I have to honestly ask myself, "Does my wardrobe honor Him?" Or does it feed my vanity, my longing to feel beautiful, my desire for attention, and my competitive spirit with other girls? Do I have a divided heart, trying to serve two masters? (According to Matthew 6:24, that doesn’t work out so well.)
Men of integrity, who are committed to purity, already have to fight hard enough in our flesh-flaunting culture. (I really don’t know how they do it, especially in summertime.) So why would we, as Christian women, add to their struggle? I know I have been guilty of this myself, and it breaks my heart.
I wonder: when men think of me, do they immediately think of my body? Or do they think of my countenance and character? Lord, let them think of You when they think of me! Let me hide (the important parts) and seek (Your heart).