Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Thoughts on modesty

Yesterday at the doctor’s office, I was flipping through the latest issue of “Vanity Fair” magazine and I was chuckling at the fact that some people really consider the clothes on the pages fashionable! One picture, a Calvin Klein ad, showed a woman in ultra-low waisted jeans with no shirt, clutching a baby to barely cover her front. When my three year-old daughter's eyes met the picture, she piped up and said, “Mommy, those ladies are nudies!” At that point it dawned on me that even a three year-old recognizes when someone is dressed inappropriately! It’s just obvious.

Modesty is a "hot button" topic for Christians due to the wide range of opinions on the subject. In the past, I have been taught that women should always steer clear of wearing clothes that attract the attention of men. While I think that this principle has a small seed of truth in it, I believe that this concept can be taken too far, leaving a woman to feel that it is her responsibility to keep a man pure in his thinking. On the other end of the spectrum, some women believe that anything goes-if you've got it flaunt it! After all, God gave you your body, why hide it?

The Bible addresses modesty here:

...the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
1 Timothy 2:9-10

Many interpret this as meaning that any adornment, jewelry or fashion of any kind is unacceptable. All attempts to be physically beautiful are considered as sin.

For me, this verse speaks of the heart of a woman. Rather than adorning ourselves only in things that make us physically beautiful and draw attention to ourselves, we should seek to adorn ourselves in godliness with good works. I don’t see this verse as a prohibition on worldly beauty, but rather a reminder of priority. Do I want my beauty to be from without or from within?

As women, it can be very easy and satisfying to receive the attention of men, but true peace and “self-esteem” come from a heart that is actively pursuing God. HE will let us know we are beautiful and of great value. A woman who consistently seeks her value in a man's reaction to her is missing out on the inner confidence that only God can give.

As far as modesty is concerned, rather than making a list of rules for myself and my girls, I try to get to the heart of the issue. I try to steer my daughters clear of inappropriate clothing, not through do's and don'ts, but rather through teaching them to seek God's best in their lives. I want their look to reflect what is inside their heart, not their desperation for attention!