Modesty: The word that makes many Christian girls cringe.
It’s a word that implies rules and regulations and standards and oversized t-shirts.
Yet, it’s also a word that’s essential to our lives. But I’m getting ahead of myself now. ;)
What you’re about to read is the first installment in a 3 part series about modesty. Before we begin, I must make a confession and a few disclaimers:
I originally didn’t want to write this post. In fact, I’ve been avoiding writing about modesty for a while now.
Well, because a conversation about modesty can very quickly turn into a list of do’s and don’t’s. And I don’t like telling other girls what to wear. Girls hear enough “Wear this, not that” elsewhere, and I didn’t want this blog to contribute to the noise.
So please don’t take this series as such.
This series isn’t about me and what I think you should wear. This post is about you discovering what God wants you personally to wear. More on that later.
Anywho, now that we’ve cleared that up, here are 3 things you need to know about modesty:
1. Modesty is not about clothes.
I almost titled this post Modesty: I don’t think it means what you think it means for this exact reason.
Dear friend, hear me loud and hear me clear: Modesty is not about clothes. Modesty is not about how long a hem line is. It’s about one’s heart.
1 Peter 3:3-4 commands us not to “let your adorning be external– the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
When I was growing up, this verse had always bothered me for two reasons:
1. I love braiding hair.
2. I’m not all that gentle or quiet.
One day, I looked up the Greek words Peter used, and my mind was blown. The word for gentle is praus, which can mean “humble” or “meek,” and the word used for quiet is hesychios, which can mean “still” or “peaceable.” (Source: ESV Strong’s Bible, via Olive Tree.)
Modesty is humility.
Dictionary.com defines “Modest” as the following: “
The word “clothing” was mentioned no where in that definition. Mind=Blown.
So with this logic, we should strive to be modest in all areas of our lives. Not just in our wardrobe choices.
However, this doesn’t exclude modesty from our wardrobe.
2. Dressing modesty is important. Like it or not.
Like we just established, in order to dress modestly you must firstly have a modest heart. Otherwise you could be covered head to toe and be super prideful. Hiding parts of your body isn’t the point, humility is.
But dressing modesty is still important because your actions should match up with your heart.
Let’s relate this concept to Christianity itself.
“You by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
-Ephesians 3:8-10 ESV
We were not saved by works; we were saved by grace. However, once we become saved, we are to do the good works that God has prepared for us to do.
We are to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you” (Philippians 2:12b-13a ESV).
Works don’t save you, but if you’re saved your actions should reflect that.
In the same way, wearing modest clothes doesn’t make you humble, but if you have a modest and humble heart your clothes should reflect that.
The outward should reflect the inward.
3. Modesty is for both girls and guys.
Between my church and my Christian school, I heard the following sentence numerous times: “Girls, make sure you either wear a one piece or a t-shirt over your bathing suit to the pool.”
Uggg. I hate this so much.
I want to believe with all my heart that whoever has uttered that sentence has done so with good intentions. Like I said above, modesty should flow from our hearts into all areas of life… including swimming pools.
First though- this irritates me because it assumes that one piece bathing suits are inherently modest. I have tried looking for a decent one piece bathing suit for occasions like these. Unfortunately, these are pretty hard to find. A lot of one piece bathing suits nowadays are more “scandalous” than a two piece tankini! So that rule pretty much falls flat on its face. (Not to mention it’s hard to find a comfortable one piece… that’s decent… and affordable.)
The reason the “T-shirt Rule” annoys me is because it’s pointed at girls. Only at girls. Girls end up looking and feeling like wet cats at the swimming pool whilst their shirtless guy friends look free and awesome.
Why is there a double standard???
Dear youth worker, if you’re gonna make girls wear t-shirts to the pool, fine. (Ladies, invest in a dry-fit shirt for cases like these.) BUT, if you’re going to make girls wear shirts at the pool, please make guys wear one too. Be consistent.
Here’s the thing: I get that this is a common rule because “guys are visual.” But what is never mentioned is how girls are visual too!
Lust isn’t a guy problem. It’s a human problem.
It’s something that both guys and girls struggle with and something they should both fight against.
Lust is a sin. Please don’t hear me wrong. A guy lusting after a girl, a girl lusting after a guy, a guy lusting after a guy, and a girl lusting after a girl- IT’S ALL SIN!
So if someone decides to enforce modest swimwear for girls, they should also enforce modest swimwear for guys.
Or better yet, don’t enforce anything. That’s a sure fire way to make said guys and girls resent modesty all together. Instead, teach that modesty flows from the heart and encourage them to make a decision for themselves about what modest swimwear looks like.
Sorry I’m ranting so much, but the double standard really ticks me off.
This video by Katie pretty much captures everything I’m trying to say. I encourage you to check it out :)
Honor God with your body
In conclusion, I leave you with the following verse: “For you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:20
Check back for parts 2 and 3 of this series!
June 15th: How to Create Personalized Modesty Guidelines
June 22nd: 4 Helpful Hints for Dressing Modestly