Saturday, March 31, 2012

Modesty: A Pursuit of Holiness

Over the course of my short life so far, modesty is an issue that has gone from being something I could care less about as a 15-year-old, to something I hated at 18 because of how it negatively affected my "stylish" wardrobe, and then on to being something that as a young married woman at 25, I am deeply passionate about. I have wrestled through nearly every stage with this issue.

I believe so deeply in growing as a disciple of Christ and bringing other women along with me. And because of that passion, I can't put off addressing this issue of modesty any longer. We are right in the middle of spring break season and my facebook feed is continuously filling up with photos of my really tan, scantily clad facebook girlfriends living it up on some beach. Guess who else's facebook is filling up with the same images? 

My husband's.

Please don't think this blog is coming from a defensive wife who thinks that a little smack down blog post is gonna convict every female on facebook to not post swimsuit pictures. :) It's so much deeper than that. Over the years as I have been convicted to take a deep hard look at this issue within myself, I am forced to challenge those women in my life who claim to be followers of Christ but fail to conceal what is only meant for the eyes of their current or future husbands.

I have had a lifelong battle with caring way too much what others think of me. So naturally in high school I gave in when the culture I was living in told me that a two-piece bikini that leaves almost nothing to the imagination is completely okay if you're laying out in the sun or swimming. I believed it when it told me that tight shorts and small shirts were okay if you're working out. Less clothes the better really.

And as I've gotten older and attend weddings as my job, I've seen that some of the most radiant and strong Christian women I know believe the lie that it's okay to show a little cleavage on your wedding day if that's how the dress is supposed to look. The guy staring at you up front is about to be your husband anyway, so it's okay. Nevermind all the other men in the room. 

I have a wonderful father, a close relationship with my brother, I'm married now, and I love nothing more than asking these wonderful men in my life a million questions and picking their brain apart about this modesty issue. Nevermind those celebrity magazines and their "What are guys really thinking?" crap...I have the real stuff and would love nothing more than to share it with you, ladies:)

Just the other day my husband's good friend told him that he is dreading spring and summer because of the way women dress. Between work, facebook, or simply going to the grocery store, it can be a non-stop battle for the men in our life during those hot summer days when we are simply just trying to stay cool. My brother eventually deleted his facebook account for a couple years just because those seemingly harmless photos posted by his girl friends had turned his facebook into something more harmful than beneficial. I'm proud of him for doing something that bold to protect himself. Women love to dress up to even just go to church, and sadly the place where men go to worship and focus on Christ is hardly a safe haven from the physical temptation that we as sisters in Christ are not careful enough to prevent.

It's really easy for us to want to complain. And justify that it's too hard to find a shirt that fits just right and covers everything. "It's just the style now." "There are no longer shorts." "Modest swimsuits cost more money." "The modest stuff doesn't look as cute." Some women are more blessed in some areas than others and it's just "too hard" to take those extra measures. 

I couldn't agree more. It's so not fair. 

But it's also not fair that men are so much more stimulated by what they see than we are and they can't control what we wear. Only we can. 

As women who are following Christ, I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to stand out in this world and be a light to those I'm around. To pour Christ's love into other women. For the people I encounter daily to really see Christ in me. That is truly the cry of my heart. I hope it's yours too.

But to dress in a way that barely covers what is meant to be seen in private by our spouses draws little if any attention to Christ. We're not here to be sexy, we're here to be like Jesus.

I'm not writing this to harshly judge anyone. I'm writing because I believe more women who claim to follow Christ and pursue His holiness need to be reminded that dressing modestly is just another part of that process. They aren't separate.

And to the one or two men that might possibly still be reading this: please don't be afraid to tell us the harsh truth that we need to hear to protect YOU. We won't get it until you tell us.

Unfortunately, the idea of modesty has been made into something that is boring, old-fashioned, and legalistic. But I want to challenge each of us Christ-following women to view it as a part of pursuing holiness. To view it as OUR choice.

Modesty is the mark of a woman who knows where beauty really comes from.