"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some Thoughts on Modesty

Ahhh....spring. Flowers are blooming. Leaves on the trees are coming out. Birds are chirping. Garden work is beginning. Women are prancing around in public barely dressed.  That's not a typo, by the way.

Because it appears that the onset of warm weather seems to give people (especially women) the license to wear as little material as possible, as tight as possible, while showing as much skin as possible.  Sometimes I wish I didn't have to take my children out in public at all..to protect their eyes and innocence for as long as possible.

Maybe many of these people I see out in public aren't even  Christians, which explains their behavior. As my hubby says, "Dear, if they're not believers, then they're acting exactly like they're supposed to."

But what about Christians...women, in particular? Do we have a dress code?

And  how did this all begin in the first place?  Jeff Pollard, author of The Public Undressing of America , says that what was illegal in clothing 100 years ago, and would cause your arrest, is now popular  and accepted everywhere - even in churches. His book is excellent and I highly recommend it. He believes that the modern-day trend of immodest clothing began years ago...with swimwear.

For example, in the 1890's, swimwear was modified street clothing
                                  1910: arms were exposed
                                  1920's: legs and backs were exposed
                                  1930's: cleavage was exposed and men began to swim bare-chested
                                  1935: two-piece bathing suits appeared with a small break break between upper and lower half
                                  1940's: new fabrics appeared which hugged the body
                                  1960's: navels were exposed

Today, if you have been to your local public pool or if you've been to the beach, you will notice that anything goes.  (Which is why we, as a family, don't go to either place.)

But it apparently doesn't stop at the pool or the beach. I have been in Walmart and seen women exposing just as much cleavage as any swimsuit.  Shorts that are so short, there's very little left to the imagination. Bellies are on display.  Again, anything goes.

So back to the dress code question. Does Scripture give instructions for modest dress? Of course. We're probably all familiar with  1 Timothy 2: 9 &10 and 1 Peter 3: 3 - 6. These passages very clearly teach that Christian women should dress in a modest manner, as it says in 1 Timothy 2:10, "..which is proper for women professing godliness.... with good works." So, according to that verse, a Christian woman's heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance. Maturity in heart = modesty in dress.

All respectable clothing is the fruit of a godly heart. But there's also a flip side to that. Proverbs 7:10 describes a woman  dressed in "the attire of a harlot".

Our clothing sends a message whether we realize it or not.   I am not suggesting that we go back to Little House on the Prairie days (although I love the way the ladies dressed back then!).

I am simply saying that as Christians, we need to be careful of how we dress - for 2 reasons:

1. As mentioned above,  Scripture commands it.

2. Also, so that we will not cause our brothers in Christ to stumble.  Men are visual. That's how God created them. Dressing to show off our bodies or to attract men's eyes is wrong, and a stumbling block to them.

The word "modest" in 1 Timothy 2 : 9 means "not attracting attention to oneself".  Do we dress to attract the eyes of others? Or do we cover our bodies properly and reserve them for the eyes of our husbands only?

I realize that each one of us has our own idea of what modesty is. And I have some guideline for  myself...

...for shirts and dresses: no see-through or skin-tight material. For all other shirts and dresses, I do the "bend over test: I put  it on and bend over in front of the mirror. If I can see down that shirt (or dress), then so can everyone else when I bend over. So I  put on a cami  underneath, or I don't wear it at all.

...for skirts and dresses (length): I put it on, sit down, and cross my legs. If I can do that without pulling and yanking to hide my thighs, then I wear it. If not, I don't. But I prefer long skirts, so I hardly ever have a problem with the length.

...no tank tops for me:  I don't like the clingy material they're made out of and I don't like having to continually hide my bra straps under the tank top. 

What about you, dear readers...what are your thoughts on modesty? Do you have guidelines for what you wear/don't wear? I'd love to hear from you. :)

Instead of dressing to attract the eyes of others, may we "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24), bringing glory and honor to our Heavenly Father.

Blessings!








2 Corinthians 6:17 :  "Therefore  'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.' "

linking up with The Modest Mom
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34 comments:

  1. Amen! I agree! It is so sad how the world is dressing! And it seems over time things are getting more and more relaxed - and not just in modesty - People seem to be getting more sloppy too - It's sad! Great post!

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    1. So glad you stopped by, Emily Fay. And you're right - dress has not only become immodest, but more casual as well.
      Many blessings!

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  2. Modesty is very important. I don't want my Christian brothers to stumble by having impure thoughts; I don't want men leering at me. I am uncomfortable seeing immodest people. Even elderly ladies these days dress immodestly and it's embarrassing. YOu have to take a good honest look at yourself in the mirror before you go out. You know what you look like.

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    1. The mirror is a woman's best friend when it comes to deciding what to wear and what not wear. And like you said, Elli Rae, we have to be honest with ourselves. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. :)
      Many blessings!

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  3. Amen, amen, amen! We own and have read Pollard's small book and also highly recommend it. I will add though, and I know he's dealing with modesty (or the lack thereof) in America, that immodesty has, like all other sins, been a stumbling block throughout the ages.

    Well said, my friend,

    Lisa :)

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. :)
      Many blessings to you, my friend. :)

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  4. www.munahscupcake.comMay 21, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Good reading, thank you!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

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  5. This is such a difficult topic because as you said, everyone has different standards. And newer Christians may not be worrying about this at all, because God is working on more basic things with them. The Holy Spirit doesn't chastise us on too many things at once, thank goodness.

    If I sit down and the skirt comes up past the knee, then I am uncomfortable and don't buy it (except maybe for my husband in the bedroom, because he is a leg man and nothing makes him happier). I do have a few summer skorts, though they are not mini-type skorts.

    The shirt, for me, needs to be loose enough to tell I'm a lady, and tight even to tell I'm a woman. I like a feminine color or style and don't ever wear a man's style t-shirt. I have a small bust line so rarely is anything too tight, and I have wrinkles on my neck so I try to avoid too much neck as a rule, especially when going out of my house.

    I too prefer long because I can mother without having to worry about what my skirt or dress is doing as I'm on the floor. My favorite comfort item is an empire waist dress, either flower print or jean type.

    It was easier to dress for summer when we lived in California. Here in Ohio the humidity can be oppressive. Thank goodness for our air conditioner! I don't care for sleeveless shirts because of the sun damage potential, but I do see why people wear them in humid climates.

    Anyhow, I am hoping you get other comments, because this is a hard question. What is modest enough?

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    1. Hi Christine,

      Young Christians probably aren't considering this issue. I didn't care what I wore when I was a young believer. But as I grew in the Lord, I realized that what I wore was very important to the Him.

      You have great guidelines! :)

      And to answer your ? about what is modest enough..I guess that's between each woman and the Lord. The Holy Spirit will set the guidelines for each of us, if we ask Him.

      Thanks for stopping in and sharing with us, friend.

      Much love to you!

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  6. Hi Lisa,

    Modesty is a wonderful thing isn't it? I remember when I first was taught of it though, and it was so foreign to me. I definitely have guide lines for myself now. But, I always try to extend grace to others. I know many women and girls simply do not know or understand the reasoning behind the principle. I think leading by example is one good way to be a witness. I try to dress in pretty attire as to attract people for the right reasons. I know I am always drawn to people who have taken care to look nice and modest. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Blessings,
    Amy Jo

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    1. It is a wonderful thing, Amy Jo. And I agree - leading by example is the best way...and my hubby reminds me of that quite often. ;)
      Thanks for dropping in and sharing with us.
      Grace to you!

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  7. I love this Lisa!!! As Christians, we need to expose the darkness {Eph. 5:11}. This IS a darkness and the men around us are suffering. Even those who have good integrity. We women can be an encourager of the brethren instead of a hindrance.
    By the way, I too would LOVE to wear the prairie dresses!!!
    Blessings to you,
    ~Jennie

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    1. Hi Jennie,

      I love what you said, "we can be an encourager of the brethren instead of a hindrance". Amen!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Many blessings!

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  8. Great post! I have to say it is difficult living in southern CA. Our beaches are covered with nearly naked people but the beach is a big part of our family's exercise and enjoyment. We have taught our boys to bounce their eyes and look away. I have seen a slow undressing even in our mother church the girls used to just wear one pieces then modest two pieces that still covered then less and less material. It becomes contagious! It is sad that we live in a time when all of this undressing is acceptable and even rewarded. We do not have a TV but when I see what the women on TV wear I almost fall down. We were at MY MIL and watched dancing with the stars, the women were practically naked. I am glad you take such a strong stand I will have to get the book you mentioned I have listened to a CD from vision forum that mentioned it. In my own Life I ask can I kneel at the alter in this? :)

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    1. Hello Tesha,

      I can imagine that living near the beach would be hard.

      I remember dancing with the stars when it first came on. I could NOT believe what I was seeing. I stopped watching it...and we don't cable or satellite..just a TV that we can watch family movies on.

      We try to protect our children as much as possible. They'll see more than enough trash when they grow up.

      The book is wonderful. Let me know if you read it and what you think about it.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

      Many blessings!

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  9. This is an "in progress" area of my life. Although, I'm working as fast as I can to progress!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they are helpful and encouraging to me.

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    1. So happy that you stopped by, Sharity. I'm glad that you were encouraged. Soli Deo Gloria!

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  10. This is such a touchy subject to so many. I just returned from the South where cloth seems to be in short supply :(

    Excellent thoughts my friend, thank you so much for sharing.
    m.

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    1. An "amen" to the South being in short supply of cloth. We live in the South so, believe me, I know what you're talking about!
      Many blessings to you, my friend!

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  11. Amen! Great post! Dittos to all you are doing ~ it's hard to find a top that's not made of stretchy material anymore. I don't do stretch anything ~ cling stuff isn't modest IMO. There is definitely nothing pretty about knees and cleavage is totally uncalled for.. Not only have we become immodest, but sloppy too. It amazes me how some of the young girls dress in our church ~ and the parents are evidently allowing it ~ and the youth group did a study on modesty and the whole True Love Waits program. Obviously, something was missed. :-( But, it's not only the young people, it's some of the women too!
    It's truly sad. It's obvious if you're attracting the opposite sex, and something is amiss, there is definitely a cause.
    Thanks for the post,
    Anne♥

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    1. So true, Anne - we have become immodest and sloppy. I have seen Christian women wear what I call "second skin" (because of how they hug the body) shirts, skirts, pants...you name it. And they're so tight, you can see every line...including panty lines. I have seen Christian women wear low-cut dresses and then bend over! You could see almost down to their navel. Unbelievable. But a sign of the times in which we live.
      Thanks for stopping in and sharing your thoughts.
      May you have a blessed week!

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  12. I completely share your views on this sensitive subject… Thanks for sharing as reminders are always good in this seductive society we live in! In our last home, on the way to church, we were greeted by 5 obscene billboards every week so if it is not on the women, it is in advertising.

    Take care and continue to live by example :) ~ JES

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    1. Hello JES,

      You're right..as a society, we are bombarded with sexual images: TV, magazines, books, music, you name it. We are sexually-saturated society. I'm thankful for the few who take a stand against the tide of smut, and for the integrity of modesty.
      Thanks for stopping in.
      Hope you have a blessing-filled week. :)

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  13. Lisa, RIGHT ON SISTER! I totally agree with you! As a Followr of Christ we dress for Jesus. And unfortuntely women in the church do dress unappropriate. It is very sad. I just want to grab them and say, "Are you dressing for Jesus or the world?"

    It is so funny you posted this, the other day I was driving with our boys, who are 10 & 7. We were at a stop light and a young girl proceeded to walk across the cross walk in front of us. My youngest made a comment about her, "why is her her butt hanging out." he asked?

    I kinda gulped and said a prayer & asked for Godly guadiance. Which flowed like milk & honey, thank you Jesus.

    So after a lengthy conversation with my boys I just said to pray for her and not to condemn her. I also asked my boys in scripture where did in Old & New Testament did our Father encounter and connect with all sorts of women who made wrong choices. It went really well & I learned something also. That I was that young girl crossing the street a long time ago before I knew our Creator.

    Have a great day friend!

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    1. Amanda,
      How wonderful to remind your boys to pray for that young girl instead of condemning her! And the Lord does give last-minute wisdom when we need it. I'm so thankful we can depend on Him to meet our needs. I was that girl, too...before I became a Christian. Thanks for sharing, friend. May you have a blessed week! :)

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  14. Agree....Agree..Agree. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Hi Chrissy! So glad you stopped by.
      Hope have a blessing-filled day! :)

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  15. Great guidelines. Sometimes it seems such a challenge in today's market to be modest and yet its just a necessity. Thanks for linking up to Titus 2 Tuesday.

    Kathy

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    1. Hello Kathy,

      You're right - it is a challenge to dress modestly. Yet a necessity nonetheless if we are to represent our Savior.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Grace to you!

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  16. This really was a great post! And I like your guidelines. Eventually down the road I will maybe write a more direct post on modesty, too.

    -Iris♥

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and following, Iris. Hope you're day is blessing-filled!

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  17. Great post! I've read the book too. As a home of two girls, we have always had a modesty thing going on here. On the farm or with activities, sometimes safety & practicality dictate what we wear, but always in light of modesty. We like to keep our thighs covered as the Bible seems to equate exposed thighs to nakedness; skirts are never shorter than knee-length (but usually much longer). And although the girls are rail-thin, we seem to have to buy t-shirts that are XL just so they aren't skin tight, and I have to do double laundry because they usually have to wear a top under a top because of low necklines or too-thin, slightly see-thru fabric. (sigh). I LOVE the beach & pool, but avoid them (except we sometimes go to our little town's motel pool during the day when it's usually empty or just old folk or preschoolers there & the attire & behaviour are better). I'm encouraged that I see more rash guard & long shorts for swimwear now days, but wonder how long that will stay "in-style". We order modest swimwear for the girls, but unfortunately it's expensive & it never seems like the seamstress can get the sizing quite right. But I agree, our church sure could use a good sermon on modest dressing -- so much cleavage & tight jeans. It's just another one of those line in the sand issues --- though the world does it, we must not. Sometimes not only do we have to be an "example of the believers" but also an "example TO the believers".

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  18. Hello Jane,
    I have a really hard time finding modest swimwear for my girls, too. So they wear a one-piece with a shirt and knee-length shorts over it. I do the same. We swim at the river as a family, and I love the privacy of that. We don't have access to a non-populated pool as you do.

    You brought up an excellent point: that Christians have to be an example TO other believers! It's a sign of the times in which we live.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. :)
    Many blessings!

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Thanks so much for stopping by. I love to hear from my readers, and your thoughts are welcome. And I try my best to respond to each and every comment. :)