Is This Modest?
A while back, I wrote a post that caused a bit of a ruckus about modesty.
It still surprises me. Given what we’re dealing with in terms of sex and 11 year old girls, I’m honestly surprised more parents aren’t concerned.
And it’s still an issue that women have questions about – I received one this week about a story in The Respect Dare, in fact:
Hey Nina, I am not challenged with dare 30 but am concerned about the message. Are you asking wives to be plain while other single, divorced, or widowed women are dressed in a way that draws their husband’s attention? Are you saying that wives should only be sexy behind close doors with their husbands? This is a conversation that I have seen play out in Christian wives circles so I want to be clear on the message. I understand how extreme the woman in today’s reading was dressed but is she simply an expression of the essence of the message? I am concerned that some wives who have learned to dress in a way that pleases their husbands may scale back too much. Do you mind clarifying in case I am misunderstanding your message?
First, I don’t really have a message, but God does. Second, I really REALLY appreciated the respectful way the woman phrased the question – she didn’t attack me, which, honestly, is too often the way too many people start conversations with others – and then we wonder why our marriages are in trouble. Research shows that conversations typically end the way they begin – and a harsh startup is common to marriages in serious trouble.
My question to YOU, today, is simply this: How does the concept of modesty play out in your marriage and daily life? What verses do you see supporting that? I’ll chime in tomorrow with what my thoughts were/are on this (and what my husband had to say, which was pretty stinkin’ profound…glad I asked-style profound) but I’m REALLY interested in what YOU think about it. How would you respond to this gal? 🙂
Thanks for being on the journey with us!
And if you are parenting little people, you should totally follow Leah and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year, or schedule one of our weekend retreats. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner. Come join the discussions!
Love to you,
Modesty is dressing in a way that you call attention to WHO you are, not what you are wearing. We can all compete to accessorize, but we are all naked before God. So assess your wardrobe choices with what allows you to deliver Gods Message in mind. What does God have to say to you today? Who are you dressing for? The catty woman behind the bank counter? You are dressing for envy. Are you dressing for the eyes of any man who might happen to notice you? You are dressing for lust. Are you really looking to attract these things into your life?
It’s not difficult to dress modestly – and to still be smoking hot. I promise. Well fitting, well worked/ tailored outfits in your colors and in a variety of fabrics will always flatter. I don’t feel any less attractive for wearing shorts that are Bermuda length or mid thigh rather than wearing “daisy dukes” and I know my in-laws don’t really want to see that much of me! Sundresses with shrugs in different styles and fabrics and letting your risque side have a little fun with some sassy heels is appropriate anywhere from church to casual get togethers.
Touchable fabrics like silks, chiffons, velvets/crushed velvets, cashmeres (and their look alikes!) are all sensual fabrics. Lace when used tastefully has some great applications – layering in particular. It’s that je ne se quois, You don’t have to shout to be heard. Seduction can be as subtle as the inside of a Geishas wrist, or the cross of a ladys ankle where the hem of her dress falls when she sits, the necklace that sparkles at throat or the whisper of your perfume on a pulse point. You can dress to be touched without dressing to be available.
I think a couple things have to happen to be able to really feel comfortable with modesty and stepping back from dressing for sin, You have to get over objectification, the culture that makes women into interchangeable toys to be consumed by a viewer. That takes time and maturity – and we all have fall backs when our self confidence is low and we want to build it up by proving our superiority over others, but there is no lasting self love to be had for it.
When we reduce our value to where we fall in the pretty girl hierarchy we are selling ourselves and our relationships very short. We are signing up for a lifetime of insecurity. To be blunt, there is no forever young potion or outfit that will prevent age, weight gain, health issues or other challenges or stop the next generation from reaching sexual maturity as we age. If you are feeling like you are not enough without wearing your sexuality to feel attractive NOW, how are you going to feel in ten years? How are you going to cope with how you feel standing next to someone else who is wearing their sexuality if you have ascribed to the notion of competitive sexuality? How will you feel seeing your husband interacting with that person who is ten or twenty years younger than you are?
Insecurity is the enemys tool, not modesty. We have to look at what we are really fearful of. Why are we so insecure in our relationships as to believe that we have to continue to sell ourselves to someone who has invested in a lifetime together? Where does the insecurity really come from? The clothing, or a gap in the relationship that we try to mask with clothing?
I used to confuse modestry also.. I am not a large girl, but I live at the beach in Oregon. It rains a large portion of the time and is not too warm. I got in the habit of jean, sweat pants and sweatshirts. When I was young, I got made fun of for wearing dress shoes with jeans and then I reverted to this lazy style.. My husband was NOT happy. He said he didn’t want me to dress like a man when we are out. Even if its just to the store, he would rather see me more feminine. Sweat shirts and pants are still in my closet, but reserved for those times of needed extra comfort. I wear a more flatter cut of pants, I choose more dressy shirts and sweaters to match if its cold
her response reads to me of one who does not want to give up something. wants to dress a certain way and be justified in it. i don’t know what she is arguing. what she sees as unfair or scaling back too much. i think those comments are indicative of there being a root issue on her part that she is still fighting against.
that is where i would start with her. feeling out what exactly her concern. complaint is.
My hubby and I frequently discuss the issue of appearance/modesty. I’ve erred on the side of being down right frumpy in my past. I am a plus-sized woman and for several years I hid my extra poundage under clothing at least a size to large for me. After several years, hubby finally told me that it disappointed him that I thought my shapeless look was attractive. He didn’t want me to dress inappropriately (and I have avoided purchasing certain items after he has expressed concern about a neckline or hemline!) But I have learned from conversations with him that being plain or frumpy is just as much an insult to him as being too provocative. When I make the effort to look “put-together” – make-up and hair have gotten some attention, the clothes I’ve chosen are flattering and attractive but not shocking – he feels like I am making a statement about my level of confidence which in turn makes a statement about him and the choices he makes. He certainly DOES NOT want me to be inappropriate in the way I dress publicly (because I think we can ALL agree that anything goes in the bedroom!) but he also doesn’t want me to intentionally be unappealing.
I got very direct once and asked the following question: “You say that it matters to you if I put in the effort to look good when I am out in public. Is that because you think my appearance is a reflection of your manhood?” He paused for a moment – “Am I a horrid husband if I say yes? Because I don’t just think it. I know it. I’ve been in those conversations with other men. Let me explain.” He went on to say – “It absolutely isn’t fair, but if two men are meeting for the first time and their wives are present, each man will make judgments about the other man based on the woman on his arm.” I asked him to give some examples and this is what I got – “If she is dressed immodestly, it’s tempting to think, ‘He’s a fool. She’s using him and all the while she is advertising her wares to any guy bold enough to look. He obviously lacks judgment.’ If she’s too frumpy, you fear the guy is so satisfied with boring and unremarkable that he won’t be innovative enough to work with. But if his wife is dressed modestly, has given some thought to her hair and make-up, and has chosen something that flatters her figure appropriately, I’m going to assume that he is a confident man who makes good business choices.”
I was stunned. After thinking for a moment, I said – “So the way a woman carries herself publicly is likely to be seen by other men as a reflection of who he is as a person. In other words, the temptation for men is to assume that certain types of men attract certain types of women.” His answer? “Pretty much.” True, it isn’t fair. But if my attention to my appearance can be seen by others as a reflection of who my man is, you better believe I’m going to give it a little more thought and attention because I want people to think the best of him!
I know this is was posted a while ago, but I just found this article today and I wanted say thank you for posting this insightful story! I think it’s something I’ve suspected for a while but haven’t quite been able to put into words.
An emotional topic for sure, or at least emotional for those of us who understand how hard it can be for some guys to keep pure thoughts. A young man wants to know your daughter better, but it would be easier if she covered up.
The discussion I had with friends about dressing sexy for our husbands in public, ended that it depends on the maturity of the man.
I get so frustrated I CAN LOOK GOOD IN A PUSH-UP BRA, LOW CUT BLOUSE AND MINI SKIRT TOO! TRUST ME–IT’S TEMPTING TO WANT TO COMPETE! However, I know that wouldn’t make me feel better about the other women/girls exposing themselves around my guys (sons & husband)
I’ll finish with this. One year I brought home three bathing suits, I didn’t usually do this, but I told my husband to pick. He picked the most modest. I actually liked the halter type much better than the tank type. With a little regret that I asked him, I kept the tank top and the skirt bottoms. I assumed I would be the most covered girl at the lake, but I wasn’t, there were a lot of suits like mine and a lot of woman hanging it all out. After hours at the lake we loaded the van, before we made it out of the parking lot my young son said, “Hey mom, I like your bathing suit.”
Romans 14:21 It is good to not eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
Modesty, exactly what is it and how modest are we suppose to be? I often find the answers to this question are so varied.
When discussing modesty we often focus on women and their choice of outfits.
I personally have a little different take on it. I belief modesty has less to do with the outfit and more to do with the heart and attitude we portray. I also believe that modesty is a responsibility that falls not just to women but to men as well.
I also feel its an area that we tend to become very judgemental in real quickly if like view points aren’t shared.
Personally, the closer I grow to Christ and the more I study and learn his word the less I desire to display myself in a way that does not bring him honor. I desire to please my husband but not over what brings glory to God. I enjoy feeling beautiful and sexy but in the past my desire was self seeking and attention getting. My heart was not in the right place. Over time my attitude and dress style changed as I loved Chirst more.
I think as women we need to extend grace and understanding in this area, realizing that we are all on a journey and not all of us will ever be in the exact spot and the same time. Personally I am less worried about someone’s dress length or cleavage and more concerned about their desire to pursue Christ. Christ love is what makes the change, our arguments only create wounds.
Instead of worrying about what others wear we each shoud focus on the only thing we can change – us!
Part of love is to speak truth. If we truly love other women God puts in our lives, we will overcome the temptation to ignore danger signals; and it’s a danger signal when a Christian woman dresses immodestly. I am convicted of my callous and unloving heart that has grown weary because of the magnitude of the issue. But, I am recommitting to lovingly engage my sisters.
I think modesty is a heart issue more than a clothing issue. If our motive for wearing a particular outfit is to draw the attention of men, we are immodest. I think that most clothing that is considered immodest by normal women is skimpy and tight for the sole purpose of drawing attention to oneself. In most cases it’s not the clothing itself that makes it immodest, it’s the heart of the woman wearing it. I don’t think we need to dress in long skirts or drab, shapeless outfits to be modest. After all, some men still lust when women are covered in Burkas. That is there own heart issue.
I like Proverbs 12:4- ‘A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown’. When I think of the significance of a crown I see beauty, honor, respect, protection, and pride. I think of priceless jewels that are cherished by royalty and guarded by soldiers. When a woman dresses for noble character, she adorns herself with all of the above adjectives. And there’s nothing plain about a crown. Even the simple ones are elegant and classy.
In contrast the end of Proverbs 12:4 says ‘but a disgraceful wife is like decay to his bones’.
Yes, other women are out there vying for men’s eyes and attention, but what value is that? What adjectives can be ascribed to that character? I’d rather be a crown. Temptation is always going to be there, and men aren’t the only ones whose eyes get assaulted with overtly sexual images. This is where prayer and a strong relationship with God come in. He’s our best and only real defense.
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