Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Are Your Standards for Modesty?

Continuing our discussion on the topic of modesty, I want to encourage you to come up with a standard for your family.  It is important to identify what you believe is appropriate for you Biblically and to remain faithful to that standard.  When we decided as a family to define what modesty would look like for us, it made clothes shopping and many other things easier because there was no longer an issue of holding up a piece of clothing and saying, "Mom, is this okay?"  We had already defined what was appropriate and what was not.  I hesitate to state our modesty standards however because I do not want anyone to feel bound by what we have done.  On the other hand, I think it could help someone who may be wondering how to go about making these decisions.  So, before I even begin, please realize that the standards for our family may not be the standards for yours.  You must decide that through prayer and discussions with your spouse.  It is amazing that many times Christian men have a much higher standard for modesty than we as women do. Maybe because they understand the temptation that is placed upon men by being so visually oriented.  So, I definitely encourage you to talk with your husbands and find out what they think about this issue.  This issue can get very personal when a father starts thinking of young men who may be looking at his daughter!
One of the things we can see throughout time is that our standards of modesty have dropped exponentially!  When we look at what women were wearing 100 years ago and then today, we can certainly see a great difference.  Now, I think some of those areas were improvements.  I cannot imagine all the layered clothes in 100 degree weather!  But, many were definitely not an improvement and cultures throughout the ages have shown that the more morally bankrupt a society gets the more blatantly immodest they become.  Our society is no different.  There is a wonderful book that I highly recommend on this subject by Jeff Pollard, called "The Public Undressing of America."   It is a quick read but packed full of documentation of how America has declined in their modesty standards.  One of those areas where he spends a great amount of time is on swimsuits.  The question on swimwear that I would ask is, "Why is it okay to wear nothing more than undergarments on the beach, but not acceptable at other places?"  Does God differentiate when it comes to places?  Are our bodies a temple of the Holy Spirit everywhere we go?  When God tells us not to cause our brothers to stumble because of our attire...did He mean to include the beach?  Or is it just because we have become so desensitized to this issue that we really don't think much about it anymore?  I know for years that is how I felt.  Everyone else was doing it.  Somehow it was okay to be immodest at the beach...that was acceptable, but it wouldn't be okay to walk into a department store like that.  I began to wonder what message I might be sending to my children?  Without meaning to, was I desensitizing them to immodest dress?  If we get them comfortable in little more than undergarments on the beach, isn't the natural progression to that being a little more lenient with what they wear other places? Swimsuits are not limited to the beach anymore.  I have driven down our neighborhood and seen teenage girls sunbathing on the front lawn.   I began to think...would I give my son a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition to peruse?  Well, of course not.  Then I started to think...well, if I would not do that because I didn't want him to stumble, why would I take him to the beach with scantily clad girls everywhere he turns and then tell him not to have lust in his heart?  So, we made a radical decision for our family...we do not go to the beach during peak seasons.  We go during the fall and winter months when we can still enjoy God's beauty, but not subject our children to the immodest apparel.  I know that may seem radical to some, and that is okay.  That is OUR modesty standard.  We debated about modest swimwear.  I am very thankful that there is such a thing. But, what we could not control is all the other people at the beach who were dressed that way.  So, our first standard for modesty may seem radical, but once we defined our barriers, it has not been an issue.  Our children do not ask to try on the latest swimwear, they already know that swimwear does not meet our standard.  We would rather our children err on the side of being overly modest than the alternative.  We did not want our girls to be seen in anything that would put a focus on their bodies rather than their Godly character, and we did not want our sons in overwhelming temptation to look at the bodies of girls rather than who they are in Christ.  Next week, I will try and cover our standards for everyday dress.  I hope if you do not have a modesty standard for your home, you will prayerfully consider getting one.  Defining this important issue will save you a lot of grief in the long run.  May the Lord bless you as you seek to put Him first in all things!  God bless you my friends!


Chelle said...

I couldn't agree more. We saw first hand how it was at the beach on our vacation. And apoligized for letting them see what they saw. We did not know how bad it really was. we had never gone during the peak time. We thought going to the top of Flordia wouldn't be so bad. We were wrong. Our family just swims in our clothes,tee shirts and skirts. Most people think we are strict in the way we dress,but I would rather be that way than not caring.

Anonymous said...

You've made some very good points here. I agree that we should take modesty seriously by defining our modesty standards.

Also, I didn't find your reasoning for not going to the beach during the "busy hours" to be obsessive. Actually, it makes good sense, but it is something that I have never given much thought about.

Jeff Pollard's book is an excellent resource. It's one I have read. He also has an audio version of this topic on cd as well.


-L. Rose

His bondservant said...

Lady Rose,
Thank you for your comments. It was something I had not given much thought about either until about 10 years ago. It is definitely worth praying about.

I know what you mean. When you raise your modesty standards and then go to places where there seems to be little if any standards at all, it is quite shocking in comparison.


Heather said...

I'm so glad to read your post, as well as the comments, and know that there ARE people that have high outward standards. I know that a standard begins on the inside, and when it is placed there first through prayer, it will show up on the outside. Our family also swims in our fully clothed 2 pieces (skirt and shirt for ladies, or pants and shirt for men). It is encouraging to know you're not the only one that wants to please the Lord. With so much negative around, you often feel like you are the only one trying to live right. That is definitely not so. God does have a remanant of people.

His bondservant said...

I think that has been one of the nicest things about blogging, being connected with other like-minded believers all over! God bless you!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

This issue gets brought up a lot around our house. I like to take the opportunity to teach all my children, boys and girls about modesty. It is important that we not make others stumble.

I like that you said that your standards are different than another family's standards. It is very important to pray about it and ask God what is right for you and your family. This way we can avoid the spirit of legalism that can so easily creep up on us.

Great post!

Camille said...

Dear Jackie ~ Swimsuits are definitely a difficulty for our young men and I think it wise not to subject our young people to the sights. How precious it is that the LORD is leading your family along in these things...HE gives wisdom when we seek HIM for it! Thank you for being transparent and for sharing your thoughts on these is a blessing to read of your journey.

Rich Easter blessings to you and your family my friend!

In His Love,

Jeff said...

I completely agree with your idea's of raising your children in modesty. I grew up in a house where it wasn't taught or emphasized at all. My biggest struggle now days, especially with societies costant bombardment of images, is lusting in my heart after women. When I take my 3 y/o to the local pool I consintrate %100 on where he is at all times and keeping my eyes off the women that dont mind exposing their bodies like they do. I wont say that had I had been taught modesty by my family that I wouldn't lust, but I wouldn't be struggling as bad.

His bondservant said...

Thank you for sharing your struggles. I am sure it must be extremely difficult for men in this society. I wish to train my girls to not be a stumbling block to their brothers in Christ.