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!