Summer Lessons: Modesty

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Summertime brings lots of great things.  Barbecues, swimming, sleeping in, family get togethers… I could go on. But summertime also brings something less desirable to me – a sudden, drastic reduction in the amount of clothing ladies (young and old) wear.

modesty.

It’s a topic of much dissension in youth groups and churches.  How short is too short? How skinny can my straps be? Can I wear a bikini? How come she can wear that and I can’t? Are these pants too tight? There are a lot of questions and not many answers.

After reading through some of my archives yesterday, I found this post.  As you can see, it’s from quite awhile ago but the issues are still the same.

From that post:

Women are told to dress modestly. Now obviously modest is a very widely defined term. Some will wear everything from sweatshirts and jeans to fitted shirts and pants, looking much like relevant society dresses. Some will only wear loose fitting clothing, looking dowdy and ill-fitted. Some will only wear flowing skirts and long sleeved tops, with or without head coverings, claiming they are setting themselves apart by being simple. But what was God’s intention with these verses? I’ve come across an idea that says that women must dress modestly, as to not cause men to stumble, but should dress relevantly. For dressing in a manner that draws attention – whether by young men checking you out or by people pointing at the woman dressed plainly – is undesirable. How a woman dresses should not draw attention to her person but to her God. So if a woman dresses in very simple, almost Amish clothing she is drawing attention to herself because she stand out so much in modern society. But on the other hand, women should not be dressing in revealing or tightly fitting clothes, as they can lead men to stumble. So what’s in the middle? I’m not sure. I know that watching shirts get smaller and skirts get shorter, in public and in the church, is an alarming trend. Are we being lead by the principles of this world rather than Christ? But on the other hand, does dressing so plainly as to make people look at us (Do you think she’s Amish?) rather than at our character and countenance also defeats the purpose. Are we being led by religious traditions? Both are equally wrong according to Colossians 2:8.

 I thought I’d break up some of the thoughts I had in this post from 2008 and expand on them a bit. Maybe some of you can join in with your thoughts and questions about modesty.
  
First let’s talk about dressing relevantly, not just dressing modestly.

I live in Amish Country.  It’s not uncommon to see buggies and horses tied to a hitching post at the local Walmart.  You know Amish the minute you see them.  It’s unmistakeable. They stand out.on purpose. I don’t know any other woman that would choose to wear long sleeved black dresses when it’s 85 and muggy outside. It’s easy to identify Amish due to how they dress. I would say that we could all agree that Amish are not relevant in their dress. The one thing they have going for them, though, is that they are definitely set apart from this world and everyone knows it. Isn’t that what the Word of God says? We should be set apart from this world? In it but not of it? So maybe we should all dress like Amish. Hmm. I don’t think that’s what God meant. We have to be both in this world but not of it, having a heavenly focus while our feet planted on the ground.

As Christians, we are called to be a chosen generation and a holy people. How does is that calling reflected in our dress, ladies? Do we look like a holy people, set apart for God? Dressing like a bag lady does not reflect the calling of a chosen, holy woman that is trying to serve God. It may be modest – every inch and curve is hidden. But are we then calling attention to ourselves, rather than to God, for the opposite reason as the woman who dresses in skimpy clothes.

There is a middle ground somewhere, ladies. Let’s discuss what the Word of God says about women, their beauty and how we can encourage one another to dress our own beauty in palace style. So what do you think about modesty?

Next week, I’ll talk about standards. Are we being legalistic by setting standards for ourselves and our daughters?

thinking. chewing. thinking some more.

I’ve been thinking. It doesn’t come easy anymore but the things that roll around in my head need to come out. So here goes.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

This verse has been on my kitchen cabinet for the last few weeks. It caught my eye while reading and hasn’t let go. Why do we do what we do? Is it because we believe that is what God has told us to do, whether through Word or Spirit. Or is it because “that’s just how we do it.” I must admit that I find many things lacking when held up to this light. And then another interested argument was presented to me in the topic of modesty (which is hugely important to me, after our few years in youth ministry).

in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. – 1 Timothy 9-10 (NKJV)

Women are told to dress modestly. Now obviously modest is a very widely defined term. Some will wear everything from sweatshirts and jeans to fitted shirts and pants, looking much like relevant society dresses. Some will only wear loose fitting clothing, looking dowdy and ill-fitted. Some will only wear flowing skirts and long sleeved tops, with or without head coverings, claiming they are setting themselves apart by being simple. But what was God’s intention with these verses? I’ve come across an idea that says that women must dress modestly, as to not cause men to stumble, but should dress relevantly. For dressing in a manner that draws attention – whether by young men checking you out or by people pointing at the woman dressed plainly – is undesirable. How a woman dresses should not draw attention to her person but to her God. So if a woman dresses in very simple, almost Amish clothing she is drawing attention to herself because she stand out so much in modern society. But on the other hand, women should not be dressing in revealing or tightly fitting clothes, as they can lead men to stumble. So what’s in the middle? I’m not sure. I know that watching shirts get smaller and skirts get shorter, in public and in the church, is an alarming trend. Are we being lead by the principles of this world rather than Christ? But on the other hand, does dressing so plainly as to make people look at us (Do you think she’s Amish?) rather than at our character and countenance also defeats the purpose. Are we being led by religious traditions? Both are equally wrong according to Colossians 2:8.

So what’s in the middle? Are the guidelines that have been taught to young women over and over again still relevant? If they are relevant for young women why not older women? I must admit that I float more toward the dowdy, old-lady look that any thing fashionable. I’ve even considered wearing only skirts several times. But is it just religion? Who defines too tight, short, big, frumpy, old, low cut, dowdy? The standard will change for each family. What are your guidelines? Any one mind sharing? I’m really re-visiting this issue with a vengeance. Because I don’t want to be religious about it, dressing dowdy because I think it’s right. When in reality, I just look like an old lady and ridiculous any way.

So what are your guidelines for modesty? How do you go about deciding what is acceptable? Do current fashions make it impossible to be both fashionable and modest? I’d love to hear some opinions!