What I am about to share with you is not earth shattering. It is nothing “new” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) It is however, I believe relevant, important, and very much needed today.
I began reading multiple posts/comments on post yesterday concerning modesty. The discussion was not about, but rather brought about by women’s beach volleyball in the Olympics. There seem to be many viewpoints on this.
Some have said that the women play in their bikini’s so that it helps them move better, or that it is more comfortable, or that it is “just a uniform”, or that it isn’t about what they are wearing it is about the sport, or that…
A few of these viewpoints can be debunked by doing just a slight amount of research. For instance, when this became a Olympic sport in 1996, it was a requirement for women to wear bikini’s (how sad!) That rule has since changed. It is no longer a requirement, rather it is a choice. The rule has been changed to accommodate “conservative religious beliefs” held by (other) countries.
To say that the bikini is necessary to help them “move better” is not even close to being a valid argument. Don’t agree? Then please explain to me why the men’s beach volleyball team wears shorts (kind of baggy) and sleeveless shirts? Are these men not dedicated athletes?
In Olympic beach volleyball, the bikini’s are not about performance, rather they are about ratings. In this article we read this quote “Unconvinced? Consider this: While men’s volleyball coverage for the 2008 Summer Games was split nearly equally between beach and court volleyball, women’s court volleyball — in which athletes are more fully clothed — received no coverage, even though the U.S. women’s team won a silver medal that year. The bikini-clad athletes of women’s beach volleyball, on the other hand, were the second-most covered event for women at the Olympics. Fancy that.”
Also this article shares that many women decided to wear their traditional bikinis even in the cooler weather so as to not “disappoint” their viewers.
The issue of this ONE instance of immodesty is not even a question. Volleyball is not the only sport/event like this, it is simply the one that started this discussion. The real question(s) is/must be, what is modesty? Is it important? Is it outdated? Is there a double standard? Does it matter what others think? What must we do? I will give my attempt to answer a few of these questions.
How Does God Define Modesty?
He doesn’t, at least not to the extent that we might like or be looking for. When summertime rolls around there are several things that I look forward to. One such thing is “Reach Week” This is a church camp that I have been part of for the last 14 years as a camper and as a staff member.
One of the great things about reach week is the dress code. Every girl, and every boy must not have any shorts skirts, dresses, that do not follow the “dollar bill rule.” This is where you take a dollar bill, turn it horizontally and place it on your knee cap, if the top of the bill does not touch the bottom of your clothing, it is too short and you must change. No low cut shirts, and if the shirt is sleeveless, it must be tight around your arm so as to not hang down exposing undergarments or more skin.
I am not writing to tell you that if you do not follow the Reach Week standard that you are violating God’s laws. What I would like to point out is that the purpose of this dress code is to help campers and staff not focus on themselves or others, but rather, to focus on the image of God! What a great week it is, and oh, how I wish every week could be this way!
1 Timothy 2:9- “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,”
This is one of the most well-known verses in scripture in regards to modesty. Immodesty was an issue long before we arrived on this earth. This is not new. You will note in the context of this verse that it wasn’t simply wearing revealing clothes that is being addressed, it is also dealing with being different from the world, being a good example, and not dressing/acting in a way to draw attention to ourselves.
As you noticed, you did not find the “dollar bill” rule or any specific regulations in this passage, so the question remains, what is modest?
In Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve realized that they were naked, the scriptures teach that eve made a covering out of fig leaves for both her and her husband. This covering that was made according to the Hebrew was that very similar to a loin cloth. Covering the “essentials” but not much, if anything else. One might say that this would be similar to many of the modern swim suits today. God did not see this a fitting thing to wear. He proceeded to provide both of them garments that (according to the Hebrew) was much like a robe.
Again, this is not a command to wear robes. Rather, it is a glimpse into what is fitting in the eyes of God, which is generally a step above what is fitting in the eyes of man.
Modesty is not as much about specific guidelines that each piece of clothing must meet. Modesty is more about a life that is focused more toward glorifying the creator rather than the creation. If someone is dressed in a way that is mean to draw attention to them (hey, look how good I look!) this is immodest.
Is There A Double Standard?
This is a question that has been asked on numerous occasions when it comes to the issue of modesty.
Many times preachers, bible class teachers, and parents are much more inclined to talk to the young ladies about what is appropriate than they are to the young men. To all of the women, I would like to say, that I personally am sorry for this!
#1. Women are not the only gender that has the ability (or desire) to dress immodestly.
#2. Men are not the only gender that can be tempted with lust.
This article began by talking about the women’s volleyball players at the Olympics, it could have just as easily began by talking about the embarrassingly small amount of clothing worn by men in many of their events. (Let’s not stop there) We could talk about the guys who wear the tightest shirts they can find with the only purpose being to show off their figure, we could talk about the guys who are continually running outside in small shorts and shirtless (side note: I have always been very active in running, lifting weights, and playing sports I have never felt hindered or “extra hot” because I left a light t-shirt on)
We could talk about movies such as “Magic Mike” which is a movie that features male strippers, and cringe when we think about the money that brought to the box office. (If you heard that Magic Mike was not “that bad” I would encourage you to go here to read the real review yourself)
Many times we have treated modesty as if it were a one-way street, shame on me, shame on us. Men are called by God to be the spiritual leaders of our homes (Deuteronomy 6) and Churches (1 Timothy 2) we cannot expect women to dress modestly, or be concerned for the spiritual welfare of others if we are not leading by example.
Should We Care What Others Think?
“It is not my problem if someone does not like the way I dress!”
“If that person struggles with lust because my shorts are a little short then that is their problem!”
Too often I have heard these words from the mouths of Christians. I want to tell you right now, in the clearest possible language that I can use. It is your job as a Christian to consider what others think about you!
Please watch my wording, I did not say, it is your job to please everyone. Rather, you must consider their thoughts. I want to share with you 2 reasons for this as it pertains to modesty.
#1. I want you to think about the words we find in 2 Peter 3:9. We find that our God wants all men to be in heaven. We know based on Matthew 7:13-14 that this will not be possible. However, my heart needs to be in tune with the Lord’s. Every person that I meet, I must want them to be in heaven!
“What does this have to do with anything?”
The pornography “business” is booming. It brings in more money per year than do MLB, NFL, and NBA COMBINED! To say that we are sex-saturated and filled with lust (generally speaking) is an understatement. This is not a “harmless” sin. Jesus speaks in Matthew 5 about lust, and makes it very clear that the lustful thought is every bit as wrong as the lustful act.
It is time to wake up and realize that simply “avoiding the act” is not enough! Jesus calls us higher!
If my desire is to bring as many people with me to heaven, and I understand I live in a world where lust is a serious issue, I must be diligent in making sure my apparel never assists someone sinning, even if it is just “in their head.”
I would remind you of Paul’s writings about eating various kinds of meat. These were not meats that God viewed as sinful to eat, but many living at that time did. Paul warned that even though something in and of itself might not be wrong, doing it in front of others and causing them to stumble is sinful. (1 Corinthians 8)
#2. Our purpose is to bring others to heaven! You and I can not possibly convince someone else that we are headed a different eternal direction if we wear the same clothes, talk the same way, act the same way, share the same standards… church… We.Must.Be.Different! (Phil 3:20, Mathew 5;13-16, 1 Timothy 2:9, John 17:16)
What Should Be The Christian Response?
We know immodesty is all around us. What should be our response?
We must focus on “me.” I must focus on me, you must focus on you. I must make sure my wardrobe (and life) are pleasing to God, while you do the same. Finger pointing does nothing. Pointing our lives toward the Father does everything!
Someone will say, “You can’t protect yourselves from seeing it forever, so why try?” I will agree that unless you dig a hole in the ground and never come out, you will be around immodesty, and must train yourself for holiness.
Job 31:1 mentions making a “covenant with your eyes” what a great thought! Let us make a covenant with our eyes that we will not gaze upon immodesty willingly.
Below is just a few suggestions. Not commandments from God, but some things that are implemented in my home for your consideration.
- Stay away from public pools. The temptation for lust is simply too great. Our souls, our children’s souls are far more important than a day at the pool. (side note: when we went swimming with our college ministry we had every male and female wear knee length swimming shorts and dark t-shirts, much to our surprise nobody drowned because of the cumbersome attire:)
- Watch programming rather than television: Many of the worst parts about television are the commercials. Watch dvd’s of pre-approved shows, watch pre-approved shows on Netflix, dvr etc…
- Review any tv show, or movie before watching it. On www.pluggedin.com
As I write these words I want you to know the only reason for this post is love. Love for you, your soul, my children’s souls, and your children’s souls. When Christ came to this earth He raised the standard on holiness. It is time for me to do the same.
6 thoughts on ““Modesty- And The Christian Heart””
Troy, you addressed a difficult subject with grace, dignity, and love. I appreciate how you drew the focus back on doing what is pleasing to the Lord. I also appreciate how you brought our attention to being different from the world. It is definately a tough issue to deal with, especially in a highly sexualized culture. The reality is that we cannot completely get away from it, but we can work at doing our part to make it a better, godlier, place.
The Olympic issue is difficult as well. I think we’d be fooling ourselves to say that the women’s attire on beach volleyball has nothing to do with sex appeal. A question I have is, “Is it possible to view a situation where immodesty is present (e.g., women’s beach volleyball) without lusting? If so, does that make it okay to view?” Another question, “Is it possible for people to struggle with lust of eyes concerning fully clothed specimans? If so, what do we make of that?”
We must work to protect our souls from Satan’s grasp. Immodesty is addressed in the Scriptures, but not laid out specifically, as you mentioned. Why not? God could have made this much simpler for all of us, right? So, why leave it so grey? Well, I think it is a matter of the heart. We all know our own heart; and we all know what we need to do to protect it and keep it focused on heavenly things.
Let me know your thoughts. I love these discussion.
Josh, you asked to “is it possible” questions. I think the answer to both is “yes”
I do believe it is possible to view scantily clad or even naked individuals and not lust. However, I still would not think it wise to do do. For the same reason that I do not find it wise to play with fire. There is always a chance of going too far.
I do also think it is possible for there to be lust toward a fully clothed/modestly dressed individual. Not entirely sure what our job is toward those individuals other than to continue to try to turn their hearts back to Jesus. Which can only be done through His Word. Psalm 119 states that david “stored up His Word in his heart” so that he might not sin.
We must continually teach/ preach the Word before people go through temptations, while they are there, and after they come through it.
Two not to*
Good points. I agree. We have to recognize our slippery slopes. Keep up the good work, Troy.
I feel this is your best post yet! Very well written, solid layout, and easy to understand in order to begin applying to ones life. I appreciate your heart from truth and your willingness to warn people of not only sin but also “slippery slope” issues. Keep up the good work.
A very timely post for all Christians today. We, Christians, have become so desensitized by the world.