Have you ever been bombarded by something? Like no matter where you turn, what show you watch, or where you choose to spend a quiet afternoon, there it is. Like Betty White on EVERY TV show or movie out over the last two years, or Justin Bieber…first it’s a record deal, then a 3D movie…then his hair? No matter where you look, it’s there slapping you in the face, leaving an undeniable impression. This happened to me last week.
I was flipping through a magazine and there was this picture of a young tween model scantily clad with this season’s best fashion attire: ultra mini skirt, very low-cut tank peeking out from an open jacket, sultry expression on her youthful face.
I turned on the local evening news and the first headline was an exposé on the evil influence Miley Cyrus had on the younger generation of girls copying her “untamable” fashion sense.
Diane and I went to our local Starbucks for a quiet evening of writing and studying when in walked three teenage girls all dressed hauntingly similar to each other. My jaw stood agape. I could not believe what I was seeing. I’m not even sure if they were skirts, but I’m definitely sure I saw hind-parts sticking out from underneath them.
A few days later, I get this article in my mailbox about Poonam Pandey, India’s native supermodel, promising to strip naked if India won the Cricket World Cup.
All of this makes me wonder….is modesty no longer in fashion? Was it just a 1950’s term my mother used when she thought my hemline was too short? Or is there a legitimate need for women to be modest today? And what is the motivation behind it all?
For many of us, love is a major motivation for dressing the way we do. We want someone to love us, notice us and think we’re special, thinking our attire is the perfect “subtle” way to get that person’s attention. Or maybe we think all the other girls are prettier and we can’t get that guy’s attention, so we overcompensate, and dress in a way that sends the wrong message. When I was growing up my father had this little saying, “Don’t advertise what’s not for sale.” But self-love can be one of the most dangerous motivations for us to wear the kinds of clothes we want to wear because it exalts self and puts us on the throne, calling the shots.
For others of us, however, love for the world is what drives us to dress a certain way. The latest fashions. The hippest trends. The most fabulous accessories. We are the girls who follow young Hollywood like TMZ actually cuts our paychecks. We don’t care if the skirts are getting shorter and shorter, or the tops are getting thinner and more see-through; it’s Vogue-HOT, baby, and we must have it. We are the women who are LOVING OUR WORLD, and it’s all the motivation we need; we are going to dress like it even if we’re clearly commanded to not love the world (1 John 2:15- 17). It’s just fashion! What’s the harm in that?
For a small number of us, our motivation lies deeper than a simplistic love for self or the world. No, we dress to find a certain power – feministic at its core. By dressing provocatively, we find we have power over guys, power over situations, and power over ourselves. And as twisted as it can seem, we even find power in being objectified. “Treat me like a lady even if I dress like a porn star,” is the mantra. Watch any Kardashian commercial, and they will testify to this: The way we dress is powerful. Proverbs 7 describes this woman to a tee. She comes out “dressed like a prostitute” for the sole purpose of luring the man into her trap, to control him.
Some of us are not like this at all…well, on the outside at least. We dress with clothes that cover our bodies, no one can see “a shadow or crack in the front or the back” (as a mentor of mine would say). Our skirts are not too short, and our tops are not too low; they are just right. We, after all, are the good church girls. But beyond the window-dressing lies an unearthed attitude of impropriety that would make even Tara Reid blush. “She captures him with her eyelashes,” luring him with just a look (Proverbs 6:25). And for some of us, that’s all we need…a look…and we got ‘em!
But not the love of self, the love of the world, or the love for power. There is a greater love that modesty should be motivated by. Love for others and love for your God.
LOVING YOUR BROTHERS.
My brother Dan and I sat next to each other in church this one particular Sunday morning. I remember this vividly because at the time (I was pretty young), I didn’t quite get what he was talking about afterwards. I do now. A woman sat in the pew a few rows in front of us. It was warm out, so she had a strapless sundress on that morning. When she was filing into her seat or standing for worship, there wasn’t a problem. She was as modest as the lady next to her. But as soon as this woman sat down, my brother’s gaze dropped immediately into his Bible, and he didn’t look up for the rest of the sermon. As we walked out to the car, he put his arm around his little sister and said, “Sarah, do me a favor? When you grow up, never wear a strapless dress to a church that has pews.” As a grown woman, I now understand what he was driving at. I also understand why he got a sudden passion to read through his Bible. From behind you could see her dress when she was standing; but when she was sitting? Not so much…
Ladies, guys are visual. They are stimulated by the things they see. The clothes you wear, and the way you wear them sends a visual message to a guy whether or not you mean it. In Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, Paul talks about going to great effort to help a brother not stumble in his walk with the Lord. As women, we can help them by how we’re dressing. When we dress in an alluring way, causing them to stumble in their thoughts and actions, we are the ones that are wrong. It begins with us. While their sin is ultimately because of their own choices, we don’t help them by dressing in a way that makes it more difficult to stand against temptation.
• Am I loving my brothers with how I am dressing today?
Galatians 5:19 gives a list of characteristics that describe those who live according to the flesh; among them are impurity and sensuality. Galatians 5:22 gives the opposing list: the fruit of the Spirit; among them are kindness and goodness. The question to ask ourselves is: Is what I’m wearing kind and good towards my brother in Christ, or is it impure and sensual? Am I loving my brother with the clothes I am wearing?
LOVING YOUR GOD.
Did you know that Disney had a really strict dress code policy in its early days? True story! And not just for their employees. For visitors, as well. Women who came to the park in halter tops were actually sent away because it didn’t exude a “wholesome environment.” Why do you think they implemented this? Because the clothes you wear exhibit outwardly an inward association, and Disney didn’t want to be associated with “unwholesome” behavior. The same is true for Christians and the watching world around us. What you wear on the outside, says something about the type of relationship you have with God on the inside. Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, “If our hearts are right with God—if we’re walking in purity and humility before Him—the fruit will be a modest external appearance.”
• Am I loving my God with how I am dressing today?
We don’t own our bodies. I know…this is devastating news for some of you. But it’s true. You are not your own. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The term glorify means “to make known, to make great.” So, the next time we stand in the mirror about to walk out the door, let’s ask ourselves: “Is what I’m wearing making God known and making Him great, or am I the focus of my motivation?”
Modesty. Love. Style. Power. Brothers. God.
What’s your motivation?
Romans 14:19 – “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”