I haven't always been a modest dresser. When I was in high school I let the fashion of magazines such as Seventeen and Vogue and my circle of friends influence my dress more than what God had to say about the issue.
While I was more careful in my dress after marrying my college sweetheart, I still would like to show off my curves when we went out. It wasn't until I moved to Paraguay that I realized that different cultures have different understandings of modesty. Shorts that were considered "normal" in the U.S. (mid thigh length) are not considered appropriate here. Most women do not wear shorts. If they do, they are knee-length.
When I went back to the States on our first summer furlough, I was so used to wearing long shorts and capri pants that I was a little taken aback seeing women wear the short-shorts I used to wear. My goodness, they were exposing almost all of their leg! It was then that I realized how blind I had been to the strong cultural current of sensuality and contrast of the message of "modern" fashion and God's word.
A fantastic little book called The Look, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, (it's also in Spanish!), talks about how our clothing reveals the condition of our hearts. Her questions are challenging me to rethink my wardrobe choices. What motivates our style of clothing? What message are we sending with what we wear? Are we trying to attract attention to our bodies or are we giving glory to God with our clothing?
Why dress modestly? Not only is my body not my own (it is a temple of God), dressing indecently causes men to lust in their hearts. The thing is that Christian women are sometimes the worst culprits. I can't tell you how awkward and frustrating it is to sit behind someone in church who is wearing a see-through blouse. I know that this makes it hard for Hubby to concentrate on the Lord. She is also taking away from me something that is mine, and that's my husband's attention.
This issue has been burning in my heart lately as I see the youth in our church wearing the same scandalous clothing that all the other teens wear. In fact, if you would line them up, you couldn't tell the difference! It's not just teens though, it's their mothers as well who have shortened their skirts and exposed their breast. Since men are so visual, we women have a responsibility to make sure that what we wear doesn't make them stumble. I'm quite positive that if we were to revolutionize our clothing, there would be fewer affairs and separations! We have one life to live, and it's our choice to "flaunt" our bodies or live for God's glory, whether at the beach, a formal evening or at church.
I'm not at all saying that God doesn't want us to be beautiful. On the contrary! He is the Creator of all things beautiful. Queen Esther went through 12 months of beauty treatments (I'd probably need 36 months!). I'm also not suggesting you dress like your grandmother! The woman in Proverbs 31 is a woman who had linen clothing (nice fabric). I'm suggesting a beauty that's focused from the inside out; a beauty that's pure and humble and feminine.
On Thursday, we're having a women's tea to celebrate the International Day of the Woman (it was on Sunday) and I'm going to be sharing about true beauty in God's eyes. If you would remember me in prayer, I'd really appreciate it. The key for me is that this is NOT an issue of legalism and measuring skirt lengths, it's a matter of the heart.
If your clothes could talk, what would they say about you?