I was raised in a culture that focused heavily on clothing. For girls, you had no chance of being spiritual unless you were dressed modestly. And the “modest” dress was a list of do’s and don’ts that had been built over time. Frankly, I rebelled, even if only inwardly at times, from anything near the list.
My parents gave me a wonderful gift as a child; they always encouraged me to be an individual. They encouraged me to THINK and BE MYSELF. One of the things that came out in that process was a knack for questioning and always asking “Why do we do that?” My questioning of the do’s and don’ts was not always rooted in outright rebellion, but was often born of a complete lack of understanding of how and why this list even existed.
After getting married and becoming a Christian myself I found myself questioning the list even more, and for better reasons. I denounced the list completely. It can’t be about the list!
Fast forward ten years and we are on the brink of having two little girls becoming little women, and the questions about true modesty keep swimming about my head. I started researching the question and somewhere in the recovering Pharisaical part of my brain, I want the Bible to give me a list. I would like that list of do’s and don’ts. Yet instead I see verses that say:
I Peter 3:1-4 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
I Timothy 2:8-10 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 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, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
I John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.
I Corinthians 6:9 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,
I see the Virtuous Woman… but there is not a list there either.
If you have had any sort of conversation with me about children’s clothing, you know how frustrated I am about the whole thing! I say all the time that the clothes in the little girls’ department are “hoochie mama” clothes. You can barely find a pair of shorts for girls that have an inseam longer than two inches! Skirts are almost as short, and pants are cut to hug every little curve. My girls have heard me say it often, but they will want to know “WHY?” eventually. I want them to be thinkers too. I want them to not just accept whatever they are told, I want them to know why we do what we do.
I know first hand what children think of the whole “Do as I say, because I tell you what is right!” mentality and what it will do. Yes, children should respect authority, but I can tell you that my generation- the kids who were told what to do, instead of being SHOWN what and why we do is in a sad state! I don’t want that for our four precious gifts. I don’t want our children raised in an atmosphere that harbors hypocrisy. I want them to SEE and BE authentic followers of Christ.
So back to the Biblical focus on modesty. What do we show our children about modesty? I am fairly confident that no where in the Bible does it say, “Don’t wear Hoochie Mama clothes.” What do I show these girls if I don’t have a list? What do we show our son who will be interested in girls all to soon, even if he says that he isn’t yet? How do we show him what he should look for in his future bride? (NOT THAT I WANT THIS ANYTIME SOON!!! but he is about to be a teenager)
I know that we must teach them to save themselves for their spouse.
I know that we must teach them to respect the body that God has given them.
But where do I go in three years when I have a 13 year old asking WHY she can’t wear the miniskirt and halter top. I want more than, “Because I said so, and you live under my roof.” or “The Bible says, ‘Obey your parents!'”