I want to start by asking you a question. When did it become a bad thing to want to protect our brothers in Christ? When did it become unheard of or embarrassing to admit that sometimes we wear clothes we wouldn’t want our fathers to see us in? When did it become ok to walk around wearing as little as possible and write it off by claiming our bodies are our own to do whatever we want with it? When did we as Christian women think we had to give up our feminism in order to be modest?
The word modesty can be so broad. To many it seems like another chore that is required of the Christian faith. That we must hide our bodies because they are something to be ashamed of. To others it is mocked; the idea that we should dress our bodies to prevent poor boys from stumbling is laughable, surely they can control their urges. To many a confusing term. A term that encompasses so many meanings that they are not sure where to begin, but without proper clarity it is too bothersome to consider dealing with. Maybe you also are unsure what the word modesty means and what God’s context for it is. I can’t claim to know the truth, but what I do know is that we as a society of Christian women need to educate ourselves about how our clothing affects those around us.
Yes, there are pigs out there. Men who will wolf whistle at you when you are bundled up in a winter coat, men who will make you feel uncomfortable when you are wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and men who say you “asked for it.” These are not the men I am concerned about protecting. There will always be evil in the world and satan in the hearts of men.
We as women have convinced ourselves that all men are this way. That all men are disgusting perverts who perpetually want nothing more than to get in our pants, cop a feel, or undress us with their minds. But what about the good men out there. What about your sweet fourteen year old brother who can’t concentrate during a Victoria Secret’s commercial? What about your aging professor who accidentally gets a look down your low cut top as well? What about the great guy you are dating who is trying to not take advantage of you? What about them? What are you going to tell your children if you have sons? Are you going to tell them to just give over to their desires? Are you going to tell them to treat women like the objects we sometimes dress like? Of course not!
I used to be unaware of what modesty was, and frankly felt like I had enough trouble getting noticed by boys to stop donning my yoga pants. I mean what is a girl without a butt to do? Then I read a book that changed everything. It is called Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. The book takes you through the struggle the two men had separately with lust, and how they were able to overcome it with the Lord. These are good Christian men who loved their wives but couldn’t quite stop their wandering vision.
I think as women because we are so relationship oriented, we believe that guys see the world and us through the same eyes. They do not. In the book they go into great detail to explain how men were made to receive sexual gratification through their eyes. A quote from the book says, “ We aren’t picky. It can come in a photograph of a nude stranger, romantic interlude with the wife, or even a scantily clad women in your wife’s bathing suit catalog. Women seldom understand this because they aren’t sexually stimulated in the same way. For males, impurity of the eyes is sexual foreplay.”
There point is entirely correct. We don’t understand it because our sexual stimulation is through touch and relationship. To put in perspective, telling a man to stop being visually stimulated is like telling a woman to stop enjoying the intimacy of a man truly getting her or to stop fantasizing about Mr. Right every time she watches a romantic comedy. I was shocked to discover in the book the great shame these men felt for their wives and family for accidentally seeing a women jogging in a sports bra and thus fantasizing about it later. They know we find this particular chemical makeup of their brain revolting, unforgiveable, and disturbing.
But the most important thing I took away from the book was that they can’t always control it. There are many ways for men to get better with their lust and visual desires, and I would encourage all men to be striving towards that, but there is nothing wrong or frowned upon about us doing our best to help those who are trying to help us. The men of the book pleaded with women to consider what they wear and try to help them out a little bit. They are trying to keep their eyes pure for their wives, and sometimes we unintentionally, while trying to impress others, can cause them to stumble.
So what can we as Christian women do about it? What does it mean to be a modest women in Christ? Now, I’m not about to tell you that you can never wear a bikini, yoga pants, a crop top, or shorts that aren’t 9 inches ever again. That would be hypocritical and unrealistic. I’m going to introduce a concept. Intentional Dressing.
Intentional Dressing is waking up every morning with the intent to dress to please the King, yourself, and your guy friends. We all have those articles of clothing we bought when we were feeling slightly risqué, wanted to grab that certain guys’ attention, or to show off the weight we had worked so hard to lose. We all have the not quite too short from the right angle pair of shorts, spandex running pants that cling a little too generously, and shirt that is fine unless we lean the tiniest bit forward. We have worn certain clothes, dresses, and shirts to gain attention from the visual part of the male brain. As much as we hate that part of the brain, we still try our best to please it and feed it’s ever growing appetite.
So have we as women asked for it? Of course not! But have we encouraged it at times? I know I have. As a track athlete it’s pretty much impossible to find anything to run in that isn’t leggings or spandex. How can you wear those baggy shorts when everyone around you is wearing spandex and Sophie short shorts? You’re going to look nasty “face wise” at practice so at least you can take comfort in your butt looking good, right? Yes, we do need these things to run faster and to work out better outdoors, but what about the Sunday afternoons I’ve worn them just because they were “comfortable?”
As a 5’9 girl, I have always struggled every time I searched for shorts, a Homecoming dress, or skirt. The anticipation of seeing the dress fit perfectly at top only to realize it’s barely goes to the top of my thighs. I can definitely be a vain person, like all of us, and can admit to rolling those shorts up just a little bit or choosing a dress without my mother that was slightly shorter, but not short enough to be untoward. Haven’t we all done something like that?
“ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought a price.”
You were bought at a price. God created ever part of you lovingly and paid the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom. We aren’t our own. And even though feminists and those in society might try to convince us that we make our own decisions, we have a right to wear what we want, and we only have to worry about what makes us feel beautiful and happy, they are wrong. In the verse right above that privilege is very clearly taken from us.
Wouldn’t you agree that you can feel just as flattering and beautiful in a sack of rags if a boy told you so? Wouldn’t you agree that you can feel beautiful in something that fits you just right that hardly shows any skin? Wouldn’t you agree that sweat pants are actually a lot more comfortable than spandex? We can’t have it both ways. We can’t both not want men to objectify us and judge us solely on what we wear, but then dress provocatively to get the attention of that part of their brain we “detest.”
Sure you might say that you aren’t dressing for them, you are dressing for yourself. But are you being 100% with me? Are you going to claim that you never once reached for the short shirt because your crush was going to be at that party? Because I don’t believe you. I know it can be hard when you feel like you have to compete with so many girls out there to get attention, but I promise you the type of boys you have to reveal skin to grab their attention are not the right boys for you.
Let’s bring back modesty. Let’s bring back wooing boys with our personalities, charm, wit, and kindness. Let’s stop dressing like strippers and call girls and start dressing the way a princess of the greatest King who ever lives deserves to dress.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what modesty will completely mean to you since everyone’s body is different, but I can give you some tips to figure it out.
- Pray for wisdom. Trust me, if you begin to ask God to show you what things in your wardrobe you should get rid of to intentionally dress He will show you. The Holy Spirit will convict you.
- Pray for your future husband. He is most likely facing every day surrounded by the temptation of pornography, incredibly graphic sexual scenes in movies, and scantily clad women starving for his attention everywhere he turns. He is trying his best to be good, and I’m sure he can use all the prayer he can get.
- Be a light. A think a great way to be a witness to non-believers is to be ok with modesty and even to embrace it. To say no, I am not going to objectify myself by wearing the tightest thing I can find. I am not going to lower my standards in order to get a boy to look twice at me.
- Clothe yourself in truth. Realize that there are good Christian men out there who would rather nourish you spiritually then take off your bra. Don’t let satan trap you into believing that it’s your fault and that you can do nothing to help them.
- Practice Intentional Dressing day in and day out. Be honest with yourself and clothing choices. Yes, you can’t always help when men lust after you, but you can try your best to not intentionally encourage it.
If we expect men to become gentleman and treat us like ladies, we have to dress the part. Think about what you wear each day as a billboard for all to see and judge. What would they say you’re advertising for?