I had an eye opening experience a couple of weeks ago as it regards modesty of dress, specifically for high school age young women.
I have a pretty conservative view of modesty. I admit that. We had a terrific discussion about it a few years ago here.
I have had a very difficult time understanding how so very many Christian parents consistently allow their daughters to dress so immodestly. I know they do allow it because I see it at church. It has been so frustrating because I see these young women and I know that their parents love the LORD, desire to glorify him and know God’s Word. I look at the clothing (or lack there of) on their daughters and look at these parents and am left baffled.
Well… I’m a little less baffled.
I attended a public high school homecoming ceremony. That took the baffle right out of me.
I won’t say that my family was like the Andy Griffith crew suddenly showing up at Jersey Shore, but it was close.
The homecoming court was going to be presented and the queen crowned, so it was a big event. That meant that lots and lots of the student body was going to be dressed up. I might actually say, lots of the student body was going to be not covering much of the student body.
The length of skirts and depth of necklines was a bit shocking. Honestly, it really was stunning. In not a good way.
I commented afterwards to Paul, “I felt so badly for you and Noah. I’m sorry. I wanted to cover your eyes.” Chloe chimed in, “Mom, I felt badly for all of us. All of our eyes should have been covered.”
That day, HB had chosen a really terrific outfit. A skirt and blouse from Old Navy she had picked this summer. I remember her coming out of the dressing room with it on and saying, “If I wear a pair of leggings with this skirt, do you think it would be ok?” I said yes.
So, she sat watching the parade of thighs while wearing her “short” skirt and leggings. As we left, I looked at her skirt and thought, “Man, that skirt sure looks long now.”
I kid you not. While clothes shopping two hours later, I told HB that she didn’t have to wear the leggings. The skirt really did seem long enough without them. Honestly, she hesitated, but I said it was ok. She took them off and went to choir.
Three hours later, she walked out from choir and I immediatly thought, “Oh, my! She needs leggings under that skirt if she is going to wear it!”
That’s when I realized the lesson I had just learned: I stopped using God’s Word and the ideas of modesty there and started using the world as my measuring rod. When HB wore that skirt next to the many girls wearing skirts that barely covered their underwear or the ones halfway up the thigh, she looked so incredibly modest since her skirt was almost to her knees.
Comparison was my behavior, not consideration.
When I took the world’s view of modesty out of the picture and looked at HB just as she was, taking into consideration that she would be walking and moving, taking into consideration that wind blows, taking into consideration that the skirt is not just a piece of fabric, but an outfit that affects how her body is displayed, I remembered why we think it needs more.
I now have a better understanding of what the parents of kids in school outside the home (I won’t say just public school because I’ve seen the same thing with private school) are contending with in regards to dressing modestly. They are bombarded every single day with shocking standards. Ghastly standards. So much so, that when they draw a different line, it looks modest.
I’m not excusing their decisions to allow their daughters to be only slightly different, though.
God’s Word and the call to modesty are vastly different than the Western world’s current standard.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I Corinthians 6: 19-20
I grow weary of those who say that modesty is “a heart attitude only”. While it is true that our heart attitude is reflected in what we wear, what we wear is on display. Our outward attire is a reflection of our hearts, not something separate. The two are tied.
I believe elders and parents should stop avoiding the discussion because they don’t want to look legalistic. That’s a cop out, in my opinion. Talking about this is difficult and offends others, I know that. They need to step back and shake off the world’s perspective and standard and go to God’s Word, even if it’s difficult to be different. We are called to be light, to be salt, to be set apart… all of these things are reflected in our words, our actions, and our bodies.
I’m glad I had that eye opening experience to help keep me on my guard. To help me keep my perspective focused on Christ and not the world.
Perspective matters when it comes to modesty, like most things. How’s yours?