*Joint post that my friend Evan Bates and I wrote recently. To read more check out www.bedrockblog.com
Evan: What if we thought of modesty as a license to be unique, instead of a dress code of holiness? What if we lived by principles of representation, instead of limits on our self expression? Any discussion of purity or modesty is a sticky undertaking, more so this year than before. With the Brock Turner case bringing up issues of responsibility and temptation in attire, a Kardashian opting for decidedly sheer clothing, and James Charles representing CoverGirl as the first CoverBoy, it's not exactly a good time to speak on living modestly. But just because something isn't popular doesn't mean it shouldn't be said. Maybe it's time we put a new face on modesty.
Hannah: Perhaps we need to redefine what modesty really means to us as a generation. Is it all about how tight our pants are or the length of our skirts? Maybe modesty is not about a list of do’s and don’ts but rather about a desire to rightly represent Jesus burning so deeply in our hearts that it takes expression in everything we do—including what we wear.
What if we defined modesty as simply that… A passion to be like Jesus in every area of our lives.
I wonder if we would find ourselves trying to get as close to the line as possible without falling off the edge. I wonder if we would spend so much time trying to be like the world but not of the world. Maybe instead, we would evaluate how we can take modesty and real beauty to the next level so that we are a generation that is so attractive in attitude and appearance that the world can’t help but be struck that we have been with Jesus.
Evan: Sisters, the first principle I think important is this: whatever you wear, or say, or identify yourself as, let that be a result of who YOU are inside, and your experience with Jesus. Whether it's a homespun jean skirt stitched on a 1897 pedal-powered sewing machine or Hollister's fall collection, your clothing should reflect your relationship with Christ, not anyone else's. It's easy to dress, or use speech patterns, or carry accessories which classify you in a definitive category on the spectrum of Christianity. But when you allow the identity of a group to dictate your choices instead of God's word, you no longer represent Christ, but that group.
Hannah: Another principle that plays in here is simply— why do you wear what you wear? Is it to get the guy’s attention? To look like the latest Hollywood star? To make you feel valuable? To fit in with a certain crowd or be viewed as belonging to a certain group? Or is it to be the most attractive representative of your God possible? Far too often we look around us and criticize our fellow sisters for wearing either too much or too little while we have not gone before God and honestly examined our own motives. Do we have a clear conscience before God when we look in our wardrobe? Would we want Jesus to sit next to us when we wear that one outfit?
We make the whole topic of modesty a huge and confusing issue but I’m convinced that if we would take our eyes off of what everyone else is doing and ask God what He wants for us, we would find it is quite simple. We make it complicated because we aren’t willing to lay down our own ideas and say yes to whatever He asks. And really, saying yes to Him is principle that goes far beyond modesty. When the continual chorus of our hearts is, “yes Jesus—anything for you” we will be safe.
Evan: And brothers. Modesty is not just a mandate for Christian women. After all, by our clarified definition, modesty is merely the representation of Christ in every area of our lives. Are man buns of the devil? I can't answer that question. Believe it or not, there isn't a single text in the Bible which says, "Thou shalt not wear a bun upon thy head, for in so doing thou _______________ (insert your reasoning here)." Sometimes the questions we really need to be asking hit closer to home. Why am I buying the iPhone 7? Is the amount of time I spend getting ready for the day irresponsible? Do I use language which reflects those around me (albeit pure language) more than what God has put on my heart? Word. Brothers, I beg you, spend less time worrying about what your sisters are wearing, or even your brothers, and worry about what remains in your hearts, because that's where reflecting Christ begins.
Hannah: Far too often modesty is thought of as a girl’s topic because there seem to be far more variables in our wardrobes as compared to yours, but I have to pause a minute and wonder if simply discussing wardrobes really takes us deep enough. What about modesty of deportment? What about carrying that attitude of honor into your conversation with the girl down the street that you like? What about being the one to stand up and keep wholesome boundaries in your friendship instead of waiting for her to do it? What about treating everyone you meet with respect and a caring heart instead of flirting with the ones with a pretty face?
And sisters, maybe it’s time for us to go deeper than the clothes we wear too. Maybe modesty is just as much about where we allow our mind to go as about what we wear. Do we daydream about interactions with guys that we would never dream to have in real life? Do we read a million romantic intentions into their simple acts of being a gentlemen? Do we misconstrue their genuine kindness and friendship to be something more because we aren’t content with only having God as our lover?
Maybe modesty is no more for one gender than another. Maybe it is caring about each other enough that we keep our hearts in the hands of God and let every part of our lives follow suit.
Evan: Let's stop talking about the dress code. Let's stop making lists and hem measurements, and look at hearts. Let's look in the mirror and ask ourselves, "How am I glorifying God with every corner of my life?"
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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