This post is written by Hallee Bridgeman chief writer at Hallee The Homemaker.
God is so good and is such a provider – even when all I need provided is a diving board. I was excited to write a post on modesty, but honestly once Saidah gave me the deadline to get the post to her, I have been at a loss as to what to say. Then, last week, a friend sent me an email. She said that her husband and father of two toddlers was having a conversation with a coworker and father of two teen-aged daughters — about clothes. The father of the teen-aged girls said that girls had to dress the way they dress, because that’s all that’s out there. She said to me:
This I know isn’t true, while it might be harder to find, I know you would NEVER let Kaylee wear these clothes, nor have I seen them on her. I just immediately thought of you and how you talk about the images of women/girls and clothes nowadays and how our society shapes them.
My parents graduated high school in 1966. My mom remembers a Friday afternoon in the winter when a freezing rain hit the little logging town where she lived in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She remembers the principal making an announcement over the loudspeakers of the school that due to the freezing temperatures, girls would be allowed to wear pants to that night’s football game.
My mom and her friends were so excited. To get to wear pants! What a treat!
And somehow, in a short forty-year span, we’ve gone from that to what we see girls almost wearing today.
Our society has very slowly over the last few decades, given children free reign. They have their own cell phones – calling, texting, internet access – without parental supervision or control. They have their own television stations – no more Saturday morning cartoons or Sunday night family movies. Twenty-four-hours-a-day, children are fed mindless babble peppered with direct marketing that parents cannot even begin to compete with.
And these children are pushing boundaries at ages 9, 10, 11 — boundaries that they shouldn’t even know exist much less think are attainable. When parents allow their little girls to purchase pants that have sexual messages imprinted on the backside (bootilicious, yummy, juicy), sexual messages on the t-shirt (legal-ish – an actual shirt sold in a children’s size small, medium, and large), thong underwear in little girls’ sizes, lacy bras, lacy looking “bra” straps built into off the shoulder clothes to give the appearance of underwear hanging out — when we allow our 9-year-olds to sexualize themselves in ways that grown women shouldn’t – then we are destroying our girls’ innocence and taking a huge chunk out of their childhood.
1 Timothy 2:8-10 (KJV) says:
I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
This verse isn’t saying that skirts should be a certain length or that sleeves must cover to the wrist. Pastor C.J. Mahaney, in a sermon titled “The Soul of Modesty” said:
Any biblical discussion of modesty begins by addressing the heart, not the hemline.
By dressing immodestly, we’re drawing attention to our bodies – in short, to our sex. We’re placing ourselves as the center of attention, hoping to draw lustful looks, to seduce. By allowing our children to dress the same way, we’re teaching them that they’re supposed to be noticed in that way, that physical appearance and attributes are what is important. That is the lesson instead of teaching them, as God asks, that Christ is important, that serving others comes first, that we live a life that exemplifies God and not ourselves.
Pastor John MacArthur writes in his book, “The MacArthur New Testament Commentaries, 1 Timothy”:
How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshiping God? Or is it to call attention to herself, and flaunt her…beauty? Or worse, to attempt to allure men sexually? A woman who focuses on worshiping God will consider carefully how she is dressed because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance.
And that is the key. Allowing our children, our teens, even our own selves, to dress immodestly is to send the signal that it’s okay, that it’s normal, and that it’s proper to allure men sexually. The Bible clearly tells us that outside of the boundaries of holy matrimony -it is not okay. The Bible warns men over and over again about being a slave to sexual immorality, to sinning with the eyes and with the heart, to falling prey to the sexual allure of immoral women. It is a battle that men will fight from the time of puberty until death. A young man said in an interview with Carolyn Mahaney:
Each and every day is a battle – a battle against my sin, a battle against temptation, a battle against my depraved mind. Every morning I have to cry out for mercy, strength, and a renewed conviction to flee youthful lusts. The Spirit is faithful to bring me the renewal I need to prepare me to do war against my sin, yet the temptation still exists. Sometimes, when I see a girl provocatively dressed, I’ll say to myself, “She probably doesn’t even know that a hundred and one guys are going to devour her in their minds today. But then again, maybe she does.”
As parents have allowed their children to make adult decisions, to remove parents from the equation so to speak, and to grow up so early and so fast, they’re allowing their children to become sexual objects – a beacon for sinful thoughts, lustful desires, and (sadly in some cases) inappropriate actions. The marketing, the media, the entertainment that our children are exposed to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is not telling them that there’s something wrong or immoral about that. In fact, it’s sending a different message. It’s saying, Go for it. Do it. Dress this way. Act that way. There is nothing wrong with being a sex object at the age of 12, and anyone telling you that it’s wrong is obviously bigoted and hateful and trying to hold you back!
It is our responsibility as parents to step forward and tell our girls no. To fight against marketing and fashion magazines and peer pressure and teach our daughters that what adorns our bodies reflects our heart. We need to take a stand for our daughters, for their hearts, for their innocence.
God directs us as parents to do so. And I can assure you, no one else will.