On Christian Modesty

I wasn’t raised to be modest. Growing up, I regularly wore short-shorts, tube tops and revealing swimsuits. So did the other girls that I went to church with. Those were modern times and old-fashioned rules just didn’t apply. Or so I was told.

I grew up, married and had children. I dressed my little girl in shorts and halter tops and swimsuits, nothing as revealing as my clothing had been but still more-so than I now believe is appropriate. As she approached her teen years I grew uncomfortable with the idea of her dressing as I had once dressed. And, by that time, I had two other young girls, impressionable and with ever-lasting souls and the way they would be dressed as they grew up was also weighing on my mind. I started researching this modesty issue.

No matter what we’re talking about (music, clothes, habits), there’s a danger of swinging too far to the right thinking that if we do more than is required, we’ll be even more pleasing to the Lord and that’s what I did when I became more aware of the need to be more modest. But God tells us in His Word that we are to be temperate, showing moderation in all that we do. In other words, neither going too far this way nor that. Growing up, my home tended towards being legalistic. Immodesty was allowed but many other things weren’t. They weren’t disallowed because God said it but simply because the church thought it. In other words, they were Pharisees, adding rules in order to keep rules. This was the tendency in my family as well as the church that I grew up in (considering the times, that is). As I studied what the Bible said rather than church doctrine, my beliefs changed. I changed. So how we dressed changed.

We have an obligation to the Lord to do all that we do for Him. He is God, we aren’t, and it is He that we are to obey. It’s oh-so easy to add rules upon God’s Word in order to make extra-sure that we are pleasing Him. On the other side of the coin, it’s so easy to excuse our behavior by saying “Everyone’s doing it” or “Times are different” or “That’s old-fashioned”. Neither is right. Neither pleases Him.

We must examine our heart. Why do we desire to dress (or do anything) as we do? What motivates us? Is it fear of man? Long-standing rules? The desire to abolish long-standing rules? Pride in our own spirituality? Or is it what Scripture refers to as “fear of the Lord”?

Proverbs 1: 7 says that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. If we’re ever going to be pleasing to the Lord, we must start here. He is God and we are not. He has all power and, in the end, we have none–none to save ourselves, none to change the future, honestly none at all. God is Sovereign and we can’t always even open a bag of cereal without ripping the bag and spilling it. Wrapping our mind around Who God is goes a long way towards developing the right kind of fear of Him. That’s when we start developing wisdom. The wisdom that guides us as we delve into an understanding of modesty–or anything else.

So after running the gamut for a couple of years, going too far this way or that, I grew in my understanding of what it really means to be modest and was able to teach my daughters better than I had been taught. My oldest daughter is now grown and gone. My two younger daughters and I have long settled into an understanding of what it means for us to dress with modesty–and why. We still have rules but they are based in a desire to honor the Lord rather than in Pharisaical rules or modernism. My daughters are allowed to make many of their own choices as long as they are seeking to please the Lord. One daughter loves jeans. Another is pure vintage. Both love the Lord and His truth. Both are feminine. Both are modest. And both are pleasing the Lord with their desire to please Him because both of them know Him and fear Him. And that’s where a desire to be modest must begin.

A Mother’s Work

“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.” Martin Luther

Open Letter to Single Mamas

motherandbabyfeet

 

Dear Single Mama,

I am so proud of you. You are doing such a difficult job with such wonderful grace. Instead of giving up your child for adoption, instead of having an abortion, instead of focusing on what you wanted rather than what she needed, you are here, loving her, pouring out your life for her, giving her your all.

Or maybe circumstances were such that you couldn’t. You couldn’t keep him but you still did your best. You didn’t destroy him, you let him live. Out of love for your child, you broke your own heart in order to give him up to another family who could love him and provide for him when you were sure you couldn’t. How amazingly unselfish. You are so worthy of praise!

O sweet Mama, you probably never expected to be in this situation. After all, what little girl dreams of growing up and becoming a single Mom? None that I know of, yet so many end up being just that. You might be like my Mom, running from a dangerous man, trying to make a new, safer, life for herself and her little girl. You might be like the daughter of my best friend who found herself in a difficult situation but who chose to rise to the occasion with every ounce of courage she had. You might be like a new friend of mine, a single Mama of two amazing children, working, homeschooling and raising them all alone after her ex- decided he wanted to be just that: her -ex. Whatever your situation is, I applaud you for handling it with grace. So many balk at being a mother yet you’ve willingly taken on one of the most difficult jobs in the whole world and you’ve done it alone.

Being a mother is a hard job but it’s also the world’s most rewarding job. To feel those little arms around your neck or those sweet lips kissing your cheek, there’s just nothing like it. You hold your child’s heart in your hand. You are the molder of their future. Your little guy needs you to be strong and faithful. You little girl needs you to be the kind of Mom she will want to grow up to be. Your little ones, and your big ones, need you to point them to Christ every single day. Just remember you must lean on Christ. Follow Him. Obey Him. Trust Him. When you are weak, He will be your Strength. When you are overwhelmed, He will be your Rock.

Being a Christian single Mom is all about Christ. It’s about seeking Him, believing Him, obeying Him and trusting Him to carry you through. By His strength, you can do it. You can run the race. One day your children will praise you.

One day, if you are faithful to Him, Christ will praise you also.

Meanwhile be on your knees in prayer. Stay in His Word. Pour out your needs to the Lord. Follow Him every day. Pour out your life to your children. Love them every day. You will be greatly rewarded.

With much love and admiration,

a grateful sister in Christ

 

 

Photo via http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/flickrCC/index.php?terms=mother&edit=yes&page=1

The Other Side of Modesty

It’s that time of year when the Internet explodes with articles and videos intending to stem the tide of Christian girls headed to the beach or pool wearing “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikinis.”

Of course, many of these resources are valuable. Some of them even offer new insights into the modesty discussion — but even the best of them miss about half the population, and by “half-the-population” I mean the half that wears low-rise swim trunks to the pool. That’s right, I’m talking about men.

Now in previous years this omission might have been lost on me. But I’ve received enough emails from frustrated girls to make me take this double standard seriously: Christian guys expect girls to be modest, but hardly give a second though to their own modesty.

This is strange. Women may be shedding clothes this time of year, but so are men. Why are we only talking about female modesty? If modesty is important then it is important for all Christians. If it isn’t important for men, then why all the fuss about women? If it is important for women, why the silence about men?

Is it because guys can’t be immodest?

To read in full, please go to The Other Side of Modesty.

Places to Purchase Modest Swimwear Online

Do you want to maintain your modesty and still go swimming? That’s important to me. Some Christians feel comfortable undressing in public as long as its for swimming but I just can’t believe that that is honoring to our Lord. God doesn’t want us to be legalistic and follow some man-made list of rules. He does, however, care about our hearts. He does care whether we love Him enough to want to honor Him with our choice of clothing. I’ve gathered a list here of some great links to help you find a modest swimsuit for yourself,  your husband, your sons or daughters. Some of the sites offer patterns and/or fabric to make your own swimwear. Some offer suits for guys, suits, some for gals, some for children. Some even offer maternity or nursing swimsuits.

My boys have always worn tee shirts in the pool or at the beach. We’ve found swim shirts at thrift stores and most guy swim shorts are decent anyway. It’s usually the girls and women you’ve got to be concerned about. I’ve only actually ordered a modest swimsuit for my girls twice: once through Amazon (a rash guard suit) and once from one of the places listed below. Both were several years ago and both suits have held up well during the years. Besides that, we’ve “put together” suits for my girls through a bit of creativity and careful shopping. Once we put together a cute outfit using leotards and sports shorts. If you don’t have a lot of money, you might take some time, say a prayer, and get creative. If you’ve got some money to spend, you might want to check out some of these sites, maybe buy one, maybe find a pattern and make your own. Whatever you do, I hope you have fun.

If you have some questions about modesty or about the history of our modern swimsuit, you might want to read Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America by Jeff Pollard. Sermons by him, including ones on modesty, can be found on SermonAudio.

My apologies but some links simply aren’t clickable. They do work, however. Just copy and paste. Thanks!

 

Modest Swimwear Patterns

Fresh Modesty http://freshmodesty.com/ (offers a 34 page swimwear e-book that teaches you how to design and sew modest swimwear, including options for maternity swimwear; also offers an e-book for sewing denim; good prices, worth looking into if you are a seamstress)

Patterns of Time offers old-fashioned (but cute) swimwear patterns from the Victorian/Edwardian/Titanic era with original instructions at these links: (for ladies) http://patternsoftime.com/proddetail.asp?prod=AG1415, http://patternsoftime.com/proddetail.asp?prod=AG1416, http://patternsoftime.com/proddetail.asp?prod=AG1426; (for girls) http://patternsoftime.com/proddetail.asp?prod=AG1427

Simply Modest http://www.simply-modest.com/posecom/categories.php?category=Sewing-Patterns (girls and ladies swimwear)

Modesty Matters http://www.modestymatters.net/clothing.html (offers pattern for swim dress)

Past Patterns http://www.pastpatterns.com/7696.html (pattern for one-piece bathing suit, circa 1922)

Quick Stitches http://www.quickstitches.com/home1.html (offers modest swimsuit patter for ladies as well as other patterns)

 

Modest Swimwear

LeeLach Israeli Women Designers http://www.leelach.com/ (some suits offer extensive cover; offers a variety of styles and colors for girls and women in a range of prices, sells clothing and head covers also)

UnderCover WaterWear http://www.undercoverwaterwear.com/ (some suits offer extensive cover; girls and women’s sizes including plus sizes, swim dresses and tops and bottoms, swim hats, variety of colors, variety of prices)

MarSea Modest Swimwear http://www.marseamodest.com/ (some suits offer extensive cover; offers a range of colors and styles in girls and women’s sizes, offers limited sale items, offers clothing for girls)

HydroChic http://hydrochic.com/ (some suits offer extensive cover; offers girls and women’s sizes including plus sizes and maternity, accessories offers sales, variety of styles, colors and prices)

Princess Modest Swimwear http://modestswimwear4u.com/ (some suits offer extensive cover; offers mens and women’s styles, variety of colors, some sales, swim caps)

AquaModesta http://aquamodesta.com/ (some suits offer extensive cover; offers women’s and girls sizes, variety of styles, good prices)

WholesomeWear http://www.wholesomewear.com/page-3.html  (some suits offers extensive cover; offers girls and women’s sizes, variety of styles)

Creations by Savannah https://www.etsy.com/shop/CreationsbySavannah (offers girls, women’s and maternity swimwear in a variety of colors and styles)

Modest Swimwear & Activewear by: Cori http://modestactivewear.blogspot.com/ (offers swimsuits, workout wear and snow ski wear

Meant to be Modest http://meanttobemodest.com/ (very modest; offers complete swimsuits or separates, offers maternity suits suitable for nursing, accepts checks and paypal)

Dressing for His Glory http://www.dressingforhisglory.com/ (offers girls and women’s swimwear and clothing, cut to order, offers school uniforms, has some ready made clothes on sale at reduced prices)

Swim Modest! http://www.swimmodest.com/ (offers boys and mens swim shirts, girls and women’s to size 20 one (sarong style) and two piece swimsuits in a range of colors, offers returns within 30 days if sanitary strip is still in place)

Simply Modest http://www.simply-modest.com/posecom/ (offers ladies and girls swimsuits, maternity swimwear, custom made and ready made; offers swimsuit fabric and patterns, some sewing notions)

Stitchin’ Times http://www.stitchintimes.com/ (offers girls, women’s and nursing swimsuits in a variety of colors, limited style options, also offers slips, good prices)

Modestly Yours Swimwear http://modestlyyoursswimwear.com/ (offers girls and sizes, made to order, variety of styles and colors, my two daughters favorite swimwear site)

Lilies of the Field http://www.liliesapparel.com/ (offers girls and ladies swimwear, offers head coverings, aprons and clothing, etc.)

KatieMellas http://katiemellas.com/ (offers modest swimwear for girls and women, maternity skirts and music lessons)

AnnieBlueStudio http://www.etsy.com/shop/AnnieBlueStudio?ref=ss_profile (girls modest swimwear, good prices)

C WEAR http://www.cwear.com.au/ (offers suits for men, women, plus sizes and children)

Coolibar http://www.coolibar.com/

SolarTex Sun Gear http://www.solartex.com/ (offers a wide variety of modest swimwear for men, women and children; offers special needs swimwear and accessories)

 

 

 

Modesty Doesn’t Equal Legalism

I was raised in a legalistic environment. You did these things and it made God happy. You did those and He wasn’t. At any moment your salvation could be snatched away. It could even be won and lost and won again…and lost again…any number of times during one day. It was a scary, dreadful way to live. It presented God as more of an ogre than a Heavenly Father.

Since my childhood years, I’ve learned a lot about grace, God’s mercy and God Himself. And I’ve learned that we do what we do to please Him, not because He’ll snatch away our salvation if we don’t but because we love Him. The Holy Spirit lives in us and enables us to obey the Lord and to serve Him. And that includes in serving Him with the clothes we choose to wear.

Modesty is one of those sticky subjects for Christians that really ought not to be sticky at all. But because we are what we are, it is. It’s easier to follow a crowd than to stand alone, easier to do what somebody else says than to think things through ourselves and easier to master a list of rules (or not) than it is to try to understand grace and what it means to us today.

It’s easy to give our daughters guidelines and tell them to wear this and not to wear that. It’s easy to quote Scriptures to them and put quotes about modesty on their walls. It’s easy but it’s not really the best way.

I have guidelines for my own daughters. I encourage them with Scriptures, they’ve read quotes on modesty and they’ve learned all about how boys are affected by this and that. But that’s my kinda-in-between-place in teaching them about modesty, not my beginning or end. See, modesty isn’t really about my girls at all. It’s not about how their choice of clothing might affect boys, either. It’s about Christ. Modesty begins with Him and ends with Him. If we have Jesus as our focal point, then the quotes, stories and Scriptures all make sense. Without Him, without His grace and mercy, it’s all just a hodgepodge of legalism.

My youngest two daughters are 11 and 15. They are beautiful, feminine and ladylike. And they get dirty, rowdy and tomboyish with the best of them. And it’s all good.

It’s all good because my daughters understand the whys and wherefores of modesty. They understand that what goes on their bodies reflects what’s in their hearts. And because they understand, whether they are having a girl night or hanging out with their brothers, being silly and getting dirty, their main goal is to honor Christ. With their actions, with their words and with their clothes. What’s more, my sons understand it too. Because it’s just as important for my sons to honor the Lord with the clothes as it is for my daughters.

What is your approach to teaching modesty to your children?