Modesty Doesn’t Mean 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?

The Children

Some would gather money
Along the path of life;
Some would gather roses,
And rest from worldly strife.

But I would gather children
From among the thorns of sin;
I would seek a golden curl,
And a freckled, toothless grin.

For money cannot enter
In that land of endless day;
And roses that are gathered
Soon will wilt along the way.

But, oh, the laughing children,
As I cross the sunset sea,
And the gates swing wide to heaven -
I can take them in with me.

-Author Unknown

A. W. Tozer Quotes

The gradual disappearance of the idea and feeling of majesty from the Church is a sign and a portent. Our God has now become our servant to wait on our will. “The Lord is my shepherd,” we say, instead of “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the difference is as wide as the world.~~A. W. Tozer

The (Early) Church was not an organization merely, not a movement but a walking incarnation of spiritual energy. The Church began in power, moved in power and moved just as long as she had power. When she no longer had power she dug in for safety and sought to conserve her gains. But her blessings were like the manna: when they tried to keep it overnight it bred worms and stank.  So we have had monasticism, scholasticism, institutionalism; and they have all been indicative of the same thing: absence of spiritual power. In Church history, every return to New Testament power has seen the rise of some new mechanism for conservation and defence. If this analysis is reasonably correct, then we are today in a state of very low spiritual energy.~~A. W. Tozer

If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.~~A. W. Tozer

Womanhood: A High and Holy Calling

There is such emptiness in many women’s lives, a barrenness that speaks of losing her place, of misunderstanding her calling.

Christianity is not a cultural thing, bending to societies rules and blending in. It is the Truth that sets people free. It is the Truth that sets women free. There is a distinctiveness to manhood and womanhood and, understood, it is a beautiful thing.

This is a Truth that has been misrepresented, misinterpreted, misapplied for so very long now.

Much more is black or white than we have been told; indeed, more than we want to believe. The Truth of our identity as women, as well as the truth of all that is godly, has been twisted beyond recognition and then painted over and sold on the open market: “truth–mine, yours, theirs, ours; it’s all good: cheap.”

Long ago women stepped on board the “American Success ride” and lost ourselves. Amid the clamour, the sights and sounds, we lost our understanding of Truth, of reality, of womanhood, of God. We invited our mothers, our daughters, our sisters to come join us. Spinning round and round on the dizzying ride, as kaleidoscope colors flash in our brains, our uneasy minds are, for a time, put to rest by the sheer beauty, the excitement, the fulfillment, the fun, of it all.

“It is so beautiful, it must be right.” Adam and Eve thought so, too.

Seduced by the idea that God (and our husbands, society, our families) have withheld what is good from us, American women have plunged headlong into a boiling cauldron of excess: having more, we must have more yet. More success, more money, more beauty, more clothes, more excitement, more fulfilment, more, more, more….

As the character Sabrina in the movie of the same name said, “More isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just more.”

Yet we strive on, content in our discontent. Something is missing but we don’t know it. If we can only do more, be more, then, one day we’ll find the elusive ‘it” that will, at last, bring our lives fulfilment. Our lives are exhausting, our hearts aching, our spirits empty, our prayers barren. Taking everything and focusing it on us only leads to emptiness. We’ve been lied to. Women are gullible: refusing guidance, we’ve believed the lie.

“What do I want? need? deserve? What is good for me?”

No talk of duty to parents, husband, children, the church, the lost. All that matters is me.

What happens when, in pursuit of me and what I want, I throw away everything that could have brought me true joy?

What happens when the maddening music stops and the rollercoaster ride of our lives comes to a screeching halt? When we look around us and realize that what had appeared so bright and shiny from our brief stop at the ascent now appears as it truly is: dull, tired, in need of new paint in order to continually keep up the façade?

What happens when the façade fades? When we look around us and all are strangers? When our husbands and children are walking away from us, indifferent to our pleas to come back and be with us for one more ride? A ride, we promise, that will somehow end differently…this time.

What happens when the lights go up and the show of our lives is over and we have nothing of true value to offer to God–what then?

We’ve lived the lie long enough. We’ve listened to the world even as we were drowning in nothingness.

There is a Way and most of us have missed it. The terrible price is the destruction of our lives, our families, our souls, our churches. Husbands dishonored and disrespected. Children not had or tossed aside. Our own femininity dried up like a rose in the desert. And us women: once secure in our cultural identities, now with nothing, no one, alone at last, reaping bountifully what we’ve sown so very, very well.

What now? What can we do when we’ve done all that we’ve been told to do and the result is nothing but carnage?

For so long we’ve interpreted our lives, our womanhood, by culture rather than by God’s Word. We must repent of lies told and believed. We must rise up, one woman at a time, and reclaim our calling, our womanly heritage, as women of the Word.

It isn’t easy. Most of what is right is not easy. But right is right even if everyone believes it is wrong. Just because our mothers believed it doesn’t make it true. Just because our pastors teach it, our denomination supports it, our culture demands it, doesn’t mean we have to blindly accept it.

Proverbs 14: 12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

We can search out Truth.

A lie believed out of ignorance is still a lie believed. We must seek God’s Word in order to seek Truth–in this or anything else. What we want, if it differs from Truth, doesn’t matter. What our church, our pastor, our denomination “allows” or teaches about our place as women, if it isn’t centered in God’s Word, doesn’t matter. What our culture has to say about womanhood certainly doesn’t matter. Jesus is Lord and as such He is the supreme ruler of us–even if we ignore it or don’t know it. The Bible isn’t subject to our culture or to our whims. It doesn’t matter what we have always been taught, what has always been done, what anyone wants–if it’s wrong, it’s sin.

Men are called by God to be men and to fill the role that God Himself has laid out for them. Women, likewise, are called by Him to be women and to fill the role that God Himself has laid out for women.  A woman’s place is a high and glorious calling but we’ve forgotten that. We’ve bought the lies, swallowed the poison and forgotten our place. Our place was, once, much more beautiful and holy than it is now. Like Esau of old, we women have sold our birthright. There is joy in true womanhood, in being a woman under authority (both God and her husband’s). Women have been honored by God Almighty in so many, many ways. We prostitute ourselves when we demean ourselves and sell out our calling to fulfill that of a man’s. A man’s place is wondrous and full of glory but not when it is filled by a woman.

When we find Truth we have an obligation to embrace it, obey it, teach it so that others may know. To loudly proclaim part of God’s Word (the parts we like) while ignoring the parts that are uncomfortable, or that will get us laughed at, cause us pain, persecution or death, is to sin. We must honor God by seeking to understand the full counsel of God. Anything less is dishonesty. Anything less is disobedience and not Christianity at all.

A partial lie is still a lie. A partial truth propagated as the whole Truth is as good as a lie.

True biblical womanhood is beautiful. It is a privilege given to us by God Himself. It is a high and holy calling.

Keep the faith, sisters!

Until next time may God make His face to shine upon you!

In Him,

Anna

Soli Deo gloria!

 

 

 

All Things To Me by Grace E. Easley

A dear friend shared this with me when we were both in high school. I’ve loved it ever since and thought, just maybe, you might love it too.

And since I am not

brave and strong,

Give me Thy hand;

The night is dark

and this is such

a foreign land.

And since I stumble

often, ‘lest

I lose my way,

Walk with me ’til

the night becomes

another day.

Thou knowest of my need

for love,

since love Thou art.

Let me lay my weary head

against Thy heart.

And being nothing

without Thee

Lord, Thou must be

all things to me.

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs

I can’t remember where I found this but if you need a chuckle, read on.

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rgh it pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. ” like if u can read this

On Teaching Younger Women

Titus 2, 3-5, The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

I think we’ve gotten our focus wrong. We’ve looked at Titus 2, broken it down, made a list and checked it off. Much like making a Christmas list. Following a list, even one taken out of Scripture, without the full context of Scripture to explain it, makes it easy to become legalistic and lose the reason for the things we are teaching.

If Christ is not the reason we teach what we teach to our daughters, we aren’t teaching anything that’s worthwhile. Simply teaching them a step-by-step program, to cook, to sew, to clean house, to raise children and so on, might make them a good housekeeper or a good nanny but it won’t make them a godly woman or wife.

Scripture must interpret Scripture for it to be understood correctly. We can’t divorce one part of it from another, as is so often done in proof-texting, without losing the real meaning. Without context, without an overall knowledge of God’s Word, we can’t know Christ nor can we serve Him worthily.

I applaud women who want to raise their daughters to be keepers at home. I want that for my daughters too. In a world gone mad, we need a few more good women who want to marry, have children and be at home with them. But if they are doing it because “this is what I was taught” or “to please my husband” or “because I want to”, they may make an impact on their family and even on others but they won’t be making an impact for eternity.

In the end, the eternal value of being a godly woman, wife and mother far outweighs getting down any list. It’s good to know how to cook, clean, sew, garden, and raise children. It’s good to strive to honor our husbands, love our children and pass down domestic skills. I believe it honors God for women to use their talents to bless their families and others. I believe that it pleases God when a godly wife sees her home and her family as her first line of duty. But if in doing so or if in teaching our daughters such, we aren’t first and foremost teaching them the why behind it, we’ve failed and we’ve ensured their failure.

Jesus is the reason for everything. He’s the reason we live, breathe and have our being. He’s also the reason we are to teach our daughters holiness, to be keepers at home, to be pure and to love their families. If we don’t remember that, we have failed.