Wednesday, May 07, 2008
We've been talking about this with the Her Hands girls.
Romans 12 is one of my all-time favorite chapters of the Bible.
It punches me everytime.
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good, pleasing, and perfect his will really is."
We have definitely been taking all our cues from the world in regards to the way we dress, from our culture, rather than from God, haven't we?
I admit, I have.
I put myself on the throne of my closet, making all clothing decisions based on what made ME look the best, what I enjoyed wearing, sacrificing very little of what I wanted for the sake of modesty.
We girls...we have this burning desire to be beautiful.
I wish it weren't true.
But we have chain-linked our self-image to outward beauty.
The Bible anticipates this, of course.
1 Peter 3:3-5
3 Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
We've all read that. I just don't think we get it yet.
In order to achieve the outward appearance and approval from either the males or females we are dressing for (because we all know girls most often are dressing to impress other girls) we overlook our call to modesty and holiness.
1 Tim 2:9-10
9 And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.
Is that truly how we're making ourselves attractive?
I realize more and more, in our culture, we deny ourselves very little.
We pretty much do what we want, when we want to, without delay.
We sacrifice virtually nothing in a day for ourselves.
I have found myself standing in my closet, battling over a piece of clothing that I really like, not wanting to sacrifice it for the sake of modesty.
My selfishness makes me sad.
Over the last few years, God has been growing me.
I have been longing to learn what it means to put others' interest above my own. (Phil. 2)
When it comes to modesty, the very first thing we ought to know is that our dress affects men around us.
This is a "duh!" Of course it does! We already know how visual men are.
If you have a husband, you definitely know this! You can't deny it.
We have the power to draw an eye. As a wife, that's marvelous. But it's a power we have abused and used to hurt and cause our brothers to stumble.
"Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's path." Romans 14:13
If you have ever had an honest conversation with Christian brothers about this, you would know this. We have encouraged our Her Hands girls to go to their HOPE groups and ask Godly men about this. We have. It's been good. But they haven't said anything I didn't already know.
Really, we DO know this, all of us. We just don't care very much.
We continue to wear whatever we want, whatever flatters us, whatever makes us feel good, without regard for our weaker brother.
This is clearly a heart issue. It's not a set of rules we must live by, but a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, letting Him lead us in every area of our lives! It's a matter of love, or lack of love, for our brothers in Christ...really caring about the battle they wage against sexual temptation. It's a really small way to die to ourself. Really small! Yet we cling to those tiny sacrifices, as if they were big ones.
I remember, not very long ago, when I had categories in my closet. You know "church clothes", and OTHER, because there were certain things I would wear out, to work-out in, to swim in, whatever, that were NOT what I would wear to church or in front of my pastor. What's up with that? Why is it okay in one situation, and not in another?
I'm still asking the Lord to show me the double standards I have set up. I want to be above reproach in this area. I've not arrived yet. But my heart is much softer and more willing to hear Him on this than it used to be.
So let's be honest. There are some things we Christian women continue to wear that they are saying are a problem.
For the sake of specificity, let's throw out a few.
*Two piece swimsuits
*anything that shows our middle, really.
*anything showing cleavage (for those women who have it!)
*anything showing any "boob skin" as we called it in Her Hands on Sunday night!
*even some guys say tank tops (especially when bra straps or any part of your bra is showing.)
*Stretch across your boobs shirts. The kind that totally outline and frame your chest. (The ones you think you look really good in.)
These are just a few examples taken directly from coversations with Christian guys recently, who have been vulnerable and honest enough with us to give us specifics.
I appreciate them! I appreciate them helping us attune our ears to conviction, and for helping us "older women" (yes, I live in a town where being 32 is being an older woman. Awesome, hu?) teach the younger women.
As swimsuit season and summer approaches, this is something to consider again.
As I've thrown out a ton of clothes and asked God to lead me, have I felt less attractive? Oddly, no.
Do I feel less fashionable? Really, no. I thought I would. I don't.
Do I feel more comfortable? YES. I also like wearing clothes without the nagging feeling that I'm pushing the limit. I hated that feeling. I still hate it today when I wear something I feel a little strange about, but then wear it anyway. It's not worth it.
So I want to hear from y'all...what are your thoughts, questions, points of discussion here. The last time I opened this up for discussion on my blog, I learned a lot! Let's hear it.