Thursday, May 1, 2008

More Modesty Questions

Hmmm... great thoughts, and thank you to those who commented on my previous post. I'm still mulling over it. Modesty is so multi-faceted.

I agree with what all of you said. I guess more specifically what I'm thinking about is how do we make the jump from
" but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart,"

"Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body."

"short skirts, low cut tops and body hugging outfits are not what we are going to wear."

I don't disagree with it! I'm just thinking about it.

How much do we take into account cultural changes/differences? Like the story I heard about the middle eastern women who threw their skirts over their heads when a man walked in the room because in their culture it is more shameful for a man to see your face than your legs (that story could be totally wrong, I don't know), or how men in Bible times wore robes that we would essentially consider dresses (and horrific for a man to wear) today.

Is there a way to say that X, Y, and Z are immodest forms of clothing? Or is it completely up to one's conscience? What if a girl says, "You know, God just hasn't convicted me about showing cleavage and midriff." Do you tell her to pray about it some more and He'll show her differently? :D How far do you take that? What if I say, "You know, God just hasn't convicted me about wearing a headcovering/only dresses/no makeup/a burka/you name it." Do you tell me (or think in your head) that if I would just pray about it God would show me differently?

I know there is SO MUCH more to modesty than just clothing, and I know they are all tied to one another, I'm just thinking in a more concrete way right now.

I think that a lot of my wrestling with the practical aspect of this comes from having been essentially a modern-day pharisee before I became a believer, and I projected what I thought was right onto everyone else. So it's really difficult for me not to want some across-the-board standard for what is and is not modest so that I can enforce it in my own life and on others. I know that's not right! I'm just thinking outloud mostly. :) Thanks to anybody who has endured to the end of this rambly post!


  1. Hi Stacy. I don't remember how I stumbled across your blog (maybe from sew mama sew?), but I took note because you're a Christian and because my sister-in-law's name is Stacey Leigh!!! Anyways, I guess my take is that I want what I wear to bring glory to God in the sense that I don't cause others to stumble by what I'm revealing. Granted, I'm not the most modest person I know when it comes to beachwear, having grown up in leotards & bikinis (as a gymnast & surfer), and I still like to wear bikinis (although not super skimpy ones)- but hey, maybe that is another issue I need to work out. :) It's definitely an interesting topic to take to mind/heart though. Thanks for bringing it up!

  2. And I stumbled across your blog in a google search. :) I think it's important to remember - and what I had to learn - that modesty really is an issue of the heart, and that what comes out of our hearts - our words, our behaiviour, our clothing choices - reflects what's inside, whether we intend what others read or not. And I read a lot on the subject of "men are visual" to help me make some decisions. If you have the chance, check out "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldhan and the Rebolution's Modesty Survey for more helpful information.

  3. Hi Stacy,

    Came to your blog from Sew Mama Sew, and was delighted to find a like-minded chick on the other side of the world! (I'm in Australia.)

    I totally get your wish to not be legalistic about modesty. It's too easy to focus on the 'what-exactly-ought-we-wear?' question. Our attitude and desire for godliness are what really matters. But what can we say about it? It really is a complex issue...

    I don't have a set-in-stone position on what women should wear; rather, there are a few issues that I try to take into account. They include:

    1. We are not to be like the world. We don't just go along with what everyone else is wearing. Just because everyone else is in miniskirts/boob tubes/mesh tops doesn't mean these things are normal/right/appropriate. (Thank goodness :-) )

    2. But we can't ignore our culture. The simple reality is that different communities have different ideas about what is modest and what isn't. I live in tropical North Queensland, and shorts and sleeveless tops are about the only things you can wear for 6 months of the year, unless you want to keel over and die from heatstroke. I'm sure that for many people those clothing items would be considered immodest. To some extent, we need to look to our culture to find out what is modest and what isn't.

    3. Everything we do is relational. Christianity is all about relationship. So everything I say, do, wear, watch, listen to etc is done in the context of the relationships I'm in. I found this idea especially helpful when talking to young women (my husband and I work with the christian student group at our local university). If they say they want to dress sexy ('sexy' is used as a descriptor for everything over here), I ask them who they are trying to be sexy for. Or, who is that they are hoping will think they (the girls) are sexy. They often baulk at that question a little, and I think it's because though they want to be considered generally appealing by guys at large, they aren't trying to deliberately entice a particular guy. They come back with, 'So, what, you're saying we can't ever dress up and look sexy?' I say I love looking sexy but the only person I want to think of me in that way is my husband. So as much as it is in my power, I will try and limit that response in the men around me. And that will have an impact on many things - the way I make eye contact, the way I touch someone, the topics of conversation I choose, and yes, the way I dress.

    So, is there a definitive list of what we ought not to wear? Short answer: no. And I'm glad. We are in Christ, and not under law, and we have the freedom to wear whatever we like as we strive to be holy and love those around us. Every time and culture will have different expressions of sexiness and modesty and we, as members of the body have the privilege of figuring that out everyday as we decide what to wear. I try really hard with the students we work with to not give them concrete examples. I want them to desire modesty and work it out for themselves.

    Whew. (And you thought your original post was rambling...) :-) That's just my thoughts. Haven't really tried to organise them before so I hope they make sense.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy. How good is God! I completely relate to being simultaneously starving and nauseous. Keep sewing while you've got the time. My 13-month-old has put an end to leaving the sewing machine out for days on end as I potter with various projects. I really want to get it out again but I haven't really got the space at the moment. I vainly try to satisfy my sewing urges by reading what others are doing. Love the napkins you gave your mum...