MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

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June 28th, 2007 Visited 8516 times, 1 so far today
This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Modesty

There are many events in a person’s life that they will never forget.  Times where they want to look their best.  Times when they want pictures and the memories to last forever.  It is at these times that we think most about what we wear.  We spend days searching through catalogues trying to find the perfect dress.  We spend money on a suit that we’ll only wear for a short time.  We make sure our teeth are cleaned, our hair just so, and our nails polished.  Well, if we’re a girl.

One of these events that we want to remember is our wedding day.  This year, my brother is getting married, and just like any other bride, his wife will spend lots of time and money (and already has) making sure the special day is right, but nothing compares to how much time and “surprise” is built into the dress.  Why else would it cost so much, need alterations, and does the groom be told that he can’t see it or her in it until the wedding day?

In other cases, it’s the prom, the graduation, the special dinner out, the anniversary dinner– it’s at these times that we actually stop to think and consider what we are wearing and what effect it will have.  The problem is that we should be paying attention to what we wear every day– not just on these special occasions.

We Cannot Effect How Our Clothing Impacts Others

There is an inherent problem with a conversation about modesty.  Primarily, that clothing effects people in different ways depending on the culture, sex, sensitivity.

Times change, and the culture changes with it.  It would have been common in the Old Testament period for men to wear skirts, and long flowing robes.  Even as early as the Middle Ages we see men in what would look like skirts.  Times have changed to have men now wear pants and ladies skirts– just look at the non-written indicators for restrooms– but that is not to say we should just absolutes purely based on culture.

Whether you are a man or a woman has a lot to do with how clothing effects you.  For a man, clothing can react in an attraction way– it can appeal to lust and cause temptation.  The same article on the person could be simply repugnant to the woman.

Modesty SurveyAnd sensitivity is one of the key factors here.  If you check out the Modesty Survey besides finding some really interesting answers to questions you will see a common theme repeated.  That even in the questions where an overwhelming majority find something modest, there will be a group that disagrees.  Now this can partly be explained by the fact that answering a dry question versus seeing an article of clothing on a person can be two different things, but I think that it is also the case that each person has their own sense of what is modest and some may be more conservative that others.

My point is that we can dress in such a way that some think is modest, and yet still fail to be modest by someone else’s standard.  Ladies can dress in long flowing dresses and wear a vail or head covering, and men may still fantasize about them.  We have no control over what others do in their minds.  We do have some control of how much we give them to look at, and whether we encourage the glances, but that cannot be our only reason to dress modest.

Inside a Reflection of the Outside

Modesty must first come from within a person.  It springs from a heart of humility– one that desires someone else or something else be elevated.  It’s a heart that yearns for attention not on self, but on something or someone else.

Take a quick look around the Internet or mall and you’ll see why modesty is such a big problem.  Humans are born with a desire for attention.  From the smallest baby to the oldest adult we want people to notice us– and for a majority of the people that we come in contact with they will only see how we look.  And there is much attention showered on those that will show, that will tease, that will display their bodies.

But there is also freedom in modesty.  A freedom that states that who you are as a person is not judged by what you look like, but for who you are.  It’s more about how you think than how you can put on makeup.  It’s more about your passion than displaying body parts.

That’s what Peter is talking about when he says:

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of [braiding] the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

A. W. Tozer has something great to say about this passage in his book I Call It Heresy where he states:

[T]he teaching is plain: don’t let your apparel be your true attractiveness.  Don’t try to substitute gold jewelry for the true beauty of the being!

Peter and Tozer are both saying the same thing– you should be more interested in your character– on your inner man/woman– than you are in your clothing and what you look like.  For some of us, that would take some doing.

So, Then How do I dress?

The point is not that we should dress in sack-cloth and ashes, but that our dress should not be the thing that draws our attention as much as it is a reflection of who we are on the inside.  We should not neglect showering or wear smelly clothes because “it’s the inside that counts,” but the point is also not to seek to draw attention because we’re baring our navel, wearing expensive clothes, or showing off our muscles/cleavage.

Tozer sums it up in four words: “clean, neat, modest, appropriate.”

We’re not to dress to draw attention to our form, to our looks, or toward the outward appearance.  We can’t control what others will think of what we wear, but we can control what we show them.  And we should attempt to be modest and show our inner person, not our outer.

Series Navigation<< Modesty: A Look Into What We Wear and WhyBut Women Don’t Wear Hats Anymore! >>

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  • Anna S says on: June 28, 2007 at 3:02 pm

     

    Congratulations to your brother!

    I think that if there’s an occassion when immodesty is inappropriate, it’s your own wedding. A bride is supposed to shine with her inner light of purity and chastity. Most of the dresses a bride will find are FAR from that, unfortunately.

  • MInTheGap says on: June 28, 2007 at 3:20 pm

     

    Congratulations? You liked my post?

    Maybe you got confused with my “She Said Yes” link. Hmm… I should change that. I’m already married.

  • Anna S says on: June 28, 2007 at 3:25 pm

     

    Umm… didn’t you say your brother is getting married this year? Or have I misread? 😛 Might be, as I’m a bit sleepy. I do remember you mentioned your wife, of course 🙂

    … oh, and I wonder why precisely at moments when we want to look our best, women choose to compromise their modesty. Think about prom dresses for example. Why do special occassions almost always mean showing more flesh?

  • MInTheGap says on: June 28, 2007 at 3:54 pm

     

    You’re right. Sometimes I write a post in stages, so I forgot about the introduction for this one!

    Yes, I was a groomsman in my brother’s wedding and one of my sons was the ring bearer. It was quite the adventure.

    It’s interesting that you mention the whole flesh baring thing when going to the prom or wedding. Is it possible that it’s simply the fact that most formal gowns we see (like for awards shows, etc) bare flesh and the manufacturers make them that way? Is there something that we’ve been shown that says formal = flesh?

    I was reading one site (I’d have to go through and find it) where some young lady wanted to have a modest formal gown but they were hard to find where they did not make the person look old fashioned. They wanted a beautiful but modest dress, but it was hard to find.

  • Anna says on: June 28, 2007 at 5:16 pm

     

    Being modest and ugly helps a lot, I think. You can choose modesty but ugliness is a gift of God. Men won’t fantasize about an ugly modest woman.

    ~Anna

    I’ll send you an avatar shortly.

  • Leticia says on: June 28, 2007 at 7:15 pm

     

    I have always thought that spending a tremendous amount of money on one day was ludicrous, but to each their own. I would rather spend it on…hmmm….a new wardrobe, furniture, down payment for a house or car.

    Oh well.

    I have to agree, though, if it is a special occassion the dresses do seem to get a bit skimpy.

  • Revka says on: July 2, 2007 at 3:21 pm

     

    I liked this post and especially appreciate the link to the Modesty Survey – quite intriguing to hear from you guys directly.

    I completely agree that modesty is a reflection of the heart. Some people honestly do not not know any better, but, for most, we know when something is immodest. The best guide I have found is the old saying, “When in doubt … don’t!” I have nearly always regretted it when I have not followed that advice.

  • MInTheGap says on: July 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm

     

    So, Revka, about your last paragraph. Do you think that those that know choose to look that way on purpose, or decide that they’d rather look “stylish” than modest? What is it that– in general– causes a woman to choose something she knows to be immodest? What’s her motivation?

  • Revka says on: July 2, 2007 at 4:19 pm

     

    The women about whom I am thinking seem to think that attention means they are beautiful. If that means showing too much, then that is what they will do. A 40 year old woman with whom I once worked consistently wore miniskirts and heavy makeup. She talked about guys looking at her or making comments about how “hot” she was. In her mind, their lust satisfied her vanity and meant that she looked good.

    Another girl I know follows her mother’s example and wears very low cut shirts and “Daisy Duke” shorts. I honestly don’t think she knows any better. She’s following the example her mother set, which I find very sad. The mother, who has to be approaching 50, still dresses like that and, if faced with a choice between paying for food or a tan, would choose the tan. I’m not sure about the mother, but the girl just goes along with the flow of fashion, which we all know is horribly immodest, particularly during the summer.

    Also, once one becomes accustomed to lower necklines and shorter hemlines, the modest apparel can feel restrictive and frumpy. Like anything else, the more we indulge our taste, the more comfortable it feels. The lower we set the bar, the harder we find it to return to a higher standard. (Did that make any sense? 🙂 )

  • MInTheGap says on: July 2, 2007 at 4:35 pm

     

    Revka– your last paragraph is exactly the problem that I’m seeing. Because the envelope keeps being pushed to show more skin, not showing skin becomes abnormal. I think this exactly explains the problem in finding modest formal wear. Since all formal wear must show some skin to be modern (back, cleavage, legs, belly… whatever) when someone does not show these things we think “frumpy”.

    Same thing with bridal gowns– they must show something in order to be modern. We’re being conditioned that way. What it’s lacking is for modesty to snowball such that it makes those that show skin look odd. But don’t look to the fashion industry to make that change.

    Actually, our best bet for this change as well as for many changes is a heart change.

  • Revka says on: July 3, 2007 at 12:40 pm

     

    “What it’s lacking is for modesty to snowball such that it makes those that show skin look odd. But don’t look to the fashion industry to make that change.

    Actually, our best bet for this change as well as for many changes is a heart change.”

    I completely agree! The fashion industry is not based on pleasing God but on pleasing the flesh. As anything done in man’s power always spirals downward, not upward, I believe that fashion will only get worse. It is up to us, Christians who desire to honor God and live like Christ, to be different. We are called to be lights in the world, and we can’t be a light if we look, talk, act, and think like the world.

    I realize there will be variances in what Christians find acceptable. I believe that is fine as long as they are seeking to honor God and dressing to please Him. God is well able to convict Christians without the forceful “help” of other well-intentioned Christians.

    Please understand, I am not saying that we should have no standards or that preaching on separated living should go. Not at all! I just believe that something that I may be convicted is wrong for me (wearing pants, for instance) may not be wrong for another Christian. Think about Paul’s writings regarding meat offered to idols. For some, that was a huge no-no, but others had no problem with it. Both were “right,” but he advised the stronger ones to adapt their practice to keep from being a stumbling block to the weaker Christians.

    I believe we should look at our lives, including the way we dress, and ask if our actions could be a stumbling block to some one else. It takes courage to go against the crown and stand out, but it is well worth it.

  • Revka says on: July 3, 2007 at 12:41 pm

     

    Well, let’s go against the crowd! 🙂

  • MInTheGap says on: July 3, 2007 at 1:03 pm

     

    I think you make an excellent point, Revka. I think that has been the main problem since the world began– seeking self rather than others and God. That’s the whole point of the generation that says “I have a right to X”– replace X with homosexual marriage, risque clothes, or whatever you’d like. We deserve it!

    What the God of the Bible calls us to is something bigger than ourselves– where we actually serve others. This is the strongest message and one that will have the greatest impact: when we seek to put aside liberty for someone else.

  • Revka says on: July 3, 2007 at 1:29 pm

     

    Amen!

    The battle against self is lifelong and will be, I think, one of the most difficult we ever face. I know I live selfishly without even realizing it, but Christ said that whoever follows Him must deny himself daily and follow Him. What a sobering command! How hard it is to voluntarily surrender our “rights” for the good of others. How blessed we all are when we do.

  • Phikza says on: August 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

     

    WOW!! Im enjoying this series, Blessed be the Name of the Lord for people like you MInThe Gap and you Revka!!

    I also believe that when the Lord’s true conviction of heart takes place one get to read the modesty statements by Paul&Peter differently.
    And also when you have been transformed and trully long to deny self/flesh…you will view the way you dress, so that you dont make others fall into sin with how you dress(i.e,showing too much of neckline and wearing short skirts)

    Thanks so much for this post&comments
    Im a 26year old lady and the way I view modest in the scripture seems legalistic/religious to some people.
    Im glad for this post&comments

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

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