February 27, 2008

thinking. chewing. thinking some more.

I've been thinking. It doesn't come easy anymore but the things that roll around in my head need to come out. So here goes.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. - Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

This verse has been on my kitchen cabinet for the last few weeks. It caught my eye while reading and hasn't let go. Why do we do what we do? Is it because we believe that is what God has told us to do, whether through Word or Spirit. Or is it because "that's just how we do it." I must admit that I find many things lacking when held up to this light. And then another interested argument was presented to me in the topic of modesty (which is hugely important to me, after our few years in youth ministry).

... in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. - 1 Timothy 9-10 (NKJV)


Women are told to dress modestly. Now obviously modest is a very widely defined term. Some will wear everything from sweatshirts and jeans to fitted shirts and pants, looking much like relevant society dresses. Some will only wear loose fitting clothing, looking dowdy and ill-fitted. Some will only wear flowing skirts and long sleeved tops, with or without head coverings, claiming they are setting themselves apart by being simple. But what was God's intention with these verses? I've come across an idea that says that women must dress modestly, as to not cause men to stumble, but should dress relevantly. For dressing in a manner that draws attention - whether by young men checking you out or by people pointing at the woman dressed plainly - is undesirable. How a woman dresses should not draw attention to her person but to her God. So if a woman dresses in very simple, almost Amish clothing she is drawing attention to herself because she stand out so much in modern society. But on the other hand, women should not be dressing in revealing or tightly fitting clothes, as they can lead men to stumble. So what's in the middle? I'm not sure. I know that watching shirts get smaller and skirts get shorter, in public and in the church, is an alarming trend. Are we being lead by the principles of this world rather than Christ? But on the other hand, does dressing so plainly as to make people look at us (Do you think she's Amish?) rather than at our character and countenance also defeats the purpose. Are we being led by religious traditions? Both are equally wrong according to Colossians 2:8.

So what's in the middle? Are the guidelines that have been taught to young women over and over again still relevant? If they are relevant for young women why not older women? I must admit that I float more toward the dowdy, old-lady look that any thing fashionable. I've even considered wearing only skirts several times. But is it just religion? Who defines too tight, short, big, frumpy, old, low cut, dowdy? The standard will change for each family. What are your guidelines? Any one mind sharing? I'm really re-visiting this issue with a vengeance. Because I don't want to be religious about it, dressing dowdy because I think it's right. When in reality, I just look like an old lady and ridiculous any way.

So what are your guidelines for modesty? How do you go about deciding what is acceptable? Do current fashions make it impossible to be both fashionable and modest? I'd love to hear some opinions!

6 comments:

  1. As a youth leader at our church I deal with the modesty issue A LOT!

    A few month ago I co-lead a class called Every Young Woman's Battle that discussed the topic at length. Even still, it's a little fuzzy.

    The main point they make is that you should ask yourself "what are my intentions in this outfit", and "will it cause anyone to stumble?". I think those questions are good guidelines for anyone. I don't think "3 inches below the knee" or "no v-necks" are guidelines everyone can follow. It just leads to legalism. You have to decide whats appropriate for you because you are the only one who knows your body and your intentions.

    I personally ask my husband for feedback. He's usually more than willing to comment :)

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  2. I miss all your modesty talks from camp! they have stuck with me through the years....I hope you're all doing well! I miss you!

    Love, Sara

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  3. I agree with you that the manner of dress should be, if anything, meant to avoid attracting attention. For me, I think wearing only dresses or skirts is just impractical, as I am extremely uncomfortable in them (physically and otherwise). Ultimately, as long as we are not dressing in a way that is clearly inappropriate, I think our focus should be more on the meek and quiet spirit that we are to have and the good works we are to demonstrate. I think it is better for someone to at first think your style of dress is not quite conservative enough, but to then see an attitude that is humble and modest and all that good stuff, than the other way around. Personally, I tend to go with jeans and oversized t-shirts, which I think are about as unremarkable as clothes can get in our society, but if modest, relevant clothing is not available, I say it is definitely better to go with frumpy than skimpy.

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  4. I finally found you! And here I was thinking you'd just ditched blogging or something!

    My not very deep two cents: I think God made women beautiful on purpose. I really don't think I've ever seen a woman who, with care and attention, looked pretty. I can't say the same for men (although plenty here in my neck of the woods try, trust me!), and that points to a clear intention by the Creator.

    So, I think being pretty and attractive is good.

    I also agree with the definition of modesty that encompasses all attention grabbing.

    Lastly, I think that while the general trend may seem to be risque everywhere you look, there are plenty of clothes that are simply nice. I like to look at Garnet Hill and Boden, and it's probably because there are refreshing ideas of what relevant, pretty, and modest can look like.

    (I can't afford either, but having that in my head helps when I go to TJMaxx or wherever!)

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  5. Okay, so I really want to read this blog but my darling little girl doesn't seem to want to let me at this moment. So... just so you don't think i've ignored your "lets get together" plea, I wanted to post something quick. (I will read this blog come naptime - you bet.)
    It'd be awfully fun to have you come here so you can see our house, but if it is too much for you guys, I'm sure I can talk Kathy into a girls day out to Canton. Just let me know when!

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  6. Alright, so I'm finally going to comment. You were waitin' for it weren't ya?? ;)

    I'm feeling really wordy though so I think I have to email you...

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